Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cruz-Dewhurst Debate for U.S. Senate

The first debate match-up between Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst was televised statewide Friday night. Here are a few of my thoughts from the event.

Why 8:00PM on a Friday night? Doesn't that seem like a lousy time slot if a decent sized audience is the goal? It's summer. It's Friday night. Other than political junkies, who was watching?

The moderator and the questioners were liberals. The debate was live from KERA-TV in Dallas.
The two candidates sparred for one hour before an audience of Republican voters at the studios of KERA, the Dallas public television affiliate. The Texas Tribune was a partner in the debate. KERA Managing Editor Shelley Kofler was the moderator.
Conservatives have come to expect that during GOP debates, the questions will be posed by those who are not of the same political philosophy. While that can be tolerated if the moderator and questioners make an attempt to be unbiased in their tone and demeanor, often this goal is not attained. The debate Friday night was one of those times. OK, it was on public television. OK, the questioners were print journalists. But, still. This group was rude to the point of distraction. The tone devolved into snark and almost sneering as the questions were asked. It was unprofessional and just not fair to the viewers.

To the journalists who participate in political debates: it's not about you.

It is past time for Republicans to demand conservative leaning journalists and pundits conduct their debates.

The candidates performed to expectation. Ted Cruz is well established as a superior debater. David Dewhurst is well established as a mediocre debater. The novelty of the Friday night debate was the visual of these two men together alone on stage. Ted Cruz is young and passionate. David Dewhurst is 66 years old and, frankly, rather bland. I do not question the sincerity of either man but one is more interesting to watch than the other.

I didn't understand the question posed about integrity. Has integrity been an issue in this campaign? Neither man has anything that would call into question the matter of personal integrity, as far as I know. Question career choices and the like, ok, but personal integrity? It sounded like liberal distraction creeping into the hour long debate early on.

I found it a bit odd that the work experience of Cruz as an attorney was under fire by Dewhurst. Dewhurst, not a lawyer but a business man, presumes to act as though Cruz is a Washington insider. Dewhurst is a man with decades of political service in Texas so it doesn't ring legitimate as a criticism. It sounds desperate. Dewhurst touts his military record, which is legitimate, but it sounds more like it feeds into his sense of entitlement to the office.

Dewhurst touts his years in the Perry administration and his own success with the Texas economy. I know that Governor Perry has endorsed Dewhurst but did he expect Dewhurst to take credit for Texas state success? The claim just sounded unnecessary and boastful.

I was a bit surprised to hear Ted Cruz go to the left of the current timetable for withdrawal in Afghanistan. I don't recall hearing that before Friday's debate.

I am disappointed that neither candidate embraces the immigration reform policy adopted by the Republican Party of Texas at this summer's convention. It is a common sense approach and to deny it for fear of looking less than hard ass strident about dealing with the problem our state faces is not bold leadership, in my opinion.

This race continues to ask this question: do voters want a candidate who will aggressively question the status quo in pursuit of holding Senate leadership accountable for strong conservative positions or do they prefer a candidate who will be more inclined to go along to get along? Do voters prefer a candidate who falls into the next in line standard of GOP politics or do they prefer someone with the passion and ambition to jump into the fray and offer another choice?

The answer will come on July 31.

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