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Who won?

Who won?

I only watched bits and pieces of last night’s debate, and I’ve seen some replays.

I know I should have watched more of it, so I could give you my always insightful, prescient and probing analysis.  But when I tuned in, I tuned out.

My sense from the bits and pieces is that Romney did well, continuing to establish himself as above the fray of attacking other Republicans and focusing on Obama.  In a part I did watch live, Pawlenty and Bachmann fell into Chris Wallace’s trap of fighting over scraps of debate bait; they both suffered, but Pawlenty more so.   I’ve also heard that Santorum was impressive but haven’t actually seen any clips of his answers.  Ron Paul’s answer on Iran, which I heard on replay, was frightening.

So who won?


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Dunno either. My guess is that Tocqueville, Levin and Rick Santelli won.

Santorum seems to have a hard time understanding the Constitution and what states are and are not allowed to do. Bachman also had that issue (she said that states can’t force you to buy insurance).

Santorum did get it right when he said that rape and incest don’t mean a baby deserves less protection.

Rick Perry

Romney won. The more time they spent on minutiae the better it was for Romney. At this point, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt, Rick Santorum, Huntsman and Pawlenty should get out. They’re just wasting time and none of them have a chance of winning.

Pawlenty, in particular, hurt himself tonight. He looked like he was attacking Bachmann for the sake of attacking her. He’s nowhere in the polls – and hasn’t gained any traction. His whole plan – win Iowa because he’s from Minnesota – isn’t working because not only is Bachmann from Minnesota, but she was born in Iowa, oh, and she’s got the whole Tea Party thing going in her favor. They should rename “T-Paw” to “T-Blah”.

Rick Santorum is irrelevant. When you have to complain in a debate that you’re not getting questions – it should show you that you’re not considered a serious candidate.

Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Newt have no chance of winning.

Huntsman? I guess he’s proud of his record – that’s about all I got from him.

Romney sounded presidential. He didn’t stoop to the level of attacking the others – because he doesn’t need to.

Bachmann tried to sound presidential (“when I’m president”…) but let’s face it – she’s not. She’ll win Iowa, due to a combination of her Minnesota/Iowa background and her appeal to the Tea Party and religious Conservatives. She’ll probably do well in South Carolina – but I just don’t see her being able to compete past that. She doesn’t have the organization, or the money to go toe-to-toe with Romney.

I blog at POLITICO and wrote after watching the entire debate that this may have been the first good news for President Obama in a long time. I suppose Romney was the winner among those participating since he emerged, more or less, unscathed. But he will have to sharpen his debating skills to take on President Obama. Perhaps, the performance of the others offers an advantage to Governor Perry who has not yet formally announced his ‘run’ but he has also not yet been tested in this kind of national forum.

    Viator in reply to drdivine. | August 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Hell, he’s going to have to sharpen his debating skills to take on Sarah Palin.

    You blog at Politico, which translates loosely to “I wuv Obama and get all tingly no matter what insanity he perpetuates because I can’t see that what he’s done has destroyed and will continue to destroy our country.” I suppose you excuse his Libyan war? I suppose you found a way to blame his massive increase in the welfare and foodstamp rolls on . . . gee, President Bush? China? A tsunami? That the sky is blue? I suppose you’ve found a way to defend unprecedented spending on . . . what? moral grounds? because massive welfare spending has proven to eliminate the gap between rich and poor? Because leftist cities and states have so clearly become utopian strongholds in a sea of capitalist greed? I suppose you agree that making people dependent on government while alleviating any sense of community or religion makes society stronger? I suppose you think that government has all the answers and that individuals, as long as they pay their taxes–are in the 50% range of people still paying income tax, anyway–have zero responsibility for their fellow human beings? I suppose you buy into the idea that an all-powerful government somehow translates into a free people? Go back to Politico. Please.

I watched almost all of the debate, and I’d say that Romney/Perry gained the most, mostly because Pawlenty and Bachmann spent half the time sniping about unimportant issues. Romney only really had one non-evasive answer, and this morning I can’t even remember what it was. Forgettable, but not memorable for the wrong reasons, mostly.

