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New First republican debate last night
[link|http://news.yahoo.com/s/realclearpolitics/20070504/cm_rcp/something_less_than_a_debate|Yahoo news]
Can we stop calling these curious cattle-calls among presidential candidates the TV news channels insist on broadcasting "debates"? Whatever it was that took place in the serene surroundings of the
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library last night, it wasn't a debate, something most of us would understand to mean an exchange of political opinions designed to advance an argument about the nation's direction.

No-one is expecting a modern-day equivalent of Lincoln-Stephens. But you'd think that with such a long run-in until the first votes are cast in the presidential election, they'd have a chance to get some consideration of these issues. With ten or more candidates in the field it ought to be possible to make some headway and ensure a pretty broad range of views is represented.

But the show last night didn't even scratch the surface. As I watched it, and even more as I listened to the spinners in the spin room afterwards it became clear that none of the candidates was even remotely engaging in a real debate. They simply decided instead to talk past each other with lengthy recitations of talking points and stump speeches. Whether they were talking about the war, abortion, the Democrats, religion or anything else I don't believe anyone said anything that he had not already said dozens of times on the stump in the last few months. (Rudy Giuliani's one bright moment - his well-informed answer to the question about the difference between Shia and Sunni Moslems was about the only moment of real spontaneity.)


[link|http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/national/stories/050407dntexdebatelines.38e41a1.html|Dallas News]
The Republican presidential debate was not so much a debate, of course, as a TV show.

Sort of American Idol, the early episodes.

Mostly, however, the field was wary of putting too much daylight between themselves and the president \ufffd a mistake, according to the chief strategist of Mr. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

Cleaving to the memory of Ronald Reagan was a safer bet. The former president's name was invoked 16 times on Thursday night. Mr. Bush's? Just once.

The 40th president is revered among the GOP faithful, and his library is perched atop the rugged, tawny-colored hills where he once made cowboy movies.

Didn't see it myself. But from what I have read it was pretty bad. Packed with short versions of the their normal stump speeches and little real substance.

Jay
New I watched it and it was mostly so so.
No hits, no major gaffes. I got a chuckle out of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.).

The full transcript at NY Times is [link|http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/03/us/politics/04transcript.html?|here].

I would like to see a photo of hands up to the question of "Do you believe in evolution?"
Alex

When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. -- Sinclair Lewis
New They apparently were Brownback, Huckabee and Tancredo
[link|http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/05/03/who-doesnt-believe-in-evolution/|Crooks and Liars].

[image|http://static.crooksandliars.com/2007/05/gopdebate-evolution.jpg||A show of hands|390|520]

Cheers,
Scott.
New It was pretty bad.
Matthews asked some very stupid questions, but there were a couple of good ones from the audience and/or The Politico.

Some things I noticed:

- "What do you think is the worst thing about America?" Romney couldn't think of anything bad to say and waxed lyrically about the greatness of America. :-/ In spite of that, he was the smoothest and best "debater" of the bunch. Even when he was questioned about his flip-flops, like whether we should pay any price to get bin Laden, he explained away his previous statements (not that I accepted his explanations, mind you).

- "How many of you do not believe in Evolution?" 3 hands went up. McCain tried to have it both ways and talked about seeing God in the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

- Thompson said that private employers should be able to fire gays just for being gay.

- Ron Paul made a decent showing in arguing for (extremely) limited government. Of course, he doesn't have a chance to win the nomination.

- All most all of them couldn't find anything wrong with overturning Roe v. Wade and some said it would be the greatest day in the history of the country, or something. Jim Gilmore tried to finesse it a little, Rudy Giuliani said it wouldn't make much difference - the country would go on and the states would decide for themselves.

- None of them really said anything of substance when asked what they would do different from Bush in Iraq. McCain said he'd follow bin Laden to the "gates of Hell". :-/

- I thought the format suited Gilmore did very well, but the lighting made him look like he was sweating tremendously. I think he came in 2nd, but at this point he has little chance of winning. Perhaps he's running for VP.

