Republican Debate Had a Clear Loser…… CNN’s John King

Bookmark and Share   The second Republican presidential debate of the 2012 election has ended with little more to show for it other than the lack of quality and credibility that CNN and debate moderator John King have. While almost all of the candidates performed well, there was nothing that really distinguished any of them as a clear winner. However John King proved himself to be a real loser.

While the two hour debate did not put any time restrictions on the candidate’s answers, they did ask them to limit their answers to no more than a few sentences or even just “one word”. This lack of any set time constraints, caused John King to consistently interrupt with annoying grunt like sounds of uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, alright.  I’m not exaggerating.  A candidate would say a few words and there would be Johnathan King, grunting and interrupting them with these disturbing, repetitious, grunt-like, uh sounds .

In addition to the grunts, King continued what he called a CNN tradition, and from time to time, would ask a specific candidate what he called a “this or that question.” These probing questions consisted of gems such as “Coke or Pepsi?”, “American Idol or Dancing With the Stars?”, and “Blackberry or Ipod?”. While these little sidebar questions could only be described as stupid, the most absurd question came at the end when King asked, “In 2008 Barack Obama picked Joe Biden to be his Vice President and John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his Vice President. Who do you think was the better choice?”. The question was initially asked of Tim Pawlenty and his response was actually one of the best of the night. He stated that Joe Biden is the one person who has been wrong on just about every position he has taken.  

King clearly attempted to paint Republicans into a corner. In addition to hoping that one of them would offend the senses of important Sarah Palin and TEA Party movement voters, on the issue of gay marriage, King asked if they would describe themsleves as a George Bush Republican or a Dick Cheney Republican?  The reference was to the two men’s difference of opinion on the issue which had President Bush pushing for a constitutional amendment, while Dick Cheney favored leaving it to the states.  It is obvious to me that King had hoped to be able to provide DNC operatives with footage of whoever the Republican nominee will be, describing themselves as a “Dick Cheney Republican” or “George Bush Republican”.  While one or the other may not be very damaging among fellow Republicans, it is common knowledge that after both Bush and Cheney were demonized by CNN and other liberal lamestream outfits, describing one’s self as either would not help in the general election among moderates and independents.  None of the debate participants took the bait.

King’s laughable performance left me asking one one question. CNN or Fox?

And in case you don’t happen to know the answer to that question, than you probably think that Joe Biden was a better choice for Vice President in 2008 and voted for Barack Obama.

While Johnathan King’s asinine display is what really stole the show, all the candidates held up well, but one did stand out a bit more than the others at times. That candidate was Michele Bachmann. Ignoring the fact that she was the only woman on the stage, Congresswoman Bachmann made her case, in a manner that was sharp, concise and powerful. From her telling the audience that they could take to the bank, the fact that she will not rest until Obamacare was repealed, to her expressed commitment to the defense of life, Bachmann was impressive. She took the first question asked of her as an opportunity to announce that earlier in the day she filed the papers that made her an official presidential candidate. One of the biggest round applause of the night came when Bachmann roared “I want to announce tonight that President Obama is a one term President!”.

Not so impressive was Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain.

Ron Paul continued to wag his bony finger while reiterating his desire to have the United States live in some sort of bubble. Herman Cain did not hurt himself, but he never seemed to find the comfort zone that usually allows him to unleash snappy, but inspirational and memorable lines. Newt was in a difficult position. With him behind a podium that stood on the wreckage of his campaign organization, Gingrich needed to really stun people with his personality, intelligence, and pragmatism. He didn’t.  He needed to give people reason to believe he is someone who could beat President Obama. He didn’t.  While Newt did not sink his ship in Monday night’s debate, he failed to bail out any of the water that is sloshing around in his hull. Additionally, at times, Newt looked somewhat out of place. He did however get off one of the best lines of the night when asked about solving the illegal immigration problem. On this Newt said;

“You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think if we took just half of the people in the Homeland Security bureaucracy and put them on the Texas, Arizona and New Mexico border, we would probably solve our problem”

While his point was well received and greatly appreciated, it failed to be potent enough to put Gingrich in the game as solidly as he desperately needs.

The only real scale that can determine the winner of a presidential debate is based upon who most improved their chances of getting elected. By that standard, Michele Bachmann comes out second to one….Mitt Romney. Romney is the frontrunner, and while he landed no homeruns, no candidate landed any lethal blows on him or succeed in drawing any blood from him. This means Romney still remains the frontrunner and therefore, the debate winner.

The surprise third place winner would have to be Rick Santorum.

There are low expectations for Santorum and right now his survival in the race is linked to the social conservatives who as his key constituency, he must inspire. In Monday’s debate, Santorum did nothing to make them not want to give him a shot. He was strong on the issues that motivate the religious right and he was as well spoken and confident as any other candidate. With the exception of Michele Bachmann.

Somewhere behind Rick Santorum, but ahead of Ron Paul, fell Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty was mediocre. Unfortunately, that is all he was. For a candidate that is often described as “vanilla”, mediocre is not sufficient. Pawlenty remains in need of a shinning moment and while he has had a few bright spots with his admirable economic recovery plan and his shot at Romney after the inventing the word “Obamneycare”, he has still failed to put any sprinkles on his vanilla campaign. Beyond that, Pawlenty failed to take advantage of the opportunity to pummel Mitt Romney over his Massachusetts healthcare plan. When John King asked Governor Pawlenty about his recent description of it as Obamneycare, instead of reinforcing the message behind the words meaning, he backed down like a bully who found out the kid he was picking on had a black belt in Karate.

For many the debate did little to change minds or to sway voters leaning in one direction or the other regarding any of the candidates. In fact, many are still left hoping someone who can inspire them will jump in to the contets in the weeks ahead. And on a day when some correspondents reported that there is a 95% chance that Texas Governor Rick Perry will run, Monday’s debate left quite a few hoping he does.

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5 Responses

  1. I completely agree as to John King’s performance. Our country is on the ropes and these are serious times for all of us. I could not believe my ears when I heard “Pepsi or Coke?” Was he really trying to make a joke out of this important event?

  2. King was an unmitigated disaster as moderator. His questions were lame and his constant interruptions and talking over the candidates became so annoying that I almost couldn’t watch. I will never watch a debate hosted by him again.


  4. Agreed on John King. That grunting was really an annoyance. I’ve never been a fan of 60 second responses to difficult questions anyway. That format works best for Democrat debates where the questions are softballs and the candidates have prepared canned responses filled with happy buzz words.

  5. Agree on John King’s awful noises. I was hoping someone else would comment on it, and thanks for doing so. It drove me nuts! Fox’s debate was much better run.

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