Republican Presidential Debate in Iowa

by Ryan on August 5, 2007

in Election 2008,Politics,The Iraq Front,War on Terror

The announced Republican contenders for President met this morning in Iowa for an ABC News debate hosted by the snivelling “former” Clinton stooge George Stephanopolous.  I’m getting pretty tired of this format where we don’t really get to the heart of any issues but only seem to allow the candidates to spew talking points and move on.  Honestly, I only watched about 75% of the debate since it was poorly advertised (who watches ABC anymore anyway?). 

None of the press cares or focuses on the second tier candidates and unless you’re as funny or as quick as Mike Huckabee (who continues to pique my interest), you aren’t standing out:  Tancredo remains a tense-looking one issue guy, Tommy Thompson comes off as creepy on TV which mutes his message, Brownback (like McCain) shot himself in the foot with his stance on illegals, and Duncan Hunter should be our Veep candidate, but since the press ignores him generally he’s still too unknown. 

Lest we forget the indomitable Ron Paul.  He was the only candidate who wants to leave Iraq now, called the war illegal and co-sponsored a cut-and-run bill with Dennis Kucinich.  I mock Ron Paul every chance I get because it’s easy and he insults my intelligence on many issues (his Cheney-has-more-power-than-Bush nonsense produced a belly-laugh), including Iraq.  He’s MSM entertainment and draws his support from a base I cannot consider in touch with much, if they still claim to be Republicans at all.  Just goes to show you how far a few crazed Internet junkies can make an unknown unlikeable.  When Ron Paul finally drops out of this race, I have a feeling many of his supporters may not vote Republican anyway in the general.  They won’t vote for She Who Must Not Be Named (she’s not for an immediate troop withdrawal), but they are prime Bloomberg or “Unity ’08″ bait who’re apt to suddenly claim that they’re “moderates” who “want a change.”

Back to the substance.  The debate was spirited and generally more Democrat bashing than Republican wrangling took place.  Comparing this debate to the Democrat debates, one can still tell who the adults in the room are.

I hate calling McCain a frontrunner but he lingers near the top tier in most (real) polls and still gets the top-tier number of questions asked to him.  I still think he comes off as nearly unhinged, holding back his ferocity simply because the cameras are there.  Solid on the War on Terror, a person who prides himself as a party maverick should, in principle, probably never get that party’s nomination in my opinion.

Mitt Romney had a number of good one liners that the press picked up on. 

  • On Ron Paul:  “Has he forgotten about 9/11?”  No, Mitt, he’s forgotten he’s a Republican.
  • On Barry O’Bama:  “I mean, in one week he went from saying he’s going to sit down, you know, for tea, with our enemies, but then he’s going to bomb our allies…  I mean, he’s gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove in one week.”  Great line!  Duncan Hunter hit Barry too, warning the obvious point that we shouldn’t be unilaterally bombing our allies.
  • Ostensibly on Sam “Switch back” Brownback:  “I get tired of people that are holier than thou because they’ve been pro-life longer than I have.”  Sounds a little defensive… Mitt’s feeling the pro-life pressure.

Rudy Giuliani had the most important line of the debate when he said:  “In four debates, not a single Democrat said the word, ‘Islamic terrorists.’” Beyond all the name calling and policy jostling, this point is crucial as to where America’s future lies after November 2008.  His social issues will continue to dog him amongst the conservative base.  I’d love to vote for Giuliani, but for his positions on the social stuff– I just don’t trust that we’ll get Roberts’ and Scalia’s out of him.

In my opinion, Huckabee looked articulate and was sensible, but Romney had the memorable one-liners this time.  I don’t think this debate changed anything, but that’s more of a format issue with these debates.  Given them equal time (five minutes minimum) or just stop inviting the second tier.  You can start with Ron Paul! 

AP photo.  Notice who’s missing.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike August 5, 2007 at 8:45 pm

I generally agree with your take on this Ryan.

I thought Romney stood out. It is clear that he has an in-depth understanding of the issues and the ability to articulate his beliefs along with the reasons for holding beliefs on many levels. It appears that he has the best campaign skills on the GOP side (which in my mind is different than electabiility.)

Rudy was a close second. He was incredibly focused on slamming liberals. I especially enjoyed his response which challenged the liberal reporter’s assumptions on taxes. Poor chap, he was so eager for an excuse to raise taxes and got oh so testy when Rudy respectfully put him in his place.

Once again, Duncan Hunter stood out. His ability to explain military matters with tremendous specificity can only impress voters who don’t normally follow politics closely. He won’t win the nomination but nominee would be foolish not to at least put Hunter on their VP shortlist.

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Donald Jaffa August 23, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Forensic talent in debate is an essential ingredient for victory in presidential debates. With character it becomes an insurmountable asset. The one-eyed monster venue sees all and reflects everything. It was the reason Richard Nixon lost the debates with JFK. RMN’s forensic skills were better, but the camera showed JFK in better light. That lesson learned, the fourth estate twitters around BO as the new (albeit Black) JFK. But “she who must not be named” remains the unassailable ‘Snow White waiting to be kissed on Super Tuesday!’

It must be said that Ronald Reagan could rise to occasions that challenged him. He once had the opportunity to debate William F. Buckley, and roiled Bill to the point where Buckley’s suppressed stutter overwhelmed him. But Ronald Reagan was a one-trick pony presidency, and that was the destruction of Soviet Communism. The clear message was that Reagan did not have the heart for the long fight, as demonstrated in not having the courage to pardon Ollie North and Poindexter for killing Central American communists. Gerald Ford had that political courage and used it to pardon RMN. None of the political candidates now in the field have that kind of courage, save a twinkle of it by Rudy.

The intellectual armor and heart for combat resides in only one politcally tested warrior and that is Newt Gingrich. Fred Thompson is really untested for the long haul, but might be able to flash in the pan. The series of debates between ‘she who must not be named’ and Newt Gingrich, is the only possibility to send the Senator back to New York, where she presently carpet bags.

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Mike August 23, 2007 at 10:34 pm

I agree with most of what you said Donald but when one takes a look at top marginal tax rates prior to 1981 and after and couples those figures with the unprecedented GDP growth since 1983, it becomes increasingly clear that President Reagan was anything but a one-trick pony.

But even if one were to somehow view Reagan as a one-trick pony, defeating an evil empire with tentacles around the globe is more like a one-trick horse the size of She Who Must Not Be Named’s backside.

I’d love to see a Sarko-style Newt vs. SWMNBN debate. Somehow, I don’t foresee her agreeing to an issues-dominated dialogue though.

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