Republican Debate in New Hampshire

First a few comments about the debates itself. Wolf did an infinitely better job than Chris Matthews, but obviously the format was better as well. However, at times it seemed like less of a debate than a grilling of the candidates on the failure of the Bush administration (particularly in Iraq) and why the GOP is in such deep trouble. Several questions toward the beginning about the National Intelligence Estimate. Did anyone catch those questions in the Democratic debate, which was CHOCK full of almost nothing but Senators? Wolf started interrupting (thank., thank you…thank you Governor, thank you) almost before most of the candidates opened their mouths. This included interrupting Romney about 15 seconds in as he finished the first leg of a three-legged stool.

And again they were begged by the moderators to behave more like moderates like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thankfully without him in the audience this time.

Now the candidates one-by-one (in–literally–random order):

Huckabee:
* Funny intro: Hope, Arkansas, give us one more chance.
* Taliban feels THEY won the cold war. We sadly underestimate our foes.
* Great answer on creationism. Enough to be repeated later in the commentary.
* Says GOP lost credibility.
* Great comments reaching pro-life principles above and beyond the abortion issue…and connecting it to terrorism, the anti-life stance.

Hunter:
* Would pardon Campion and Ramos before Libby.
* Talk to your enemies (Iran) but stopping nukes is the top priorities.
* Who’s gonna fill these jobs? American citizens lined up for jobs after sweeps
* Mandated fence by Duncan…it’s a bad bill. Says fence likely delayed to get this bill passed hunter sayss we should be able to buy health insurance across state lines.

Romney:
* Based on info, right decision bad planning, didn’t lose.
* People are testing the US…we have to move Islam…Romney reminds me of Ben Scroggs.
* Says enforce law from 1986.
* Spanish speaking version of his ads and on his website.
* Three legged stool: strong military, strong economy, strong family values.
* Massachussets solved health care private companies not government….
romney eway of the map oon selling stuff to china.

Rudy:

* Iraq not in a vacuum…have to be successful.
* Health insurance is employer and government dominated. pushing Bush’s talking points. Health insurance should operate like car and home insurance. when we make it free just wait and see how expensive it will come. Rudy says the obvious: market principles and good consumer decisions lower costs.
* Immigration bill is a typical Washington mess of compromises.
* Offense on terrorism, strong economy.
* Lightning strikes (disrupting the sound system) when he starts talking about Bishops.
* Freedom, great moral obligation is to share our freedom with our enemies (Middle East).
* Global Warming: need a Apollo mission type project.

McCain:
* Iraq surge strategy needs to get a chance to succeed. If we don’t succeed, they’ll follow us home.
* Poignant speech about Hispanic vets…but completely misses the point (dodges) on English as an official language
* Very pointedly and accurately connects spending with corruption. Corruption is made possible by pork-barrel spending.
* EVERYONE, (including me) raised their hands when McCain says “if anyone has a better idea” on immigration.
* Leave curriculum up to the school districts (re: Creation and Evolution)
* Did anyone catch this?: “We’re not into building fences.” Isn’t that passed law, now?

Brownback:
* Iran is a sponsor of terrorism. Great point in saying talking to them and actively negotiating with them are two different things.
* Need to work with labor union movement in Iran.
* Throws Clinton (CARTER!!) under the bus for being activist on policy while HW Bush has been more strictly active on humanitarian issues.
* Stands for whole-life, so invest the difference apparently is not the right philosophy. (sorry, insurance joke).
* Takes on cancer. Go get ‘em! There’s something we can all agree on.
* AGAIN, would you support a pro-life candidate (Rudy)? Yes (again), but this time adds that he doesn’t think the Republican party will nominate one.

