Equal time for each candidate (no playing favourites), no audience to make animal noises, serious questions from people who are not media hacks (the A.G.s of three States – including the key States of Virginia and Florida) and no stupid stunts such as hand shows or video links to media plants.
Each candidate given time to express their opinions on serious matters – just that, nothing else. With even the order people spoke in determined by lot.
Not hard to think up – yet no previous debate did that.
And the “Candidates Forum” on Mike Huckabee’s show did do this. So a pat on the back due to former Governor Huckabee.
How did the candidates do?
Well Jon Huntsman did not show up (so he gets a fail) and Gary Johnson does not seem to have been invited (the one demerit that can be given to Huckabee), as for the rest……
Ron Paul showed his age (both in his thin voice and in the difficulty he had hearing what was said to him) – but he did advise people to read Bastiat’s “The Law” (perhaps the best reading advice any candidate has ever given). He also understood that the Welfare State is unsustainable (as well as being unconstitutional), but also that just waving a magic wand would not wish away the problem of the millions of people who have grown to depend on it – hence the need for transition programs. However, when questioned about terrorism he hinted (did not formally state – but hinted) that America being attacked was the fault of American policy overseas – and that is both vile and just plain wrong.
Governor Perry had some sensible ideas (on energy and on education) – but (as usual) was undermined by his inability, unless speaking from a prepared text, to speak in public (sorry but that is part of the skill set for a candidate).
Rick Santorum spoke with true passion about the things that really matter to him – the social issues (abortion and so on). This will appeal to those who share his passions – but, of course, turn everyone else away from him.
Michelle Bachmann had a lot of good things to say (and some less good) – but she also had that oft mocked (by Jon Stewart and co) fixed look in her eyes. I am certain there is something wrong with her sight – indeed I would not be astonished if it turned out she could not clearly see the people she was talking to. I know poor eyesight should not be relevant – but the look on someone’s face does matter. On budget issues Congresswomen Bachmann was good, on illegal immigration her hard line will alienate some people (especially as it is clear, from her whole manner, that everything she says is sincere – so when she says that eleven million people are going to be rounded up, that is exactly what she would do).
Governor Romney was the opposite – his look was perfect (straight at the people he was talking to – with a look of intelligent concern), his voice was perfect also – exactly the right pitch and so on. Content is not really his thing (deliberately so – as it would give the Obama people ammunition to fire at him in a general election, should he win the nomination), but his presentation was ideal. A very good performance.
That leaves Newton ‘Newt’ Gingrich.
The American Gothic (for that is what he is – an incredible mixture of good and bad in both policy and his personality). Speaker Gingrich’s personality is the opposite of mine – to him no position is unwinnable and he is certain that he is the person who can achieve victory. He could be surrounded by a legion of enemies – and be astonished at his good fortune in so many enemies falling into his grasp.
I should despise the man. After all on policy he is as mercurial as Romney (accept that Governor Romney adapts his positions to suit the audience he is trying to reach, the ultimate democrat, small “d” – whereas Gingrich is always restless, always seeking new ideas, even if they contradict some of his older ideas, and is not wildly interested in saying what he is expected to say as he has total confidence in his ability to convince people that he is right), and in personal conduct…..
Governor Romney appears to have no vices (none whatever), no human is without sin – but “Mitt” appears to be as close to being without sin as it is possible for a human being to be, even his changes of policy are a sincere effort to win the support of the voters, and he tends to keep specific promises he makes to voters if he wins an election. Whereas to list the personal failings of Speaker Gingrich would take quite some time – indeed there was so many things that Democrat attack dogs appear to be confused over what specifically to attack him about, especially as, under the normal rules of politics, a Republican who has committed adultery or taken money from Fannie Mae, or has used political connections for his own advantage in office (and on and on) should slink away in shame (for a Democrat to do these things, and much worse, is fine as far as the media are concerned – but Republicans are held to a different standard).
Yet Gingrich shows no shame whatever… …His inner conviction that he is the solution to the crises facing the United States and the world is total – everything else is a petty matter of which he may formally repent, but does not really interest him and he treats those who are interested in such things with contempt.
“So I have taken your money and seduced your wife. What of it? Do you not understand that I am dealing with vital matters of war upon which our very survival depends? If you can not understand this, you are beneath contempt. Now get you gone – before I have you thrown from the castle wall”.
Speaker Gingrich has never actually used these words – but he has come close to it. And complainers (even hard core evangelical Christians) tend to leave confused – even apologizing to him for their silly words.
So I support Romney and oppose Gingrich? Errrr – Romney has all the passion of a mass produced table. Gingrich is a leader – someone who plans and works for the deaths of the enemy. Even his desire for money is a personal one, he holds the Federal government machine (with its hundreds of thousands of dependants and so many millions of dependants) in total contempt and has done his whole life – money that goes to it (rather than to him personally – as just reward for his victories…. at least that is how he sees the matter) is utterly wasted in his eyes. And, of course, he is correct about that.
Governor Romney is what he says he is – a businessman who want to please the customers (the voters) and would do his best to carry on pleasing them.
Speaker Gingrich cares about the war – the real one.
This was made clear even in the summation that candidates made at the end of the Forum.
Everyone else said about how they wanted people to be happy and so on.
Gingrich said something different….
“Join with me and we destroy Barack Obama and his Saul Alinsky radicalism”…
It was not the promise of prosperity.
It was a summons to war. But unlike making the Middle East fluffy (or anything absurd like that) it was a summons to a war that is worth fighting – indeed a war that must be fought because the left are already fighting it.
The left claim that Gingrich is like Richard Nixon, an absurd comparison. Nixon was a weak man full of Quaker doubt (he even sweated when lying – astonishing for a politician), who spent his time aping the policies of the left (they like welfare state spending – I will spend more, and I will introduce price controls and go and crawl to Mao and ……) in a desperate effort to win the approval of people he knew despised him (as if their opinion mattered).
Gingrich reminded me of someone else: Alexander Borgia in the latest BBC series on the Borgias.
Under all the vices is total sincerity – an utter conviction in the rightness of the cause and need to destroy (totally destroy) the enemy. And the intelligence to plan their destruction.
How could I fail to warm to that?