No YouTube Debate for Republicans

It’s hard to pick the least important story that drove the media into a feeding frenzy last week.  It’s tough to select from among the inebriated astronauts, Michael Vick’s arraignment (everybody), Hillary’s cleavage (Washington Post), scientists’ success in triggering the birth of mentally ill mice (London Sunday Times) and the CNN-YouTube Democrats debate (everyone, all day and every day). Though few may be, we are equal to the task.   

The confusion stems from the fact that the YouTube pseudo-debate was both the least important story of the week and the most.  Least because of its content, most because there is little or no Republican effort to recapture America’s attention.

The You Tube “debate” substituted gimmickry and showmanship for politics.  It was nearly unbearable, and not only because Dennis Kucinich (D-Mars) became the first candidate to enrage parents with unexpected text messaging bills. The questions that were sane were ducked by the candidates and those that weren’t sane (candidates and questions) seemed to get the most play.  Mitt Romney got it right when he said, “I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman.”

As a result the leading Republican presidential aspirants — Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani — may skip the CNN-YouTube Republican debate scheduled for September 17.  As well they should.

The Republicans — all of them — should turn down CNN, because the YouTube debate was literally a clown show and the next one will be worse.  If CNN and YouTube want the Republicans, they should have to agree to some simple rules.

Such as, no costumes, no props (be they assault rifles or painted backdrops), no music and no puppets.  CNN and YouTube won’t agree, of course.  They want celebrity soundbites, passion and anger, bread and circuses.  They want tears, screaming and pleas for more text messages. But there is no Alfred E. Neuman look-alike among the Repubs.

There’s a simple substitute the Republicans should adopt immediately, and get back on the air with it.  Drop CNN/YouTube like a hot rock, and replace them with C-SPAN or Fox to host a debate in which the questions are asked by conservative bloggers.  With a blog debate, they’d steal the show. 

Think about it: get the folks from, say, RedState, PowerLine, InstaPundit, LittleGreenFootballs and a couple of the milblogs like BlackFive and Sgt. Hook. (Guys, I know I’m neglecting a lot of other good-to-excellent ones.  But there just ain’t enough room.)  Let Michelle Malkin moderate it.  The result will be the boost from online activism the Republicans whine they lack, and they’ll get a much better questions than they’ll get from YouBoobTube. 

The two other essential points are to take control of the debate away from those such as CNN and MSNBC who will always — always — weight the questions and the debate to show the Republicans in the worst light.  And to get back into the game.

Through the last week, the media feeding frenzies almost ignored the Republicans.  To some media-unsavvy Repubs, that’s just fine.  But they bury their heads in the sand at great risk.

It’s tempting to say that while Hillary and Barack battle about which is less qualified to be president (in truth, neither is qualified one whit) that Republicans should let them just fight each other and step aside. That is a great misreading of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.”

The master’s Thirteen Chapters show the Dem’s vulnerabilities, and teach those who will learn how to use them to advantage. 

In “The Nine Variables,” Sun Tzu gives the greatest campaign advice a Republican will ever get.  About 2300 years ago, he explained the five qualities which are dangerous in the character of a general, and how they can be exploited.  If we translate those lessons into colloquial American politics, we learn:

• If a candidate is reckless, he can be defeated.  When Obama says he’ll meet with the likes of Ahmadinejad, and Hillary says to do so is naïve and irresponsible, Obama has just made a great 30-second campaign commercial for any Republican nominee;

• If a candidate is cowardly or apprehensive, his campaign can be captured.  Hillary ran like an Olympic sprinter from being labeled “liberal.”  Hang that label on her, and she’ll be wishing it were over quickly;

• If a candidate is quick tempered, you can make a fool of him.  Actually, the first time one of these guys squares off one-on-one with a Republican, it’ll happen;

•  If a candidate has too delicate a sense of honor, you can calumniate him.  No Dem has a sense of honor.  But their egos are fragile, like the French.  Hillary’s campaign went bonkers over the WaPo cleavage story.  It’s almost too good to be true that Naomi Wolfe — the feminist who was hired by Al Gore to teach him how to appear manly in the 2000 race — fulminated over the cleavage story saying that, “It’s so trivial for the press to waste its time on this while our sons and daughters are dying in Iraq.” Got that? Hillary’s cleavage is an insult to our troops; and

• If a candidate is of compassionate nature, you can harass him.  But that’s all the Dems have:  compassion and anger, not ideas.  Stick pins in their egos, point out their all-too-obvious connections to the activist media, and they’ll spend more time defending their weaknesses than attacking Republicans.’

Fire all those expensive consultants, gents, and buy the book.  And don’t continue to let the media set the time and place where the battle is joined. 

The Republicans can’t cure media bias, but they can overcome it.  They can’t wait for weeks or months for the next debate. They need to be on America’s television screens, in their radios and IPods and on the internet. 

If the Republicans only play their pat hand, they’ll lose the opportunity. The more the Dems are alone on the airwaves, the more people will assume they are the only ones worth listening to.