Thompson:
* As usual has the most succinct and logical answer to the “what do we do now in Iraq” question.
* Secure our border.
* Healthcare: quite excited–90% of the costs occur after you become sick…wellness system vs. illness system.
* Tells it like it is on the Libby sentence. Clinton lost his law license. Libby got 30 months. {Clinton was President, though…noone is EVER going to give an acting President jail-time. I mean come on.}

Paul:
* Mistake to go=mistake to stay. Weapons weren’t there…more threatened now by staying.
* “Congress shall write no laws.” Strict constructionism.
* Makes another great point about individual vs group rights in response to the gays in the military issue. (as you’ll see later, this is COMPLETELY passed over by Wolf, who can’t stop talking about it.)
* Pressing moral issue: We now promote preemptive war, and have thus rejected Christian principles of just war.
* A great point about protecting oil interests being central to our foreign policy…a much better argument to decreasing dependence on oil than global warming.

Tancredo:
* Franklin’s quote…we gave you a Republic if you can keep it.
* Immigration: loud applause for Tancredo
* Says Bush probably wouldn’t be welcome at the White House, just as Rove told him.
* Conservationist principles through conservative principles. Cites Teddy Roosevelt.

Gilmore:
* Unfortunately stood out even less on this one than he did on the last one.
* His first comment made a lot of sense, and then he made sense and then rambled on during the audience Q&A.
* Most memorable was the Rudy McRomney comment.

AFTERMATH: I should have turned off the TV after the debate, but being a glutton for punishment I continued to tune in to the likes of Paul Begala (AAARGGHH!!) and Huffington, etc.

So here’s a little Play by Play with my commentary thrown in randomly and without annotation:

McCain interview: bringing families together. battle and struggle on Islamic extremism: good and evil. McCain still thinks things are in the bill that aren’t. “Heavy penalty” eight to 13 year process to citizenship “behind” legal entrants, meanwhile they get to work here AHEAD of legal entrants.

Blitzer: completely misstates the position of all the candidates on gays in the military. “Opposite” of openly gays is not “don’t ask don’t tell” which everyone on the stage supports. The “opposite” would be asking, telling, and kicking out. That was a trap laid out pure and simple to paint the entire stage out to be homophobes. Completely shameless and stupid.

Rudy Interview: When has a military been required a timetable to win? Great question. Precedence is a relevant question there.

Huffington: Says McCain is the winner. Can’t imagine. He’s the most liberal candidate on the stage.

Jeffrey Toobin: compliments Huckabee; Romney incomprehensible. So I agree with him for a whopping 6.8 seconds. After this Toobin goes way off the deep end for the rest of the evening.

Replayed Huckabee’s answer to Creationism. Part of it…didn’t play the most relevant part which answered the actual question Wolf asked.

Romney Interview: quoted Oh Brother Where Art Thou, “Come on in the water’s fine,” when asked about Fred Thompson’s entering the race. Larry asks about Attorney General. Mitt says no wrongdoing has been proven. Larry asks the classic stupid President Question: Isn’t it wrong to say “I’m the best person?” Romney says he can’t do it alone, so he’s pull together the best team. Are you getting tired of the Mormon question? Yes, Larry, so thanks for asking again.

Anderson cites negative poll about Bush administration and SOME Democratic members of Congress. Neglects to mention that the poll was regarding the Democrat Congress as a whole, not a select few who have cash in their freezer.

Mike Murphy says McCain always does what he thinks he’s right.

Huffington: Brownback had “Biden solution” Again kissing McCain’s ass on his poignant Hispanic speech.

Jeffrey Toobin: BULLS*** comment on endorsing policy of President Bush, missing the simple fact that almost everyone on the stage continuously threw him under the bus on management of the war in Iraq.

Mike Murphy points out the obvious that polls and foreign policy don’t always mix.

AARP Commercial: vote for the candidate that has answers. AARP. Socialized medicine?

This is definitely a McCain-friendly debate…Until it gets to “The gut reaction,” real-time metering, where McCain goes WAY into the negative as he tries to defend this immigration bill. The analyst there of course misses the point of course on “trashing Republicans” getting biggest positive responses on the real-time metering. Every time a Republican was trashed it was from the right.

Panel: Begala? Democrats win the election. What a tool.
Never caught this girl’s name? McCain is a God among men.
Wolf talks about Democrats. Gays and Lesbians. McCain the lone champion of letting English not be an official language. A difference between Republicans and Democrats? No. Begala waxes eloquent about consolidation of power in Homeland Security. A new tension in the Republican?

