The New Hampshire post-debate looking glass

Happening Saturday night and yesterday morning were the 47,986th and 47,987th GOP presidential debates, respectively. I missed most of the one on Saturday night – work, Lions-Saints game – and about 20 minutes of the one this yesterday morning – since when did two year olds not like taking medicine? Anyway, here are my quick hits for what I did see:

> Saturday’s debate was remarkable for it’s lack of anti-Romney anything – which evolved twelve hours later into a 20 min frag fest of Mittens unlike anything we’ve seen so far. Yet after that initial onslaught Romney spent the rest of the morning recovering and surpassing his bombardment via Newt Gingrich – once, and still considered by some, the best debator – and Rick Santorum, which leaves me with a obvious question: If none of the other candidates can effectively combat Romney in a debate, what chance do they have against President Obama?

> Some quotes from the transcript:

Mitt Romney –  I happen to believe that if we want to replace a lifetime politician like Barack Obama, who had no experience leading anything, you have to choose someone who’s not been a lifelong politician, who has not spent his tire– en– entire career in Washington, and instead has proven time and again he could lead in the private sector twice, in the Olympics and as a governor.  We’ve got to nominate a leader if we’re gonna replace someone who is not a leader.

It should probably be noted that Barack Obama is not a lifelong politician, and such a point is relatively at odds with the arguement that he generically lacks experience. Indeed, I actually detest this line of argument because I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with spending your life in public service as opposed to anything else. It’s whatever you wish to do with your life – plus most of the Founder’s were in public office far longer than Obama – so I have yet to see a credible argument for why such a thing is an automatic disqualifier. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it’s used as a popular stump piece. But given that a majority of would-be voters think everyone politician should be voted out except for their own, let’s just all admit that it’s a stand-in excuse to feel animosity towards everyone elses Representative/Senator.

Another quote (my emphasis in bold):

Mitt Romney – The answer for America is not to grow government. It is to shrink dro– government.  We’ve been going– over the last 20, 30, 40 years, government keeps growing at a faster rate relative to inflation.  We have got to stop the extraordinary spending in this country.  That’s why I put– a plan that (APPLAUSE) reduces government spending.  I’d cut– I’d cut programs, a whole series of programs.  By– by the way, the number one to cut is Obamacare.  That saves $95 billion a year.  (APPLAUSE)

Fully repealing the Affordable Care Act would only save $95 billion in one year – 2016 – and would in fact increase the budget deficit. So, no, cutting “Obamacare” will not save $95B a year. By the way this has long since been debunked, which means the Romney campaign has decided that it makes a greater rhetorical impact on the stump then whatever deficiencies it presents as a lie.

> Rick Santorum:

Well, it– it worked in– in my case.  Look at– welfare reform.  And– a federal entitlement that– I remember standing next to Daniel Patrick Moynihan.  Ted Kennedy.  We were out there just talking about how this was gonna be the end of civilization as we know it.  There’d be break lines.  The– the– the horrific consequences of removing federal income support– from basically– mothers with children.

And we stood up and said “No.”  That creating dependency and creating that dependency upon– upon federal dollars is more harmful than– and– and– in not believing in people and their ability to work is more harmful.  And so we stood up and fought and went out to the American public.  Bill Clinton vetoed this bill twice.  We had– hard opposition.  But I was able to– to work together and paint a vision.

We made compromises, but not on our core principle.  The core principles were this was gonna end the federal program.  We were gonna require work.  We were gonna put time limits on welfare.  I stuck to those principles and we were able to compromise on some things like transportation funding and some daycare funding.  All voted to get a consensus that poverty is not a disability.

Why is this man talking about his Senatorial record? No one cares and it reopens old issues that need time to provide context to fully explain – time that Santorum does not have. His strengths are the positive aspects of his social stance and his aggressive foreign policy views. He and his campaign desperately needs discipline on messaging, which necessarily means not arguing with students over gay rights issues.

> Ron Paul: What can I really say? He’ll get more support than he did four years ago and he won’t be the Republican nominee. It’s only slightly tongue in cheek to say that nearly every response from Paul is subject, verb, the dollar.

>Rick Perry: He called Obama a socialist. Not his policies, but the man himself is a straight-up socialist. Perry has no reason to be in this race but to repair his professional integrity with evangelical talk-radio listeners.

>Jon Huntsman: At any other time his existence in this campaign would be welcomed by Republican elites and voters. Yet this is a period in which GOP rhetoric wingnuttery is dominant. Even though he did well in the debates, this is his primetime chance and New Hampshire is his best shot – a third place showing or less and he’s done. I don’t think there was ever a real possibility of winning the nomination, short of Romney exiting the race.

>Newt Gingrich: For someone who perpetually demonizes mainstream media, he certainly danced well to Gregory’s tune yesterday morning when invited to attack Romney. His performance was the one I expected on Saturday night. Clearly someone informed him overnight that he’s now in the race to destroy Romney.

The folks of New Hampshire will do their best to winnow this race further tomorrow. If Romney can carry the day, and more decisively than Iowa, our GOP primary discussions might get a whole lot shorter.

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