|Well, the CNN Republican debate is history (and could it possibly have been any older and whiter??? I felt like Wolf Blitzer should have been handing out free Viagra samples...!) Anyway, tomorrow morning we'll be having two Black Republicans from here in South Florida, as well as newly minted MSNBC political analyst Rev. Joe Watkins on the Big Show to discuss their reactions to the debate.
CNN's mini-panel has already weighed in, with Paul Begala scoring the debate for Rudy, GOP strategist Amy Holmes going for McCain, and the eternally non-committal Bill Schneider being non-committal.
If I had to score it, I'd give a slight edge to Rudy, because he managed to improve his answer on abortion, and finesse most of the questions that raise doubts about his conservatism. Also, he gets points for sheer will in getting 9/11 into literally every question -- I think he even shoved it into global warming!!! Overall, however, I think McCain might have himself some good, by appearing the most knowledgeable, the most sincere and the most passionate, about Iraq, immigration and even his defense of Native American tribes who might not fit an "English only" bill (McCain's answer had poor Duncan Hunter begging for a chance to show how much he loves the "injuns" too...)
I think Romney was the big loser tonight. He wasn't as polished as he was in the first debate, and he seemed unprepared to give fresh answers to the mounting questions about his flip-floppery. And he got nailed on the Spanish language versions of his ads and web-site. N.A.I.L.E.D.
Tom Tancredo put on a surprisingly good performance this time, with his blistering attacks on President Bush, which probably sets him apart as the true anti-Bush candidate this go-round. The crowd actually cheered when he said that as president, he'd echo what Karl Rove recently told him, namely, don't bother to darken the Whtie House door (then he lost it by saying we should halt all legal immigration into the U.S.) ... By contrast, I was amazed at how closely Rudy has decided to tack to the president, mimicking his stump speech lines on the "war on terror" and almost taking on his healthcare tax credit scheme verbatim, as his own. He was the most vigorous supporter of a pardon for Scooter Libby, and the staunchest defender of the decision to invade Iraq, saying it was "absolutely the right decision." (By the way, Bill Kristol has gone OFF on Bush over not immediately giving Scooter that pardon...)
One more point for Rudy, and I hate giving him points because I utterly loathe the man -- he was the only one to pick up on the political tactic of using the debate to attack the Democrats, based on their debate two nights ago.
By the way: best moment of the night: God striking Giuliani with lightning -- or at least striking his microphone -- as he tried to square his views on abortion with his Catholic faith. (See previous post).
Ron Paul struck me as exasperated, but again, as the only one on stage with a realistic grasp on the historical realities we face in the Middle East. Every one of his positions were ones that just 20 years ago, would have been wholly supportable by most Republicans. It's astonishing to me how much corporate greed (particularly in the oil and defense sectors) and neoconservatism have twisted and misshapen the Republican Party. It's almost unrecognizable from the party of even the 1980s. The bent toward interventionism, the hyper-paranoia, the desire for massive influxes of cheap laborers from abroad ... and all while apparently, the causes of Christian conservatives have fallen by the wayside, as much relics as Alberto Gonzales and Rudy Giuliani believe the Geneva Conventions to be.
It is precisely because the GOP has drifted so far off its moorings, that the neoconservatives have been so effective at taking over, shunting religous conservatives and fiscal conservatives (and Constitutional conservatives for that matter) aside, and made Wilsonian liberalism the standard that a Rudy Giuliani can carry right to the front of the line as a presidential candidate.
What a revolting development.
Update: MSNBC analysts call the debate a snooze. Haters. No, actually they're right.
Update 2: The Redstaters weigh in, and they link to an interesting poll, showing most Republicans still don't know that Rudy is pro-choice on abortion...
Labels: 2008, 2008 election, debates, presidential candidates, Republicans