Thoughts on the debate

This entry will contain comments on last night’s GOP debate.

Also, check out Dick Morris’s pre-debate video on the debate’s importance. And see Michelle Malkin’s remarks. She wonders why, given that this was a Republican debate, the candidates consented to be questioned by biased liberal jerks like Brian Williams who only ask questions of interest to Democrats.

Mark Jaws writes:

I really liked the fact that Newt smacked down the liberal media and called them for what they are—Obama rooters.

James R. writes:

I talked with my mother about her impressions of it. She thought as a whole they did a good job and would like to see most of them have some role in the next administration, except for Huntsman. She wanted to hear more from Santorum, and is impressed by what he has to say. She regularly watches MSNBC and is used to hearing him dismissed as “stupid” by the mainstream, but when he speaks he disproves that. She also thought that Newt did a good job, especially when confronting the premises of the questions.

As for me, well it was the Mitt & Rick show, a bit too much. The questions all had a hostile undercurrent, of course, showing that the moderators agreed with liberal premises on everything and felt they were examining a bizarre species of delusional creatures. But this is to be expected, and all the candidates need to be prepared for this. [LA replies: Well, they need to be prepared for it if that’s the nature of the event and of the questioners. But, as Michelle Malkin asks, WHY was that the nature of the event and the questioners? Why don’t these GOP candidates exert some influence over who the moderators are? By letting themselves be questioned by hostile liberals, they give the impression of being mindless sheep allowing themselves to be led to slaughter.]

Going into the debate I didn’t expect much: usually Republicans come woefully unprepared for the sort of questions they’ll be getting, the tone and demeanor, as if they never suspect they won’t be treated the same way one of these debate panels would treat a Democratic field. Well, I suppose they are treated the same way in one sense: the hard questions Democratic candidates are asked are also almost invariably pointedly from the left as well. The field as a whole did somewhat better than I expected, though. But I think they are at a structural disadvantage; in debates, the shared premises between questioners and candidates mean that liberals have less to explain. Republican candidates always have to balance answering the question and explaining why the underlying premises are flawed and how they approach the problem differently, and thus reach different conclusions and solutions. But they did ok.

Santorum had a great answer on this when it came to jobs and poverty programs, tying it in to welfare reform as a means to help people who were actually being hurt by welfare. Gingrich did ok as well on such answers. The field as a whole out-did my low expectations but still need to up their game, and hardly any of them really proposed the rather dramatic changes we need. Anyone who does that will be portrayed as an extremist. I also like that Perry stuck by his guns on his assertion that Social Security is a ponzi scheme, but he botched the explanation, and the other candidate’s responses on this score were weak (except for Cain’s). Perry could have invoked a real-life example: four counties in Texas that opted-out of Social Security, instead establishing a system themselves that has been much more financially sound, and provided much better returns for enrolees. Likewise, Rep. Paul should have mentioned that Consumer Reports is a much more reliable guide when it comes to product safety and reliability than the Federal Government is.

On immigration several of them talked ok but I don’t believe their heart is really in it. Bachmann, I think it was, did at least take on the 1960s immigration legislation and hint at wanting to return to something more sensible.

James P. writes:

Perry said,

On day one, as the president of the United States, that executive order will be signed and Obamacare will be wiped out as much as it can be.

That seems like a weak and defeatist promise. Obamacare should be repealed and eliminated, not “wiped out as much as it can be” by executive order. All an executive order does is leave the door open for another Democratic president to bring it back with another executive order.

You notice that Perry did not give the correct answer to “Why are so many people in Texas uninsured?”—which is that so many people in Texas are Mexican immigrants.

Romney gave the best answer on immigration—until he said, “We’ve got 4.7 million people waiting in line legally. Let those people come in first.” [LA replies: So Romney’s position is, let’s let in 4.7 million legal immigrants, and THEN legalize the illegals? That’s sure what it sounds like.]

