CNBC versus the GOP

Last night the GOP candidates went into hostile Michigan to face a hostile set of moderators who were booed into sticking to economic issues by the crowd after an unfair detour against Herman Cain.  In all, the night turned into somewhat of a circus.  Hopefully, the GOP will shun CNBC in the future, as this was the worst and most unprofessional case of moderation we have seen.    But aside from that, let’s get to the winners and losers.  First up…

It floored me when they tried to ask if companies should be making a profit or growing jobs.  Excuse me, but how the heck do you create jobs if you aren’t making a profit?? Gingrich’s response was beautiful. Watching the moderator rolling her eyes when Gingrich said a 30 second answer on healthcare was ridiculous was fun to watch.  But my favorite answer of Gingrich’s was on education, where he offered a real life example of a real life solution that addresses the issue of education that is getting exponentially expensive with much cheaper results.  As someone who works full-time, is a full-time grad student and has been in college for a decade following various business and religious pursuits, I connected with Gingrich’s answer and could not agree more.  This morning Neil Boortz in a morning phonecall to WOKV implied that Republicans needed to worry about who could beat Obama, not who would be the best President speaking of Newt Gingrich.  Bull.  Gingrich keeps winning debates because he is the smartest man on that stage.  And he made a joke out of those bombastic, rude moderators.

Rick Santorum did well.  This doesn’t mean anything, he still can’t win.  But he did highlight his leadership on things like medical savings accounts and gave viewers no reason to mark him down.  He has struggled in debates, but performed well last night.  Ron Paul also did a good job.  He avoided saying anything outlandish and produced a solid, constitutionalist approach.  Bachmann did well, but was once again forgettable.  Huntsman also did pretty well, though his attempt at “answer this in 30 seconds?” humor sounded like a lame, screwed up retelling of a good joke.

Mitt Romney needs to understand his precarious position.  He is stuck at 30%.  The rest of the GOP voters are looking for not-Mitt-Romney as their candidate.  His smoothness, economic savvy, and gaffe free debate performances have gotten him this far (along with a great deal of establishment money).  He needs to figure out how to get himself the rest of the way.  He has to find a way to make Social Conservatives trust him. Mitt, if you are listening, make a major statement in favor of state personhood amendments.  Consider that step one to breaking into the 40s in the polls.

Herman Cain also has hit a roadblock, but it is a policy roadblock.  I think many viewers were left with the feeling that if nuclear missiles were airborne from China heading for the US, President Cain would be on the phone with the Chinese President telling him how his bold plan, the 9-9-9 plan, could solve their problems by growing China’s economy.  9-9-9 is to Herman Cain what Windex was to Tula’s family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  This one dimensionalism will leave him open to a Gingrich rise.  On the other hand, Cain did very well defending himself against accusations which are more and more looking like racist smears from the Axelrod/Democrat machine.

Rick, Rick, Rick.  By the way, if you want to see the sexism of the left, just watch how long Perry’s crash and burn stays in the media cycle and blogosphere compared to a Palin or Bachmann gaffe.  Talk about not being ready for primetime.  I think Perry likes to start talking and get rolling, and that’s why he sometimes forgets what he was talking about mid-sentence.  No excuses.  You are running for President of the United States.  Running before you secure the ball is how you lose games.  Running your mouth before you have your answer and grasp on the issues is what makes Presidents say stupid things.  E.g. Barack Obama talking about police officers who arrested his professor friend.

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Time to thin the herd

All is not lost!  Yes, it was an ugly night for several GOP candidates.  Newt’s frustration with the format is certainly understandable.  It made for great television, but it was a bad debate.  However, there were some glimmers of hope, starting with the Vegas Champ…

Newt Gingrich.  I didn’t give Newt the win last time because I didn’t think his campaign would see a boost.  After this debate, I think it will.  Newt once again is the adult in the room.  He puts himself above the fray and really acts as a second moderator.  Voters should give Newt a second look.  Give Newt seven debates with Barack Obama and Obama might even drop out of the race before November.  I would love to see these debates as more candidates drop out and more time is given.  Newt has been so supportive of other candidates that his questions of other candidates carried a great deal of weight and were therefore more devastating.  Cain will not survive the 999 barrage, look for Newt to pick up steam.  Newt’s statement on faith put him squarely in the majority of conservative thought.  Newt’s biggest slip up was on appearing weak on states rights.  Another candidate who performed well, but likely won’t see much change because of it was…

