Friday, November 30, 2007

The CNN YouTube debates

youtube, debates, republicans,democrats
The CNN YouTube Debates '08
The CNN Youtube debates were on recently, hosting the Republican nominees this time. It has been undoubtedly controversial in its short lifespan. Exposure is key during the early party primaries, especially in this election where campaigning began many months earlier than usual. There are a slew of debates on offer that allow candidates to tap into various audiences. tom tancredo, republican, debate naacp They don't always have to show up, like in this debate organized by the NAACP where only Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo made an appearance. Read full story here

For all the controversy surrounding the format of the YouTube debate, there is no doubt that it attracts a lot of attention from commentators and the blogosphere. Of contention is the validity of the 'Open democratic' nature of the debate. Whilst questions are submitted by users around the world, detractors argue that it is an illusion as CNN picks the questions that go to air. The fact that potential leaders of the free world are questioned by 'unserious' characters is also unsettling. To be fair YouTube and open democracy is represented largely by unserious characters.

VIDEO: Critics point to the Snowman as the exemplar for the debate's ridiculousness

APF pundit Hugh Hewitt is one the biggest critics of the Youtube debates. He has a combative conversation with Steve Grove, the Youtube director of News and Politics. In this interview Hugh questions the judging panel that ultimately chooses the questions as well as undermining the the age and inexperience of the Youtube committee (Steve is 30). Listen to the audio here. Afterwards Hugh does a play by play of the 'travesty' that was the Youtube debate. He shows great interest and seems riveted whilst simultaneously bashing the debate. Listen here.

To highlight the activity on the blogosphere, here are some quick links from two of the biggest video blogs. Representing the right, HotAir. For the left, Crooks and Liars.

From Crooks and Liars (liberal leaning)
- Countdown: John Edwards mocks Republicans for being afraid to take Questions from Democrats
- Giuliani Asked About Creative Bookkeeping To Hide Travel Expenses
- Post-Debate: Undecided GOP Voter Leaning Towards Edwards
- Mitt & Rudy’s Spat–Sanctuary City or Sanctuary Mansion?
- More Boos At Republican YouTube Debate As McCain Re-Writes History
- Retired Gay General Slams Republicans On Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy

From HotAir (conservative leaning)
- CNN producer last week: We want GOP debate to be … “a debate of their party”
- Debate questioner is affiliated with Hillary’s and Kerry’s campaigns
- Hillary plant insists he’s not a Hillary plant
- The disappearing Hillary plant - Does it matter who the questions come from?
- Rudy’s then-mistress “used the PD as her personal taxi service
- Mitt alienates Red Sox nation
- Romney and Huckabee clash over scholarships for illegal aliens

Listen to Hugh criticise the debate before it started
Listen to Hugh criticise the debate after it finished

View all the questions on the official YouTube page.

Hugh Hewitt's disdain for the debate doesn't end there. Here are three more clips of Hugh diss-cussing the debate.
1. Listen to Hugh getting reaction to the "debacle of a debate" from regular guests, Mark Steyn and others.
2. Listen as Hugh continues to get reaction to the "fiasco" that was the CNN/YouTube debate from Time Magazine's Nancy Gibbs, and humorist and columnist James Lileks.
3. Listen to Hugh talking politics and the "CNN debate debacle" with the Fox News Beltway Boys

The greatest pundit of them all, Rush Limbaugh comments on the CNN YouTube debate. Rush also goes close to endorsing a candidate by singling him out as the only true conservative. Listen to the audio via HotAir

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fred Thompson shows some fighting spirit

There was a riveting exchange on FoxNews between Fred Thompson and Chris Wallace. In a recent post I explained how Fred had not met the expectations that greeted his entry into the GOP Presidential race. Read previous post here.

Fred's lethargic and lackluster campaigning has been attracting heat in recent weeks from the media. The pundit class that had built the hype on Fred was beginning to turn hostile towards him. Even from corners that were seemingly ideologically friendly.

