Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The CNBC Republican Debate: Off-the-cuff reactions 

I have watched only two of the many Republican debates so far this year, the second being the one moderated by CNBC this evening. If you missed it, no doubt an online version will be available in short order.

I had several off-the-cuff reactions, in no particular order.

The questions from the CNBC team were a lot deeper than typical debate questions, in part because they avoided, in the main, superficial attempts at entrapment in favor of thoughtful and complex interrogation on such matters as taxation, trade, and regulation. The main exception was a pointed question to Herman Cain on the recent accusations against him by various alleged sexual harassees, which CNBC had telegraphed in its promotion of the debate this morning on "Squawk Box."

The Mormons did the best job. Of the two, Mitt Romney has the campaigning experience, organization, and money to win, and Huntsman does not. You have to think that Huntsman would make an excellent Secretary of State in a Romney administration, however.

Newt was interesting as always. That does not make him electable. The stakes are too high to run the risk of his candidacy -- the United States will be dead money for a long time if Barack Obama gets a second term -- and in any case we need Newt as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Cain and Bachmann have become tedious and (remain) incoherent. Santorum's face is all wrong -- he looks angry all the time, and that never works.

Rick Perry committed the gaffe of the night in forgetting a central tenant of his own platform and then saying "oops" in response to the follow-up opportunity for redemption. The post-debate talking heads thought that this was the headline error of the night, and it certainly was not good. I am wondering, though, whether a moment of "Halfheimers" really will hurt Perry with GOP primary voters as much as the journalists, who revere quick-wittedness much more than the average American, suppose.

The other Texan in the race, Ron Paul, was frustrating as always. One wanted to agree with Paul (at least if one was a libertarian), but he was so muddled and inarticulate that we had to fill in the blanks with our own supplemental and clarifying words to construct anything sensible out of what he said. The transcript will be awful for Paul. And, anyway, abolishing the Federal Reserve is just silliness, as I will make clear in a future post.

The troubling part is that after months of campaigning and God knows how many debates, most of these guys are rank amateurs. So, I put the question: Can somebody out there explain how any Republican other than Romney has a plausible and reasonably probable path to a majority of the electoral votes?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 10, 12:07:00 AM:

I know that Romney is the headliner, but as I watched the debate I thought that Romney-Gingrich would make an incredible TEAM. They would own Utah, Michigan, New Hampshire, Massachusettes, and Georgia.

And boy I would not miss the VP debate; Biden will look like a drooling fool when Gingrich finishes wiping the floor with him.
The Romney Obama debates will be non-events.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 10, 08:18:00 AM:

Don't assume Romney is an electable Republican. I know many people who will not vote for a lukewarm lefty Republican. Period. If Romney is the nominee, he may well lose a sizable portion of the Republican base.

Romney may nibble around the edges of the growing Leviathan for show, but he is not going to roll back anything. So in the end what is the point of replacing one tax and spender with another?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Nov 10, 08:28:00 AM:

I concur with the previous guy. If many independents and Republicans (quite reasonably) decide that they only have a choice between Democrat 1 and Democrat 2, they will not bother to choose. Even I would be hard-pressed to get up to go vote for Romney, and there are a lot of people in this country to my right.

And these debates are absurd. I can't believe the candidates agree to them. They're nothing more than fratricidal soundbite machines for MSM consumption. It doesn't matter one flying fuck if Perry momentarily forgot an idea; Obama forgot the number of states in the union, referred to a non-existent language, and grossly mispronounced a very basic military term, and got a pass for each. What matters is his plan to eliminate three federal agencies. But no one's talking about that.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 10, 10:50:00 AM:

Anon Attorney here. I am with the other posters. Under no circumstance will I vote for Mitt Romney--and there are lots of people to my right as well.

Ignoramus said it best in a comment months ago: Romney is Obama in corporate whiteface. A Romney nomination is a slap in the face to the conservative wing of the Republican party. Nominate Romney and Obama wins in a landslide as the base stays home.

It will not be fun to watch this play out . . .  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 10, 12:21:00 PM:

I hate to admit that Romney is the only plausible nominee out there, particularly since Obama so obviously wants to face him (the pro-Obama press has left him completely untested), but the low quality of the others in the race can lead to no other conclusion. The 2016 field will, I hope be much stronger.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 10, 12:59:00 PM:

"Can somebody out there explain how any Republican other than Romney has a plausible and reasonably probable path to a majority of the electoral votes?"

You don't "explain" a path -- you make one. This is a not a spectatr sport. "Electability" is not an input, it's an output.

Quit treating this election like a rerun of American Idol.

Owen J (who doesn't have any of those accounts)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 10, 01:05:00 PM:

"The troubling part is that after months of campaigning and God knows how many debates, most of these guys are rank amateurs."

Did you just say we need a class of *Professional* campaigners?

Isn't that Obama is? Maybe Romney would qualify by now.

Funny, I thought we were electing a president...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 10, 02:16:00 PM:

For a description of what the "path to the nomination" has meant in the elections of the last 150 years, commenters might be interested in reading this article.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Thu Nov 10, 10:34:00 PM:

What bothers me, having admittedly not watched the debates, is that none of them can go beyond platitudes about class warfare in making a case for supply-side economics. We've seen Carternomics/Obamanomics and Reaganomics/Clintonomics (even Wnomics) and clearly the latter i better effective (Clinton/Gingrich lowered tax rates overall by lowering the capital gains tax, ended welfare further introducing free markets in labor, and expanded NAFTA to Mexico, the ultimate pro-business policy). The results, jobs based, trickle down growth.

A communicator to trump the dystopic ersatz-populism with sound economic rebuttal would win the 30% center; wailing about "class warfare" which sounds fine to those not being taxed more is silly.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Nov 11, 12:14:00 PM:

Ann Coulter has just come out with a quite interesting explanation for how and why Herman Cain is getting hit with a barrage of sexual harrassment revelations: It all emanates from Chicago and it all connects to David Axlerod.

Story here and worth reading: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=47438

Ann puts dots on the page -- I draw the same cat as she does.

Lest you think we're both "paranoid and wrong", not "paranoid but right", we've seen this movie before as Ann points out. Axelrod used to run the City News Desk at the Chicago Tribune before he went into politics full time. He used the Chicago press to torpedo the leading Democrat and then the leading Republican to clear the way for Obama to get his US Senate seat. I looked into this in depth back around June 2008 and wrote about it here. I didn't know much about Obama until then, but it was quite a revelation about Obama and Axelrod. They're capable of anything.

Which begs the question, why do they want to knock off Cain?  

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