A "Surprise"? Internet-Savvy GOP'ers Want a YouTube Debate

When leading Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney demurred on attending a Republican presidential debate hosted by the video-hosting site YouTube, some web-savvy Republicans protested. That's the background for Katharine Seelye's "Allies Urge Republicans to Join YouTube Debate" on Thursday.

"When the leading Republican presidential candidates started to squirm last week about attending a Sept. 17 YouTube debate, in which the public would ask questions via video, there was a surprising backlash from the world of Republican and conservative bloggers."

What's so "surprising" about bloggers wanting their party's candidates to participate in an Internet debate?

Seelye later referred to the situation as "a mess."

Strangely, the initial online version of the story doesn't identify author-blogger Andrew Sullivan as conservative, but the later print version does: "Andrew Sullivan, a conservative blogger writing on theatlantic.com, put it this way: 'The current old white men running for the G.O.P. already seem from some other planet. Ducking YouTube after the Dems did so well will look like a party uncomfortable with the culture and uncomfortable with democracy.'"

Here's just how conservative Sullivan is thesedays: "And what has this messianic maniac in the White House done? He has set loose a fantastically murderous war in Iraq, he has sacrificed thousands of young Americans with the result not of restraining but empowering our enemies, he has done incalculable long-term damage to the country's fiscal standing, he has indirectly caused the massacre of tens of thousands of innocents, he has come close to wrecking the military of the United States, and he has robbed the United States of its long and hard-won record of humane and decent warfare. This is not the work of a conservative statesman; it's the mark of a delusional fanatic."

A Sullivan posting from July 18: "Petraeus is either willing to be used by the Republican propaganda machine or he is part of the Republican propaganda machine. I'm beginning to suspect the latter. The only thing worse than a deeply politicized and partisan war is a deeply politicized and partisan commander. But we now know whose side Petraeus seems to be on: Cheney's. Expect spin, not truth, in September."

Those posts would pass muster at DailyKos. It's not exactly an emerging trend, either - Sullivan endorsed Kerry in The New Republic in 2004.

Seelye played up GOP stereotypes: "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."

Or perhaps the GOP candidates looked at the strong liberal tilt of the questions CNN selected for the Democrat's YouTube debate.