It all came to a head on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace interviewing Fred Thompson. After being asked a pointy question about his "disappointing" campaign, Fred in his signature pace vigorously defended his performance
FRED THOMPSON: I understand the game of build UP and I understand game of take DOWN and we all go through it.
VIDEO: Fred Thompson on FoxNews Sunday

Read what HotAir readers thought of the exchange
Read the responses from Democratic Underground readers

Fred Thompson was on Mark Levin's show yesterday following up from his showing on Fox News Sunday. Mark Levin is friendly towards Fred which allowed him to clear the air.
Listen To Fred interviewed by Mark Levin.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Presidential endorsements - Pundits, Wrestlers and Chuck Norris show their support

The US election Season is heating up so its time to round up the thoughts and Presidential endorsements from the people that matter most. At least the people that matter in the APF universe: the pundit class, wrestlers and the one and only Chuck Norris.

We'll start with the pundit class. Conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru has written a piece for National Review contending that Conservative pundits have voted Rudy Giuliani as winner of the 'Pundit Primary'. He listed several prominent Conservative commentators who have declared support for Rudy, this includes the likes of John Podhoretz of the New York Post and the editors of the New York Sun. However he did provide a cautionary note based on the winner of the last Presidential 'Pundit Primary', John McCain who incidentally Ramesh endorses for '08.
Rudy Wins the Pundit Primary
Rooting too heavily for a candidate can be self-defeating. The less detached a pundit, the less persuasive his advocacy. There is a precedent for backfiring commentary. In 2000, the scribblers behind McCain helped to define his candidacy as an attack on the conservative movement and the Republican establishment, which responded by joining forces to crush him. McCain won the pundit primary, but he lost the nomination.
Read Ramesh' full NRO post here
Laura Ingraham briefly discusses this piece with Byron York. Listen to the audio here.

Now for a wrestler's perspective. I won't have to convince APF supporters of the nexus between politics and wrestling. Heck this whole blog is a living document that proves wrestling and politics are inextricably linked. You won't need to be convinced that a wrestler cannot only hold influence by endorsing someone for President, they could in fact run themselves'. That's what Governor Jesse Ventura's popular supporters would have us believe.

As far as wrestler endorsements go, it doesn't get any better than 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair. A living legend in the ring and undisputed Champion has endorsed Mike Huckabee for president. He will be making his endorsement official by appearing at a tailgate party with Huckabee before a football game in Columbia, S.C.
In a statement Flair said
It's a tremendous honor to offer my support to such an outstanding leader as Mike Huckabee," Flair said in a statement issued by the former Arkansas governor's campaign. "His authentic conservative qualifications and level of executive leadership experience are unmatched by his opponents...And like I always say, to be the man, you've got to beat the man and Mike Huckabee is the man. Whoooooooo!
Huckabee as a fan returns the compliment with a nice wrestling reference of his own
Ric's endorsement will help us put a figure-four leglock on our opponents
Read the CNN Political Ticker's story on the endorsement
Read the Boston Globe's story on the Ric Flair endorsement

VIDEO: The 'incumbent President' Ric Flair

Lastly we can't forget the Mother of all endorsements ,Chuck Norris. The APF has already said that Mr Norris is our favourite celebrity pundit for being the sometime fill-in for Sean Hannity. Kickass!

VIDEO: We'll let Huck and Chuck give you the facts

the Huckabee Blog on Chuck's endorsement.
Read HotAir's take on the endorsement

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fred Thompson - is the honeymoon over?

Over a month a go I talked about Fred Thompson and the 'monster push' he was getting from conservatives and the media. A "push" in wrestling parlance is the 'positive coverage or hype bestowed on a character in order to win over fans'. I wrote:
The Charisma of Fred Thompson
A wrestler gets pushed because management realises a personality is being warmly accepted by the fans or has the potential to. That in turn will feed the demand and elevate that person to main event status. Its hard to quantify what gives a person 'star quality', but we know it when we see it. For the wrestler being pushed, all he needs to do is run with the ball once they're given it...Fred is at the point where he's just been given the ball and is now being asked to run with it.
So what's the verdict, how did Fred handle the hype?
The answer - not very well. Whilst he still has his supporters and is firmly in the top tier of republican candidates. He does not have the same aura he once had when he was still an attractive unknown quantity.
It's not all bad. Even though his official entry into the Republican primary was sluggish considering all the excitement that welcomed him. He turned in a passable effort at his first debate. In his early weeks conservatives in blogs and the media spoke of him in even tones even when critiquing his lacklustre performance. This was because he still enjoyed number #2 status in Republican polling and still had the promise of great things. Now not so much.

