Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Fred Looked Half-Dead

There are all sorts of opinions in blogland etc. about how Thompson did in the debate yesterday. The truth is he wasn’t terrible. But he was in some ways he was the worst of the serious candidates. He was at times a bit dazed and confused and looked old but not distinguished, his answers were full of fake-folksy cliches, and he didn’t say anything that showed he was really up on the issues or really smart.
Giuliani and Romney were both pretty good in a dull but quite competent overall Republican performance. McCain had a few very manly answers that distinguished him. Poor Huckabee didn’t really break out from the crowd this time, and clearly having Fred around makes his job tougher. Tancredo is a bit scary, and Ron Paul is certainly right that we should read our Constitutions. Duncan Hunter said a number of sound things in a most unmemorable way. Because nobody much was watching and nothing outrageous was said, none of the candidates was helped or hurt by this pointless event. I don’t think there was a lot of talk around the water coolers this morning about the Rudy vs. Mitt line-item veto dispute. But Fred in particular has a lot of work to do. (I watched as much of this debate as I could stand with my elections class, and their reaction to Fred was more negative than mine. They got a kick out of Ron.)

Discussions - 23 Comments

I'm no political junkie, but it doesn't look good for next year for Republicans. Agree?

I didn't see the debate, but I watched the coverage this morning - they quoted a couple of jokes, and said that no one paid attention to Thompson because Mitt and Rudy were fighting a lot. This must be why there are so many debates this cycle - they hope that something of substance might make it out, the way that a fish lays a thousand eggs because a few will survive.

"This must be why there are so many debates this cycle - they hope that something of substance might make it out, the way that a fish lays a thousand eggs because a few will survive."

Both parties are guilty. When you don't understand what you are doing wrong, do it longer, and harder and louder.

I can't wait for 2012.

What is "scary" about Tancredo? What exactly did you mean by that? I thought him going after SS and Medicare was bold.

They don't just need to read the Constitution about declaring war. They need to read it before they vote for any expenditure. Ron always votes with the Constitution in mind. That is why he is Dr. No.

I watched as much of this debate as I could stand with my elections class

Kid's say the darndest things.

I'm still waiting for an evaluation of the candidates that goes beyond the superficial "how he made me feel" level. If anyone knows of such a thing happening online I'd love to know about it.

We the people are supposedly setting policy in these elections, not merely choosing the guy who makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

I'm no political junkie, but it doesn't look good for next year for Republicans. Agree?

In January of 1980, Ronald Reagan was trailing in the polls to Jimmy Carter, 33% to 64%. The polls are meaningless at this stage.

We need an election or two to shake this out. Before then, who cares. All talk. Not much purpose to it all.

Rudy and Romney weren't fighting. They were disagreeing. There is a distinction. What the media considers a "fight" leaves a great deal to be desired.

John, your citation of previous polls doesn't tell quite the whole story. At that time, the GOP had the inestimable good fortune of knowing that Carter would continue to act like, well, like Carter. Whereas this time around, we have the inestimable misfortune of knowing that GW will continue to act like, well, like himself.

We're carrying the greatest political millstone since Nixon.

The Republican Debate on MSNBC

This is the first time I have actually watched one of the debates on TV. The main reason I watched this one was the hubbub about Chris Matthews being a moderator. Many had predicted that Matthews could not be fair and impartial because he is a liberal Democrat, and more specifically, he has made recent public statements blasting the "criminality" of the Bush administration and their "efforts to silence" him.

All in all, I think the questions from Matthews and Maria Bartiromo weren't that bad. The main exception was when Matthews made an obvious effort to make Fred Thompson look bad by asking him who the Prime Minister of Canada was. Thompson answered the question without blinking, making Matthews look bad instead.(Hey, Chris-Who is the Prime Minister of Denmark- You're a reporter-You should know, right?)

My main complaint was the post-debate coverage, specifically when Matthews was engaged in an analysis of the candidates performances with his liberal colleagues. They were basically sneering at the candidates, which is their speciality. It was akin to watching the "always fair and balanced" Keith Olbermann tearing apart Republicans with his smug liberal friends on "Countdown".

One would hope that most viewers could watch political coverage on any particular network and see the obvious bias that passes for reporting these days. Unfortunately, many can't, which is why the news media gets away with so many of their outrages.

