I find Fred Thompson the most interesting candidate in this race. And so this is going to focus on him during tonight’s debate.
Fred’s answer to the question, “What three agencies will you eliminate?” was lame. He had the right answer, but it was lame. What I mean by that is that we could eliminate most cabinets and departments and we would still have a deficit. Eliminate Education, Energy, and the IRS and you still spend too much. So instead of scoring cheap points attacking unpopular agencies, we have to reduce entitlements like Social Security and Medicare/caid. At least that’s what he should have said.
Fred’s 30-second spot was great. He attacked the right two people: Romney and Huckabee. Eliminate them and it’s him and Rudy one-on-one. He wins that fight. The best part was that Fred’s attack didn’t require him to say a word.
“What guns do you have?” Short of waxing in detail about your Barrett .50 cal, Fred’s answer was pretty good: “Yes I have guns at home, but I’m not going to tell you what they are or where I have them.”
“Do you believe every word in the Bible?” Rudy handled it well. Romney fumbled all over himself. At one point he looked up at the camera, and I could almost see the recognition in his eyes that he just remembered his talking point for that question. Huckabee, being a Baptist minister, was in the most dangerous position for this question, and he handled it very well. Using the “pluck out your eye” quote to demonstrate that some Biblical stories were obviously allegorical was a great way to show that he’s reasonable to those who otherwise might be concerned.
Ron Paul is a loon. For a long time I’ve said that instead it’s his supporters who are nuts, while to him, I’ve given the benefit of the doubt. No longer. He is a nut and that’s why he attracts them. Have you noticed that when he’s talking the other candidates look straight ahead? They won’t make eye contact with him just like I don’t make eye contact with the bums who come darting out into traffic at the ends of the interstate off-ramps in downtown Nashville. He’s crazy. Ron Paul should not be on the Republican stage. He shouldn’t be on the Democratic stage. He belongs on his own stage: a sideshow stage. Here’s my idea for a great debate that would actually bring high ratings: Have Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich debate each other and then, American Idol style, let America decide which one heads up the ticket and the other one runs as his veep in a third party.
The gays in the military question evoked some lame responses from both Hunter and Romney, but equally lame was CNN’s using BG Kerr in the audience to specially drive home that point. It’s like the network is on some kind of crusade instead of being objective . . . naah, that couldn’t be the case.
“What would you do about Social Security?” Fred just answered that question exacty the way he should have on the earlier question by saying that all these programs that we talk about cutting are a “thimbleful in the ocean compared to the entitlement tsunami that’s going to hit us.”
“Would you pledge to send an American to Mars by 2020?” Huckabee just got the laugh of the night by suggesting that he’d like to send Hillary now. Tancredo just got the small government fiscal conservative cheer of the night by saying that we were just up here talking about reducing spending and “this is why.” He added that “We can’t be all things to all people” and that we sending people to Mars is one of those things that we just can’t afford to do. Great answer.
“What does the Confederate flag represent?” I won’t win any kudos from my Tennessee friends by saying this, but Romney outshone Fred on this question. Big time. We don’t accept the flying of a swastika flag or the rising sun of Imperial Japan, so why do we continue to treat with kid gloves the flag of that other great evil that America defeated in war?
To Ron Paul: “Will you run as an independent?” Cooper let him off the hook by answering for him, “I’ll take that as a no.” Instead Paul’s answer was very Clintonian, “I have no intention of doing that.”
Well, that’s it. If I had to rate it at the end of Round 1*, and let me caveat that I got a late start, and I had to dart back and forth between two rooms–the one with the tv and the one with the computer–so I did miss a lot, I’d rate it this way:
Winners: Huckabee, McCain, Thompson, and Giuliani, in that order.
Losers: Romney, those other guys, and especially CNN.
What did you think?
*In any debate, the debate itself is actually the less important round. The important round is the second one: the post-debate spin.
Insty has a roundup of others who liveblogged.
UPDATE: Let the (much-deserved) CNN-is-in-Hillary’s-camp bashing begin. I knew that BG Kerr question, and the inordinate special emphasis given to it and the questioner smelled fishy. According to National Review it was a setup.
Dan Riehl’s initial vote: Romney and Huckabee up, Rudy down. Paul still crazy.
I’m not the biggest media bias basher out there by any stretch, but this is crystal clear evidence that CNN has hired the New Republic to do its fact checking. Do check out the link to see just how many of the questions were obvious and easily discovered plants.
Stephen Spruiell nails it: ” . . . the CNN-YouTube debate format tends to yield two types of questioners: plants and nuts”