Pundits and bloggers now freely admit he is boring, lazy and lacking in energy. The candid criticism has largely come about because pundits began to realise he was not the great white hope conservatives were yearning for. They reverted back to battle hardened and dutiful candidates Romney and Giuliani after being briefly being intrigued by 'the new guy'.

Below are some examples of pundits comfortably taking shots at Thompson.
David Brooks calls Fred boring on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer
Giuliani gave a great speech, Fred Thompson was so boring it was in violation of the Geneva Convention... it was the most boring political speech i've ever seen. I'm still suffering from it.
Mark Shields on the same Newshour segment
I did hear Fred speak. He was a cure for insomniacs, if you have a problem sleeping you oughta get a tape of Fred's [speech]... it was not a sterling performance. And I say that as an admirer of Fred Thompson
it's not all bad
Jim: and yet David, the polls, the national polls show Thompson still very strong
David: That's exactly right. And its true that if you leave Washington and go around the Country there
Jim: Yes the punditry is all against him
David: Yes and we're all wrong as usual, but in the Country he still has support...
Listen to the whole Shields and Brooks discussion here.
It's from the October 5 episode of PBS's Newshour. The relevant bits start at the 12min mark. being lukewarm on Fred
"Fred: I need to finish at least third in Iowa". Read post
"Fred’s House supporters wondering where it all went wrong" Read post

Hugh Hewitt scoffing at the NRLC endorsement of Fred. Hugh thinks the National Right to Life Committee has lost their credibility by wasting their endorsement on Fred. Listen to the fiery debate here.
While Hugh has said he will gladly support Fred if he gets the nomination. He has in the past called him a 'dud' and labeled his campaign 'as falling like a rock'

Fred on Fred. Thompson prompts his audience to applaud him. To his defense he was self deprecating in his honesty.
" ...I will [pause] First of all can I get a round of applause. [applause] Well I had to drag that out of you. Now let's talk about what you wanna talk about...
VIDEO: Fred Thompson addressing a small audience

The Round up
Listen to Shields and Brooks on Fred (12min mark)
Read HotAir's take on Fred's goals for Iowa
Read HotAir's take on Fred's support
Listen to Hugh Hewitt on Fred's social conservative bonafides

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Political Cluedo - McCain? Giuliani? Thompson? Romney?!

There is a developing story that gets more and more interesting by the day.

In early-voting states there have been controversial "push polling" calls that pretend to ask earnest questions regarding Mormonism. These 20 minute calls are designed to harm Mormon Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney.
Western Wats, a Utah-based company, placed the calls that initially sound like a poll but then pose questions that cast Romney in a harsh light, according to people who received the calls. In politics, this type of phone surveying is called "push polling" — contacting potential voters and asking questions intended to plant a message, usually negative, rather than gauging attitudes.
Read full story here
Which begs the question, Who's behind it?

Some have speculated that Romney's Republican rivals are behind it. Others like Hugh Hewitt wonder if it's a democratic operation striking while there are "other suspects holding the gun". Many consider this political suicide for the campaign which is found to be affiliated with this smear. The latest evidence is beginning to point at Romney or Romney sympathisers, orchestrating a pity campaign. Dun dun dun.

It's like Cluedo! Or better yet a wrestling angle! Where the final reveal shows that the attacker and victim are one and the same. Its a Classic wrestling storyline, so many examples to choose from. Enjoy!

