Friday, January 27, 2012

Live by the debate, die by the debate

If the main argument for Newt Gingrich to win the GOP nomination so that he could paste Obama in the Fall debates, last night's debate in Florida blew a big hole in that argument. Newt was whiny, poorly informed about his own finances, angry, and overall just off his game. Mitt Romney scored several body blows when he was able to retaliate against Gingrich when Newt charged him with investing in Fannie and Freddie and Romney was able to take advantage of his oppo research and tell Gingrich that he had also invested the same way. Better than that, Romney was able to make a forceful defense of his wealth and investments. Of course, any time that Romney is talking about his millions and blind trust, it's not the best, but at least Romney didn't seem apologetic of his wealth and was able to give an explanation of the importance of investors.

Romney also won the immigration debate. Newt mysteriously kept focusing on grandmothers and Mitt shut him up by saying that our problem is not 11 million grandmothers. In fact, in answering Gingrich's attacks, Romney was able to give a full-throated argument in favor of legal immigration while contrasting those who want to come here legally with those who have bypassed the legal process. Romney succeeded in making the pro-legal immigration argument that so many conservatives seem to forget to make.

Granted, Romney seemed weak when he didn't know what was in his own attack ad. Not the best evidence of his executive leadership of his own campaign, but most people recognize that those ads are made and a loop of the candidate's voice saying he approved the ad is tacked on afterward. However, any discussion of whether or not Newt made a statement that could have been inferred to say that he considered Spanish the language of the ghetto is not good for Newt. And he did make that statement and later issued an apology in Spanish for what he said so the ad is mostly true.

And then we had about a ten-minute detour to talk about colonizing the Moon. And once again Gingrich's science-fiction-inspired aspirations seemed out of touch with the real concerns of people.

The real revelation of the debate was how well Santorum did. He totally nailed Romney on the similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare. And he made the connection to why this is important - Romney is going to be hobbled going against Obama in the general election in making the arguments against Obamacare when Romney enacted such a similar program.

That was one of Romney's weakest moments in all the debates. And then he told Santorum, "It’s not worth getting angry about," Well, a lot of people are extremely angry about Obamacare and Santorum is right to be angry even though I didn't think he sounded angry, but dynamic and right. And Romney didn't have an answer. In that exchange he reminded conservatives of why we've been suspicious of him the entire time.

Santorum was also great when he said that Wolf Blitzer should move on beyond the tit-for-tat arguing between Newt and Mitt. He came off as above-the-fray and more focused on the real issues people care about. Gingrich tried to take the lifeline, but Romney was able to taunt him to coming back to the same unappealing arguments. It made Gingrich look bad, but mostly it made Santorum look good.

The real question that raised was why Gingrich was the one who had risen to the top as the chief non-Mitt when Santorum is so much stronger. I wouldn't be surprised if Newt's numbers tumbled and Santorum's rose, but it's probably too little too late for Santorum. He might not have been my first choice, but it's a shame that he languished at the bottom while such candidates as Bachmann, Cain, Perry, and now Gingrich rose up in the Whack-a-Mole efforts to find a non-Mitt. Any surge by Santorum now would most likely help Mitt by once again dividing up the non-Mitt vote and Santorum doesn't have the money or organization to compete in the remaining states. Mostly, Santorum has been hurt by the image of being such a loser in his last Senate campaign. And having that big L over his head is not what voters are looking for in going against Obama.

Gingrich got his wish to have a debate with an audience that could react and cheer. Unfortunately for him, he delivered his worst debate performance in the entire long march of all these debates. He was defensive and whiny for most of the debate. Mostly, he just seemed angry that he was getting attacked. Does he think that Obama would be gentler on him than his fellow Republicans? He got better at the end, but by then it was too late.

He even tried his signature bombast against the media moderator and got posterized by Wolf Blitzer who fought back and told Gingrich he should be willing to stand by the attacks on Romney that he himself has been making on the campaign trail. Forget Gingrich's claims to be the master debater to go up against Obama; he lost to Wolf Blitzer. That can't be a good thing for a candidate whose main selling point is that he can vocalize conservatives' anger at the mainstream media.

Romney has gotten stronger in having to fight back attacks that Obama will certainly be making if Romney should win the nomination. It also probably raised his negatives, but that was going to happen anyway. And those candidates who have lost, except for Santorum, have come off looking worse than when they started campaigning. Perhaps that might be a salutary lesson for future possible candidates looking to raise their visibility by a hopeless run for the nomination.

5 comments:

mark said...

"Well, a lot of people are extremely angry about Obamacare"

Really? If that is the case, then why is the namesake of Romneycare poised to become the repub nominee? Of all the republicans out there, how did you settle on the one repub who has actually implemented mandates? The Heritage Foundation and conservatives such as Gingrich once supported the idea of mandates. Under Obama, it became "un-American". The fact that Romney and Gingrich are at the top is proof that the mandate "outrage" is manufactured.

tfhr said...

mark,

I know your fragile world is just barely held together by the same vaporous glue they sniff over at Koz, but you need to open the window, if not your mind, and get some fresh air.

And now for your daily spoon-feeding of curative facts:

Heritage policy experts never supported an unqualified mandate like that in the PPACA [ObamaCare]. Their prior support for a qualified mandate was limited to catastrophic coverage (true insurance that is precisely what the PPACA forbids), coupled with tax relief for all families and other reforms that are conspicuously absent from the PPACA. Since then, a growing body of research has provided a strong basis to conclude that any government insurance mandate is not only unnecessary, but is a bad policy option. Moreover, Heritage’s legal scholars have been consistent in explaining that the type of mandate in the PPACA is unconstitutional.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/10/20/how-a-conservative-think-tank-invented-the-individual-mandate/

Here is an amicus brief filed for the Heritage Foundation:
http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/Heritage-Foundation-Amicus-Brief-05-11-11.pdf

It refutes your effort to distort their position. Where is your documentation, mark?

Furthermore, Romney says he wants to repeal ObamaCare and that works for conservatives.

ic said...

Santorum's endorsement of Spectre over Toomey who had helped his own re-election bid showed Santorum was a disloyal SOB who valued his Senate liberal buddies more than his "conservative" constituents. That sell-out, I believe, accounted for his 17 points loss, and his languishing as a non-Romney.

mark said...

"Their prior support for a qualified mandate was limited to catastrophic coverage"

That would be evidence that the heritage foundation once supported mandates. (Catastrophic coverage is exacly what I have said should be required).


"Furthermore, Romney says he wants to repeal ObamaCare and that works for conservatives."

That works for gullible conservatives without principles. That's like social conservatives voting for an adulterer with three wives and a history of multiple affairs and hook-ups. Could never happen.

tfhr said...

mark,

Whatever YOU said "should be required" isn't the same thing as what your buddy Obama wants required now, is it? Go back and read it all again and take note of the differences. They are clear. Your thinking is not. Read the amicus brief and stop being intellectually incurious, it makes you sound dishonest.

So you believe Romney wants to keep ObamaCare? Is that what you're saying? Or are you mind reading again? I know having a superpower is pretty cool but mind reading isn’t one of yours and your ability to leap to conclusions based on partisan politics does not impress. Show us where he has said what you claim because I really want to know. Documentation would be a plus but I'm not going to get my hopes up with you.

And in your final flatulent offering you start sputtering about adultery. How did you jump off onto a tangent about Clinton, Edwards, Hart, Kennedy, Kennedy and Kennedy?