I’m interested in alseen (above) explaining what he thought Santorum got wrong on the Constitution. I thought Santorum was surprisingly strong, and his supposed “crazy” statements (like the next marriage battle being about polygamy) are turning out to be less crazy than advertized. He was strong on why strict isolationism isn’t a viable foreign strategy and fairly strong on the economy (although the focus on manufacturing is a little backwards-looking, I think). He was right on the debt ceiling posturing – you can’t realistically expect congress to cut 40% of the federal budget in one year, as much as I’d like it to happen. I don’t think Santorum has a real chance to win the nomination, and I’m a little leery of his moral crusading, but he at least hit the issues, unlike Bachlenty.

Cain sounded mostly good, but has had too many head-scratching statements since the last debate that I think put him out of the running entirely. Ron Paul is the crazy old uncle who isn’t completely wrong, but isn’t grounded in reality. Gingrich is the policy wonk who, when he’s not looking supercilious, gets irritable too easily. Huntsman is a more effete Bush (compassionate conservative), but I thought his defense of his service as ambassador was well put.

In conclusion, Romney and Perry gained the most, Bachmann and Pawlenty lost the most, Gingrich, Santorum, and Cain got enough to keep fighting their losing battles, Paul made everyone think (but ultimately reject his specific policy proposals), and Huntsman showed everyone that he didn’t die since the last time we heard from him.

Nobody on the stage acted or sounded like a president we would want, but Romney sounded like a lot of presidents that we have had, which might be enough.

We all lost. I hold FOX partly responsible for the debate debacle. No questions on entitlement reform? No question on Social Security fixes? Romney getting very little question about his late entry into the debate discourse? The reason he was above the fray is because of the nature of the questions he got, as well as his bland answers. And the social issue-focus of this evening was infuriating.

The only winners of this debate were the ones who didn’t show. I hope the FNC producers take note and change-thing-up in future debates. Our country deserves better than this dog-and-pony show.

    bogopogo in reply to Mutnodjmet. | August 12, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Yeah – the format which allowed for each person to respond because they had been mentioned mean that the lower tiers (Santorum, Cain, Paul) ended up sucking a lot of the oxygen in useless sniping.

    A perfect example of this is when they came back from commercial and realized that “whoops! we didn’t give Bachmann her 15 seconds…”

Sarah Palin won because she had the good sense not to be there. Let the minor lights knock themselves out, let them show their weakness. None of them were impressive. Gingrich punched the media but he’s basically weak. The rest, Bachmann hasn’t much experience at anything. Pawlenty’s still a puppy. Mitt is on replay. Huntsman is unimpressive. Paul needs to stop blaming America for everything. Cain has business creds and knowledge but is pretty much like Bachmann, other-knowledge-wise. The POTUS is too important to be left up to this bunch.

Mutnodjmet is right about the media. Fox mediators asked stupid gotcha and anti-Christian question. Submit to your husband question? Silly question because it ignores the context that says the submission is simply putting him ahead of yourself in the same way the love your wife merely means put her ahead of yourself. In sum, husband and wife have to think of what’s best for each other, rather than what’s best for themselves. Silly silly question as it was phrased.

No hard questions that required more than airy fairy pablum. Waste of time.

    bogopogo in reply to Juba Doobai!. | August 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Actually the “submit to your husband” question was even more stupid – given the context that she’s spent the last couple of years serving in Congress. Are we to believe that she bases her actions in Congress upon her submission to her husband?

The whole thing was an embarrassing disaster. Who won? Broadly speaking, probably, as has been noted at Powerline, BO. If that’s the sort of train dreck he’s going to face, he’s sitting pretty. None of those candidates, including Romney, can beat BO in a debate; can you imagine Romney explaining in a debate, with BO on the stage, why RomneyCare is ok but ObamneyCare is not? He’s also clearly incapable of deflecting any “fat cat” criticism (in which BO excels, indeed, the only thing he excels at is being sneering, petty, and revolting). I don’t think BO is particularly intelligent or articulate, but he is a liar and a fraud and more than willing to do the exact thing/s he claims to disdain (witness his recent statements about playing politics rather than caring about the country, and he was speaking–outrageously and without irony–about Congress, not himself.). He’ll wipe the floor with all of them; they were off last night. Off message, off kilter, off the rails, and off putting. Paul on foreign policy? Pawlenty pouting and sputtering? Cain on . . anything? Bachmann withered not withering. Huntsman and whatshisname need to just pack up and go home.

The GOP winner last night? Rick Perry. Hands down.