James R. writes:

“[Malkin] wonders why, given that this was a Republican debate, the candidates consented to be questioned by biased liberal jerks like Brian Williams who only ask questions of interest to Democrats.”

Why? Because liberals dominate the institutions, especially the broadcast institutions. If candidates want to have their debate aired on one of the networks, they have to submit to being questioned by those networks personalities, all of whom are interchangeable when it comes to their political ideology.

And of course, mainstream conservative candidates are mindless sheep who let themselves be led to the slaughter. Yes, this debate was on the most openly leftarded network, and yes in a sane world Nancy Reagan would not have allowed MSNBC to step foot inside the Reagan Library. But really all of these debates are essentially the same in the way Malkin is complaining about, with the exception of those hosted by Fox, and have been for decades. This is not a new phenomenon, and Republican candidates have always played by these rules, designed to be hostile to them. It’s one of the things that brings truth to the saying “why help pick the monkey, when you can own the organ grinder?” The left always moans that “corporate interests” dominate the media, but really it’s liberal-progressive interests that dominate it.

I’d have loved to see Republican candidates do what Democratic candidates did last cycle: Under pressure from their interest groups, Democratic candidates refused to participate in a debate hosted by Fox, on the grounds that it would be unfair and unreasonable for them to face questions from a mainstream-conservative perspective. Republican candidates could refuse to participate in debates where the questions are from a left-liberal premises, moderated by people with a progressive perspective. But then what channel would host and air debates involving Republicans? Fox and … what?

LA replies:

This debate was hosted by the Reagan Library, which could have chosen the questioners it preferred. It chose … Brian Williams?

Tim W. writes:

I missed the debate, though I’ll try to catch it later on C-SPAN or online. I just wanted to comment on the biased moderators. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember and no one in the GOP seems to care. I recall Michelle Malkin making the same point in 2010 when commenting on the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate debate between Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak. The moderator was George Stephanopoulos, former Clinton campaign and administration partisan. And don’t forget that Gwen Ifill moderated an Obama vs. McCain debate even though she was at the time writing a glowing book about the glorious and historic Obama candidacy. When Tim Russert died suddenly in 2008 a lot of Republicans mourned because Russert, a former aide to Mario Cuomo, was slightly less biased than the other “objective reporters” who regularly moderate high tier candidate debates.

The Republicans know the game is rigged. They just don’t want to make a fuss about it. It’s some built-in aspect of the GOP nature. It’s the same mindset that appeared last January when Rep. Giffords was shot. The media and the Democrats immediately began harping on alleged violent hate rhetoric which might have fueled the horror. Among other things, they demanded that the traditional partisan seating arrangement at the State of the Union address be abandoned to show unity rather than partisan discord. And the GOP went along with the demand like little puppy dogs, even though by doing so they were conceding that the Democrat lies about conservative “hate rhetoric” were true. Of course, in no time the left was hurling hate rhetoric against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, just as they’re currently talking about “taking these sons of bitches out.”

The Republicans, with a few exceptions, have played beta female to the Democrats’ alpha male since the New Deal, and it went into overdrive during the 1960s when the media bias on civil rights, feminism, and the Vietnam War became overwhelming. The media then helped remove Nixon from office. It spooked the GOP and they’ve been afraid to fight the media ever since.

Greg W. writes:

Romney said:

“We’ve got 4.7 million people waiting in line legally. Let those people come in first.”

Typical Republican. “I’m not against immigration, I’m against ILLEGAL immigration.” This thinking goes beyond irritating me.

Republicans are ONLY opposed to illegal immigration because they don’t have a piece of paper stamped “citizen.” Republicans want to “send them to the back of the line,” meaning, they want them here, but with the correct documentation. So, why even oppose illegal immigration?

The concept of birthright citizenship is over the Republicans’ heads. To me, American citizenship has lost all meaning. If ANYONE can get in a “line” and be “American,” then all people of earth are Americans-in-waiting. The only difference between me and a Mexican national is that I have a legal document.

