Stodgy old CNN met upstart media vanguard YouTube last night in a debate far more entertaining than any of the previous ones thus far. For starters, I was relieved to see Andersen Cooper hosting this debate - it would have taken way too long to explain YouTube to Larry King! One caveat before starting the review though: I set the DVR for 2 hours and the debate ran over that time, so I missed the last round of questioning.
Although the format was designed to allow a more direct connection between the voters and the candidates, each of the candidates were as deft as usual in dodging questions they didn't want to answer and redirecting their answers to questions that weren't asked. Try as Andersen might in keeping the candidates to responsive answers, one must remember that he's dealing with professional politicians!
Speaking of question-dodging and professional politicians, I was floored that so few of the politicians answered the real question when two black voters submitted a question on whether the candidates would work as President for minimum wage. Fabulous non-answers Hillary and John - of course you would work for minimum wage considering the personal wealth that you have both amassed over your lifetimes. The question behind the question was, of course, that should anyone have to work for $5.85 an hour (new MW starting today, that almost seem like teachers' wages to me)? The answer to that should have been a resounding No! Mike Gravel answered that question; Barack answered that question, but Clinton and Edwards both hid behind their wealth.
Overall, I found myself nodding my head to Kunicich's answers quite often. I detected a slight change in strategy from camp Barack as he played more the role of front-runner than in previous debates by seeking consensus among other debates a bit more frequently. He differed from Hillary on one major point that I can recall - whether he would personally meet with leaders from North Korea, Venezuela, Iran & Cuba. He said yes; Hillary said she would send envoys. Though it might only be a small difference , I think the answers signal why Barack would be a much more dramatic agent for change than Hillary. On tough issues, Hillary resorts to political protocol; Barack is willing to be more of a trailblazer when common sense dictates.
Given that this is already debate No. 4, I imagine voters might start to get wary soon - that is why I'd like to see Barack start making up that lingering gap in the polls. This debate might help some, but it isn't quite enough.