Oprah vs. Bill

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Less than three months after he was a guest on her talk show, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey are emerging as the ultra-surrogates on the campaign trail. The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut calls it a “rare collision of talent and fame.” Not quite: The former president is in Iowa today; Winfrey arrives on Dec. 8.

Kornblut writes, “Both are legendary communicators, perhaps the two greatest in their
generation. Both helped build an ethic of empathy, turning the public
confession into a rite of passage. Both are world-renowned — one for
being a former president, the other for a TV show usually identified
just by her first name.”

Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, thinks that Oprah will give Obama a boost in Iowa. “I think Oprah Winfrey is a remarkable figure,” Gingrich told ABC’s Diane Sawyer,
“I think she brings a, not just a celebrity status, but there are
millions of people who trust her judgment.”

Pressed on whether
the Oprah-factor would “tip” the nomination toward Obama, Gingrich
replied, “I think it’s a significant asset to (Obama) and he’s not
married to her.”

“I think there’s a double-edged sword when
President Clinton shows up because he also reminds you, do you really
want two presidents in the White House?  And do you really want Mrs.
Clinton to have to rely on President Clinton to have to win?”

You Tube II:
It seems like a lifetime ago that Democrats participated in CNN’s You Tube debate. Remember the talking snowman? The man with all the guns? On Wednesday, it is the GOP’s turn. But on the Huffington Post, the Norman Lear Center’s Martin Kaplan challenges the notion that the forum will be grassroots. He keys in on a comment from CNN’s Washington bureau chief david Bohrman, who says that “CNN wants to ensure that next Wednesday’s Republican event is a ‘debate of their party.’ ” Kaplan, however, notices that many questions already submitted concern gay marriage and GOP opposition to it, and doubts that CNN will pick any of those to the Republican candidates.

Kaplan writes, “If YOU don’t fit the CNN profiling division’s definition of a
Republican, then no matter how personal your sexual orientation may be,
no matter how original you are in the way you ask it, the CNN team will
yank you from the questioner pool like cyber-crabgrass.”

He has a very good point. The most jarring thing about the debates in both parties is that the candidates seem to be talking about two different countries. Isn’t it time for a news org to prepare questions for a Democratic and Republican debate, then switch them at the last minute?

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