Mitt Romney.  Romney was once again the big punching bag, and once again hit back.  He continued to defend his healthcare program as a state program and did pretty well.  But here Newt hit him hard on the big government aspect of it.    Romney kept his cool when being shouted down by Rick Santorum and talked over by Rick Perry.  Romney screwed up on Cain’s 999 plan trying to argue that Cain’s plan would add federal taxes to state taxes.  Excuse me, Mr. Romney, but you already pay bushels of apples and oranges.  Don’t feel bad, every candidate but Cain and Newt seemed to forget that 999 would eliminate our current tax code.  In the end, especially with no Huntsman, Romney’s got his support base solidified and did nothing to hurt that. Unfortunately, this is the last good report on a candidate performance in this review.  Although, it wasn’t terrible for everyone, especially…

Michele Bachmann.  Michele, Michele, Michele.  First, Obama took us to Libya, THEN, he took us into Africa!  Oops, Libya is in Africa.  But again, if Joe Biden can be VP, we shouldn’t be too hard on Bachmann for her frequent misspeaks.  Aside from that, she did well in another forgettable performance/turned stump speech.   As a tax litigation attorney though, I am disappointed in her evaluation of Cain’s 999 plan.  A VAT because every corporation in the manufacturing process pays 9%?  What does our current corporate tax do?  Same thing.  Shame on you Michele.  But most people won’t figure that out, so you’re good.  We will see if the media picks up on Bachmann’s idea of a $1 poor tax.  Bachmann won’t see any uptick from this debate.  Another candidate with no uptick or downtick…

Ron Paul. Paul is good on state’s rights.  The other candidates would do well to learn some things from him.  On the other hand, we heard a lot of the same platitudes and fuzzy one liners that leave us scratching our heads about if Paul actually has a viable plan.  Get rid of the income tax?  Oh, ok.  Is that like repealing Medicare part D?  Would be nice, but not a priority?  Paul came out with a new economic plan that cuts a trillion in spending.  Worth taking a look at, but didn’t get much play last night.  He will maintain his small support base, but with his vagueness and legend over substance approach this debate won’t give him a bump.  But at least he won’t lose support, like…

Herman Cain.  Cain gave the media some pretty good quotes last night.  Would he shut down Guantanamo to negotiate with terrorists?  Kinda sounded like it.  Apples and Oranges?  Cain, that is simply not Washington speak.  Cain looked amateurish.    He is an amateur though, so he may get a pass for the inability to articulate his 999 plan in a way that Americans can understand and latch on to.  Fortunately, his opponents weren’t much better.  In fact, only Newt seemed to have a clue how 999 works, but he wasn’t about to throw Cain a bone.  Cain right now is riding on populism, but poor debate performances can sink that ship (Bachmann, Perry).  In fact, I think it did sink two ships last night, starting with…

Rick Santorum.  Rick continues to be an advocate for the family.  He continues to present strong conservatism.  But his discussion with Romney early on just set a bad tone.  He reminded me of an angry teenager.  It was unprofessional and amateurish.  It’s been good to have Santorum in these debates for the most part, but after last night he needs to drop out and endorse a social conservative who can still beat Romney.  You’re not going to win, Rick Santorum.  At this point you are hurting more than helping.  But at least Santorum did better than…

Rick Perry.  Geez.  I don’t want to sound politically incorrect, but Perry seemed…slow.  Can we still use that term?  When Romney was answering and Perry was slowly drawling over him and droning on, I couldn’t help but laugh.  But it got worse as the night went on.  Perry, who gave instate tuition to illegals and opposes a full border fence, went after Romney for hiring a landscaping company that hired illegal aliens.  And that wasn’t the only 2008 unfair attack that Perry dug up.  Even when Perry made a good point (We need to uh, look at, uh the…darn, which amendment was it again?  Oh yeah, tenth amendment for uh…issues) it was lost in translation.  Perry was put in his place over and over.  It was a complete dud.  Even his distancing from Pastor Jeffers was not believable.  The best we got from Perry was a promise that next week he will have a tax plan. The good news is that even Rick Perry had a better week than…

Barack Obama.  Rumor has it, after a bunch of his tour supplies were stolen, that his teleprompter is currently being interrogated by Iranian sponsored Al Qaida terrorists in Mexico.  Although, there have also been alleged sightings of his teleprompter in Zuccoti park, smoking a joint and displaying a message about being overworked and underpaid.

