The 2012 GOP Debates
During the 1960 presidential campaign debate between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon, voters had the opportunity to either view the debate on television or listen to it on radio. In a survey, those who watched the debate said that Kennedy won. Those who listened to it gave the debate to Nixon.
Watching early versions of these kinds of debates are such a waste of time. The candidates bumble, fumble and stumble all over the place. Then they survey audiences to find what went over well and what didn’t. Apparently, today's voters are every bit as shallow as those in 1960, taken in by a well-groomed smile here or taken aback by an awkward moment there.
Since the early debates, Romney has defended his record on combating illegal immigration, Santorum has foundered on the union question. If the unions are for unions, then he is. Huntsman is still the loyal Obama appointee, and Ron Paul is…Ron Paul.
In the last two debates, Paul, to his credit, came off sounding not like an Area 51 devotee but a learned Constitutional scholar. Both he and Huntsman attacked the Department of Defense budget; Paul, for its overextension overseas, Huntsman for its waste. In decrying the 900 overseas bases, Paul sounded just like my mother. His isolationist tendencies are worrisome, not just from a national security standpoint, but from a free trade standpoint.
Isolationism didn’t work so well for America in the 1920s. It’s not going to work now. We must rein in the taxes on corporations, capital gains, and property taxes. The unions must be made to heel, so to speak, particularly the public sector unions. The public employee unions are the direct result of a bloated government. Yes, we must reduce waste and inefficiencies, and we must scale down the actual size of the government.
Romney took a lot of heat for his investment firm’s role in putting failing businesses out of business, or forcing them to lay off workers. The snarky ABC hosts tried to put Gingrich on the spot. Defend Romney, and Gingrich would be helping an adversary. Attack him, and you attack the essential nature of the business world. Business, particularly Capitalism, is not a static model. Like a high bridge, it cannot afford to be rigid, to do things only one way. The economy must be flexible. Companies must be flexible to weather economic storms and crises. The more regulations placed upon businesses, the more inflexible they become, and so the less able they are to endure the uncertain, but ultimately practical, nature of the markets.
That exchange is what happens when Liberals moderate a debate. It’s all about them and their issues, and whatever weaknesses they can exploit in the opposition’s candidates. There’s no cheerleading, no softball questions in a GOP debate run by Liberal journalists.
In the subsequent Facebook debate, Gingrich came across like a grumpy old man, carrying on about Romney’s negative ads and the ads he plans to put out. Was this the commercial break? Gingrich didn’t do himself any favors getting off track. He sounded like he was out of the running – the moderators treated him as if he was – and he knew.
Romney improved his standing by stating his opposition to illegal immigration and insistence on cultural immersion. Santorum came down a notch from the Conservative heights upon which he’d been standing and, ala Sarah Palin, made appeasing noises about unions.
If Paul’s campaigners would present themselves more as serious, respectful advocates instead of proselytes trying to “convert” voters to Paulism and if Paul himself had less of a gadfly attitude towards national defense, he’d be more plausible as a candidate. He seems to have no notion of the dangers of economic isolationism and protectionism.
If there are any issues that concern Conservative Tea Partiers more, it’s the size and waste of government, entitlements, and union encroachment. All will lead us down the path to socialism. Romney, Santorum and Perry were on the mark in regard to the dangers Iran poses. Perry drops off the radar, not because he shot himself in the foot verbally (although that didn’t help), but because he’s in favor of illegal immigration. Santorum was our guy, until he stumbled over the unions.
Romney has acquitted himself (let’s hope he’s as good as his words, that he’s listening) on the union problem. But he’s still strong on environmentalism and supports Big Government agencies like the Department of Education and the EPA. He implemented Cap and Trade in Massachusetts and supported TARP and the Stiumulus.
Will it be more likely that Santorum will change his stance on unions? He’s falling behind in the race and must depend on those Pennsylvania miners to put him back into the Senate, where we do need him. Will Romney alter his stance on his TARP and Stimulus record? On Big Government agencies that are bloating our government? Perhaps. He won’t change his stance on environmentalism. Those lamebrain independent voters drank the greenhouse kool-aid. Nothing short of an intervention is going to alter their brains back to normal. The GOP fears them.
The primary races are pretty much settled. The GOP, with all its funding, backed Romney early on, which explains the multi-color extravaganzas he’s been able to put on. It’s not that the Conservative voters want things settled early; the late-state voters (New Jersey used to be one of them) have always been frustrated that their votes are essentially neutered; that they basically have no say over something that was decided back in the winter. It’s the GOP machine that doesn’t like being balked. They don’t like the Tea Party because they want their voters to settle down and be good little sheep and push the button for the candidate the GOP puts forward (at great expense). Settling the primary early saves money for the later battle with the Democrat candidate.
Sensible. And insensitive to the many Conservative voters who find themselves cheated into voting for a candidate who doesn’t represent their values but instead for a minority candidate who whistles the tune of a small number of independent voters of dubious convictions.