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Thoughts on Last Night’s Republican Debate

Well, if you didn’t watch the debate last night, I hope you recorded it. There were some epic exchanges between both the contestants and the moderators.

Let’s take the candidates one by one.

Newt Gingrich

In the most memorable attack, former Speaker Newt Gingrich went on the offensive. Not against President Obama or the other candidates, but against Chris Wallace. The question concerned the staffers that resigned on Gingrich and the Consultants he fired, as well as his million dollar campaign debt. I thought that this was a fair question and there has been much coverage of the resignations and firings in the media. And it is a huge negative against his campaign. Most candidates in his shoes would have welcomed the chance to set the record straight.

And Gingrich did use the opportunity to explain the walk out: he blamed the consultants for bad advice and running up debt. I don’t like a pass the buck explanation, we have enough of that coming from the White House these days. So I thought Gingrich missed an opportunity to show leadership, even if he admitted he hired the wrong guys.

But it was his attack on Chris Wallace that got the most attention.

Newt accused Wallace of asking “gotcha” questions instead of trying to find out what each candidate would actually do, if elected. Now this is something that I am glad Gingrich had the fortitude to bring up. I am sure he sat around in the postmortem discussions after the CNN debate and decided to call the questioners out on these kinds of questions next time around. And to be sure, Chris Wallace deserved it. Not for this question per se, but for his pattern of questions in the past. And Wallace looked absolutely horrified and flustered, and his attempt at recovering his composure was awkward, to say the least.

This exchange may have received the loudest approval response from the audience of the night. And Gingrich earned a point for this. Unfortunately, he went back to the “gotcha” question again and again. One time was sufficient and made the point. He should have left it at that and looked like a whiner every time he got a tough question.

Gingrich scored well with his repudiation of the recent debt deal and the “Super Congress” it set up. He thinks that is the dumbest idea he has ever heard. This was Newt’s best moment of the evening. But it is not enough to spark interest in this RINO relic from the cold war era who has become more a curmudgeon than elder statesman.

Stick a fork in the Newtster. He is done.

 

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum is an angry man. He comes across as bitter and has an attitude that anyone that does not like him and think he is the best candidate is an idiot. He loves to brag about how he is the only one to beat a Democrat 3 times. Yet never seems to want to mention that in the “what have you done lately” column he had his clock cleaned by the Democrats, and that is why he is no longer a Senator.

And his anti 10th Amendment tirade on why the Federal Government knows best was really hard to watch. And he seemed proud of the fact that he has voted for and pushed horrible bills that were the best he possibly get from the congress he was in at the time. As long as he got some of his “wish list” included in a bill, that was a win for him.

Rick Santorum epitomizes a lot of the thinking that has brought the country to the brink of disaster, and arguably, we may have crossed that line. It is this attitude that gave us the debt ceiling deal with more than $7 trillion in new debt over the next 10 years. Santorum would see this as a big win for America because it “could have been worse”.

We can do better than Rick Santorum. PLEASE stick a fork in him. Quickly!

Herman Cain

Herman Cain is a nice guy. He is very likable, personable and has good credentials as a businessman. He is also the least qualified of the candidates to be president. And I am sorry to have to say that. In the business world, he is a big fish. In the political world, the man is a guppy. Especially on Foreign Policy. In Cain’s defense, I wouldn’t expect him to be an expert on Foreign Policy, so this is not a knock on his abilities. He has far more business experience than the rest of the candidates combined. And he would probably make a great Congressman, Governor or even Senator. These are jobs where one can benefit from business experience and learn the rest. Unfortunately, as we have seen with Obama, on the job training for a president takes too long. While Cain is a great businessman and problem solver, he is one dimensional. A one trick pony. We simply can’t afford to put a president in office that needs remedial training. Especially when the training is Politics 101.

Cain seems to be an answer to our economic problems, but is unprepared and unqualified to lead the country. His answers, and lack of answers becomes more apparent with every debate. Of course after being exposed on a topic, he learns it, like the Palestinian Right of Return. But America’s slippage in the world under Obama calls for a president well versed on all aspects of the job from day one.

Stick a fork in Herman. But do it gently. He would be a great economic adviser to the next Republican President.

Tim Pawlenty

Last night we saw a different Tim Pawlenty. T-Paw has been criticized as being too “Minnesota” nice. He has declined opportunities to go on the offensive against the Republican candidates and had criticized Obama, but more in a gnat sort of way, as opposed to the Pit Bull approach others have taken.

But given the opportunity to smack a girl around, T-Paw pounced on Michele Bachmann and looked more like Freddie Krueger in a Nightmare in Iowa. Now I had heard there was bad blood between the pair, but this brought back flashbacks of the mob outside the courthouse after the Casey Anthony verdict. Pawlenty moved past vicious into misogynist territory.

There was a time I had high hopes for T-Paw. He has managed to convince me my hopes were misplaced. He is looking desperate and defensive I thought his attacks on Bachmann crossed the line. He may do well in the Straw Poll tomorrow, it is hard to say. His performance in the debate last night may have convinced others, as it did me, that T-Paw is either too nice or too mean.

I am sticking the fork in Tim Pawlenty. He may not be done yet, but he should be.

