The CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate serves as a perfect example of why conservatives refer to CNN as "Clinton News Network." Republicans should have declined CNN's invitation, just like Democrats declined Fox News, though it's doubtful Fox would have orchestrated or permitted a similar ambush of Democratic candidates.
The "debate" involved many questions designed not so much to highlight the candidates' differences (other than Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney on immigration) but to place the entire conservative agenda in a negative light.
Many were "When did you stop beating your wife?" questions because they included premises calculated to make Republicans look bad irrespective of the candidates' responses. Even if CNN didn't conspire with the questioners, the effect was the same. You'd never catch Democrats in such a situation. Let me give you a few examples and, with some, offer alternative responses.
One questioner asked what criminal penalties should be imposed against an aborting mother -- not whether there should be criminal penalties but what they should be. The purpose was to divert attention from the horror of abortion to the seeming harshness of criminalizing pregnant women who choose to end their babies' lives. Conservatives are uncaring, uncompassionate and evil. Are Democrats ever asked whether the denial of a woman's "choice" to abort is outweighed by the denial of the baby's very right to live?
Another asked "Christian conservative" candidates whether Jesus approved of the death penalty. On the heels of the abortion question, this question seemed intended to 1) suggest an inconsistency in the conservative position opposing abortion but supporting capital punishment and 2) paint Christian conservatives as false followers of Christ because Christ presumably wouldn't favor capital punishment.
Gov. Mike Huckabee masterfully answered the first implication, explaining that the death penalty is imposed on those adjudicated guilty by law whereas abortion is performed on the most innocent -- something I've always said, having never understood this illogical liberal attempt at playing "gotcha."
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