Proving once again that the surest way for a conservative blogger to get big media attention is to criticize his own side. Just as predictably, try to guess which no-longer-very-conservative “conservative” is quoted in support of the piece’s thesis. Here’s a hint: one of his latest links is to a left-wing blogger speculating that John Roberts’s seizure might have been caused by drug abuse.

Despite the fact that the controversy’s been raging for less than a week, despite the fact that it’s unknown to anyone outside the blogosphere and the few dozen YouTubers who have cared enough to post something about it, despite the fact per the Times’s own reporting that it looks like Giuliani and Romney are back in, the “damage may have been done.”

The candidates are now trying to patch up the mess. Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, two of the leading Republicans, had said last week that the Sept. 17 date interfered with their fund-raising schedules and Mr. Romney said the video format was demeaning. Today, an aide to Mr. Giuliani said the campaign was working with CNN, which is to show the debate, to find a mutually agreeable date, while an aide to Mr. Romney said they were waiting for CNN to propose a new date and would then consider participating…

Still, the damage may have been done in reinforcing a stereotype of Republicans as stuck in a time warp, writing off younger voters and afraid to face an unpredictable public that has a negative opinion of the current Republican White House and the war in Iraq.

Well, it may have been done now that this has been published. But I tend to think not.

Exit question: Who’s responsible for this blistering critique?

“[I]f they put a premium on getting their message across online, they wouldn’t have hesitated” to join the debate. “But they want to use the medium only if they can control it, which speaks to an underlying fear or ignorance or discomfiture.”

Exit answer: Not Andrew Sullivan…