Posts Tagged GOP debate
A few months ago, I wrote the following about candidate Romney in a debate analysis: “I’m just… not yet convinced that he’s anything more than a slick-talking empty suit. Governor Romney, prove to me that you’re more than that.”
Early in the primary race, with a huge field of candidates coming and going on a weekly basis, it was hard to look too closely at any of them. Attention was, by necessity, unfocused. Any day could bring someone new to the race, a candidacy-shattering “oops” in a debate, or some new headline about the antics of Donald Trump. Many were holding out hope and following popular conservatives that never ended up entering. And debates had so many people on stage, even frontrunners only got a scant few minutes of total speaking time.
At that time, I felt that Governor Romney came across as simply a politician, albeit one that tended to say things I agreed with. As he emerged as the leader, I hoped desperately to see him demonstrate that he was more than a presidential head of hair and well-rehearsed talking points. I wanted to see his knowledge and understanding of the economy put to the test. I wanted to see him respond to the kind of unfair attacks that would occur in a general election. I wanted to see passion and vision–because a President that can lead us out of our current mess will need a focused vision of where to go, and passion enough to sell it to the American public.
Over the past month, the smaller field has allowed greater focus and a deeper message to be communicated. As sound bites have become interviews and debates have become, well, actual debates, we’ve seen him demonstrate a deep, thorough, and immediate understanding of the American economy. We’ve seen that he doesn’t get riled up easily, even when pushed, unlike his main competition. Though some see Newt’s fire-and-brimstone attacks on, oh, everyone around him, as a huge selling point, it would only serve to turn off the huge numbers of voters that pay more attention to personality than policy. Whereas Romney’s cool, calculating approach to apparently every damn thing he does in his life is exactly what we need to keep from scaring away the independents that will–I’m sorry, it’s just math–WILL decide this election, because they decide every election.
So this is why I think he’ll make a great President. The one topic that gets Romney fired up is business itself. He has real passion when he starts talking about the free market and how business provides a path out of poverty for us all, and frankly, that should be a beautiful thing to all of us, after three years of a President who speaks with pride about keeping his boot on the neck of industries. We desperately need a President who can explain to the public why business is good for us, why wealth and profit are healthy and good. We need a President who demonstrates a passion for and history of promoting business. We need a President with a demonstrated ability to save what can be saved, eliminate what needs to be eliminated, and turn failures into successes. Our biggest problems today aren’t the debate over legalizing pot or gay marriage. We’re not going to get anywhere trying to reinstate the gold standard. Our priorities ought to be readily apparent. Our economy is a mess and our government is broke. We need a turnaround artist. This is exactly what Mitt Romney has specialized in.
The rest of the remaining field has impressed me in various ways. Up until the last few weeks, I was strongly favoring Newt. I’ve always been impressed by his intellect and historical perspective, and I can be swayed by intelligent debate. I’ll admit, I do still love the idea of a Newt/Obama debate. His conservative history is checkered, but so is everyone else’s, and I found it hard to argue with his list of accomplishments. But the last month has reminded me of why he quickly lost the support of his own party in the 90s, and shown that while he’s a heavy hitter, he’s so unfocused that he misses far more often than he connects. His attacks on Romney’s record with Bain Capital showed that he either completely misunderstands capitalism, or is willing to say things he knows are patently untrue as long as he thinks he can personally gain from doing so. His long history of conservative crusades and his more recent robo-calls falsely claiming that Romney forced elderly Holocaust survivors to eat non-Kosher food make the latter seem more likely, but either way, these attacks show that he would be a completely inappropriate choice to communicate a conservative, pro-business message to America.
Santorum has virtually reinvented himself in the last few weeks, and I like the new Rick. In the past, he’s been petulant and condescending. Now, he’s smiling, confident, and he’s almost completely lost his disdainful smirk. However, his message is still almost exclusively focused on social issues, and frankly, it’s the economy, stupid. When it comes to the social issues, I disagree with him as often as I agree. He’s uncompromising, and only other uncompromising people actually respect that–and few Americans are truly uncompromising. He cannot win in a general election, and I therefore cannot support him.
Paul has also impressed me recently, which is refreshing. I don’t believe for a minute that he’s backed off any of his foreign policy ideas (he’s never changed his mind on anything in his life, why start now?), but he’s stopped really talking about them, and focused on the small-government, economic liberty message that all conservatives can get behind. I’m thrilled that he’s successfully brought that message to the public–Republicans coast to coast are talking about the Austrian school and auditing the Fed. It’s a wonderful thing. I also think his idea that Iran is no threat is insane and would lead to disastrous policy decisions along the lines of Neville Chamberlain in the 30s, and I’m also quite uncomfortable with a President that winks and nudges 9/11 truthers to keep a lock on the pro-grassy knoll voters. That said, I hope he keeps fighting so strongly for what he believes in, because he has personally shifted the public discourse in amazing ways.
