Sunday, January 8, 2012

Another Poor Debate Compliments Of ABC

I said it the last time ABC hosted the Republican debate, and I'll say it again - the Republican candidates should never agree to a debate hosted by George Stephanopoulos and Diane Sawyer.  Last night's debate was another mini-travesty with the moderators asking utterly inane questions seemingly right out of the Democratic playbook.  The worst of the bunch was whether states have a right to ban contraception.  As Romney pointed out ten times to Stephanopoulos, that is not an issue any state has raised.  Then there was another 15 minutes spent on gay marriage - an issue in which the candidates have not an inch of space between their positions.  The only reason to dwell on it in a Republican debate was to prime the left wing pump for the general election.

Romney got through the debate without being seriously challenged by any of the candidates.  Newt hinted at a challenge, but could have been much more aggressive in comparing and contrasting his economic plan with Romney's, as well as his experience in creating the conditions for job growth.  At this point though, it might all be academic.  Michael Barone is calling it for Romney.  I will hold my breath until South Carolina.

As always in the debates, the best lines of the night came from Gingrich.  Chief among those was his response on the gay marriage issue - refusing to take the Stephanopoulos bait:


Even two of the most despicable pundits on the right, Coulter and Rubin, applauded Newt for that answer on twitter.  I can only guess that they feel Newt's candidacy is already mortally wounded, and thus it is safe now to show a bit of magnanimity.  If Newt was leading, I would expect the two of them to be banging the drum on how Newt's performance was dismal and how Romney shined.  They are a disgraceful pair.

Ron Paul was Ron Paul, taking shots at Santorum and Gingrich, though surprisingly not really taking any shots at Romney.  If you were not for Paul before the debate, nothing he said is likely to change your mind.

Santorum got asked a lot of questions and didn't fumble any of them.  My sense was that he neither helped nor hurt himself tonight.

As an aside, let me point out that I do not support Santorum for the nomination.  Indeed, I rank him just above Ron Paul.  My problems with Santorum are two fold.  One, he lacks charisma and seems humorless.  Two, my sense is that he is committed to social conservatism the way the far left is committed to progressivism.  He would push to ensconce his views into law without respect to federalism or majority views, as the far left has done with their own ideology over the past fifty years.  While I am a social conservative, I am a Constitutionalist first.  I do not think that Santorum is.  

Huntsman and Perry did not get asked many questions.  I can't see them staying in the race beyond South Carolina.

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