The Wall Street Journal has a sober front page piece here about Billiam the Snowman, the star of a Minneapolis-produced video question that stole the show at the recent YouTube Democratic debate.
Billiam has quickly become an emblem, not of climate change (the subject of the snowman’s question to the candidates), but of a changed political environment that is making many candidates and political observers uncomfortable.
Of special note is dissension among Republicans, scheduled to participate in their own YouTube debate in September. Some, including Mitt Romney, are lamenting the lack of dignity in the YouTube debate format. Others are aghast at that response, saying the GOP can’t afford to be too dignified for a medium whose popularity is exploding.
Surely the defenders of the YouTubers are right. I, for one, found the YouTube debate easier to watch than many gaggle-of-candidate conclaves. Some of the questions were foolish, many questioners were busy showing off, and the candidates often refused to give straight answers. But all that is frequently true when journalists or studio audiences ask the questions, too.
More time for the candidates would have been good — but only a little more time.
There was a freshness and authenticity about a lot of the video questioners, I thought. They were direct, smart-alecky, corny — like real Americans.
Other thoughts on the YouTube debate format?