And the winner is...
Who won this debate? I have to say that the winner is the Internet, by default, on account of the poor performance by Traditional Media.
Gwen Ifill's question's were less than satisfactory. Two questions on gay marriage and two on tort reform? Endless gotcha questions and invitations to personal attacks or defensiveness? Almost nothing on health care, education, North Korea, or nuclear weapons?
Almost every answer was used to talk about something other than the question asked, because she didn't let them get their policies on the main issues on the table before going after very specific questions. Right off the bat, she asked Cheney about having enough troops in Iraq and the lack of a Hussein-Qaeda connection, and of course he wanted to say something first about why we'd gone into Iraq.
I won't even get into the awkward moment she created with a bizarre error: starting to give Edwards an extra 30 seconds and then taking it back.
Now, just imagine if Dick Cheney and John Edwards had been getting their questions directly from the Internet. Imagine the incisive questions on crucial issues that would emerge from this roiling ocean of pure information.
But the Traditional Powers tried to bar the Internet from the debate through their lengthy and arbitrary rules, and so the only way to share in its full wisdom is to come into its depths and drench yourself in its crashing waves of information.
The Internet, though, proved too strong, vibrant, and clever for these old and decrepit powers to keep it from injecting itself right into their midst. One website broke through their stonewall, smuggling itself into the words of our Vice President: factcheck.com. And to any of you who might claim that it was Dick Cheney who was being an active agent by choosing to call up this website as part of his own agenda, I ask you this: do you really think that Dick Cheney is that big a fan of George Soros?