Jackie Gingrich Cushman

After reading about the Nov. 28 “CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate,” I decided to watch the video online last night. Normally, I might have contented myself with Colbert’s or Stewart’s take – but the ongoing writers’ strike meant I had to trudge through the 2-hour debate myself.

After the welcome by moderator Anderson Cooper, CNN played a video that included snowmen, little green men and animals, both stuffed and real. Supposedly, the intent of the video was to show what would NOT be allowed during the debate – but instead the video appeared to be juvenile, a waste of time. It also made me wonder if Paula Abdul and Simon were waiting in the wings with comments. I wished for the writers’ strike to be over.

After the candidate introductions, CNN played a video from Chris Nandor of Snohomish, Wash. Chris played the guitar and sang a ditty introducing the candidates. While Chris has a fine voice, can play the guitar, and sang entertaining lyrics, his act would have demeaned the debate had it not been for the prior video with snowmen, aliens and animals – remember it always matters whom you follow.

The good news is Chris has perfect material to entertain friends with during happy hour around the bar.

Ten minutes and 30 seconds into the debate, the first question was finally asked – yea, actual content, -- about immigration. This led to a round of answers and accusations from Giuliani and Romney and booing from the audience. It was hard to tell if the audience was booing Giuliani for continuing to attempt to make the same point, or from boredom with the answers.

The second questioner asked the candidates to pledge “to veto any immigration bill that involves amnesty for those that have come here illegally.” After Thompson and Giuliani answered, McCain offered his perspective on the format of the night’s debate, “You know, this whole debate saddens me a little bit, because we do have a serious situation in America."

I agree. While not bad for a country low on comedic entertainment due to the writers’ strike, the debate format did not provide viewers with a serious, grounded framework for determining who ought to lead our nation’s government. However, the debate went on, with questions and answers on gun control, imports and abortion.

Giuliani remained tough on crime, Romney remained good-looking and smiling, McCain remained tough on national security.

Thompson appeared to engage just enough to stay on course.

All in all, these candidates performed as expected.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.