September 23, 2011
Winners & Losers:
Big winner of the night? If you even have to ask, then we weren't watching the same debate. I'm not a fan, but Romney takes this debate walking away. He frankly destroyed Perry again and again and again. Perry would attempt a political attack on Romney as a flip flopper, or Romney as not a real conservative, or Romney as architect of Romneycare and every single one flopped. Perry clearly came into this debate unprepared. He was not well prepped nor was he quick on his feet when they mixed it up. His rhetorical attacks consisted of poorly delivered anti Romney talking points with no additional substance behind them. When Romney turned aside his initial attack, he had nothing else. His attempt at a flip flop attack turned into a bumbling, stumbling, stammering, confused attempt that failed miserably. And even if he had delivered the line right, Romney would have had a comeback for it anyway. Romney was Muhammad Ali last night, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Perry never laid a glove on him and neither did anyone else. Romneycare is supposed to be the giant albatross around Romney's neck? You couldn't tell based on last night's debate. Sure, that plays well with the tea party portion of the base, but guess what folks? They ain't the only ones voting! They are vocal, but they are not the only ones that matter and Romney is making a solid case that he is the only one effective enough to go toe to toe with Obama. Can you imagine the disaster Perry would have been if he had been debating Obama last night? I've had the suspicion that Perry has been sorta of coasting on the tea party base enthuiasm and not really working very hard to craft his message beyond the red meat "we hate Obama" shortand that the candidates like to use. Last night confirmed that suspicion. He was not prepared for this debate or Romney and it showed. Badly. He'll be permitted the opportunity to redeem himself in the next debate and if he can't perform much better than last night, he will continue to fade. Right now, he looks like he drank his own koolaid.
I could talk about the rest but I'm not gonna in much depth because I'm busy and they don't really matter because this primary race is effectively between Romney and Perry. Cain was a crowd pleaser but at this point will only be comic relief; he has no chance of winning. Bachman has lost traction after the HPV hysterics of the last debate that deboned her credibility, which is too bad, because I love the way she lays in the cut to steal on people if they give her an opening to slam them, like smacking down Huntsman on his direct flights to Cuba remarks. Gingrich is the intellectual and big concept heavyweight in the bunch, but he isn't going to win. Huntsman is so clumsy and lacking in a genuine demeanor that I find myself wishing he would shut up as soon as he starts talking. The guy makes jokes nobody ever understands. If he were a comic he would stave to death. Ron Paul is like the grouchy old neighbor that lives on your block and has a bunch of standard complaints that you know all about and you even agree with him, but always goes off the deep end after a while and gives you that "here we go again" reaction. Santorum was angry guy, and thats about all that stands out from his performance. If I left somebody out (I did) its cause they don't matter.
A few other reactions:
Gays in the military: conservative crowd boos gay serviceman who served in Iraq for his views. Wow. I've seen conservative commentators wax self righteous about how views are welcome and so on in the GOP, most notably around the controversy that erupts annually around that big conservative conflab when gay republicans want to get on the agenda. A gay enlisted man (who looked every bit the warrior in his video to me) that has put his body on the line in Iraq gets booed for talking about his experience? That kind of spontaneous reaction is a messaging all its own.
Foreign policy: As a general point, the candidates had a point in saying that Obama's foreign policy has been a muddle at various points. There is some merit in that argument. But its also clear that not a one of them with perhaps the exception of Gingrinch, has anything approaching a real foreign policy agenda or a foreign policy overview that is actually informed by some understanding of geopolitics . Not one of them. In a debate with Obama, unless they are very well prepped, they are going to get their clocks cleaned.
Predictions: Here it is: barring the entry into the race of some highly effective candidate (there isn't one, and no, Palin doesn't count because 1. she is not going to get in and 2, if she did, she'll lose and 3, see #1) and provided he doesn't make some major mistake, Mitt Romney is going to be the GOP nominee.
GOP Debate Winners & Losers and Predictions