    Cogent analysis.

    If this is the best FOX and the GOP can do, then we’re in deep trouble.

    One quibble: I’d like to see Huntsman stay in it. He was one of the few adults on stage last night.

      I don’t like Huntsman at all. He’s a progressive, big government BO acolyte (just like Romney, without the BO acolyte title, he’s simply BO lite). He’s the opposite of what this country needs or wants. Did he seem “presidential” last night? Well, geesh, my dead cat would seem presidential compared to that mess.

    Fuzzy, RomneyCare is OK based on the US Constitution, 10th Amendment…all powers not specifically givent to the federal government are reserved to the states for the people…simply said, ObamaCare is a massive power grab by the federal government on an issue that is reserved to the states and the people.

    While I object to ObamaCare, I do not object to Massachusetts RomneyCare, because the federal government cannot force you to buy insurance (like auto, etc.) but your state CAN do so…

    Rich Vail
    Pikesville, Maryland

I think Newt won for sticking it to Chris Wallace and for giving more clear and decise answers than most.

FOX lost because they asked Bachmann about being submissive and for Wallace’s question to Newt. Those dumb questions clearly illustrate how the media (even FOX) lives in their own bubble.

Who “won?” A poor question; you’re way ahead of yourself. This is about visibility, not winning. It’ll shake out. All the nit-picking, clever observations for and against each and every person there–moderator or candidate–will be replayed ad nauseam, word-by-word, facial expression-by-facial expression, for the next five years. Ron Paul will never be elected President, we all know that. His extremes are to conservatism what Obama’s are to liberalism. Philosophical and other differences aside, Paul is honest and open with a much greater respect for the law, Obama is a dishonest dissembler. Bachmann v Pawlenty? An example of the legislative blackmail we see constantly. Bachmann spelled out clearly the right-to-life v tax increase dilemma she faced in the legislation and explained her decision, but they both stopped short of discussing our legislative process problem. An argument for the line item veto perhaps? The Romney healthcare issue evolved (grew) into a state’s rights discussion, the crux of many of the problems we face today – healthcare, marriage, immigration, energy, security, and gun control come to mind immediately. Huntsman’s China comments are something to think about. Think we’ll see them again? Then there are the moderators. There must be a “gotcha” DNA in of the species. All that said, last night’s crew was more tolerable than any of the shrill, pompous, sanctimonious lot that come from the rest of the MSM. All-in-all, it was a collection of people – citizens speaking openly and off-the-cuff on a number of topics; there were opinions, ideas, and little holding back. Those criticizing the lack of profound, tight, pithy statements should tune in their favorite TV show or movie. The “acting presidential,” “gravitas,” and other clap trap can wait. I mean, we’re supposed to have that now, aren’t we? I’ll take everyone in the room over the equivalent pack the other crowd is going to send in.

    JayDick in reply to Owego. | August 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Good analysis, but I have a few nits to pick.

    First, Bachmann’s explanation of the tax/right to life question was incomprehensible until the end of the discussion. I had never heard the issue discussed before and she didn’t do well explaining it.

    Romney using the states’ rights view to explain his support for Romneycare doesn’t wash and will be a major problem for him if he is the nominee and criticizes Obamacare.

      Romney is a boob for sticking with RomneyCare and states’ rights. It’s a non-starter, and doomed to failure. The fact is that he supports the states mandating the purchase of a product. How, really, does that differ from the feds having that same power? It’s like Cain saying (not last night but earlier) that gun rights are a state issue. Um, no. The only reason Romney is burbling about states’ rights is that it’s the only way to dupe people into thinking that he’s not a big government, nanny state progressive socialist. But he is. That’s fact. When socialists start hiding behind and using our Constitution to shore up their anti- and unAmerican policies we are in big, big trouble. Witness BO’s complete disregard for our Constitution.

      Professor Jacobson would know better than I, but I doubt that a legal challenge to forced healthcare insurance, even at the state level, would be upheld by the Supremes. The thing is that no one sues to that level on those grounds. But there are many in MA who are lining up lawsuits and challenges to RomneyCare the second that ObamaCare is shot down by the Supremes. This is fact. If OCare goes to the Supreme Court before the 2012 and fails there, Romney is done. Politically dead for all time.

        It differs greatly, because state government can force you to buy car insurance or health insurance, while the federal government may not coerce you to do so.

