Thursday, May 03, 2007

The first Republican debate

Ah, the debate. Ten Republicans lined up like ducks at a shooting gallery. Chris Matthews can be a little loud and show offy, and will shoot off at anyone who offends him. But he seems ready to put aside the opinion guy, and be the anchor guy right now.

Giuliani got the first question. It seemed like a set up. It involved Ronald Reagan. Giuliani went right for the optimism angle. Ironically, for a guy who never sounds like he is making a speech, he sounded like he was making a speech. When Giuliani is asked about Israel, he is tempered and moderate. Well, why not? Giuliani is smooth. He sounds so compassionate. I’m fighting my memories though. Still, I give him credit. When almost everyone else said Roe must go, he said it is OK if it did, and OK if it didn’t. Then he surprises me when he is asked a question about the Christian right and quickly runs away with a wimpy answer and on to something else. I got chills.

To McCain, a first question on Iraq. Fair? Not sure. But he fielded it well, and became passionate. Not too optimistic, but not too pessimistic either. Later though, he is given an Iran question. I still like his hawkish answer. What is your trip wire to war with Iran, he is asked. He plays the nuclear card, but is reasoned and moderate. The message is, we will protect you America, but we will not go off halfcocked. McCain takes a question about Tancredo and turns it into a question about Osama. He will follow him to the gates of hell. See what he is going for? Islamic extremism, if you missed it. He also pounds on spending and gets some laughs. If I were one of the lightweights, I’d be angry at how many raw meat questions he gets. A new wrinkle on me, he is big on the line item veto too. He punts once on a question of what Democrat, other than Joe Lieberman, he would put in his cabinet.

I haven’t taken Romney too seriously yet. Not until the public seems to recognize him. I doubt he would be noted in a crowded room, although he came off presidential. On his second question, he seems so knowledgeable. Hmmm. Romney is asked what he doesn’t like about America, and, of course, gives an eloquent paean to America. Oh, and kisses Ronald Reagan’s . . . . He also covers the abortion flip flop. No one will care on the conservative side, as long as he is pro-life now. He answers other faith questions well for the crowd he has in front of him. He has impressed me with his poise.

Those are the big guys.

Tommy Thompson was ready for his Iraq question and made several original sounding suggestions for his opening shot. Not bad, but I could hear America saying - who are you? Asked if Iraq was partly Bush’s fault – he punts. And when he gets a global warming question he says – what? It was eloquent but said nothing. Should a company be able to fire a gay worker? Yes? That he is sure about. He is very religious, apparently. Didn’t know that. But then, in response to how many killed in Iraq and how many injured he says that several thousand were injured. I think it’s more like 25,000.

Sam Brownback came off well. He is much demonized by the left because of his social values (pro-life; anti gay rights). He surprises by saying he will support a pro-choice Republican candidate. He comes across as the most religious of the group. Late in the day, he showed courage bucking Nancy Reagan’s pet program in her own house.

Huckabee is just so huggable. He looks presidential and comes across like a tv dad (pre-Simpsons anyway). What was his answer. Not sure I care. With Duncan, he is excellent VP material. A Southern governor with conservative credentials. I almost forgot he was there at one point. Didn’t know he wants to get rid of the IRS. This is not a good way to show off his skills. He is at his best when he can show his Southern charm.

Jim Gilmore. There’s that swell in the air again. Who are you? He is almost left out of the debate and I believe will soon be gone. He is asked at one point if he would appoint Karl Rove, his friend, to an office in the White House, if he won. I couldn’t believe he didn’t really answer. If he says he was governor of Virginia one more time, or that he lives up to his word . . . . Oh, God, he said it again.

And Ron Paul – the anti-war guy. Dr. Paul is the libertarian in the group and one of the traditional constitutional conservatives. He would get rid of the IRS immediately if he could. Who wouldn’t like that? But he admits, our culture would need to change first. Like Gravel on the Democratic side, he believes strongly in his values, and can’t understand that no one cares. Given an opportunity to talk about a big critical decision he made, he couldn’t think of one. His best moment was in speaking against a national I.D. card.

Tom Tancredo, whose whole game is immigration, is asked an Israeli question. Fumbles it. too. It is passed to Giuliani – will they ever come back to him? They do, and ask him a useless question about Karl Rove, who we learn would not be in his White House. Who thought that would really happen anyway? As they move along, he makes sure he gets in a Ronald Reagan plug. The play of the day, apparently. When he finally gets an opening, he runs with the immigration ball and acts as if he is the only one thinking about it.

Hunter Thompson also seems left out at times. At one point he jumps in with an answer about Iran that he wasn’t asked, trying to grab some thunder. He also jumps in after McCain makes a speech about Islamic extremism and points out his experience. Does the same with immigration which he is as strong on as Tancredo is. Give me serious questions, he seems to say. This debate may not do him any good, although he is a strong figure. I did learn that he believes global warming is important.

Matthews did well at the end of the day. He kept control, was personable and moved it along. MSNBC has hit upon a good way to do debates. It flies and forces the politicians to speak quickly and get to the point. He goofed once making a rude comment after one candidate's answer.

I know this was Reagan’s presidential library, and the candidates were trying to please conservatives, but Reagan wasn’t king for goodness sake. Leave him lie.

These debates make me laugh. Do they really think they are getting rid of the IRS or getting a flat tax? I loved the question about who didn’t buy evolution. Three raised their hands, but you couldn’t see who, except TomTancredo. I am guessing Brownback and Huckabee, but I really don’t know. Security is mentioned a bit, but it was not the main show. 9/11 did not coming up a lot.

Who won? I think the big three did real well. I am not sure that any of the others made the impact they needed. Paul was different enough that he might be remembered, but he is too far out to have it do him any good.

I find that personal bias plays such a role in who you think one. Is my thinking McCain won a result of my preference for him? Probably, but my honest opinion is he may have gained something with conservatives. But I also think Romney made an excellent impression, and that Giuliani held his own. It might change the polls a little, but there was already a slight trend towards McCain up and Giuliani down.

Did it change many opinions as to whom voters would want to see nominated? Probably not. How many watch these debates, anyway. An impressive bunch of guys. Too conservative for my taste as the Democratic candidates were too liberal. What is a moderate to do?


  1. Wishy-washy. What do you really want to say about these guys? It would be more interesting....

  2. Anonymous7:02 PM

    I guess you're looking for a candidate who is a chimera.


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .