So...Who Won the Debate Last Night?

I spent two valuable hours of my life last night watching the Republican Presidential Debate last night. The least I can do today is offer a few observations since my other alternative is to forcefully pound my head against the desk until I’ve forgotten that Byron York actually asked Michele Bachmann if she as President would be submissive to her husband. So here we go.

The answer to the night’s big question, “Who won?”, depends entirely on how you define winning. If you thought the best outcome for any candidate was to solidify their current position in the race, then Mitt Romney won, going away. It you thought the candidates should spend their time tearing at one of their opponents like Michael Moore at a bag of nacho cneese tortilla chips, then Bachmann did well as did Rick Santorum. if you thought the candidates should somehow bring every question around to the Federal Reserve or 1920’s-style isolationism, then clearly Ron Paul was the rock star of the night.

I honestly have no idea how to score last night’s debate. I think each candidate has at least one shining moment and one that made me groan almost out loud. Rick Santorum upped his profile, once the moderators got around to giving him a question. Herman Cain was rock-solid on the critical issues of business, government spending, and job-creation. Mitt Romney was, well, Mitt Romney.

Aside from the aforementioned question from York, which earned him a loud round of boos from the audience, and a few early testy exchanges between the candidates and the moderators (most notably between Newt Gingrich and Chris Wallace), the moderators did a fair job. We weren’t treated to two hours of grunting like we were from CNN’s John King and once the moderators learned the candidates were spoling for a fight, they spent their time aiming them at each other instead of drawing fire themselves.

What bothered me most, though, is that we didn’t get any questions about entitlements. Given that Medicare and Social Security are the two biggest fiscal bombs primed to blow up in our faces, I would have thought we’d get a question or two about them. Instead, we got questions about the gold standard (for which the moderator insisted that a return to the gold standard was a Tea Party desire), wifely submission to her husband, and gay marriage. We all know how important those issues are in the same week when our national debt topped our total yearly GDP for the first time since World War II, yes?

Still, it was a better debate than we’ve seen to this point. Hopefully, the people in charge of the next one in September will look at what happened last night and make a few adjustments. They can only get better, right?

My friend Stacy McCain was in Ames and filed a couple live reports from the debate and the spin room afterwards. He has a couple interesting pictures and videos, so go over there and check them out if you want more!