        I would not vote for Mr. Romney for president, because I honestly believe that he too, is BO-lite, and he’s not what this country needs at the moment.

        Rich Vail
        Pikesville, Maryland

          bogopogo in reply to Rich Vail. | August 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm

          Actually the state doesn’t “force” you to buy auto insurance. Auto insurance is required to use a motor vehicle on the public roads.

          you don’t have to buy auto insurance if you don’t have a vehicle. You don’t have to buy auto insurance if you have a vehicle that you solely use on private property (like a pickup truck that you solely use on the farm – and do not travel on any roads on it). You don’t have to buy auto insurance for your car if it’s just sitting in your garage and you’re not going to drive it.

          Very very different from this health insurance – where you have to buy it just because you’re alive.

          I’m not aware of any situation where an individual doesn’t have to purchase health insurance (or have it purchased on their behalf). There are plenty of situations where you don’t have to purchase auto insurance.

          Big difference.

Mitt Romney. He came across as as Presidential. He also pointed out that he and Cain were the only people on the stage who had actually created jobs in the marketplace, thereby gaining a side benefit of making it clear that he is not afraid to acknowledge the strengths of other candidates.

I liked his answer regarding the 100 companies invested in, all of which he noted did not succeed in spite of early indicators.

That has real strength as the basis for pointing out why the marketplace is where real jobs can and should be created in a free society, NOT in the public sector, were Obama and the Democrats seem to think all job creation should be done. Public sector programs, in spite all the good intentions in the world, are quite often way too costly, they produce no tangible return for anyone other than the direct beneficiaries and the bureaucrats that run them, they frequently fail to achieve even basic goals, and sometimes they very quickly outlive their usefulness and become nothing but drains on the public. But public sector programs are also jealously and often stupidly protected by their legislative and/or administrative godfathers, thereby continuing on and on to the detriment of the rest of us.

I agree with the others who say that Pawlenty came across as petty given his direct sniping at Michelle Bachmann.

Someone should have explained to him that he was going to be handed the opportunity to openly attack her for a lack of executive experience, but that overreaching on his part — going beyond pointing out his own strengths — would make him appear petty.

If he received that good advice from anyone, he ignored it to his detriment. Also, the rap on him is that he just doesn’t appear tough enough. Whining and scrapping with Congresswoman Bachmann did nothing to help that image.

Huntman’s response on his service as Ambassador to China with the Obama Administration was effective, but an insufficient number of Republicans will ever trust him enough to make him their party nominee. The Democrats were very shrewd when he resigned to praise him and say that he was the candidate they feared the most against Obama– that was the kiss of death!

People are simply too suspicious of the circumstances and understandings under which they believe an individual is selected to be an ambassador, especially when it comes to an absolutely key economic post like China. And Huntsman is way too bland to catch fire with a constituent group on his own.

The one possible weakness with Romney’s approach was his answer on marriage, pointing out what he says are the needs for having national standards. His opponents will turn that on his defense of RomneyCare.

Anyone who thinks Romney won, with his pablum answers, was in Romney’s court to begin with.

Newt provided the best answers, especially on the Super Committee, usurpting the Constitution itself. Santorum was strong on the threat posed by radical Islam, a warning bell he has been ringing for a long time. He was also correct that we now live in a nation where it is determined that a rapist, who mutilated a young girl during his crime, cannot be put to death but an innocent child can be mutilated to bring about its death. And if you think radical Islam is not the biggest threat to our nation, think how much you would care about the debt limit if you were afraid to take your kids to school or go to work because of more attacks like Fort Hood.

Unfortunately, for my former Congressman, Ron Paul, he just looked like the 1938 crazy isolationist he has become.

The person that threatens them all, and the left, is Rick Perry. Just read any article on Perry and you will see the numbers of responses (800-1300) posted by 9-11 truffers, Ron Paul crazies and left wingers claiming to be “Republicans” and/or “Texans.” No other candidate threatens them like Perry.

    In response to retire05 | August 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm, a few points:

    In a conceptual sense (including in the “political” context), “pablum” is defined as “worthless or oversimplified ideas.”

    Hence, I would submit that reducing and dismissing all of Romney’s answers by simply calling them “pablum” is . . . well, “pablum.”