- Rudy mentioned 9/11 about 30,000 times...

- McCain had his "Conservative Republican" suit on, but said he could work with Democrats (trying to have it both ways again)...

- Thompson did well when he talked about what he'd done in Wisconsin, but he probably turned off a lot of people with his comments on firing gays. (What someone's sexual preferences have to do with their job performance is beyond me.)

Mostly, I'd say it was a wasted 90 minutes. The Democratic "debate" was better. Romney "won", but little light was shed on the issues. They're all anti-abortion, they all want to continue Bush's policies, they all praised Reagan unconditionally (which was understandable given the setting), etc., etc. They only differed in their degree of right-wing-ness.

Someone on from The Politico on the radio a week or so ago said that they "debates" should be broken up so that the "first tier" candidates debate among themselves, and the others debate among themselves on another night. That has some appeal. If the extra time was used to allow longer answers and followups, that would be fine. If it just let MSNBC (or whoever) shorten the broadcast or force in more questions, then it wouldn't matter.

There's more at the [link|http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/03/AR2007050301047.html|Washington Post].

My $0.02.

Cheers,
Scott.
(Who also thought Nancy Reagan looked like she was asleep with her eyes open.)
New The weirdest moment was the smile on McCain's face after he
made the comment about following bin Laden to the gates of hell.
Seamus
New I didn't see that, but McCain did seem weird.
[link|http://blog.washingtonpost.com/achenblog/2007/05/the_republicans_who_are_those_1.html|Achenblog] described him pretty well:

[...]

My friend hurled invective at Ron Paul whenever he came on the screen. "He's our Kucinich," he said.

Wait: Tom Tancredo's not the Republican Kucinich? Maybe Tancredo is the Republican Gravel. We need to nail this down.

Let's face it: Not only are most of these guys completely obscure, they also look exactly the same. They're aging Caucasian men with jowls. Several of them are fighting for a starting position on the All-Jowl Team.

Except, of course, Mitt Romney, with his perfect, comic-book jawline. He looks almost aerodynamic, like something manufactured by Boeing.

Having one guy without jowls is what the Republican party leadership calls "diversity."

The large Republican and I thought McCain did poorly. He seemed uncomfortable. He made the tactical decision to stare directly into the camera, to connect with the viewers, but he came off a bit hot, a bit intense, like he might crawl out of the screen and throttle someone. Starting with Osama:

'On the subject of Osama bin Laden, he's responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Americans. He's now orchestrating other attacks on the United States of America. We will do whatever is necessary. We will track him down. We will capture him. We will bring him to justice, and I will follow him to the gates of hell.'

He must have known that last bit sounded a bit over the top, because he quickly forced a smile.

[...]


Cheers,
Scott.
New He was hyper.
More than once he started a word and switched in the middle to the end of another word with the result being a nonsensical word. He just couldn't get the words out fast enough. Too much preparation, I suppose.
Alex

When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. -- Sinclair Lewis
New ICLRPD! (new thread)
Created as new thread #283972 titled [link|/forums/render/content/show?contentid=283972|ICLRPD!]
Any opinions expressed by me are mine alone, posted from my home computer, on my own time as a free american and do not reflect the opinions of any person or company that I have had professional relations with in the past 51 years. meep

reach me at [link|mailto:bill.oxley@cox.net|mailto:bill.oxley@cox.net]
New missed it...
I'm with [link|http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/|P.Z. Myers], who said "I wouldn't watch those weasels unless they were in a crotch-kicking contest," but I thought that [link|http://mediamatters.org/altercation/200705040002#6|Charlie Pierce] had a good take on it (including a "wish I'd said that" historical allusion):
...Put all of these guys together on a stage and they don't add up to Jack Kemp, for pity's sake, let alone the Gipper. Was there a legitimate smile among them all night? Did any one of them grin a grin that didn't look like it was purchased, wholesale, at someone's garage sale?...

