Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Live-blogging the GOP debate 

I haven't worked myself up to live-blog one of these things in a while, but I have twitchy fingers tonight and thought I'd give it a shot. The usual rules apply: installments are numbered, and quotations are approximate and will not necessarily hold up on revelation of the transcript.

1. Running a few minutes behind here, but through the magic of Tivo I'll stay as close as possible.

I must say, Rudy has a viper-like smile when he whips it out full-frontal. He looks more like James Carville than anybody else running. Just saying.

First question from Brit Hume: Is Fred Thompson running smart, or not? Huckabee gets off a great one-liner -- he is always entertaining. Ron Paul "welcomes him to the race" because Thompson will dilute the pro-war vote. McCain jabs Thompson: "Maybe we're up past his bedtime." Best answer from a real guy.

No, wait -- Rudy: "I think Fred has done a pretty good job of playing my role on Law & Order." Came off well. More Rudy: "Comes down to experience. It is not the time for on-the-job training as an executive." Positions himself as the experienced guy, which in this crowd -- McCain aside -- is really a best-hockey-player-in-Ecuador argument.

I agree with this, though: "First question: Is Fred Thompson smarter than you guys? Answer: If he’s having a postshow cocktail in Leno’s greenroom, he is."

2. Chris Wallace: Asks Romney about immigration. Romney hammers Giuliani, saying that his history of tolerance of illegals, as mayor, "contributed to three million illegal aliens becoming 12 million illegal aliens." Wallace follows up with Rudy, who explains the extensive nuance in his decision, reflecting it back to his practical need to reduce crime -- Rudy's order made it possible for illegals to report crimes, which contributed to the huge reductions in crime in New York on his watch.

Huckabee: If Fedex can track a package, why can't we track a person? Well, we don't barcode people! Maybe we should. Kidding, guys, kidding.

3. Wallace: To Duncan Hunter, "what are you doing to do to complete the border fence", recognizing that it will violate the property rights of ranchers, be tough to maintain in open desert, etc. Hunter: "Here's what we tell 'em: It's the law." You know, that's a dopey answer -- if there are legal and engineering problems with building a fence in the manner prescribed by the law, you can't just fart off the problems with "it's the law."

Man on the street, who is a cop: "You can build all the fences you want, but if you don't man them they are still going to come in here."

Rudy: "The reality is, we do have to stop illegal aliens from coming over our border." Calls for a technologically sophisticated fence and a national ID card.

I must say, I am coming around to the idea of a national ID card. Reluctantly.

4. McCain: Proposed solution is not "amnesty" because "amnesty involves forgiveness." It was a comprehensive proposal for dealing with illegals.

Romney: "You have to end sanctutary cities." I must say, the sanctuary cities issue strikes me as largely nonsense. Can somebody persuade me that it isn't roughly a ninth order problem (compared to securing the borders, identifying people here, torturing employers, and so forth).

5. Missed the Larry Craig question, and am happy to say that I do not care enough even to spin back on TiVo.

6. Romney is right on abortion -- let the states decide. That's where I am, too, by the way. I believe abortion should be lawful under many circumstances, but it is idiotic that the Supreme Court denied us the opportunity to legislate a compromise.

Huckabee is very eloquent in his support for the "life" position, I must say.

The gun control question, to Rudy: He again defaults to New York, the "safest large city in America." That said, he believes that states should have the right to legislate, including to allow college students to carry them.

7. Ron Paul's theory that respect for the Second Amendment would have stopped 9/11 is, I'm sad to say, deeply wrong. I'm as big a fan of the Second Amendment as anybody, but it is not a cure-all, even in the war on terror.

Question to Brownback: Should we have a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. "Yes." Calls gay marriage "a vast social experiment" that "impacts the culture around us."

8. To McCain: You say that nothing Guiliani has done has given him experience in foreign affairs. McCain: Describes his experience in the Senate, and his willingness to take tough positions. "I know war, I've seen war, I know how the military works, I know how the government works." It does seem to me that no Republican has anything like McCain's experience in foreign affairs and military matters. The question is, whether experience is all that is necessary.

Giuliani: I was leader of the third biggest government in the country, and before that I was the third ranking person in the Justice Department. Yada, yada, New York is safe, yada, yada.

9. Romney: "Ultimately, down the road, I would anticipate that we're not going to have a permanent presence in Iraq. We'll be in a standby mode in surrounding nations." God, I hope he doesn't believe that. What surrounding nations? Turkey? I hope he is not suggesting Saudi Arabia again. We need those bases.

McCain: "The surge is working. Not apparently. It's working. The great debate is whether we set a date for withdrawal, which will be a date for surrender, or whether we will let this surge continue and succeed." McCain is extremely good in this entire segment. When I hear McCain on the war I really do want to vote for him.

