07/26/2007 10:52 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The YouTube/CNN Debate: Everything New Is Old Again

I have just returned from Charleston, South Carolina where I witnessed, from the press spin room, the "historic" YouTube/CNN debate. The trouble is, this was nothing so much as one more demonstration of the prowess of the Clinton press operation and the tendency of the MSM to follow along as if there were under the influence of the imperious curse (if you don't know what that means, grab the nearest 12-year-old with a Harry Potter book in his hand and ask for a definition).

Senator Clinton's campaign framed the issue well going into the debate (once again). It was this: If she demonstrates she is more experienced then she will have "won" the debate. (Let's set aside for the moment if the point of the debate is that someone "wins" and others "lose" - that will be a subject for another post). Nevertheless, the Clinton campaign framed the issue in a way she almost couldn't lose.

Then of course there is this fact - She almost certainly knew this particular question was coming. All 3000 of the potential questions were on YouTube all week. Is there anyone reading this who doesn't think that the Clinton campaign reviewed each and every question for the ones that would contain a small turn of phrase that she could seize on to show her "experience"? And if that were the case, wouldn't you have seized on the one that said that you would meet with anyone without precondition. That was a big, big red flag. But it turned into a big, big red herring. Senator Obama missed it. Why? Probably because he was actually trying to answer the viewer's question. Does anyone really think that a President Obama would be sworn in and the next day put out call to every dictator in the world to come on by and chill with him? Nonsense.

Senator John Edwards, to his credit, saw immediately what Senator Clinton was up to, deftly avoided stepping into the breach and offered an intelligent and well thought out response - and one that was virtually ignored by the MSM. Just as his answer to a similar question in a previous debate that, before bombing an enemy back to the middle ages - basically Hillary's response--he would first make sure we knew who the "enemy" was. Gee, what a concept. But the MSM declared Hillary the winner in that debate as well, because they had been told by her campaign that she would "win" if she showed strength. And, her campaign said, the unequivocal nature of her response showed "strength." Wait a minute--don't we have a guy like that in the White House now?

The MSM's erroneous equation is basically this -- if you are good at the machinations of debate, you will be a good president. Hold the phone there, fellas.

If you are good at the machinations of debate, you have demonstrated that you are good at the machinations of debate and nothing more.

Shouldn't we be looking for the person who makes good decisions? Should we be looking for a person who is good at knowing exactly where to put the chairs on the deck of the Titanic - and yelling at the Pentagon because they don't have a salvage operation? Or should we be looking for a Captain that wouldn't have run it into the iceberg in the first place?

Besides, what possible use is it if Senator Clinton is the "most experienced" candidate and presumably the one with access to all of President Clinton's foreign policy advisors, if all that experience and advice still led her to vote to invade Iraq? Perhaps that is the question we should have been asking.