Daily Archives: October 7, 2008

Presidential Debate Liveblogging! (Part Deux) UPDATE: “Playing with fire” follow-up

[Click here for the brief back-story on this group liveblog in D.C. for an upcoming PBS documentary.]

Allrightythen, I’m situated in a lovely townhouse in Washington, with the leading lights of the liveblogosphere surrounding me (or at least tonight’s leading lights):  Quin Hillyer (blogging for American Spectator), Leslie Carbone (liveblogging on Twitter), Laura Clawson (for Daily Kos), Lynette Long (who provided the venue for tonight…thanx, Lynette!), and Mary Beth Ellis (of Blonde Champagne), with our documentary host: historian, author, and snappy dresser Rick Brookhiser. Looking around, I think I’m the only one who doesn’t write for a living, at least in part.  Fantabulous.  Pray I don’t embarrass myself.

(Roundup from Instapundit, plus reactions from Power Line, Hot Air, Miz Michelle, Gateway Pundit, The Anchoress, and Ann Althouse.  Don’t forget to check out the work of my fellow Hamiltonian livebloggers linked up top!)

Blow-by-blow liveblogging with after-debate discussion for the cameras (plus a follow-up from a previous post) below the break.

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Playing with fire at the town hall debate?

Miz Michelle raises the specter of the embarrassing YouTube-sponsored debate during the Democratic primary, after which evidence emerged that the Clinton, Obama, and Edwards campaigns had all made use of planted supporters in the question-submitting audience, under the false guise of “undecided” voters.

John Dickerson at Slate is also wary, anticipating a tendency for audience members to grandstand.  He writes an article entitled “Beware of Ponytail Guy,” in a reference to the pony-tailed opening questioner at the town hall debate between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992.  The questioner, a “domestic mediator” name Denton Walthall, scolded the two candidates ahead of time against going negative during the debate, imploring them to treat the audience as they would their own children (he actually used the sentence, “Could we cross our hearts?”).  I remember watching that debate 16 years ago, and my gorge still rises at the memory of this man simpering for the cameras as if he were addressing 5-year-olds.

I think that’s a risk you take in a loose format like this one.  When the audience controls the questioning, the chances of a sideshow, or (as in the YouTube debate) a hijacking by a campaign mole, go through the roof.  If the news is to be believed, it appears the Democrats have a longer track record of plants in town hall debates, but John McCain has been pushing for this format for months now (he is said to thrive in a freewheeling environment), and Obama has been ducking him every step of the way since early summer.  Now that the Democrats have coalesced further behind Obama since McCain first proposed his series of town hall debates (i.e. there’s less chance now of Obama getting unfriendly questions from primary-opponent plants), we’ll see if McCain doesn’t look back thinking maybe he should have watched what he wished for.

However, Dickerson at Slate points out that there’s a factor at play this year that wasn’t present when Denton Walthall reared his pony-tailed head at the town hall in 1992 — the blogosphere:

On Tuesday night, if Son of Ponytail Guy asks a question, he can rest assured that he will receive a thorough going-over in the blogosphere. So I suggest all prospective questioners Google themselves, make sure they’re on good terms with their co-workers, and wipe clean their Facebook page.

May the best troll win!

CNN calls Obama camp on relationship w/Ayers

CNN’s Anderson Cooper and correspondent Drew Griffin have done some digging into the ongoing claim that Barack Obama had a negligible relationship with former Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers.  The Obama campaign’s claim that the 1995 political event at the home of Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn that launched Obama’s public career was a coincidental meeting of Obama and Ayers, arranged by Ayers and Obama’s political patron and predecessor, State Sen. Alice Palmer, and that Obama was simply a bystander, also comes under scrutiny.  The upshot?  CNN is not convinced.

In what Captain Ed calls a “random act of journalism” by CNN, Griffin does the following:

  • puts the lie to the Obama camp’s image of a fleeting relationship between Obama and Ayers, in favor of a documented story of a close collaboration over many years between them on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund;
  • gives airtime to Stanley Kurtz, the scholar and writer who broke through the wall of bureaucratic red tape thrown up around the CAC archives and found out the true nature and extent of that relationship (including some eyebrow-raising educational approaches spearheaded by Ayers and subsequently funded by Obama, the chairman);
  • relies on witnesses at the 1995 event at Ayers’ and Dohrn’s home, including former State Sen. Palmer herself, in concluding that Palmer played only a peripheral role in the event, having simply been invited and made an appearance for a few minutes, and was not responsible for arranging it as Obama has claimed.  That event was by Obama, of Obama, and for Obama.

Kurtz has had a lot of trouble getting media attention paid to his hard work investigating the connection between Obama and Ayers.  When he was invited onto a radio talk show in Chicago, Obama partisans flooded the phone lines with calls hostile to Kurtz in an effort to shut the interview down. (The station, WGN, had called the Obama campaign office to offer them equal time during the show; they refused, but used the advance notice to email supporters, rallying them to smother the interview.)  To see CNN give time to Kurtz in a setting immune to grassroots thuggery is refreshing, to say the least.

I’m still betting against McCain bringing up this subject at tonight’s debate unless one of the audience members brings it up (the debate will follow a town hall format with audience questions), but the story of Obama and Ayers now has sturdier legs than it had before, now that news organs like CNN are finally starting to take this question seriously.  I’m sure that Hillary Clinton, who also brought up the subject of Obama’s shady friends during the primary, is savoring the bitter irony.

Stay tuned…

Posting will be light Tuesday, as I’ll be trekking down to D.C. to participate in a mass liveblog of the presidential debate.  The livebloggers will be part of a documentary by Manifold Productions about Alexander Hamilton, which will be hosted by eminent historian and columnist Rick Brookhiser, who will be chatting with us for the cameras before and afterward.

The blogging segment is intended to draw a parallel between the upstart journalism and pamphleteering that defined Hamilton’s activism in the Revolutionary era, and the citizen journalism, watchdoggery, and lightning fast back-and-forth of the blogosphere today.  Yes, I am psyched.

Don’t miss the liveblog on WitSnapper, Tuesday at 9pm ET!

“This is President-for-Life stuff” UPDATE: “Frat boys” video just got worse

I’ve been pointed to the last straw on Uncorrelated.com.

You know, I didn’t say anything about the Obama Children’s Chorus, because while I agreed that “Sing For Change” was a little creepy, I thought it was an isolated incident:

Likewise, I didn’t say anything when the Alpha Omega Fraternity/Obama Militia video surfaced either, because I know that fraternity hazing rituals can be baffling sometimes, though considered together with the above Choir it constituted signs of a disturbing trend of recruiting impressionable kids or young adults eager to impress into a weirdly cultish form of authority-worship:  [UPDATE: Not a fraternity…middle school kids, at a teacher’s behest!  See below.]

Now comes the third incident of such weirdness in just over a week (via Gateway Pundit), and I’m finally moved to post.  A shopper at Costco stumbled upon a children’s book by Jonah Winter entitled Barack, a hagiographic roman-a-clef (complete with serenely beatific cover portrait) of a subject who, if the book is to be believed, is nothing less than superhuman.

See a cover photo, excerpts, and the implications below the break.

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