November 29, 2007
On that YouTube Debate Question...

It turns out that at least one of the questioners in last night's CNN/YouTube farce wasn't actually a plant...and it was coincidentally the guy who asked the space question:

My name is Steve Nielson. And this question comes to you from Denver, Colorado. JFK's vision put a man on the moon from a nonexistent space program in about seven years. The new vision for space exploration has provided about 15 years for that same feat. Meanwhile, Congress is pulling funding for human-to-Mars research altogether. Is there a candidate amongst you willing to take a pledge on behalf of the Mars Society of sending an American to the surface of Mars by 2020? If not, what is your vision for human space exploration?

What's interesting here is that while the question isn't directed at Huckabee, it comes from a Huckabee supporter, and Anderson Cooper put it to Huckabee first. I see nothing wrong with that (aside maybe from a lack of disclosure), and it doesn't make it a "planted" question in my mind.

The really interesting thing about it, however, is that it suggests that CNN itself knew that Steve Neilson was a Huckabee supporter. That is, they learned enough about Steve from his YouTube profile or other background research to make the association and steer the question to Huckabee. Which is perfectly natural. But it makes one wonder why they were so suprised that several of the other questioners were such easily-uncovered plants.

I should point out that I'm acquainted with Steve, since I work with him on Orion. He is also a member of the current class of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, of which I am an alumnus.

As to the content of the answers to Steve's question, I don't find them particularly illuminating or interesting. Huckabee merely rattled off a motherhood-and-apple-pie NASA-centric answer (spinoffs are good, and we need more funding for "the space program" to keep up the spinoff supply), and Tancredo poo-poohed Mars exploration as "too expensive" when we have higher priorities here on Earth. No...actually, Tancredo's answer is interesting, since A) it's a Walter Mondale response, and Tom Tancredo is no Walter Mondale; and B) because the major work on Orion is being performed in Tancredo's Congressional district. I can't say I disagree with his reasoning, I'm just a little surprised that he wouldn't be a bit more (instinctively) circumspect regarding a matter directly affecting nearly a thousand of his constituents, and thousands more indirectly through the single largest employer in his district. Of course, Tancredo has about as much chance of attaining the Oval Office as Constellation has of reaching Mars, so I guess whatever he thinks about the matter is moot.

Posted by T.L. James on November 29, 2007 07:14 PM | TrackBack