Debate Thoughts

I sort of watched tonight’s debate, joining in about half an hour in and catching up on my RSS feed while listening. Here are a few thoughts. First, the candidates:

  • Herman Cain seems to have peaked. He wasn’t nearly as persuasive as he was in the last debate and he had difficulty on the Muslim loyalty question. He really needed to stand out tonight and he didn’t.
  • Michelle Bachmann is a serious candidate — far more serious than Sarah Palin. She’s better on the issues, smarter and more confident in her knowledge. I don’t like her positions at all. But I think she could end up as a vice-presidential candidate. I was surprised by how well she carried herself.
  • Much as I like Ron Paul, he seems tired and not nearly as refreshing as he was in 2008. There are times when he’ll say something that makes me cheer and I hope he sticks around for a while. Think of him as the libertarian conscience of the GOP.
  • When it comes to Rick Santorum, I’m not objective. The guy just annoys the fuck out of me.
  • Tim Pawlenty seems like a nice guy and his candidacy reminds me a bit of Huckabee’s. But he seems to keep getting lost in the crowd. Every time he spoke, I was like, “Oh, yeah. T-Paw is there. Huh.”
  • Newt occasionally said something interesting to wistfully remind of his early days, when he seemed likely to transform our government. As as Presidential candidate, he’s toast.
  • Mitt Romney is clearly the front-runner even though his rivals don’t seem to realize it. He was poised and presidential. He made me cringe when he got into social issues. But I still think he will win the nomination if his organizational skills are anything. He and Pawlenty were the most sane and are therefore the most likely to win the nomination. Despite the rantings of the Left, the GOP does not nominate demagogues for President. McCain, Bush, Dole, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon, Goldwater, Eisenhower … all of these guys were in the conservative mainstream.
  • The one guy who I most missed was Gary Johnson. Johnson really impressed me in the first debate and I think his voice would have been wonderful in this one. He’s a saner version of Ron Paul.

    As for the issues … well, there wasn’t a lot of time to get into substance and the moderator seemed uninterested. In that situation, the debate degenerated into talking points. The culture war issues distressed me, especially the support for the Federal Marriage Amendment — the GOP’s current attempt to replace the so-called Southern Strategy as their cultural albatross. They seemed to be all over the place on the economy. The only thing I heard clearly was that whatever Obama was doing was wrong. That’s not a policy. The only one who seemed to really have a grasp of the issues was Romney, but that probably has more to do with his polish as a candidate.

    Hopefully future debates will allow longer answers and get into substance. A better format with this big a field might be to have two four-way debates among the eight candidates. Toss an issue out and let them go at it for half an hour. Then we’ll see who knows his ass from his elbow.

    Comments are closed.

    1. West Virginia Rebel

      I would really rather the GOP look beyond Romney and go with T-Paw if he can get his act together better. Bachmann making her formal announcement was great political timing. She did look like a more serious candidate and seems to be poised to be Sarah Palin’s heir apparent if Palin doesn’t run.

      I think this is Ron Paul’s last hurrah. He’s basically the Harold Stassen of the Republican Party, although I do agree he acts as their conscience much of the time. I think it will be up to his son to carry on the libertarian banner from here on out.

      I have no idea what Newt is still doing in this thing. His campaign has spectacularly self-destructed. This is a vanity run for him although he has glimmers of the Newt of old. But he represents the past and it’s not the mid-90’s anymore.

      Santorum really is Latin for a-hole. The only thing he seems to be good at is pandering to the fundie wing of the GOP.

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    2. Kimpost

      Good analysis of the candidates, Hal. I mostly share it, but I was even less impressed by Newt. I saw virtually nothing interesting coming from his mouth. Very grey performance.

      Bachmann did a good job. It’s clear to me that she’s like Palin, but better. She doesn’t stumble, and she’s well versed. Hell, sometimes she even looks hot, which is a revelation sending shivers done my liberal spine. Creepy!

      I’m still waiting for Pawlenty to grow. I know it’s too early to tell, but I’m beginning to wonder if he’s got it in him. Policy wise he should be able to gain popularity, but he needs to get through the cameras.

      Herman Cain was very good in the first debate, and he didn’t exactly do poorly this time, but I think that he is destroying his chances by not having a stance on some key issues. I’m not demanding fully detailed plans on for instance Afghanistan or the Middle East, but there certainly is enough information available to form some form of opinions on these matters.

      I can’t take Santorum seriously. I just want a gay sex scandal to drop on his knees. I know, I’m a terrible person, but…

      Romney remains the top guy, and his latest spike in the polls only accentuate that.

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    3. Xetrov

      I agree with most of what you said, Hal. Except about Johnson. The guy’s a loon.

      Bachmann spoke better than I thought she would – she’s made some very dumb comments in the past, I was expecting more of the same, so it was a surprise she didn’t.

      Other than that, it was par for the course. I agree about Santorum, there’s something…off about him.

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    4. Seattle Outcast

      I can’t take Santorum seriously. I just want a gay sex scandal to drop on his knees

      You just know SOMETHING is going to show up to ruin his day, it’s just a matter of when…

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