CNN has announced that the GOP version of the Paradigm Shifting User Generated YouTube Debates That Will Forever Change the Face of Electoral Politics As We Know It (TM) is on, as all eight "major Republican candidates" have agreed to participate, having cleared up their schedules and put aside their hang-ups about being interrogated by snowmen and struggling performance artists.
From the release:
Like the Democratic CNN/YouTube/South Carolina Democratic Party debate, this innovative, live forum will feature video questions submitted to YouTube that will be broadcast and answered by the candidates on CNN. Over 2,225 questions have been submitted thus far; online users are able to submit their video queries through Sunday, Nov. 25 at www.youtube.com/debates or www.rpof.org or www.cnn.com/youtubedebates.
In the wake of the Democratic version of the debate, the top Republican candidates seemed cool to the idea of participating in their own version, offering snide remarks and furtive scheduling excuses. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney offered the official pull-quote of GOP dissatisfaction: "I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman." Blogger Hugh Hewitt took things a step further in his commentary, warning that the YouTube debate was a trap:
They covered for the Dems with a series of overwhelmingly left-biased questions at the first YouTube debate, with a very few tough, serious questions thrown in. That dynamic would change completely in a GOP YouTube debate -- they or their counterparts at a different network will be gunning for the Republicans, and the question set will be designed to embarrass or ridicule.
His colleague at Townhall.com, Patrick Ruffini, differed: "This is a big mistake. The Democrats are afraid to answer questions from Big Bad Fox News Anchors, and the Republicans are afraid to answer questions from regular people. Which is worse?"
Earlier this month, the top GOP candidates bailed on the Christian Values Debate webcast, which created many bizarre sequences in which participants hurled their questions at empty podia, the camera lingering upon the furniture for several seconds afterwards as if it might start speaking by magic. I guess after that spectacle, just about any debate format has gravitas.