But back to the debates. It was just a few months back when the Democratic candidates refused en masse to appear in a debate hosted by the "evil" Fox News network, preferring instead to go before friendlier groups with moderators like the aforementioned Keith Olbermann throwing up such softballs as this: "So, if you are elected, will it be hard for you in your first week in office knowing that everybody is trying to take your job away?". (I am paraphrasing.) Every candidate got a chance to knock that one out of the park, eating up precious debate time in the process.) Yet, the Republicans agreed to take questions from the likes of Chris Matthews. To be accurate, most of the Republican candidates shied away from a recent black issues forum hosted by liberal talk show host Travis Smiley, who naturally publicly condemned the missing candidates at the start of the debate.

As for the candidates themselves: I came away thinking that maybe the two best were Duncan Hunter and Mike Huckabee. Unfortunately, neither has much of a chance. I thought Rudy did alright and did nothing to hurt his front-runner status. Mitt Romney was prepared, but still comes across as a polished guy who knows exactly what he is going to say (scripted perhaps?) He made one significant gaffe when he referred to consulting with his lawyers before taking any military action against Iran. Fred Thompson seemed initially a bit uncomfortable and overall, lethargic, but he is not a guy to pound the podium as we know. I like Tom Tancredo, but he showed that he is pretty much a one-trick pony (illegal immigration). Every time he spoke, he came back to that theme. I agree with his stance, but I need to hear more of his views. The one guy who I wish would go away was Ron Paul, the libertarian. He gives me the impression that he is one bad day away from climbing to the top of a tower with a high-powered rifle.

So, to be honest, I am still undecided who I would vote for in the primary. I do know that whoever gets the nomination will have my vote, with the possible exception of Ron Paul. No, on second thought, even Paul has my vote over Hillary or any of the other Democrats. Just think of it: President Paul on top of the White House with a high-powered rifle after a bad day in the Oval Office. Wouldn't that be bizarre? Almost as bizarre as President (Bill) Clinton having sex with....

Oh never mind!

I would much prefer Maria B. over aging libs like Leherer and Schiffer. Recall that last question of one of the debates between GW and Kerry, which was "Mr. President, please name three mistakes you made during your first term." And that was the last question of the evening. That was what Schiffer intended to leave his viewing audience with at the end of the debate.

Only the GOP would be so stupid as to allow the media's bias to become so open, so flagrant, so brazen.

Oh that's right. It's not "Schiffer," it's "Schaeffer." Something like that. It doesn't matter, he's just another lib from the Tiffany Network.

John, your citation of previous polls doesn't tell quite the whole story.

They tell the story that polls have no useful predictive power, which was the only point I was making.

"The one guy who I wish would go away was Ron Paul, the libertarian. He gives me the impression that he is one bad day away from climbing to the top of a tower with a high-powered rifle."

Mr. Fouse, if you wish Ron Paul would go away then fine, but that remark is not intelligent analysis. It is a childish slur.

The tendency to equate “out of the mainstream" political ideas with psychopathology is dangerous in the extreme. I'm sure you can understand why.

Please try to elevate your analysis.

Of all the presidential candidates that might climb to the top of a tower with a highpowered riffle I would immagine Ron Paul would be the most judicious in his selection of targets. Reminds me of the movie Shooter with Mark Wahlberg... of all the politicians in washington Ron Paul is the least like Senator for other senators there may be uncanny resemblances.

Mr Phillips,

That comment that you object to was neither intelligent analysis nor a childish slur. It was an attempt at humor, which is quite common in political commentary and a style I use with certain topics. I was not talking about Paul's political opinions, rather his debating style. I don't see how it is "dangerous in the extreme". Do you want to cry about our politicians all the time, or occasionally laugh at them?

You need to lighten up.

I thought Romney and Giuliani both came across as competent, but not necessarily boring. Romney is very interestingly - his ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively is better than any other candidate's. Blair, who is not, I believe, in the Romney camp, even commented on the way each of his sentences contributed directly and obviously to his larger point, noticing that the others (McCain and Hunter especially) merely throw out a lot of ideas at once and then scramble to make everyone understand what they're trying to say.

John, I think there is a difference between talking about how the candidate made you feel and how the candidates looked. How they look and their general appearance is incredibly relevant. In the primary a lot of these guys have similar policies that the grassroots voters know by heart. But they'll eventually have to explain those policies to a larger electorate if they get the nomination. That's why I was impressed with the fact that the more my friends hear Romney explain his policies, the more they like him. Looking at your poll numbers, would Reagan have ever covered that ground if he hadn't been such a great communicator?