VIDEO: Undertaker revealing who has been instructing him 
to torment his boss Vince Mcmahon

Quick links to the story:
1) Fox News on the reactions from Romneys' fellow Republican nominees
2) Hugh Hewiit speculates with columnist Frank Gaffney on the whodunnit
3) Hugh blogs on the "Anti Americanism" of the push polling
4) Politico's Jonathan Martin blogs on Romney's veiled accusations against John McCain
5) Mary Katharine Ham blogs on the Whodunnit?
6) Hugh Hewitt and Larry Kudlow express admiration for Romney's principled handling of the smear.
7) Evidence mounts implicating Romney. A Huckabee supporter speculates on his blog,

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hugh Hewitt - when callers attack

There was some spirited discussion on Hugh Hewitt's show Thursday on two different topics:
1) National Right To Life Committee endorsement of Fred Thompson with NRLC executive director David O'Steen.
2) Budget 101, pork and appropriations with Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn
Whilst both discussions were interesting. The former was a fiery debate, the latter an informative discussion. What made these segments fascinating were the calls that followed. Hugh was taken to task by a few callers for his approach and stance during the interviews.

As I've discussed before Hugh is widely known for his soft support of Mitt Romney for President. Whilst he has not openly endorsed Mitt, he has written 'THE' book on the Presidential hopeful and has handicapped the Republican nominee to only 2 candidates, Giuliani and Romney. Hugh has all but discounted all the other republicans and is arguably hostile to them. When he isn't being condescending or campaigning against a candidate, he will show support but only if it has the net effect of favoring his preferred nominee, Mitt. Listen to conservative callers challenging and unsettling Hugh for marginalising the Huckabee, Thompson, Tancredo and Ron Paul supporters.

Below is a sampling from two irate callers that followed the Right to Life conversation:
Caller unhappy with Hugh prematurely declaring the Republican primary a two man race
I'm irritated by the fact that people are telling me before one vote has been cast in any primary that we only have two people to choose from. That it's only a two-man race...interview people, give us your opinion which you do but let us make our minds

Caller vowing never to listen to Hugh again because of his rudeness
Caller Ruth: Well I think you'd win more arguments if you were just a little kinder sometimes...
Hugh: No i can't
Caller: you're really quite rude
Hugh: I'm really just doing my job
Caller: Ok you're job is being rude
Hugh: Are you still gonna call back?
Caller: No, I'm not even going to listen to you
Hugh: YOU'RE NOT! (theatrical shock)
Caller: No
Hugh: Who are you going to listen to?
Caller: You know, after that last election where you were so wrong!

Listen and download Hugh's spirited discussion with angry callers regarding the Conservative primary and the NRLC's endorsement of Fred Thompson

The testy calls to Hugh don't end there. After an interesting discussion with Republican Senator Tom Coburn on the budget, Hugh would receive more heat.
After Hugh softly agreed with a caller that "Social Security is welfare"
Caller: ... the AARP is one of the most evil organizations... everyone out there who is in the AARP on Social Security or Medicare, you are a welfare recipient and that's what needs to be said..."
Hugh: Yeah well I do agree, I don't think evil. I think they are very short-sighted. I think they are extremely bad for the country in their lobbying and that unless and until the senior lobby recognises they are bankrupting their grandchildren we're gonna have a major problem

An elderly caller expressed his anger at Hugh's sentiments, this was echoed by other frustrated listeners. Hugh would later retract his statement after further badgering.
Caller: Yeah I'm infuriated at that little rat you had talking to you a minute ago saying that Social Security recipients are welfare people
Hugh: Well you are!
Caller: You talk to the other guy at the economics, Reagan and all the other guys following that have taken the $3trillion that we paid into it
Hugh: Yeah but you guys
Callers: You guys are living off it, that little rat and you have been living off the Social security payments that we made in, Now he's what? 40yrs old. He's a little welper now but when it's time for him to receive Social Security you're going to see him seeing an entirely different tune"

Listen to the entire segment on Social Security and the spirited talk that followed here.