Republicans also state that “we need to make the process easier for immigrants to come to America.” So, we need to send the illegal aliens in the country now to the back of a line which will be moving like a revolving door, if Republicans had their wish.

LA writes:

Here is Bachmann’s first answer last night (from debate transcript):

Congresswoman Bachmann, over to you. Of all of you on this stage, you’ve been very vocal about wanting less regulation in American life. Which current federal regulations have been prohibitive or damaging in terms of your own small business?

BACHMANN: Well, I think without a doubt, there’s two that you look to. First of all are the new regulations that are just being put into place with ObamaCare. As I go across the country and speak to small business people, men and women, they tell me ObamaCare is leading them to not create jobs. I spent three weekends going to restaurants, and I talked to business owners, said I have 60 people on my payroll, I have to let 10 go. At the same time, a 17-year-old girl came in and said, I’d like a job application for the summer.

He said, I’m sorry, dear, I’m not hiring this summer, I’m actually letting people go. ObamaCare is killing jobs. We know that from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. But I know it first-hand from speaking to people.

We see it this summer. There are 47 percent of African-American youth that are currently without jobs, 36 percent of Hispanic youth. I’m a mom. I’ve raised five biological kids and 23 foster kids in my home. One thing I know is that kids need jobs. And ObamaCare is clearly leading to job-killing regulations, not job-creating regulations.

I think that is a poor answer. One, she keeps boringly repeating that she’s spoken to businessowners. She should have said it just once. Two, she simply asserts that Obamacare has caused businesses not to expand, without explaining what specific regulations in Obamacare had this effect. The latter would have been useful information showing that she is on top of the issue. Three, she reverts absurdly to her “23 foster children” schtick. Her constant references to her foster children had already become a joke, and she adds to the joke by mentioning them, not just as part of her background and life experience, but in a discussion about federal regulations. This is the kind of thing that gives me the uncomfortable feeling (uncomfortable because I like her and want to support her) that Bachmann is robotic rather than intelligent.

Also, a person who is prepared to lead does not keep referring to his resume, as though anyone had ever been elected as president because of that. He speaks of the things he plans to do as a leader. He comes across as a leader, not as a person who has done something in the past.

LA continues:

In her next answer (at 0:25:00 in the first video segment) Bachmann does much better. She contrasts the limp statements by Romney and Perry that they will sign an executive order cancelling “as much of Obamacare as possible” with her own determination to repeal Obamacare entirely, which she clearly and correctly states is the issue of this election:

This is the issue of 2012, together with jobs. This is our window of opportunity. If we fail to repeal Obamacare in 2012, it will be with us forever, and it will be socialized medicine. It must be gone now, and as President of the United States I won’t rest until I repeal Obamacare.

She also explains how repeal will not just happen by itself, but will require a president who is committed to that result and will lead the way to it. This excellent answer all but wipes out the bad taste left by her previous answer.

Strangely, Bachmann’s answer is missing from the New York Time’s transcript of the debate.

LA writes:

Rich Lowry writes at NRO:

I underestimated Rick Perry. I had no idea what relish he brings to politics, on the trail and—we learned last night—on the debate stage. He was loose, confident, likable—and blunt as hell. He had his weak moments (the tautological “adventurism” answer, the stumbling around on global warming), but he’ll presumably improve as he gets these questions over and over. He was much better than George W. Bush in the Republican debates in 1999.

I agree with the “relish” remark. Perry seems ready for political combat—particularly with the liberal media—and enjoys it, which makes for a huge contrast with the average Republican, who shies away from such combat. Remember the last Republican president, George W. Backrubber, who made nice to every liberal who hated him, and won nothing but more hate? Remember the last Republican presidential nominee, whose main base of support was the liberal media?

Jim C. writes:

Bachmann doesn’t know the difference between “not care less” and “care less.” She’s in Zippy’s cognitive hole. No way will I support her.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 08, 2011 09:06 AM | Send

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