Begala: only 43% know that Rudy’s prochoice. WHAT? Rudy as a third party candidate? Chick (WHAT THE HELL IS HER NAME, IT MUST HAVE SHOWN IT) calls that what it is…wishful thinking. Begala is accusing a PARTY of flip-flopping if they nominate a pro-life candidate. “Well they need to write an apology to all the Democrats they’ve called baby-killers over the years.” How does this guy even make it on television? Thompson would be a more unequivocal conservative.

On Fred Thompson: Mike Murphy points out another obvious: One, it’s too early. Two, Thompson is high in the polls because he’s famous and we keep talking about him. {By the way, Reagan was in politics WHILE he was an actor, just like Fred. And movie acting as a profession in the 60’s was a little different than being a TV actor in the 2000s.}

Gays in the military again. Republicans are all homophobes. Absolute best answer was from Ron Paul, but noone points out that little escape to logic-land.

Huffington: sums it up…things will definitely be worse the closer we get to the election. Can’t believe we’re talking about God…when Democrats talk about God it’s about helping and loving people. By extension, Republicans (except for McCain obviously) just don’t care about helping people.

I just can’t watch anymore. I’ll probably have more to say after you guys comment.

One major point. NONE of the second-tier candidates were interviewed on CNN. Wonder why?

Democratic debates

Hillary Clinton
This is Bush’s war (who keeps authorizing funding, then?)

It’s Bush’s war. Yada yada yada. Nobody rebuts with the obvious zinger about Bill shooting long range missiles at Hussein back in ’98. (And why was that?) She blames the Iraqis for not setting up a civil society in the absence of a strong man. But getting Saddam out of power is good. She wants to have it both ways by saying that deposing a dictator is good, but this is Bush’s war. Life doesn’t work that way.

Health care–I’m so glad everyone agrees with me. Let’s let the gov’t lower costs by twisting the arms of the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, etc. etc. (Will not be honest about raising taxes to cover the costs) Will let the Bush tax cuts lapse.

On Iran–“I’m not going to talk hypotheticals” (Well, why debate a year and a half before the election, then?) She says we should have been talking to Iran for years now. Sending Condi Rice around the world giving speeches is not diplomacy, even though she’s the head diplomat of our country. Hillary’s line about Dick Cheney gets a lot of applause. A cheap shot that Bill probably came up with. In a way her secret weapon.

On Darfur–essentially, let’s pull out of Iraq and into Darfur.

Gays in the military– Gays and lesbians should serve in the military at all levels. Perhaps including commander in chief? Ok, a cheap shot on my part.

National security–Back to pre-9/11 national security policy. Reminds me of Bob Dole’s “bridge to the past” speech.

Hillary cackles like a hyena. Phony baloney, the phoniest of the 18 candidates. I talked with Yun-ju about it, asking if there’s hope that Americans can see through this phony. Yun-ju’s response, essentially, was to ask how many phony people there are in America. This does not bode well for our future.

Barack Obama

I get Obamamania. He sounds presidential.

On Immigration–Obama agrees with George W Bush and Ted Kennedy 100%, sounds like.

On Health Care–“John and I agree” (theme of the night) Insurance and pharmaceutical companies keep “hoarding profits”

On the Army–Increase the # of troops, more VA hospitals. Touts the VA? Need to treat PTSD.

On Osama bin Laden– Would take him out Jack Bauer style. Nice to hear a Democrat say it.

Osama and Edwards were totally vying for the non-Hillary (i.e. the Johnny B) demographic. Very friendly with each other.

John Edwards

On health care–“You can’t change the health care system for nothing.” (Glad he’s honest)

On Iran–Notes that there is strong pro-American sentiment amongst the Iranian people. He’s right, and he’s right to note this. The Iranian gov’t is not so popular.

On Gas Prices–Vertical integration of oil and gas is bad. Make it harder to refine oil and gas (this lowers prices?) End subsidization of oil and gas industry.

On Education–College for Everyone (yikes!)