Finally, that makes Fred's lack of spirit entirely fair game, and more than just saying "that man looks doughy and old." I've heard people who have known both Reagan and Bush mention the presidents' "crackling energy" and don't see how you could be president without it. SNL was right - on a scale of one to ten, Fred looked about a six.

Mr. Fouse, perhaps I am a wee bit sensitive, but I just get very tired of seeing things like "tin foil hat," "wing nut," "moon bat" etc. always throw out as if that was some sort of argument. It is an attempted debate/thought stopper. A way to avoid arguments you don’t want to have. Surely you see the danger of labeling a political position or opinion as some sort of evidence of psychopathology. (Obviously delusional stuff excluded.)

You must admit though that your comment was inappropriate. "...he is one bad day away from climbing to the top of a tower with a high-powered rifle." Come on now. That is just wrong. As was saying Tancredo is "scary" in the original post whatever that was supposed to mean.

I never said Tancredo was scary. You must be referring to another reader.

I am not in any way trying to take away Paul's right to argue his positions.

As I stated, my jokes about Paul were referring to his debating style, not his beliefs. You seem to think that my obvious jokes were meant seriously. That is why you should lighten up. We all need to have an occasional laugh at our political system.

Gary: if you think Ron Paul's debating style is that violent then you are competing with Dan who counts it as a major reason to elect Guiliani. Guiliani will stand up for X, Y, Z...and tell them how it is... well, I am willing to agree with you if you mean to say that Ron Paul has backbone. The man stays extremely consistent. Really I think that discussing ideas is almost pointless when it comes to political actors...because we have no way of knowing if once they are elected they will behave in a fashion that has any relation to the the ideas that they used to garner support. Things change and questions of judgement are much so that unless we are talking about Ron we really have a clue what the chosen one will look like in office?

In order to really dislike Ron Paul you almost have to slam consistency as the hobgoblin of small minds...while simultaneously elevating judgement...but once you have settled the primacy of these points...I think you will find that a discussion of ideas is somewhat of a chimera.

Also speaking of humor... I am suprised none of the candidates has made the following joke: "If elected I promise to appoint Ron Paul to the Supreme Court."


(I had to look up the meaning of chimera). All humor aside. Libertarians like Paul have some good ideas -and some bad ideas. Per the suggestions of Red, I looked up Paul's paltform. Here is why I would not vote for him:.

1 He is against the War on Terror (militarily). I consider it the most important issue of our lifetime. We are in it whether we want to be or not.

2 He is against the war on drugs. In his platform, he refers to all the doctors that are being prosecuted for providing pain killers to patients. Wait a minute! Paul may not be aware that there are lots of unethical doctors out there who specialize (illegally) in writing RX's for addicts, who turn around and sell drugs like Vicodin and Oxycontin on the streets. It's a big business and rightfully, the object of enforcement.

I like Paul's libertarian points on leaving people alone and shrinking government, but not the rest.

Because the war on terror is the issue du jour is all the more reason to seriously reconsider Ron Paul's position. Ironically enough especially if politics is the art of what is possible. Personally I am somewhat of a Goldwater conservative...which would make me rather hawkish...which I am. But half-measures are far worse than doing nothing. Immagine a cancer patient that receives chemotherapy that isn't strong enough to kill the cancer...but is strong enough to weaken him. This is sort of where I think we are. I am in favor of chemotherapy that kills cancer...I am not in favor of chemotherapy that weakens the United States, weakens our currency, increases our debt to the Chinese and otherwise puts us in a worse geopolitical situation. I am also libertarian enough that I could care less about people abusing painkillers...I think most drugs should be available over the counter and I think the FDA should loosen its restrictions on Phase I, II and III testing. Dr. Ron Paul's views on the pharmacutical industry are probably the most coherent and sensible from an economic standpoint. Hillary Clinton and the rest of the field scare me...I am worried that we will deep six R&D by going for Canadian style price controls...all the other candidates are pragmatic enough to appropriate the issue if they think it will gain them a popularity boost.

Libertarians, ultimately, don't believe that a government should be able to much, if anything, to the individual.

In other words, you should be able to whatever you want to whomever you want whenever you want.

They say the are for liberty, but in reality they are for anarchy.

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