Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Opinionator

September 13, 2007, 2:21 pm
Mash a Smash?
By Chris Suellentrop
Tags: , ,

Who cares if it’s not really a mash-up? The Yahoo!/Huffington Post/Slate forum for the Democratic presidential candidates is now live, and Todd Beeton of thinks it’s pretty good. Beeton writes:

Although not technically a debate, this is one of the best forums we’ve had to hear the views of the candidates if only because each candidate is allowed to delve more deeply than normal into each of only 3 topics. It’s also refreshing to see the “lower tier” candidates given as much time as the front-runners so they can actually be heard for a change. What’s missing, of course, is the opportunity for candidates to clash head-to-head but that hardly happens during the normal debates anyway.

Internet evangelist Jeff Jarvis is, shall we say, less positive. Writing at his BuzzMachine blog, Jarvis calls the forum “a pathetic insult to the voters that is years behind in Internet culture.” He adds:

So we end up with watching Charlie Rose and Bill Maher asking the candidates questions on the usual topics –­ do we have a shortage of this on TV debates? Where’s the interactivity? Well, we get to pick which videos to watch. Oooh, the freedom. It’s like a bad children’s museum: “Here, children, push this button. You won’t do any harm.”

We should be the ones asking the questions. We should be the ones selecting the questions. We should be the ones editing the questions.

Instead, they give us buttons to push. What an insult.

Jarvis proposes a way to make the debate a true mash-up: “For you see, it’s not just about us watching. It’s about us producing and broadcasting.” He elaborates, “Indeed, why not go one step farther and take all the video from all the debates ­ since they are open to our unrestricted reuse ­ and put them together so we can produce and publish the ultimate mashups from the election so far?”


September 13, 2007, 10:00 am
With Friends Like These …
By Chris Suellentrop
Tags: ,

It is an understatement to say that two prominent conservative opinion-slingers are unhappy with Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign rollout. In his Washington Post column, George Will writes:

Fred Thompson’s plunge into the presidential pool — more belly-flop than swan dive — was the strangest product launch since that of New Coke in 1985. Then, the question was: Is this product necessary? A similar question stumped Thompson the day he plunged.

Will then dissects Thompson’s interview with conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham about his past support for the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. Will writes of Thompson, “His rambling, incoherent explanation was just clear enough to be alarming about what he believes, misremembers and does not know.”

Robert Novak is less unkind but still critical. “Thompson’s late start in itself is not a fatal flaw,” Novak writes in his Chicago Sun-Times column. “Still, it had been conceded in party circles that when he finally became a candidate, his beginning better be memorable. It was not.”


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