Paul essentially attacks Romney for the implication that we would put troops back in Saudi Arabia. Well, he's right about that, even if nothing else.

10. Chris Wallace to Huckabee: Given the National Intelligence Estimate, what should we do about Iraq? Huckabee gives, in effect, Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" story -- "we broke it, so we have a responsibility to fix it." That does not move me.

Paul blames the "neoconservatives" for "hijacking our foreign policy." Huckabee says "even if we lose elections we should not lose our honor." Great exchange between the two of them, crowd eats it up.

Mrs. TigerHawk: "These debates are more real than any I remember from the last elections." I totally agree.

11. Wallace to Tancredo: You opposed the surge from the start -- is there anything General Petraeus could say to change your mind? "I hope the surge works! But let's get back to the point -- Iraq is a battlefield in the war with radical Islam." Tancredo says "we have to disengage as the police force in that country," but not leave the country.

12. Citizen question to Romney: How do we bring an end to the war in Iraq, and still bring it to victory? The guy sincerely and movingly hammers Romney for having compared the work his sons are doing in the campaign to having served in Iraq. Unfair? Perhaps. But a real hit to Romney. He grovels, and then answers the substantive question: We need a global strategy to fight the jihad. It is not just about fixing broken pottery or peace with honor. It is a wider war.

Wendell Goler: Asks Romney about presidential power in the war -- "would you wiretap mosques even without a judge's approval?" Romney: Our focus has to be on preventing an attack, and preventing an attack means good intelligence work. If it means we have to go into a mosque to wiretap, or a church, then that's what we have to do." Romney understands interdiction.

Goler to Tancredo (who has said some edgy things about torture): Would you approve the use of torture? Is there a line you won't cross?

I don't care what Tancredo thinks about this issue. The question is, are we going to get the de rigueur reaction from the only man up there who has been tortured, John McCain. Yes, we are! Rather than re-processing McCain's eloquent position on this topic -- that no gain from torture can be counterbalanced with its many costs -- go read this unbelievable article about Vietnam, which puts McCain's position and credibility on this subject in perspective.

Rudy on Gitmo and the war: Can't close Gitmo, because no nation will take the people who are there! And what nation has ever won a war by discussing when it will retreat?

13. To Hunter: Are you prepared to hold the detainees in Gitmo indefinitely? Hunter: "If anything we've been too liberal. Those guys get taxpayer paid-for prayer rugs, they've all gained weight, they've got healthcare that is better than most HMOs." Heh.

14. To Brownback: Would you give a vice president as much authority as George Bush has given Vice President Cheney? Brownback: No. Blah, blah, blah about leaning heavily on his advice.

Chris Wallace: Time to talk about taxes and spending. To McCain: Why have you refused to sign the pledge to refuse to raise marginal tax rates? "Because I'll stand on my 26-year record of opposing tax increases. But we let spending get out of control, and destroyed the confidence of conservatives, and that led to corruption."

McCain says he voted against the Bush tax cuts because they did not also embed cuts in spending.

15. Rudy: "If you are president of the United States, you take one pledge -- to uphold the Constitution of the United States." You can't run around taking pledges on individual issues. Stands on his record of lowering taxes in New York.

I really like the "one pledge" line, which is both lawyerly and populist. Good stuff.

Romney: Attacks the Democrats, "kill the death tax once and for all." So his sons know what they're fighting for!

Sorry, Romney fans. I couldn't resist.

Wallace to Huckabee on the "fair tax," which is a screwy national sales tax proposal. Huckabee: "If people would look at this objectively they would see that it is the best way to eliminate corruption in government." True, because you could not give rifle-shot tax incentives, so you would not have lobbyists pushing for it. Which is why it is never going to happen.

Man on the street question to Rudy -- how to deal with your family issues: Rudy is good on this: "I'm not running as the perfect candidate for president, I'm running as a human being. I held one of the most difficult jobs in the country and did it well, so quite obviously any issues that go on in my private life" did not interfere with my leadership. A little blah-blah on crime.

16. Britt's Iran scenario question: Assume Iran kicks out UN weapons inspectors, continues to harrass Iraq, and threats against Israel have become more pronounced and extreme (hard to imagine, by the way). So what do you do?

Paul: "The president has no authority to go to war. He should go to Congress and 'find out whether there is any threat to our national security.'" This is, suffice it to say, a crazed view of presidential power under the constitution. He ought to be reading Andy McCarthy!

Tancredo: We cannot back away from such a situation. Babbles on... "action must be taken..., political correctness is going to get us all killed." Sigh.