Welcome to the top, Herman Cain

The most recent debate is over, and Herman Cain is discovering what Rick Perry felt like when he was the front runner.  The way the debate went, there was clear recognition of Cain, Romney and Perry as front runners.  The other candidates almost seemed to be helping in the vetting process as though they were seeking to help Americans choose from one of those top three.   So here goes, the latest debate in retrospect.  And the winner is…

Romney back in the driver seat

Mitt Romney.  Mitt Romney had some good news today.  He picked up an endorsement from Chris Christie, which is huge.  He also had some bad news.  Rush Limbaugh questioned Romney’s conservatism compared to other candidates and gave the death knell that took down Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman.  Rush called him the Republican establishment candidate.  Still, Romney was his usual comfortable self.  His adopting the Trump doctrine on China will help build that portion of his base.  Cain did Romney a huge favor by asking him about his 59 point plan and giving him the chance to explain it and expound on it.  In fact, the questioning session turned into an opportunity for the other candidates to seem to vet the apparent front runner candidate.  Romney’s own question to Michele Bachmann was very gracious and showed the kind of class that simply makes Romney likeable.  Romney’s answer on Dodd Frank was pure gold.  He was polished and Presidential.  Romney still has to get a little bit stronger on his conservative stances and lose a bit of that obvious shine in order to pick up more of the anti-politician minded rightwing, especially the TEA party.  But for this debate, Romney managed to edge out…

Newt Gingrich.  Newt Gingrich is the best debater.  As the best debater, Newt spewed pure common sense.  His best was when he bluntly spoke about how absolutely stupid the debt commission is.  His answers put him above the fray and he maintained his mantra that any candidate on that stage would be better than Obama.  However, Newt did not get enough face time.  He took no arrows, shot no arrows at the other candidates, but simply did not have enough chances to speak to make a difference.  Newt has won several of these debates, but winning these debates is not enough for him at this point.  He must so completely knock each debate out of the park that everytime a front runner falls he is there to pick up the pieces.  In this case, he did not even mention his campaign’s new contract with America.  It was a lost opportunity.   So far he has not accomplished what he needs to do in these debates.  I can’t give him first, no matter how well deserved.  But as a representative of the Social Conservative flavor of this party, he did outperform…

Cain has his work cut out for him

Herman Cain.  Cain’s 9 9 9 plan finally got the inspection it deserved.  A striking moment was when Rick Santorum polled the audience on who wanted a new 9% sales tax, and who thought a 9% flat income tax would stay at 9%.  Not a single hand in the audience was visible.  Santorum hit the nail on the head.  The result is Cain will be in trouble after this debate.  He must now find a way to explain his plan in a way that resonates with Americans.  He made a good start when he talked about how the 9% sales tax would replace a 15% payroll tax, which of course we all pay.  If he can hit that point and solve the question of how to prevent future Presidents from turning his 9 9 9 plan into a 35 35 35 plan, he can salvage his front runner (by my calculations) status.  Cain took a huge hit on the federal reserve when Paul questioned him too.  Later when he spoke about fixing the Fed, Paul made easy work out of Cain.  Still, his likeability level and pure down home realness will keep him afloat for at least one more round.  At this point, if Cain falters I predict voters will finally give Newt Gingrich a second look.  Another candidate they might be looking at is…

Rick Santorum.  Rick Santorum did very well.  He made a key point when he said he did not support the bailout.  He called out Cain’s 9 9 9 plan and struck a very strong blow on it.  He exposed Cain’s naivete beautifully.  But that was the extent of Santorum’s stunning performance.  Like Gingrich, he simply did not get enough other face time to make a huge difference.  No one is afraid of him becoming the front runner any time soon, so there wasn’t much interest in him among the debate moderators.  While Santorum did not make a strong case for himself as President, he certainly gave voters a lot to think about with the latest rising star in Herman Cain.  That may be his purpose at this point.  There is very little chance of his campaign being successful.  Almost as little chance as…

Jon Huntsman.  Jon Huntsman did not do bad for the most part.  His answer on China will not connect with Americans and for a good reason.  Being nice to China does not sell when as Romney pointed out we are already losing to them because they are cheating.  Two debates ago I said Huntsman’s campaign is over.  Nothing changed with the debate tonight.  Feeling our pain because he helped run the family business and was a good governor is so cliche at this point, it’s really forgettable.  But not as forgettable as…

Michele Bachmann.  Michele Bachmann did well.  She spoke on Obama’s failures and conservatism.  But mostly she was forgettable.  At one point, it sounded like she said she raised 28 children, 22 foster and 5 biological.  I could understand, with that many kids, how easy it would be to get the math wrong.  But it’s not good when that’s what sticks out in my mind.  No highlights, no major gaffes, and in fact her role in Congress became even more forgettable when Gingrich asked why the House has not made any move to repeal Dodd Frank or Sarbanes Oxley.  I was left wondering where her actual leadership has manifested itself.  The exchange with Romney was her one saving grace, proving that at least she is not one dimensional unlike…

Popularity off the debate stage won't save these candidates from earning low marks in this debate.

