February 22nd Republican Debate Review
February 23, 2012 Leave a comment
John King moderated what is likely the last Republican debate last night. In typical CNN fashion, it was largely a hit j0b. This time Rick Santorum was the recipient of absurd, irrelevant topics. The debate spent 15 minutes on women on the front lines, earmarks and contraception. All of these issues were highlighted to make Santorum look bad. It was as though Mitt Romney was the one asking the questions. The most important issue in the fall is going to be the economy and the debate spent less than 5 minutes on the subject.
Rick Santorum is a good example of why Senators and Congressmen shouldn’t run for President. They often have convoluted reasons for voting for or supporting various bills or proposals that make sense at the time but cannot be easily explained later. Santorum has very good reasons why he endorsed Arlen Spector but it took him over a minute to explain that Spector was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and had promised to support Bush’s appointments. Even then, the Romney audience hemmed and hawed over it.
Santorum’s defense of earmarks was admirable. This issue has become a major boogyman, as though earmarks at 1% of the Federal budget are responsible for our debt problem. But his defense was convoluted and it seemed smarmy. Bills in Congress and sausage go hand in hand, you might like the finished product but you don’t want to see how it got there. A Senator is always going to have trouble explaining a handful of votes (unless you’re Obama and don’t have any) and Santorum just didn’t have it in him to provide concise explanations.
Romney was on the offensive all night. But he had two problems last night. First and foremost anyone who has paid attention to this race in Arizona and Michigan over the last week will realize that Romney did little more than verbatim repeat his television and radio ads when he attacked Santorum. In short, he played right into the plastic and robot accusations.
But his second problem is perhaps worse, he came off as a hypocrite. In the never ending and largely meaningless discussion of earmarks it was pointed out that when Romney ran the Winter Olympics he had asked Congress for an earmark. In short, an earmark was ok when he wanted one but they’re evil and wasteful otherwise. That’s as hypocritical as Ron Paul putting earmarks into bills that he then makes a show of voting against.
Newt did a masterful job last night. He is by far the best debater. His problem though is that the party is tired of him. Conservatives have gravitated towards Santorum because Newt has to much baggage. In fact, at this point Newt is the difference between a Santorum victory and a Romney victory. Newt has stayed in the race, likely ensuring a Romney win after Santorum’s mediocre performance last night.
Ron Paul is so trusting of personal liberty, as he defines it, that he really believes that Iran wouldn’t use a nuclear weapon and would behave largely as the Soviet’s did. In his Iran comments he displays a complete lack of fundamental knowledge of the Muslim faith the Iranians have. The Soviets were atheists, this life is all they thought they had so it makes sense that they really didn’t want to kill themselves via a nuclear war. Iran not only believes they’ll get themselves 72 virgins for dying for Allah, they believe they can bring about a return of the 12th imam by creating chaos in the world. It doesn’t matter that they’re crazy, they really believe this stuff. Paul doesn’t get it and is unfit for the Presidency.
Romney won last night because he played a solid debate and Santorum missed opportunities to attack him. Santorum’s performance is a little concerning should he win the nomination. He lit up when he got to talk about the family but otherwise he seemed disconnected from the questions and the audience. Romney gave a typical steady eddie, plastic, robotic performance. That might not beat Obama either, he doesn’t exactly connect with people. But he makes the right moves at the right time, so he wins.
Win: Romney delivered a typical Mitt performance.
Place: Santorum did good enough for second but missed opportunities to knock out Romney.
Show: Newt is solid as ever but it really matters not.
Big loser: The conservative movement lost big last night. Santorum was our last hope to defeat the progressive Romney and he didn’t take advantage of his chance. With the political death of Santorum, so dies Reagan’s movement.