Now he goes to Hunter. Could we make a real candidate answer this question?

Nope, how we have Huckabee. He is by far the most eloquent non-candidate up there. I would love to go to his church.

Now Brownback. Who at least wants to go after Iran's military targets.

Giuliani!: "Iran is right now the single biggest state sponsor of Islamic terrorism." The realistic scenario is that they will hand nuclear material to "the terrorists they are presently supplying." America needs the position that Iran will not be allowed to go nuclear. When and how to act -- it would be foolish to answer. Any president would want the element of surprise. "Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot, but he won it by pointing like a thousand missiles at the Soviet Union's cities." Heh. Great line.

Romney: Blah blah. Works with Democrats, allies, denies the possibility that Democrats and allies won't want to work with him.

McCain: "At the end of the day, we cannot let Iran get nuclear weapons. Your hypothetical is closer to reality than many Americans appreciate."

It is all over. Thanks for playing along, and dump your spin in the comments.

OK, one last bit: Frank Luntz's New Hampshire focus group thought McCain won. I agree, it was a good night for him. According to Luntz's group, Rudy was the big loser -- too much prattling on about his record in New York. Yep, but I still like him.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Sep 05, 10:29:00 PM:

One in every crowd ... this one has Ron Paul.  

By Blogger Papa Ray, at Wed Sep 05, 10:48:00 PM:

I watched as much as I could stomach.

I can spot a pretender or BSer a mile away.

The real problem in DC is in the Senate and the House, that is what needs fixing. A good President can do little about them, a Great President will be able to do more, but never enough.

I just hope Thompson is not a pretender and can convince me and others like me that he is the best for the job. Otherwise I (right now) can't see voting for any of the pretenders we have now, running for President, in the republican party.

If we could pull genes from each and construct a President, we might get a great one or maybe just a...


Papa Ray
West Texas

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Sep 05, 10:56:00 PM:

That was a fun read. Thx for the live commentary.  

By Blogger Frieda, at Wed Sep 05, 10:59:00 PM:

Romney reminds me of Bill Clinton...too sleek!

Gulliani & McCain did better but they both need better wardrobe! :-)

But overall, Republicans debate better than Democrats. There is more "gravitas" in today's stage than Demarcates. Little more depth and substance than Democrats shallow answers  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Sep 05, 11:16:00 PM:

"Giuliani!: "Iran is right now the single biggest state sponsor of Islamic terrorism." The realistic scenario is that they will hand nuclear material to "the terrorists they are presently supplying." America needs the position that Iran will not be allowed to go nuclear. When and how to act -- it would be foolish to answer. Any president would want the element of surprise. "Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot, but he won it by pointing like a thousand missiles at the Soviet Union's cities." Heh. Great line."

This comment makes me happy. It's clear to me that Giuliani has a grasp of what it takes to be chief executive of a nation. As opposed to Paul's comment, for instance.

I also like the comment about upholding the Constitution, and not swearing to individual issues. Reminds me of my own comment from the other day about voting for people, not policies.

I guess I just like Giuliani.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 06, 02:58:00 AM:

An interesting night...

Thanks for the live blog effort.

I disagree about Romney, feeling he and Rudy excel.

In regards to McCain, I find him deeply disappointing still.

His excuse about opposing tax reduction is truly weak.

Demeaning of Sec. Rumsfeld for McCain's own political ambition, someone who bravely tried to implement the policy the Senator wanted, is simply ugly.

Besides, Sec. Rumsfeld was a principle player in the team which successfully removed the Taliban and Saddam from power. That is not failure and Senator McCain should know the difficulty experienced in a combat zone.

When he demeans Sec. Rumsfeld, referencing 'mismanaged', 'failure', or 'mishandled' he is unwittingly belittling thousands in the US Armed Services who served brilliantly in Iraq. (He also sounds just like Hillary, Kerry, Pelosi, Reid, etc.)  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Thu Sep 06, 03:13:00 AM:

"Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot, but he won it by pointing like a thousand missiles at the Soviet Union's cities."

Wow! Rudy *really* gets it! The left keeps throwing up the straw man "neocons want to bomb Iran and kill lots of people" but the reality is exactly the opposite - if we stand tough now we won't *have* to bomb them (unless it's too late already). And we'd be standing a lot tougher if Democratic leaders weren't traveling to places like Syria for photo ops.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Sep 06, 06:34:00 AM:

HillaryNeeds - Well, I don't know if I support McCain for the Republican nomination -- I certainly disagree with him on lots of things and am worried about his ability to win the general election -- but I agree with him on the management of the occupation. I like Donald Rumsfeld personally -- he went to Princeton, for Pete's sake! -- but somebody made some serious mistakes in planning for this war. A subject for another post, but in my opinion tough to deny.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 06, 12:47:00 PM:

Well said Tigerhawk...