Ron Paul.  Ron Paul did ok.  He made it pretty clear he isn’t a fan of the fed.  But on the fed, especially Bernanke, Newt stole his thunder.  What else did Paul speak about?  Again, another forgettable candidate.  Paul fans, don’t hate me for saying that.  Step outside of the movement for a minute and ask yourself if he truly made a splash.  Did we hear anything new about Ron Paul that would make us want to make him in charge of everything the President of the United States is responsible for?  No, but I’d be happy to see him head up the Fed audit once we get a President who has that as a priority (which apparently is not Herman Cain).  But even Ron Paul did better than…

Rick Perry.  Rick Perry came across as a something between a walking cliche and a deer in the headlights.  He simply does not debate well.  He again was slow in his responses and his wording did not connect.  He came across as very unprepared once again.  His good answers were copies of other candidates, and his bad answers seemed to drag on with his drawl.  I’ve said before that I would love to see Newt Gingrich debate Obama.  I would not love to see Perry debate Obama.  I’m not sure I would be able to watch.  Can Perry turn things around?  Possibly.  I’m not ready to give him the Dead Candidate Walking title along with Huntsman just yet.

No Guts….No Glory (A Tribute To Dennis Miller)

Bookmark and ShareWith all due respect to Congresswoman Bachmann – Does anyone in the current GOP Presidential field have a pair?

For a second it appeared as if former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty did. That was until the debate in New Hampshire where T-Paw turned into T-Aww as he failed to follow up on the opening he himself created with his coining of the term “Obamaney Care” just the day prior to the debate. He looked as if he were the guy that was talking about how bad he would beat up the schoolyard bully and then realized the bully was standing behind him the entire time as he was asked if he would like to follow up on his term while the former MA Governor was standing there. Was the question intended to bait Pawlenty into a battle with Romney? Sure it was but if you don’t want a door open don’t put your foot in it. As I watched the remainder of the debate the question I wanted asked was “Do any of you actually WANT to win?”.

Before you are allowed to run against President Obama you have to defeat each other.

The field stood in unison against President Obama and the Democrats. They all gave safe answers and didn’t have much to say about each other as they attacked the President’s policies. In my eyes..they all said the same thing on almost every issue except for Ron Paul who seemed to ignore some of the questioning all together in an attempt to show his Libertarian views. Even as he tried to differentiate himself, Paul failed to make a move to point out the short falls of his opponents. It was like watching a family reunion where everyone was waiting for the drunk uncle to start a fight over who gets the last Pabst Blue Ribbon but never does.

This is a primary fight people. Grow a pair!

If I wanted to see my candidates make love not war and sing kumbaya I would go sit outside the Democrat National Convention in a drum circle with the peace, love and hippie crowd. Mitt Romney’s campaign team must have had Joker perma-grin for 2 days afterwards. He went in as the polling favorite with very little effort on his part to that point and came out unscathed even on the eve of ‘T-Paw’ tying him up to Obama like Sean Connery to Harrison Ford in the fire scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Obama is a former constitutional law professor. Although he obviously doesn’t know much about that he does know how to run a campaign. Maybe he can help the Republican’s by telling them that they are running against each other and not him……yet.

So far Michelle Bachmann is the only woman running. But she is not the only candidate without a pair of cajones. On that issue she has much company.

If you are afraid to campaign against each other, how do you plan on beating one of the most well oiled campaign machines in modern history? Driving in the Partridge Family bus isn’t going to cut it. Unless Danny Bonaduce starts running your campaigns.

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Can the Libyan No-Fly Zone Tear the G.O.P. Apart?

Bookmark and Share The recent decision by President Obama to have the United States intervene in the civil war taking place in Libya has the potential to unleash a bruising and divisive debate within the G.O.P. that may very well play itself out in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. For many Republicans, nearly a decade of simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have begun to divide the Party almost as much as they divided the nation years after they began. The question of America’s role in the world has always inspired sharp opinions. In 2000 it was Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush who himself famously stated his desire to make sure that the United States was not in the business of nation building. But then, after 9/11, it was President George W. Bush who created a Bush Doctrine that settled on a policy of preemption.