It seems that this blog has focused on Hugh a lot lately. Its largely because of his comprehensive media archives. But his show's have been enjoyable lately. Not only for the informative guests and combative discourse. But I also enjoy Hugh's many transparent maneuverings to get his man Romney elected whilst keeping up the pretense of impartiality to appease supporters of other candidates.

I encourage you to listen to the audio for yourself as my makeshift transcripts don't do the passion of the callers any justice. Listen below:
1) NRLC endorsement of Fred Thompson with executive director David O'Steen. Listen now.
2) Budget 101, pork and appropriations with Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn. Listen now.
3) Full Hugh Hewitt Audio archives. Find listings here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

6 degrees - Politics to wrestling and back again

People familiar with the blog will be aware of the similarities I've drawn between politics and wrestling. I know some of you are skeptical. Politics and wrestling - What?

I will illustrate the point through my patented 'YouTube 6 degrees of separation'. Initially i was going to write a short description to link the videos, for now i'll let the videos speak for themselves. All I ask is that you indulge me and devote a few minutes of your time to watch the clips. You'll realise without a shadow of doubt Politics and Wrestling are inextricably linked.
(As always with YouTube there's a serious risk of dormant links. Kindly let me know if there are any problems)

Looks like i did it in 5!

Pundit of the year 2007 Wallpaper

Here a nice treat for all you APF fans. A wallpaper to commemorate the Pundit of the Year awards.

Currently it's available in two sizes:
800w x 600h wallpaper
1024w x 768h wallpaper

pundit of the year wallpaper
'American Pundit Fighting' Wallpaper
You can still get your nominations and votes in for Pundit of the Year, Simply follow the link here or the graphic on the far right column.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Matt Taibbi and Sam Seder on the liberal aesthetic

This blog focuses largely on presentation, however it is meaningless if it's not authentic or credible. In June, Matt Taibbi was on Sam Seder's show talking about his piece in Adbusters Magazine critiquing American liberalism. Matt contends that liberals have a victim complex and that their representatives are not connected to the traditional causes and concerns of liberalism. Matt is critical of liberals not only in the way they've chosen to present themselves (victimhood), but also its execution (Rich white college kids as victims).
MATT TAIBBI: ...the people who are the public voice of American liberalism rarely have any real connection to the ordinary working people whose interests they putatively champion. They tend instead to be well-off, college-educated yuppies from California or the East Coast, and hard as they try to worry about food stamps or veterans’ rights or securing federal assistance for heating oil bills, they invariably gravitate instead to things that actually matter to them – like the slick Al Gore documentary on global warming, or the “All Things Considered” interview on NPR with the British author of Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.
Read the full Adbuster's article, The American Left's Silly Victim Complex here

Sam and Matt have a fascinating discussion on the aesthetics of liberalism. How activists need to refocus their energy on being the change they want to see.
MATT TAIBBI: It's not that there not exercising it, they are just not acting like it. If you're showing up at a war rally in a 'Cat in the Hat' hat and stilts... is that a person who you'd think would consider themselves a member of the ruling class in this country. These are rich white college kids, these are the future rulers of this country. They are not acting like people who are preparing to take leading positions in society.
Listen to Matt and Sam's full discussion here

- Go to Matt Taibbi's blog
- Visit the Adbusters homepage
- Read Matt's article in Adbusters
- Listen to the discussion between Sam and Matt on Liberal presentation

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hewitt and Huckabee - Anatomy of a campaign

In wrestling, an 'angle' is the story arc between characters. There is a storyline currently taking place between APF pundit Hugh Hewitt and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee that i'd like to focus on. I've covered events as they've unfolded through its news cycle before but I've never really broken down a story play by play. I thought it would be interesting to unpack an angle as it played out.

a) Tuesday October 30, 2007
It's widely known that Hugh has pretty much called the GOP race a 'two-man show' between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, inferring that a vote for anyone else is a wasted vote. To muddy the waters further Hugh has written "the" book on Romney, A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney. Whether it really is a 2 man debate is questionable as most polls put Fred Thompson 2nd ahead of Romney. Fred, Rudy and Romney are are generally considered 1st tier candidates, though 2nd tier candidate Mike Huckabee has been gaining ground.
Hugh addresses this perceived bias later in this angle.
Listen to Hugh talk about his thoughts on the Republican nomination here.