Princeton is outstanding. I find myself visiting the A & B when I am nearby.

Thanks for the insight, and I look forward to a future post regarding the planning for Iraq.

But in (my humble opinion) the context of invading a massive State formerly oppressed for 20 years, surrounded by Iran and Syria in the heart of the troubled Arab Region, was going to be extremely complex and challenging.

No plan was going to work perfectly.

Islamic Radicals intent upon suicide bombing, were going to take time and patience to defeat.

Israel's National Security is top notch, but even after decades, they still cannot completely stop terrorist attacks from creating havoc.

In relation to military engagements in the past, the Battle of the Bulge, The Battle of Pork Chop Hill, etc., Iraq remains a sincere positive and one cannot discount the progress the Rumsfeld influence helped create for the potential of a new Democracy in Iraq.

Even the Secretary of Defense, is relying on much of the insight-efforts of the various Armed Forces on the Ground.

Wasn't the elimination of Zarqawi during the Rumsfeld tenure?

Wasn't Saddam tried, convicted, and provided the ultimate justice during the Rumsfeld tenure?

Didn't 8 Million Iraqis Vote while Sec. Rummy was in Office?

We had to work with Allies such as Great Britain, and even the new Free Iraqi Government, important relationships, which may have compromised the US Military efforts at times (and could not have been avoided).

More troops included at a certain time, may have simply increased casualty rates as well.

Feel strongly McCain's tone is bizarrely hostile to the former Sec. Defense and appears intended to deflect responsibility upon himself, (even an attempt to appease liberal leaning mindsets or those in the MSM).

A sincere leader would not trash someone who tried bravely to implement the policy they wanted involving such a difficult challenge.

This is a true sign of character, and not an attractive one for a potential Commander In Chief.

The strong-ethical might use 'we' when discussing this mission, and would convey the positives along with the problems, relating the difficulty involved while explaining the sincere need for the effort.

Perhaps that is one of my concerns, as many who advocated for the mission in Iraq, seem to have failed to properly defend the policy when it seemed unpopular.

Ceding far too much to the unethical opposition and the MSM.

A number of high profile pundits have encouraged the idea, the use of force is expected to provide instant results, without loss, or confusion.

They have raised unrealistic expectations, contradicting a vast history which tells us essential military engagements will prove incredibly challenging, with even the most perfect plan.

Sorry, Senator McCain in my opinion wants to use Rumsfeld as a whipping horse to appeal to others (believing him to be an acceptable unpopular figure), and it is extremely regretful.

When he is referencing Iraq, he wishes to defer criticism from himself...

While, at the same time he conveniently invokes being a partner with President Bush in remarking upon the Immigration Reform to avoid being alone in relation to criticism.

He may do this as a Senator, but one cannot play this game as POTUS.

Thank you.
Best wishes.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 06, 12:58:00 PM:

TH ... I listened to McCain the war hero quoting some general who was a career guy (obviously) who served in four wars. That was the person who said we should never torture. What struck me was your post some time back about what the Greatest Americans did in prior wars, and pre Geneva Conventions. What struck me as well is that politics plays a huge role in who makes a star in the military and who doesn't. So one man's opinion is just that.

What I wanted to hear is that there's one winner, and one loser, in war. Reconciliation and rebuilding comes later. It takes time, just like in other wars. In the short run, you break the back of the enemy, and use whatever means are needed. Torturing some sh*thead in Iraq won't mean that they torture or behead our soldiers, because that die has already been cast.

McCain is an angry guy, still trading on the POW thing. I wouldn't vote for him simply because the left likes him. He's too beatable. I'm intriqued to hear more of what's on Thompson's mind, but my heart's with Rudy at this point.

As for McCain's and Rudy's comments vis-a-vis leadership vs. management, I think it takes both to be an effective president.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Sep 06, 08:37:00 PM:

Rosen: You honestly don't understand the concept of deterrence, do you? You know, President Kennedy campaigned on the idea that we needed more nuclear missiles pointed at Soviet cities... that he was a war-mongering neo-conservative is certainly news to me.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sun Sep 09, 03:10:00 PM:


(I know this is a little late):

WTF are you talking about??????? I was *supporting* deterrence and accusing no one - neither Giulani nor JFK - of being a "war-mongering neoconservative". In short, your interpretation of my post is 180 degrees opposite of what I wrote.  

By Anonymous Dawnfire82, at Wed Jan 23, 10:22:00 PM:

Super late

I read your comment as dripping with sarcasm. *shrug*

I think it was the asterisks.  

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