Romney’s record is not without blemish. Nobody’s is. Romneycare was a bad idea. Newt supported it, along with cap and trade. Santorum voted against right-to-work laws, and his social views scare a lot of people off. Paul, well, I’ve already gone there. But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let’s remember that our nominee will be up against a candidate with a deeply flawed record as well: lawsuits preventing Boeing from hiring thousands, raids against Gibson guitar factories, blocking the Keystone pipeline, not to mention the regulatory messes of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, and constant attacks on anyone that has managed to do too well for themselves and employ too many people. We have an anti-business, anti-success President, and we need a pro-business, pro-success candidate to show the country the deepest differences between conservatives and liberals.
For that, I will happily and enthusiastically support and vote for Mitt Romney.
I just barely made it home in time for tonight’s GOP debate. I would have made more of an effort, but I didn’t know there was a GOP debate tonight–I’ve stopped paying attention to the schedule since there’s one every week.
However, I’m glad I caught it. For those who missed, tonight’s debate focused on national security–in my mind, the second-most-important issue of this election (after the economy), and arguably, what should be the first priority of every President.
Some important issues came up tonight. Finally, the candidates had some real, strong disagreements. On economic issues, most of this field is generally on the same page, and so debates have been less debate-y and more focused on attempts to appear more conservative than everyone else, and/or maligning each others’ conservative cred. But I already knew that any one of them would be infinitely better equipped to handle the economy than our current President. So tonight we got to see where they really disagree, and that’s great.
For those interested, my thoughts on the candidates after tonight’s performance follow, in the order they were standing:
Santorum – Didn’t get much time to speak tonight, and sadly, that’s perfectly appropriate. We’re rounding the final curves in the primary race, and Santorum has failed to generate any appreciable interest at any point, in a volatile and vulnerable field. I appreciate his strongly conservative social and economic views, I share most of them. Not all, but most. I like that he was the only one tonight that didn’t hedge and clearly stated that, of course, some TSA profiling makes sense. But it’s time to bow out at this point and allow better focus on those with a chance to win.
Paul – After hearing Dr. Paul talk about economic issues in the last debate, I had warmed up to him. He’s so very often right on the economy, and he doesn’t care what anybody thinks about anything he says. Tonight reminded me why I can never support him for President. He seems to think that if America would just leave the world alone, the world would leave us alone too. He thinks Iran is no threat to anyone. He thinks the Taliban got a bad rap and the greatest threat to America is America overreacting to things. This is what happens when you hang out with 9/11 truthers.
Perry – Came across to me as unnecessarily aggressive. I hated when people accused President Bush of this, but when I was hearing Perry talk tonight about military strikes and no-fly zones, the phrase “cowboy diplomacy” kept popping into my head.
Romney – Had some great, well-rehearsed answers, just like the last debate. Absolutely right in his answer on the terribly important difference between dealing with crime and dealing with war; if a battalion of Nazis had come ashore in 1943, we wouldn’t have had the police arrest them and send them before a civilian court. Hence the difference between common criminals and those in Guantanamo. If we’re electing someone who is good at saying the right things, Romney is hard to beat. I’m still not sold on his conservative cred (there, now I’m doing it), but he keeps saying things I like to hear, and that kind of thing can wear you down. I’m just… not yet convinced that he’s anything more than a slick-talking empty suit. Governor Romney, prove to me that you’re more than that.
Cain – Clearly had very little to say. We all already knew this was his weakest area, tonight was a demonstration of that. It’s fine to fall back on the point that the President has expert advice available, but it’s also extremely salient to point out that, all else being equal, I’m much more comfortable with a Commander in Chief that’s extremely well-informed and personally knowledgeable on foreign policy and national security.
Gingrich – As always, he’s the smartest guy in the room, and it shows. On every question, he gave the sense that, whatever it is we’re going to do, his priority is to do it right or not at all. I really enjoyed his answer to Dr. Paul’s criticism about McVeigh–we don’t want a government that says, “If you blow up a major city, we’re sure going to get you!” We want a system that will stop terrorists before they strike. Newt also took a very courageous stand as the only candidate tonight that wasn’t willing to support mass deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants. He’s right. We need to be discerning. Someone that gets brought here at 3 years old, that grows up, loves this country and wants to serve in the military–that person should get a fast track to citizenship. Politics tends to be black-and-white, but I really appreciated the fact that he was the only one willing to point out that there are shades of grey in this issue. I’m feeling more and more strongly attracted to the idea of a President Gingrich.
Bachmann – I like Representative Bachmann. But I think it’s a bad sign that my first thought on her performance tonight was, “I’m pleased that she didn’t do anything embarrassing.” She made some good points here and there (as when pointing out to Dr. Paul that using privacy standards that assume people only use wired phones makes no sense in an age of disposable cell phones and internet), but seemed to have a hard time staying on topic. She came across tonight as not being quite prepared.
Huntsman – Frankly had no business even being at tonight’s event. Barely registers on any polls. Thinks living in China for a while gives him expertise on how to deal with the Middle East. Answers questions on the economy and national security by talking about the “trust deficit.” It’s time for Huntsman to go.