Free Markets, Free People


The GOP debate–the aftermath

The GOP held a debate in Iowa last night, and it was, as Ezra Klein said, a field that, for the most part, didn’t really disagree over policy, but “they disagreed over fealty to policy.”  Who was the most super-conservative.

The main criticism?  The usual.  Stephen Hayes says:

"What was missing from the debate, and what is missing from the Republican field, is a candidate who can explain and inspire. But there were no Ronald Reagans on the stage tonight. And, in fairness, there never are.”

The question, then, is will the entrance of Rick Perry change that?  That was sort of the pregnant elephant in the room last night.

Michelle Bachman and Tim Pawlenty got into a bit of a heated exchange.   But as Steve Kornaki points out, that’s not the fight he should have picked:

"Pawlenty’s strategy, if that’s what this reflected, was completely backward. The fight he picked with Bachmann was virtually guaranteed to be a losing one. … A much riper target for Pawlenty would have been — and always has been — Romney. … By aggressively pressing Romney on his (many) vulnerabilities, Pawlenty would have stood to (a) weaken the front-runner, a man whose role (consensus establishment choice, at least for now) he wants for himself; (b) establish his own purist bona fides with the base; and (c) shake off the boring/lifeless image."

Chris Cilliza is less critical of the Pawlenty performance but still found it wanting:

"First Hour Tim Pawlenty … was forceful in taking the fight to Bachmann … Pawlenty’s nice guy persona allows him to attack without seeming over the top. He was a major player in the first 60 minutes – a place he needed to be if he wanted to shake things up before the Saturday straw poll. … Pawlenty disappeared in the second 60 minutes – largely because he didn’t get many questions. But when you need to find ways to change the dynamic of the race, you have to find ways to inject yourself into the conversations and create your own opportunities. And Pawlenty didn’t do that."

The Pawlenty/Bachman spat left Romney pretty much alone during the debate as Alexander Burns points out

"[W]ith Pawlenty and Bachmann focused on each other, … Romney took little heat from his fellow Republicans. Indeed, virtually all of the candidates helped confirm – in one form or another – that Romney will likely face a tougher political challenge from a late-announcing candidate like Texas Gov. Rick Perry than from any of his currently declared rivals."

All in all, pretty much as expected.  Ron Paul was Ron Paul – nothing new there.  And Jon Huntsman tried to set himself apart a bit.  Rick Santorum may as well go home along with Newt Gingrich.  Herman Cain is an attractive candidate but just doesn’t have the experience or the following to push him through.

The battle seems to be settling down between Romney, Bachman and Pawlenty.   The entry of Rick Perry will most likely relegate both Bachman and Pawlenty to the second tier.

How it will eventually turn out is anyone’s guess at this point, but Rick Perry stands to make the race much more interesting.  If it is “the economy, stupid” as the driving issue for the next election, Perry’s record in Texas vs. Obama’s nationally, is going to be a very interesting and telling comparison. 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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8 Responses to The GOP debate–the aftermath

  • The thing with Perry is that, to me, he come across as a Bible thumper.  If Perry ends up getting the nod I’ll wager an ice cold lager that the general election won’t be about the economy, but about religion in politics.  Perry will be happy to assert his Christian faith and the Obama media will dutifully paint him as an extremist theocrat.
    So, if Perry wins the primary, he’ll have to spend a lot of time staying on message.
    That, and the meme of, “Not another Texas governor!”

    • Obama doesn’t really want to bring up religion, does he ?
      I mean the whole Rev. Wright and Trinity Church  becomes fair game all over again.  Besides, Alan Keyes got Obama all pissed off during their debates for US Senate when he questioned Obama religion.  Making Obama look the “angry black male” role just won’t fly well.

      • Obama can bring up religion.  He media defenders will do so in the context of getting some birther nutcase going on about how he is a Muslim and not a Christian.  Rev. Wright won’t be brought up.
        Perry will probably have to work to keep his message on the economy and not his faith.

  • I don’t think any of that religion stuff would make a bit of difference, if it came down to Perry vs obama, all Perry has to do is point to his job as governor, Talk about jobs jobs jobs, and look handsome with his full head of hair.  If he did that he wins in a landslide.

    • He wins *if* doesn’t come off as/isn’t a crazy bible thumper who’s going to be all The Handmaid’s Tale.  Why oh why oh why can’t we just find a fiscal conservative, defense realist who believes that my personal business is also none of his damn business?  And if that nice gay couple down the street wants to get married, it doesn’t affect him.  And that Jesus isn’t everyone’s salvation?
      Also, can he be convincing that he can do the same things to the economy as a whole that were done to Texas?  It’s a big country, and some things don’t scale…

      • I don’t think he can win as he comes off as an arrogant, smug, holier than thou type the GOP just keeps on nominating, to their detriment.
        As to your <i>why oh why</i> comment well that is because the GOP believes in keeping noses out of a corporations business dealings etc but “traditional values” must be imposed by the Feds on all of us. “Traditional Values”, of course, as defined by the theocons that are the base of the GOP.
         

  • “What was missing from the debate, and what is missing from the Republican field, is a candidate who can explain and inspire”
    How in the hell are the candidates expected to EXPLAIN, much less, INSPIRE, in the idiotic formats that the debate sponsors insist upon?  They’re looking for sound bites, not debates.
    These debates are useless, especially when there are so many candidates on the stage demanding equal time.  There should be debates sponsored by the candidates, calling out other candidates one on on. If the media wants to cover it let them. Those interested in the debate will show up.  And those debates will show up on You Tube.

  • My thinking has been that it’s going to be Rick Perry. Like any candidate, like Reagan himself, Perry has flaws. On a straight comparison with Obama, it’s no contest. Perry is not the deeply confused individual that John McCain is. One does not get the sense when listening to Perry that even he doesn’t know what he thinks or believes.

    My dark horse pick would be Santorum, who seems to be just recovering from the fall he took when he lost his Senate seat a few years back. He was targeted and lost to Bob Casey. Santorum then seemed to wander about trying to redefine himself and lost not his core values but his core personality. He seems to be getting back to that, but it appears that the buyers are not there, so far.

    My very most long shot not even in the race is the Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson. He might make a nice north-south heartland combo as a potential Perry VP pick.

    I see Perry passing Romney because Perry has so many things that Romney lacks, starting with a believable personality and a lot of governing experience, as opposed to one-term in a ridiculous state as a warm-up for running for president. Never liked Romney and I don’t think I need another Bush-like country clubber. Where has that taken us? Does any conceivable path to the presidency run through Massachusetts these days? Does, “I’m Mitt Romney and I was the governor of Massachusetts several years ago and I passed a health care law just like Obama’s, but it was really very different!” sound like a record to run on? Just seeing how Romney gets the crap kicked out of him on NRO comment threads should hint at what is going to happen in a general election. Needless to say, however, a person dragged off the street at random with a paper bag over his head running under the name of John Doe has about a 98% chance of being a better president than Obama.