This is a field with the gallows in its eyes. They all know full well that, for six full years, they had the chance that Reagan never really had. They controlled all three branches of the government, and they cowed the elite press far more thoroughly than did Mike Deaver and that bunch. And now they realize to whom they handed the keys of the kingdom, and they're all standing there surrounded by bills that are coming due almost by the day. "Movement conservatism" -- which takes Reagan as a secular icon even though he largely saved it from many of its own excesses -- is an empty shell. It always was a bunch of resentments pretending to be an ideology, and it always contained within itself the poisons that would leach out and kill it. (McCain, poor lost soul, saw this more clearly than anyone in 2000.) It ran the country for six years and it stuck us in a war than none of these 10 men could find it in himself -- no Herselves this time around -- to simply denounce. Ten experienced politicians, and not one of them save Ron Paul could align himself with two-thirds of the country. It lost a great American city through criminal neglect. It cored the economy. It bulled its way into a private family medical decision in Florida and turned it into an international embarrassment. It did more damage to the Constitution than we know, and it hung Donald Segretti's picture in the Department of Justice. Where was the one of these guys calling out all this wreckage and stupidity? Not piecemeal, but systematically. Calling for a completely new direction in his party? They can't do it. None of them can. It probably wouldn't even matter at this point. They're all fighting over the tiller of a plague ship at this point. (Which, and I'm guessing here now, is probably why Chuck Hagel, Fred Thompson, and Newt Gingrich have been so coy about running. As soon as you announce, somebody asks you about the Avignon Presidency, and all the air goes out of the room.) No wonder these guys were so glum. A couple more minutes, and I expected Matthews to start handing out blindfolds.
Ah, that [link|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avignon_Papacy|Avignon Presidency]—nice touch there, Chuck.

cordially,
Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist.
New Excellent. Thanks for the links.
New Republicans look doomed in 2008
The party looks doomed in 2008. None of them have the guts yet to declare Bush a failure and mistake. To admit that Bush's administration and legacy is not conservative, that they where right wing authoritarian. Even really separate themselves from Bush's policies is beyond them. They want to be seen as different from Bush, but just as pro-radical right Christian, pro-war, pro-police state and pro-business.

There is quite a bit of the party that has already given on the president in 2008. And they are setting themselves up to loose even more power in Congress.

The big downside to this is that it gives the Democrats a good chance to nominate anybody and have them win. Clinton wouldn't have a serious chance otherwise, and she is the one Democratic nominee that really worries me.

Jay
New Mostly agreed, but it's still early.
If/when the "surge" in Iraq doesn't work, look for more Republicans to see the writing on the wall. Things changed quite a bit in the party after Nixon's troubles (e.g. the rise of Reagan). If the right person comes around, the "conservatives" can be forced from power in the party. It'll take time, though.

I don't see anyone in the running right now that (realistically) can make a clean break with Bush. Maybe Gilmore, but he's (trying) very much to be in the Reagan mode and I don't think many people will buy into it if the Democrats offer a reasonable alternative.

I do think that 2008 is a lost cause for them. But 2010 and later can see them gain back some of their losses if they make a break with Bush's legacy and the Democrats don't get too far in front of the country. But even with a break, I think it's most likely that the Republicans will be a minority party for 10 or more years.

FWIW.

Cheers,
Scott.
     First republican debate last night - (JayMehaffey) - (11)
         I watched it and it was mostly so so. - (a6l6e6x) - (1)
             They apparently were Brownback, Huckabee and Tancredo - (Another Scott)
         It was pretty bad. - (Another Scott) - (4)
             The weirdest moment was the smile on McCain's face after he - (Seamus) - (3)
                 I didn't see that, but McCain did seem weird. - (Another Scott) - (2)
                     He was hyper. - (a6l6e6x)
                     ICLRPD! (new thread) - (boxley)
         missed it... - (rcareaga) - (3)
             Excellent. Thanks for the links. -NT - (Another Scott)
             Republicans look doomed in 2008 - (JayMehaffey) - (1)
                 Mostly agreed, but it's still early. - (Another Scott)

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