The circumstances that surrounded Afghanistan and Iraq were unique and there was no question that the leaderless wasteland of Afghanistan was a breeding ground for the terrorist attacks that brought the United States in to a dangerous new reality. Iraq was more complicated. While Saddam Hussein did not directly have any fingerprints on 9/11, whether you want to discount it or not, evidence demonstrated indirect involvement through Hussein’s support of terrorism and the entry in and out of Iraq by known Al Qaeda operatives. Furthermore, despite the lack of a discovery of a hard discovery of WMD’s in Iraq, evidence did in fact make it clear that Saddam had used, was developing and did at least at one point have WMD’s and was willing to use them. There is even evidence that before Operation Iraqi Freedom hit the ground and after a devastating earthquake in neighboring Syria, Saddam shipped his WMD’s out of Iraq under the auspices of shipments of humanitarian aid to Syria. Imagine that..Saddam Hussein and humanitarian assistance.

But no matter where you personally stand on the merits of our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the two wars have given rise to a level of war weariness that transcends Party affiliation. Within the G.O.P. itself, many Republicans have been attracted to Congressman Ron Paul, who touts what is essentially an isolationist position that would have the United States close its eyes and place its hands over ears while yelling “Im not hearing you.” To a degree Ron Paul is right. But only to a degree. 9/11 should have proved to us that the United States cannot ignore events that take place elsewhere. Today’s world is far too small to think that a ripple someone else will not eventually find its way to our own shores. But over overreaction can be just as bad as too little action.

And that is where the debate within the Republican Party begins.

We are already beginning to see the emerging field of Republican presidential candidates go to their respective corners of the political boxing ring on the issue. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, John Bolton and Rick Santorum have jumped on the President for too much inaction in Libya. After the French took the lead in support of rebels opposing Moammar Gadaffi, Mitt Romney has attacked President Obama for relinquishing America’s leadership role in the world to the French. Romnney also recently said I support military action in Libya. I support out troops there in the mission they’ve been given. But let me also note that thus far the President has been unable to construct a foreign policy, any foreign policy,” . Romne added “He [President Obama] calls for the removal of Moammar Gadaffi but then conditions our action on the directions we get from the Arab League and the United Nations.”

But Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, has seemingly broken ranks with his potential Republican opponents. On the involvement of the United States in military action to create and enforce a no-fly zone over the skies of Libya, Barbour said “I think we need to be cautious about being quick on the trigger,”. But Barbour has gone even further by suggesting that we must reevaluate our commitment in Afghanistan. According to him “What is our mission? … Is that a 100,000-man army mission?”.

Barbour connects his lack of interest in military intervention to fiscal responsibility, an argument that will have plenty of legs with a national electorate that has come to realize that our national debt is itself becoming a major risk to our national security. But while Barbour is framing American military and foreign policy on economic grounds, potential candidates like Sarah Palin suggests that we have a responsibility to promote freedom and the benefits that come to all from it, when she poignantly tells “We should not be afraid of freedom.”

At the moment, most of the developing G.O.P. presidential field is content with supporting the United States involvement in the creation of a Libyan no-fly zone, and to criticize the President for both, not acting on it quicker and not having a clearly defined end goal after its creation. But as Haley Barbour shows, that view is not unanimous and as Americans become increasingly weary of deficit spending, “nation building”, and policing the world, Barbour’s unwillingness to get on the no-fly zone bandwagon may distinguish himself from a field of potential candidates whom the electorate may see as leading us into foreign entanglements that cost more than they are worth.

The debate has the potential to divide the G.O.P’s predominantly fiscal conservative base into unbridgeable factions of neo-cons and libertarian Republicans. Such a division already exists, with one side led by Ron Paul and the other largely led by the Republican establishment. But should this emotional divide grow further apart, it could mean the difference between winning and losing the presidency in 2012. Haley Barbour could be positioning himself as the catalyst for compromise that could at least temporarily unite the two sides. And such a compromise over this existing division will be necessary. And not just for the political victory of the Party, but for the strength and security of the United States.

The future of freedom and our nation relies on our nation’s ability to effect positive change in the world that we live in instead of it being effected by the negative influences of the forces opposed to freedom. But as President Benjamin Harrison said; “We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.” While those words are quite true, can we take them to the extremes that Ron Paul does? Ron Paul believes we caused 9/11 and brought it upon ourselves. Such thinking cost him more votes than it got him and it suggests that America has no role to play in defending freedom or even the allies of freedom.

But is it possible for a Republican to rise to the occasion of true leadership by carefully articulating when it is necessary for American use of force in the world?

Until such time as such a Republican rises, the debate that was largely marked by the 2008 exchange between Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani that is seen below, has the ability toput the Party asunder.

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And while we are on the topic be sure to click here and take this week’s White House 2012 which asks whether it is wise or not for a potential Republican candidate to support American involvment in the creation of a No-Fly Zone over Libya

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