A nice try but one which CNN would never agree to. Why should they? If you believe they’re out to hammer the GOP (which I don’t), they’d want to do it from the left. If they farm it out to a panel of righty bloggers, they’re going to get stuff like, “Why shouldn’t we be in Iraq for 10 more years?” An uncomfortable question to be sure, but not the type they’re allegedly in the market for.

I’m not sure why Ed wants bloggers deputized for this role either. One of the guys at Tech President proposed before the Democratic debate that instead of letting CNN choose, the ‘Tubers themselves should select the top 30 or so questions by voting. CNN would eliminate any that are profane or offensive and just ask the rest in order. It’d absolve them completely from complaints over question selection and it’d make for dynamite television given the amount of crankery it would promise. If, as Ed says, the goal is to “truly … make the candidates accountable directly to the people” then why not go with the broadest base of “people” you’ve got?

Demanding a change in rules after the Dem debate’s already gone off actually looks worse, I think, than pulling out altogether. If you walk away, you can at least try to spin it as objecting to an undignified format. Most people won’t buy that, me included, but some will. If you say you’re okay with the format but want the questions approved by people who lean your way, you’re admitting you won’t step in to the box unless you’re expecting softballs. Not only is that PR poison but it makes no sense given that the GOP’s already participated in a CNN debate on June 5. If the prospect of fielding a question from a talking snowman is that disquieting to you, just concede that the Democrats were right to walk away from Fox and walk away.

Update: Ana Marie Cox claims the debate may be moved back all the way to December to accommodate Republican schedules. She’s also surprised that Michelle and her stereotypical image of Michelle aren’t one and the same.