Video: Mary Katharine Ham gives thumbs up to the YouTube debate

A not so minor detail: This was obviously shot shortly after the debate ended, before news of CNN’s green thumb had emerged. And stick with it — the Hammer does, presciently, raise an eyebrow about some of those odd gotcha questions near the end…

I agree with her, though, about the debate having been enjoyable. People are complaining that the questions from Democrats soaked up time that could have been spent on true conservative concerns but you’re not going to get any meaningful answers about that in this 30-second soundbite format. The only way to have a substantive discussion about policy is to go to a Lincoln-Douglas format, once the field’s been narrowed to two candidates, or some sort of roundtable conversation once it’s been narrowed to three or four. Fred can’t explain his tax plan in 30 seconds; it sounds the same as every other candidate’s tax plan. We’ve sat through half a dozen GOP debates thus far and I don’t think we’ve gotten a substantive answer yet about Iraq beyond “we need to win.” Planted questions suck but the format sucks worse. Change it.

After you watch, it’s worth scrolling through the list of questions for the Democratic YouTube debate to see how many gotchas they got. There was nothing quite as squirm-worthy or inflammatory as the confederate flag question on the GOP side (which was well handled, incidentally, especially by Fred), but these all seem to me like ones I’d expect to see CNN using to sandbag Republicans, not Dems: “Who would you pick as a Republican running mate?”, “Should African Americans be given reparations for slavery?”, “Is it OK to cite religion as a reason to deny gay rights?”, “Do you send your kids to a public or a private school?”, and the always popular “What’s to like and dislike about the candidate to your left?”