    If that’s all you’ve got, I’d say Romney has little or nothing to be concerned about coming from your corner!

    Likewise, concluding that anyone and everyone who thought that Romney won the debate was in his court to begin with, is similarly baseless.

    I can only speak for myself, but how, for example, would you know who I support? The fact is that I have not made up my mind.

    I did initially support Romney in the 2008 primary season (NH), but I had previously strongly and publicly supported John McCain’s position on Iraq at the time of the Congressional vote on the surge, and the Congressional authorization. And, I ended up supporting McCain in the presidential race. This time around, I’ve recently posted strong supportive remarks on behalf of Sarah Palin, here at L.I. and elsewhere.

    The question posed above was, “Who Won?” I offered a response and detailed the reasons why I thought Romney did. But that does not mean I am ready to endorse him, or that I am “in his camp.”

    Finally, regarding your simplistic statement regarding “the Super Committee, usurpting [sic] the Constitution itself” you’ll really have to do a little better than that!

    What is the legal basis for your apparent belief that the “super committee” is unconstitutional?

    It may be cumbersome, or politically inexpedient, and perhaps it may ultimately prove to be an irresolute body. and, as a result, it may not be the best way to approach seeking a resolution to the debt problem. But that is not the issue.

    Please, tell us why the adoption of the device it a usurpation of the constitution?

    Or, is that just some more “pablum?”

      Addendum to my prior comment | August 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm:

      Here is an interesting and quite thorough discussion of the issue of constitutionality of the joint select committee, posted at “The Volokh Conspiracy.”

      From the conclusion of the post by Eugene Volokh:

      Congressional power questions aren’t my core area of expertise, so perhaps I’m missing something here. But my sense is that the establishment and the planned operation of the Joint Select Committee are constitutional, whatever pragmatic objections there might or might not be to this approach.”

      So, my sense would be that unless there is a basis for concluding that accepting membership on the committee somehow constitutes having been appointed to hold a “civil office under the authority of the United States” pursuant to Article I, Sec. VI, para. 2 which was created “during the time for which he was elected” then I think this questionable “constitutionality” argument is pretty empty. Membership on the committee contemplates performing purely legislative functions in advancement of Article I powers. It does not constitute holding a civil office as was contemplated by that provision, which was to prevent them from corruptly enriching themselves by creating cushy jobs for themselves while serving in the Congress, and also to prevent the President from appointing legislators to executive branch jobs in order to corruptly secure their support on legislation and other matters.

    There is nothing actually wrong with isolationism in a broad sense. The problem with Paul (one of many, actually) is that he thinks you can go into an existing, complex situation and paint over it with a broad isolationist brush after the fact. He’s naive, simplistic, and pretty nuts. I would never support him, ever. If he wins the GOP nod . . . omg, what would I do? Paul’s a nutter, BO’s a dangerous commie bent on violent revolution and every form of injustice dreamable. . . I’d be totally stunned if this is the choice facing Americans in 2012.

Some of the looters in Britain did. Other than that, I think we’re all in for some bad moons rising.

jakee, what Great Britain is proving, in spades, that the entitlement, cradle to grave, mentality is a total failure. Great Britain has been moving left since WWII. Now we see the results of that move.

One has to wonder if the flash mob robberies we are now witnessing is a precusor to being Great Britain, the only major difference being that Americans, as individuals, are armed.

StephenMonteith | August 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Newt Gingrich won … points. He gave strong, “grown-up” answers, and even managed to make the moderators look like muckrakers. He reminded people that he’d once been a strong leader. However, he didn’t win the debate.

Rick Santorum also won points, simply for winding up Ron Paul. I don’t think either of them gave bad answers, but being able to engage with another candidate puts you on their level, whether it’s high or low. And before the debate, Paul was on a higher level than Santorum, which means their current status is a net gain for Santorum.

You’d think that would mean Pawlenty is now up to Bachmann’s level, but you’d be wrong. He (and, to a much greater extent, Jon Huntsman) simply was not given enough “alone” time on the stage, which he desperately needed. And which Romney actually received.

Romney had his share of both solo moments and responding to the others’ criticisms. However, he was able to pivot his responses back around to focus solely on him, effectively making people forget whoever it was who’d criticized him originally. Romney may have won “stealthily”, without anyone noticing, but win he did. Everyone else was either fighting with each other or shrinking into the scenery.