The Czar shall now speak on the Republican debate this evening. This was much livelier, and more engaging to watch. Some candidates really dislike the others, that’s for sure. But the questions were unbalanced or staged (why no economic questions at Huntsman? Why no serious foreign policy questions at Cain?), and to Rick Santorum’s protest, some candidates were definitely getting too much time while others were sidelined. Giving candidates 15 seconds to respond any time they were mentioned guaranteed that Romney, Bachmann, and Paul were going to get a lot of television time. Bad, bad, bad.
The Czar also thinks that the audience was out-of-hand. Applause is good, jeering sometimes reasonable, but gee whiz. Please stop applauding everything anyone says. That basically encourages candidates to say dumb tropes in hope of getting more applause. And for heaven’s sake, did anyone else catch that moment when Ron Paul broke fabric-tearingly loud wind on stage and they applauded that?
Thoughts on the individuals:
Rick Santorum looked a lot stronger tonight, particularly with his apoplexy over Ron Paul’s delusional wanderings about Iran. The Czar would not be surprised to see him take a good uptick in the polls.
Herman Cain entertains and delights, and certainly scores major points on many topics. Unfortunately, he is too deferential to what the other candidates say, and as a result will see his support stay precisely where it is. When asked if his religious commentaries have hurt his campaign, he would have been honest to say “What campaign?”
Ron Paul has convinced the Czar that he has little understanding of what is going on in the world. Yes, he campaigns on the same ideas he had 30 years ago: he hates American militarism, hates the Fed, and wants to push libertarian ideas. Great, but he convinced us tonight that he has not changed a single answer in three decades, and keeps sticking to his talk track even when circumstances change. Iran has few militants? Iran has a right to defend itself with nuclear weapons? Iran will not risk a nuclear strike on Israel because Russia and China are nearby? Iran has a right to be angry because of the Shah? There is no evidence Iran is working toward offensive nuclear capability? This has to be his last election, and the press and the GOP must stop wasting time with this guy.
Mitt Romney looked far more polished and ready than ever. In fact, the Czar thinks he did very well and looked good doing it. Yes, he flubbed his answer on RomneyCare, and he seems to think that only Constitutional amendments will solve problems, and yeah, the Czar thinks he wants to avoid certain questions…but overall he looked good. Now the Czar predicted on Twitter tonight that the Mainstream Media will declare Mitt the loser tomorrow because, of course, his numbers have him beating Obama pretty badly. So in order to sway independents, they will suggest Romney was not as strong as someone Obama could beat. Wait and see.
Michele Bachmann was on her game, and hit away on anything Pawlenty teed up for her. However, she did not necessarily do anything outstanding or memorable tonight. The Czar suspects her support will remain high in Iowa, but we will not see her national numbers jump especially higher or lower. She did miss a great chance on the question about wives submitting to their husbands. The Czar would have chuckled, as she did, and said “The Bible doesn’t say anything about Presidents of the United States needing to submit to their spouses.”
Tim Pawlenty is finished. Game over. He looked small, squinty, and nervous, and found a way to turn everything into a dig at Michele Bachmann. We will tell you why: he did not want a repeat of the last debate in which he was asked about a legitimate dig at Mitt Romney. Yes, last week, Pawlenty made a comment about Bachmann’s experience. And yes, he was asked about that comment. He did not want to miss out on any chance to expand on that. But he turned everything into a tirade about her, as though no one else was running. The Czar was shocked his closing statement wasn’t directed at her. On the other hand, when asked about RomneyCare, he fired both barrels at Romney, and Romney seemed initially taken aback. But do not be fooled, Governor Pawlenty: your aggression was supposed to make you stronger, not look like a bully. And by the way, do not ever quote Spider-Man again.
Jon Huntsman never had much chance, but at least voters in the booth can see what he looks like when they vote for someone else.
Newt Gingrich seemed amused to have been invited back, as if he was going to say at any moment “Thanks for the question, but my campaign ended in June.” He made a couple of good points, and his suggestion about a detailed, rectal-level audit of the Fed was excellent. But come on, he has to know deep in his heart that he is out, right? And if not, then that is another reason not to elect him.
Sadly, it is perhaps time for candidates to start leaving the field. If Rick Perry joins the fray, the next debate should feature only Perry, Romney, Bachmann, and maybe Santorum. Pawlenty must recognize he will never be convincingly presidential, Cain and Huntsman lack the numbers, Gingrich is done, and Paul needs to just stop talking.
What are your thoughts?