b) Wednesday October 31, 2007
Hugh interviews Governor Mike Huckabee. Callers ring in to Hugh's show after the interview expressing disappointment and regret at Mike's answers. Huckabee fans complain that Hugh is impartial because of his connections with Mitt Romney.
Listen to Hugh's interview with Huckabee followed by listener phone calls

c) Thursday, November 1, 2007
On his blog Hugh provides a backstory on the Huckabee angle, then goes on to question his strength on conservative values:
But there is a real question about Huckabee's ideological commitment to the bottom-line for many conservatives .... long-serving governors like Mike Huckabee, should be the most experienced and most forceful advocates for a robust federalism .... But for now, those suspicions about Mike Huckabee's conservative credentials seem more solid than they were even two weeks ago."
In his blog Hugh admits that there is an assumption that he has all but discounted the other candidates. He addresses this through the case of second tier candidate, Governor Mike Huckabee.
...I think Huckabee has a prayer --and little else-- of being the GOP nominee, but when significant pundits have time to take a few shots at you, it is worth a closer look.
Huckabee fans have accused me of being anti-Mike for some time because of my view that the GOP race is a two man show between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney My protests that I am just handicapping the race and not giving air time to the second tier GOPers have been unpersuasive to the Huckabee supporters, so I knew they'd be listening closely to my questions Wednesday to see if they contained an agenda.
Read the full column here

d) Mike Huckabee was a guest on APF pundit Bill O'Reilly's show directly after Hugh's interview (view the interview here). Hugh is concerned by Bill's line of questioning in regards to religion. Although a deeply religious and vocal Christian, Hugh does not believe there should be a religious litmus test for presidential candidates.
I wrote at length about the dangers of theology as a guide to presidential qualifications and as a subject for close inspection by journalists covering candidates in A Mormon In The White House. One part of the argument was that demands on Romney to explain his LDS beliefs would set evangelicals and Catholics at the top of a very steep, very slippery slope. O'Reilly's interview questions confirms that my concerns were justified, and the slip down the slope begun.

Read Hugh's full post here.
Hugh also discussed this issue with guest Jim Geraghty on his show.
Listen to the audio here in the 3rd segment. It is a short but interesting exchange on what they call a "bizarre" exchange between Huckabee and O'Reilly. There are a few shots taken against Bill's ego thrown in as well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Larry King with Seinfeld

Don't quite know how this video fits into the theme of this blog, but I like it. I found this clip on Hugh Hewitt's Townhall blog. It's a funny clip, I don't quite know what to make of it. Where was King going with this, was it a work or did he genuinely not know? Seinfeld's face is priceless.

For the record I wouldn't classify Larry King as a pundit.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Congratulations RedSox and welcome Dean Barnett

Truth be told i'm not the greatest baseball fan but congratulations to the Redsox for winning the World Series once again. Speaking of Bostonians and teams who love to be hated I'm proud to introduce the latest APF pundit - Dean Barnett.

Dean Barnett

This characterisation still needs a bit of work. I'll beef Dean up considerably as some of the latest video I've seen of him has Dean hulked up. I don't think i've got the jawline down yet either and the cap... lets just say its still a work in progress. I had a few suggestions for the special move which included the 'Boston Strangler', 'Boston Crab' and 'Beantown Blast'

APF readers will be aware that Dean actually featured this humble blog on his show when he was filling in for Hugh Hewitt.
The old post can be found here.
I have edited the original 35 minute audio archive into a shorter 7min snippet containing just the Wrestling/Politics discussion between Dean and Jonathan V Last.
Find the snippet here

Read the Original dean Barnett Post
Read Dean Barnett featuring the APF on his blog
Listen to Dean talk about the APF - Long version (35min+)
Listen to Dean talk about the APF - edited version (7min+)