Edwards makes a good case that the US needs to establish moral authority in the world by closing down Guantanamo and secret prisons, etc. He’s the most polished on this message and has the most appealing rhetoric

Bill Richardson
Don’t know if y’all know this, but he’s governor of New Mexico. “As governor of New Mexico…”

On immigration–No dividing families with immigration policy. That means no touching back of the home country for Z visa holders. (So illegal immigrants aren’t burdened with the same chores that legal immigrants commonly need to do. But this isn’t amnesty?) Guest workers should have labor protection. Perfect liberal answer.

On Health Care–As Governor of New Mexico, I socialized medicine etc. etc.

On the VA–Soldiers get a hero’s health card that allows them to go to any hospital for service. Follow the soldier, not the VA hospitals. Again, good answer.

On Bill Clinton–“He should be the U.N. Sec’y General” “Israel is a great ally, and needs buttressing”. Well, he just lost Scotty’s vote!

On Sudan–Smartest answer. China buys most of it’s oil from the Sudan. If you threaten not to go to the Beijing Olympics, China can make things quiet in Sudan. A good demonstration of how diplomacy can be used as an effective tool for change, without firing a shot. Perfect Democrat answer.

On Education–Mandatory pre-school. Ugh!

Chris Dodd
He knows stuff, but no one is listening.

On gas–His solution to lower gasoline prices is to impose a carbon tax and require all cars to run at 50 mpg by law. When the price of oil is lowered he would require mandatory rebates for the consumer.

On the Army–Gives a big shout out to the military. Safety and security is the #1 priority of the president (Is this the Democratic debate? I thought it was ending global warming!)

On Richardson’s China answer–No, no, no, China is cool! We can’t pull out of the Olympics! (Richardson merely said let’s threaten to pull out).

On Patriot Act–let’s restore constitutional rights to citizens (Big Applause).

Joe Biden

Everything he says is to defend the Clinton record, and by extension Hillary, at all costs. He’s simply here to lend Hillary some white male credibility when he endorses her in six months. Kerry 2.0

On Immigration–We can’t round up everyone in buses and send them home. Near the Ted Kennedy end of the spectrum on this issue.

Gays–All major allies allow gays to serve. In the foxhole soldiers don’t ask other soldiers if they are gay (It’s against the policy remember?)

Defusing (subsidizing?) Iran and North Korea are on top of his agenda.

Dennis Kucinich

“We’re (Democrats) in charge of this country. (He has a point in that you can’t keep blaming Bush now)

Wants to cut funding to defense. Like, now.

On Osama bin Laden–Would not take him out Jack Bauer style. “We cannot use assassination as a tool of foreign policy, because it might come back to haunt us.” Osama should turn himself in and be held responsible before an international court. Shame on you Osama!

On the deficit–Stop the war and we reduce the deficit. No more NAFTA and WTO (Big applause) Wants FDR type make-work programs….sheesh.

Mike Gravel
For the most part nuts.

The only candidate who wants immigrants to learn English. Likes to use the word “Totally”. Wants line-item veto, which made the rest of the (mostly Senatorial) candidates squirm. Points out the obvious with the carbon tax…that it would, uh, raise the price of gas.

The more I watched, the more I thought Ron Paul just might be the right choice for America.

If you don’t care about things like name recognition, and funding, Richardson was the most sensible and “smartest” of the group. The closest thing the democrats have to a Newt Gingrich, someone who has thought about every issue from many angles. The only governor. If you look at resumes, he is the most qualified candidate. Didn’t get the quick easy applause lines, though.

Obama and Edwards sounded a lot alike and both sounded better than Hillary. The only thing I remember from Hillary is a shrill cackle, “I’m not going to discuss hypotheticals” and an overwhelming sense of entitlement from her, because she let her powerful husband walk all over her and now the American people have to pay for it. Some feminist.

Update: All the professional pundits totally disagree with me on Richardson, and think Biden won? Go figure. I missed the first 10 minutes. Well, here at Logipundit, you get a different perspective, is all I have to say. Richardson botched his immigration answer by trying to explain specifics. No one on the panel could have gone into detail on immigration policy without getting into trouble with one group or the other. Biden sounded a LOT like John Kerry.

