It’s a pity that the polling on the two parties’ candidates will only reflect American voters. I’d bet the ranch that more accurate reactions could be obtained by polls among the denizens of the halls of government in Tehran and whichever cave the al-Queda leadership is hiding in. On Sunday night, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Usama bin Laden probably slept soundly. Tuesday night, I’d bet that they didn’t sleep at all.
Faced with the question of preventing
The question went first to Duncan Hunter, and he took a hard swing, aiming for the bleachers. If there were no other way to stop
The biggest difference between the debates was the energy. The Dems lacked it, spending what little they had by taking turns shooting at George Bush and attacking each other. The Republicans — even Ron Paul, who was intermittently sane — were proposing ideas for improving
CNN’s Blitzer, the reporters from the Manchester Union Leader and the local television station, posed every liberal agenda item from global warming to national health care, and got a wide range of answers, some good (such as Giuliani’s refusal to experiment with gays in the military in time of war — which Romney and McCain agreed with quickly) and some awful, like Romney’s defense of Romneycare, which the former Massachusetts governor said he’d extend to the whole nation. Hillarycare and Romneycare aren’t yet synonymous. Yet.
Three questions dominated the night:
The Dems competed to blame everything wrong in the war on President Bush, cloaking their commitment to “cut and run.” This time it was “trim and trot.” The Republicans were all over the place, sticking to the need to win and airing some well-intentioned but really dumb ideas. Leading the descent into dumbness was Senator Sam Brownback.
Brownback removed himself from serious debate quickly, insisting that the best solution in
Ron Paul repeated his desire to cut and run, and the other Republicans didn’t buy it. Jim Gilmore disappointed, saying that we need to stabilize the
Giuliani has apparently drunk too much of the “let’s democratize the
When asked to identify George Bush’s greatest error none of the candidates, except for Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul, were willing to attack the president. Paul renounced “pre-emptive war”, saying that we’ve abandoned the “just war” theory of Christianity. Paul is apparently willing to accept another terrorist strike rather than save American lives by taking out an imminent threat. Paul — looking at the others — condemned the idea of nuking
The debate on illegal immigration was the most revealing. McCain took many hits on the McCain-Kennedy-Bush bill, but several others fared no better. Again, Giuliani disappointed. His only idea is to have a tamper-proof ID card to track every alien in
Hunter is the sponsor of a bill passed last year requiring the construction of 850 miles of fence along the Mexican border. Hunter again swung for the bleachers and connected. He said his bill mandated the fence and provided the funds for it. He said the Bush administration had “the slows,” having refused to build more than eleven miles of the fence.
Mitt Romney tried to be forceful and fell flat. He said the 1986 laws should be enforced, that the Senate bill backed by McCain was a mistake. But then Romney started whining that it “wasn’t fair” to allow the Z visa to legalize those here illegally in preference to legal immigrants who are slow to get immigrant visas. Oh, please. Romney isn’t strong on illegal immigration. Neither is Giuliani. McCain is a disaster on it. Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter and Tommy Thompson are. Thompson was the only one to say clearly that border security should come before any of the other parts of the problem are dealt with.
Though he got much less air time than most, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee again rose above the crowd. On the war, he said something none of the others alluded to: commitment to winning the war. Huckabee knows that determination is a decisive factor. His point, that we have underestimated terribly the “fight in the dog” we’re fighting is central to the mindset of any commander in chief. Huckabee did well on other counts too, on religion, creationism and right to life, and understanding why Republicans were beaten in the last election. He said Republicans were fired because they didn’t do what they were hired to do. And – again demonstrating understanding of leadership — said that Bush’s failure was in not communicating his policies and objectives well to Americans.
So after Debate Three, who’s up and who’s down? Hunter and Huckabee up big time, McCain, Giuliani and Romney down as much or more. And why, oh why, is Ron Paul still on the stage?