This afternoon the Republican presidential candidates lined up on the stage, all nine of them, and answered questions presented by Carolyn Washburn, editor of the Des Moines Register newspaper. It is the last Republican debate before the Iowa caucus. On January 3. It's insane.
May I begin with an observation about the moderator? She was possibly the worst of all the moderators I have ever seen on a televised debate. She was horrid. Never once did she crack a smile or show a human emotion in her voice. She was absolutely stone-faced. She suffered from a severe case of stick-up-the-buttitis. Just sayin'.
I suppose she is of the school of thought, as a professional woman, that if she is stern and emotionless, she will be taken seriously. I always found the opposite to be true when I was drawing a paycheck. Everyone appreciates a smile or a chuckle shared with others. It's ok to loosen up a bit.
So, anyway, in my opinion, Mitt Romney was the clear winner. He was focused, calm, congenial, and looked like a president. He looked like he was in his element and finally highlighted his past business experience, which even his staunchest critics have to admit he is a business genius. Plus he can pull all sides of an argument together and get things accomplished. That is something that is sorely needed in D.C.
Huckabee is up 10 points over Romney in Iowa now, according to the most recent polling. I admit I am not at all impressed by the guy who advertises that he'll be THE Christian leader. Plus, as the frontrunner, more and more is being reported on his past record as governor of Arkansas. It's not so pretty. He was still pushing the Fair Tax today.
Alan Keyes was invited and participated on stage. Why? Aren't there enough bodies on stage as it is? One good shot Keyes scored was about half way through the debate, having been rather ignored, Keyes challenged the moderator to call on him. She was a bit flustered and said she had been calling on him. He argued with her and she let him get in his answer then.
Fred Thompson fired the first and only negative shot, except when Keyes said he wouldn't vote for Giuliani if Rudy is the nominee. I mean of the serious candidates, Thompson was the only one to be snippy on a personal level. He told Romney, during a little bantering after Romney answered a tax question - he (Thompson) hoped to have the money Romney has so he wouldn't be so worried about taxes. Romney laughed it off, then Thompson said, "You're getting to be a pretty good actor, actually." It was snide and unnecessary. That type of response just makes him look cranky.
The interesting twist during this debate format was the inclusion of a 30 second random statement from each candidate. They could speak on anything they chose to speak about. McCain and Hunter concentrated on their military experiences and defense, Ron Paul spoke about government restraint and the Constitution as far as governmental obligation goes, Thompson spoke about national security, Tancredo spoke about immigration, Huckabee focused on the need for change in leadership in the country, Romney mostly thanked Iowans for their hospitality to him and his family, Keyes spoke about the need to re-establish credibility to the Republican party and Giuliani spoke about leadership through crisis.
A positive move that Thompson did do, however, was during the questioning about climate change and the role man plays in it. The moderator called for a show of hands on who believed that climate change is real and man contributes to it. Thompson immediately said he would not participate in a call for a show of hands. The moderator was quite surprised, to say the least, and then said, ok, did he think climate change is real? Thompson asked if he would be given a minute to answer. She said no, so he said he'd pass. It was great.
This was the moderator's way of taking a shot on those stupid Republicans. Only Dems believe in the reality of climate change and only the Dems are smart enough to take it under their reign. Fact is, Republicans believe in the certainty of climate change, just not in all the manmade parts of it. And, since the Republicans don't want to tax our way out of the burdens of nature, then, we just don't understand it all. The scientific community is still divided as to the extent of the manmade part and despite the screaming of Al Gore and Robert Kennedy, Jr, it is not at all settled science. Every day more scientists come out with papers against the claims of extremists like Gore and Kennedy, who are making a fortune on it all, by the way, and so much of it is just plain wrong.
The problem with these debates is the format that only allows 30 or 60 second soundbite type of answers. Most major issues facing us today are not so easily solved with quick answers or thoughts on public policy.