And AGAIN, it’s all about Kennedy

Here’s an article a couple of weeks ago in the Sun talking about what I was talking about the week before that:

That Anthony Kennedy is probably one of the most powerful men in America right now, as a “Moderate” on the US Supreme Court. In a three week period Kennedy ruled (the others’ positions were already clear) on Guantanimo Bay detainees access to U.S. Courts, CO2 emissions regulated by the EPA, and today…partial birth abortion.

From the article:

In his 19 years on the court, Justice Kennedy has been criticized for deciding cases without an overarching judicial philosophy. As a result, his vote appears to be up for grabs from one case to the next.

I’m not sure that’s a completely fair criticism, and not that it doesn’t have an element of truth in it, but that compared to Justice O’Connor, Kennedy is a downright idealogue. If you look at the two cases of Partial Birth Abortion, and CO2 emissions, Kennedy in both cases came on the side of affirming federal authority. Neither is a “state’s rights” victory per se, but it just happens that a pro-life stance will take precedent over a state’s rights stance everytime on the conservative side of the court.

As one can tell from the decisions (for emissions controls, against the Gitmo detainees–actually deciding not to take up the case (for now)–, and for a Partial Birth Abortion ban), Kennedy can swing either way and it’s all up to him.

On a political note, the National Review Online already has a compendium of reactions from some of the leading Presidential Candidates on the Partial Birth ban.

Update: I couldn’t resist linking to this post by Coyote Blog on the ideas of “choice,” breast implants, and partial-birth abortion.

The New York Sun

Thompson…for….President?

My trade dictates that I take a beginning-of-year hiatus…glad to be back.

Nothing groundbreaking here. I just wanted to point out that a Republican presidential candidate that many believe to be a “true conservative” was in favor of a most anti-conservative legislation, that being campaign finance reform. It’s a WashPost article, so log in will be required.

First quarter fundraising

A lot of noise was made about Hillary Clinton’s record fundraising, 26$ million in the first quarter, and the press often reported with half-truths about 36$ million in fundraising (Hillary had 10$ million in the bank, rolled over from her Senate war chest). The previous record was 8.5$ million, raised by Phil Gramm, who dropped out pretty early on in the primary in ’96. So a quick look at the preliminary totals from the top six candidates shows this:

Clinton : $26
Obama: $25
Edwards: $14

Romney: $21
Guiliani: $15
McCain: $12.5

Every one of those candidates smashed the previous fundraising records. On one hand, I could understand the impetus, with a VP not running, the polarizing nature of the Clintons, but a little back of the hand math shows that $100 + million has already been raised here. That could buy a lot of kevlar for the troops, free lunch for toddlers, pumps in New Orleans, take your pick. There are a lot of things more important right now than the 2008 election, and I’m amazed that donors are willing to spend this kind of money on people that have no chance of winning (Edwards and McCain), or may run as VP with the person you’re spending money to stop (in the case of Obama and Clinton, if you are a Dem donor that doesn’t like Clinton). The big winners here are the media outlets in New Hampshire and Iowa, which will be flooded with ad revenue for the next 8 months.

Considering Hillary’s $400,000 mistake of buying off Governor Vilsack’s endorsement this early in the game, for practically no return, one can’t help but wonder how much money she’s burned through already.

Fred Thompson… President?

Surely you’ve all heard that Fred Thompson is “considering” running for President. Perhaps since there isn’t a true-blue (true-red?) conservative in the bunch of current Republicans on the top of the list, and since Newt is clearing his conscious of his infidelities, Thompson sees an opportunity.

I can’t say I don’t like him. Frankness and clarity of thought rank pretty high on the list of attributes I look for in a candidate for anything, and Thompson is proving he can speak intelligently about his stances. That’s what makes people like Giuliani attractive, because they can express their thoughts (on everything except abortion, of course) without slipping into that strange “Senatese” that grates on my nerves.

And hey…he’s played a president before. Why not do the real thing?

NashvillePost.com

Vitter throws weight around

Generally a good quality for Vitter, but is he jumping the gun here?