Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Kristol’s Debate Points

Bill’s analysis is more fair-and-balanced and, I think, more astute the instant analyses of NRO. Fred does deserve the most-improved award, but, in the crucial exchange between him and Huck, the Governor held his own, defending his record in a clear and manly way without losing his cool. McCain’s surge eloquence may have helped him in Michigan. Huck’s religion answer may have helped him in South Carolina. I do think Romney was a bit better than Bill does, but I do agree that he probably didn’t distinguish himself enough.

And Dean Barnett and Fred Barnes actually say that Huck won the debate, and Dean’s case is nicely supported, although finally I don’t agree.

Question for discussion: Why are the perceptions of the Weekly Standard and National Review experts so different?

Discussions - 11 Comments

Why the different perceptions, because those over at NRO are still bitter that Romney lost Iowa to Huckabee, and lost New Hampshire to McCain.

However, I don't think Huck "won" the debate. I think Thompson did better, but I don't think anyone "won" or "lost." And I wasn't impressed by McCain. He pats himself on the back all the time. Now I know that's something of an occupational hazard for a politician, especially an ambitious politician, but McCain does it with a certain look on his face, a quasi-smirk, a non-smirking smirk, but nonetheless a smirk, albeit one carefully reined in. That rubs the wrong way. I thought Romney did well. His answer where he related the Cold War as a chess game, but the present situation as a "3 dimensional chess game," was well done indeed.

I won't speculate on the differences between NRO and TWS, but I was struck by something Stephen Hayes said: Thompson may bleed votes from McCain even as he goes after Huckabee. If Huckabee doesn't have many "regular conservative" (which is to say non-religious conservative) supporters, being the plausible standard-bearer of orthodox conservatism (assuming that Romney has let that flag fall) may attract conservatives who had gravitated to McCain as the anybody-but-Huckabee candidate.

I find it interesting that even between NRO or WS commentators they find different candidates have done better. A lot of this just comes down to the personality and perception of the viewer I think. After NH, Jim Geraghty of NRO said McCain's victory speech was fantastic, but even he noted that most of his readers thought it was poor. I think it's an ongoing problem of 1) figuring out as a candidate how to act in these debates and 2) as a pundit, handicapping the performances.

I have no idea as to how this South Carolina race will work out. We've got four candidates with partially overlapping appeals going for the same voter pool. South Carolina takes its role as a corrective to Iowa and New Hampshire seriously though, so I think they may be more skeptical of Huckabee and McCain - but who knows.

Why are the perceptions of the Weekly Standard and National Review experts so different?

People tend to see what they want to see. The NR people would prefer that a mainstream conservative emerge, so they talk up Thompson and Romney. The Standard would prefer McCain or Giuliani, so they talk down Thompson.

For a Giuliani fanatic Dan, it's odd that you are constantly so disgusted with NRO. Have they ever said a bad word about him?

Yes, the Standard is "neo", and NR has allowed traditional conservativism to take a back seat to "business" or "secularized" conservativism, where libertarian business interests trump cultural. So I don't agree that NR stands for "orthodox conservativism", and I don't really see that candidate in this race. The play to make Mitt that man is the same GOP play of the last 40 years or so, and it no longer works. I was hoping Fred turned out to be an acceptable facsimile, but it looking like Huck might be the lesser of all evils...

Glad I don't live in Christopher's world .... where Huckabee is the "lesser of the evils"

I wait.... I do.


NR has allowed traditional conservativism to take a back seat to "business" or "secularized" conservativism, where libertarian business interests trump cultural.

I pretty much agree, except I think "libertarian business interests" may be pushing it a bit. It strikes me as being corporate business interests, which are not the same thing, even if they sometimes try to appropriate libertarian arguments to support their case. Actual libertarians are skeptical about businessmen.

I'm not a Giuliani "fanatic."

I'm someone convinced that he's the best candidate of this rather lame field. I said I would have much preferred Gingrich as a candidate, and I said that months ago, almost a full year ago, back when PETER LAWLER branded Newt a "bourgeois technocrat."

Let's just do a quick survey.

Huckabee plays fast and loose with Conservative economics, and were he to gain The White House, he seems like someone who would ask himself "What would Jesus do," instead of "what should the President of the United States do."

Thompson HAS NO EXECUTIVE experience. We've seen the Bush men govern for 12 long years, where they effectively allowed a government bureaucracy to dictate policies behind the scenes, because they refused to tackle a runaway bureaucracy. Thompson doesn't have the experience needed to crack down hard on the federal bureaucracy. RUNNING THE GOVERNMENT is NOT an insignificant factor in determining who to support. Regulatory decisions, back door decisions in CIA and State are often as important to the American people as actual legislation passed and signed.

Romney says all the right things, but then occasionally lets the truth blurt out, such as when he said "I'll call in the lawyers." Moreover, it would be unwise to give the nomination to someone who just started speaking like a conservative back around 2006. IT'S AS RECENT AS THAT that Romney began to flip.

McCain, for a host of reasons, WOULD BE THE WORST selection. I would prefer Romney over McCain, and all of you know full well how often I've gone off concerning the Romney campaign. So it's a measure of how bad McCain is, and would be, that I'll admit that I would prefer Romney over McCain.

So now that Huckabee has problems, Thompson doesn't have the background or the experience, Romney is the recent to the fray, and all of us have reasons to doubt the sincerity of his utterances, and McCain has spent a good chunk of the last 10 years pissing off and attacking the base of the party, so that being the case, ............. I think the only rational response is forwarding Giuliani for the GOP nomination.

It's not about saying the right things, it's not about professing beliefs one doesn't have, it's not about affecting an experience one doesn't have, it's not about pursuing personal ambition, it's about the country, it's about continuing the Reagan revolution. And that means Giuliani, who introduced the citizens of the Big Apple to the Reagan revolution, and the Big Apple will be forever changed thereby.

I'm sorry, Dan. I cannot accept Guiliani, because of his stand on social issues, especially abortion. I loved what Guiliani did for New York, having lived there years before he was mayor, visiting during his tenure, and living there briefly again after. I wish I could be entirely confident about his nomination, but I can't. All of the things you say about the other candidates I find true, although today anyway, for my own reasons, I am more inclined to like Huckabee if he asks himself "What would Jesus do?" I think Jesus had a much more limited view of what was Caesar's than Huckabee currently seems to.

But maybe I am being irrational.

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