Ron Paul

All I can say about Ron Paul’s performance last night is that those who think Paul is unglued have a lot more ammunition now. The South Carolina debate was Paul’s best debate performance to date. Last night was his worse.

There are a lot of people that simply do not understand Ron Paul and misinterpret his positions, turning them into something they are not. Mostly, these are people that do not understand personal liberty, and do not hold it as an absolute. Ron Paul and the Libertarian end of the political spectrum base every position on maximum personal liberty. It is totally logic based and not hard to understand. And perfectly predictable. And simple.

A lot of people this morning are talking about Paul’s desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and believe that he is Pro Iran. If you do not understand Libertarians, I can see how you might jump to that conclusion. Paul places his “live and let live” philosophy at the forefront of every decision. His “it’s none of our business if Iran has nuclear weapons or not” comment is a perfect example. In the black and white world of Libertarian thinking, the thought process ends at “it’s none of our business”. And Constitutionally speaking, Paul is correct.

By way of a hypothetical example, consider this scenario. Your fellow office worker tells you he is depressed and is going to take an overdose of pills to kill himself. What would you do?

Most people would try to intervene, try to talk him out of it, and even use physical restraint to keep him from harming himself. And if he took the overdose in spite of their efforts, they would call 911 to try to save him.

The pure Libertarian response would be to tell him good-bye and go back to work. He has the right and personal freedom to kill himself if that is what he wants.

Now, the truth be told, most Libertarians that I know would make an exception to their “personal freedom” beliefs and try to save the guy. But in a purely Libertarian sense, they should protect the person’s right to kill himself and do nothing.

So, when Ron Paul says it is none of our business if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, his line of thinking on the matter ends there.

Most non-Libertarians would look a few moves ahead. If Iran has a nuke, Israel would be threatened. There is no doubt about that. And the likelihood that Iran would attack Israel – or someone else – is great. And the result would be disastrous. So, an ounce of prevention is in order to prevent a really bad thing down the road. So America gets involved.

Libertarians do not see America moving to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon that will not directly threaten the Unites States as something the Constitution allows. And they see the argument that Iran might  attack Israel, and Israel is our friend and strategic ally and therefore, an American interest as a convoluted argument akin to the “right to privacy” that a liberal Supreme Court managed to find in our Constitution.

The Libertarians win that point.

But most Americans believe we have a responsibility to the rest of the world.

So, while Paul is taking a lot of criticism for his efforts last night, I would have to say that his answer is exactly what I would expect and is consistent with his core Libertarian beliefs. His remark about the Iranians not having an air force that could deliver a nuclear bomb to America probably hurt his chances of picking up anyone not already Libertarian. And not being totally against Iran on all fronts is not a popular stance, although it is a constitutional stance.

So, Paul will not be able to broaden his base after last night’s performance. The questions he was asked were designed to elicit the exact response that Paul gave them. Like I said, he is totally predictable and consistent. He may very well win the Straw Poll in Iowa. He has an extremely loyal base, but last night shut any doors to expanding that base for Congressman Paul.

Again, let’s go gentle with the fork. I would love to see Ron Paul replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman in the next Republican Administration. It would be the shortest appointment in history.

Jon Huntsman

Really? The only question that mattered to Huntsman was asking if he is running for the wrong party. Clueless, liberal and just all ’round sad. There is nothing that shows me Huntsman should even be in the race.

Stick the fork in him. He’s done.

Michele Bachmann

Last night was Michele Bachmann’s worst performance to date. She looked like she was drugged and not really on her game at all. And at one of the commercial breaks, Bachmann was missing when the cameras returned, and walked up after they made the comment that one of the candidates was missing.

Bachmann deflected most of the Tim Pawlenty attacks pretty well, but in a robotic sort of way. She did appear to be the victim of the attacks and jabbed back in a controlled way, but something just seemed “off” with her.

One Pawlenty attack seemed to really get under her skin. T-Paw accused her of raising cigarette taxes, but Bachmann claimed she had to vote for the bill even with the tax increase because there was a pro-live provision she thought was worth the sacrifice.

But trying to paint Michele Bachmann as a tax raising RINO is not going to work.

A disappointing performance, but Bachmann lives to fight another day.

Mitt Romney

Most are saying Mitt Romney “won” the debate last night. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he won, but he looked the least bad. He seemed to tread water. Nothing earth shattering, just a run out the clock rope-a-dope strategy.

And it worked for him. His “I’m not eating the dog food Obama is serving” line seemed to play well. Not quite “hope and change” but no real plan, either.

I won’t dispute the argument Romney won. Still, nothing to make me think he is anything but a Northern Liberal RINO.

Conclusion

Pretty good debate, all in all. Not boring by any means. But no standout performances by anyone, either. At the end of the day, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann are the only two who should even have been on the floor.

The next debate will include Texas Governor Rick Perry. Hopefully, most of the chaff will be blown away after this debate. Romney, Bachmann and Perry are the only ones we really need to be looking at from here on. Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton a couple of other possible candidate should not even bother. Bolton is by far the best candidate on Foreign Policy, but he has absolutely no economic experience. And Rudy, bless his heart, is simply not up to the task.

 

 


About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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