Kathleen Parker

The recent YouTube presidential debate -- the oxymoronic event of history's longest political season -- has been dubbed "groundbreaking" and "historic."

Let's also add "ridiculous."

Not that the concerns of snowmen aren't perfectly valid, of course. One of the questions posed during the CNN-sponsored "debate" came from a talking snowman who cited global warming as the most important issue for snowmen.

"What will you do to ensure that my son will live a full and happy life?" he asked the Democratic candidates.

And not that it isn't important to know what each candidate likes and dislikes about the other. In another taped question culled from about 3,000 submitted for consideration, each candidate was asked to turn to his or her left and say what he or she likes and doesn't like about that person.

Brilliant. If you're 5.

John Edwards turned to Hillary Clinton and said he wasn't sure about her coral-colored coat. Barack Obama said, "I actually like Hillary's jacket."

And everybody felt all better.

Some questions were serious, including one about health care for illegal immigrants and another about Iraq -- but too many of the 39 were beyond silly.

YouTube invites silliness, which is part of its appeal, but inviting so-called "ordinary Americans" to film themselves posing questions to presidential candidates does not advance democracy, no matter how much hoopla we manufacture.

What anybody can do, anybody can do. Anyone can make a goofy video and ask a goofy question, but the man or woman intending to lead the free world should resist dignifying the charade.

Joe Biden came close to showing his disdain for this insult to American intelligence, such as it is, when a Michigan fellow asked whether he and his Second Amendment buddies could be sure their "babies" would be safe. He then cradled his own baby, a military-grade automatic weapon.

Biden said he wasn't sure the fellow was "mentally qualified to own that gun."

Even if the candidates were irritated by this faux show of democratic connectivity, they had no choice but to participate. If you refuse to play with the YouTubies, you risk being viewed as elitist and out of touch with Tha Peepul.

Thus, they all seemed relieved when a question was so silly that they could break from pretending to take the evening seriously. The candidates smiled broadly as two Gomers at RedStateUpdate.com wondered if it "hurt y'all's feelin's" that everybody talks about Al Gore all the time.

Naw, heck, no.

Yes, well, the Republic is certainly stronger for that.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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