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Does the best debater win, or is it just a threshold issue

Does the best debater win, or is it just a threshold issue

E-mail from reader Scott:

The reaction to last nights debate (and Perry’s poor performance in earlier debates) is that Perry is now disqualified from being president.

If so, does that mean that Romney and Gingrich, the best debaters, are the only candidates we should consider? Does the best debater win, or is it just a threshold issue where you need to show a minimum level of debating competence in order to be considered, and then only after that we are permitted to look at your record, platform, etc.

Inquiring minds…


There is no threshold issue, you have to have it all.  You have to have a good record, platform, etc. and you need to be able to deliver it in a way that is effective in our mass media age.

It may not be fair or right, but debates take on an oversized importance because it is the only time we see candidates face off, so being able to handle oneself on stage is very important.

Does that mean we do not necessarily get the best person in the presidency? Sure.

But my concern is that we not get Obama in the presidency again, and someone who cannot deliver the message is problematic to me.

Update: Luntz focus group, courtesy Sheya:


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the problem I am having with these debates is that….they are not.
while I am not a perry fan I don’t place much stock in a setup that allows a moderator to spend all the time they want phrasing a question while the candidate is supposed to immediately answer the whole question in seconds.
the gop debates are designed to make them look foolish, and they go along with it.
why the hell doesn’t the rnc do something worthwhile?

Odd, professor, that you say “you have to have it all. You have to have a good record…………….”

Yet, day after day, you seem to carry Herman Cain’s water. What record does Herman Cain have other than being the CEO of a company that he devalued in order to be able to buy it?

Perhaps it is his record as a city councilman? Or a county commissioner? State representative? So just exactly where is Herman Cain’s record?

Nevermind that Herman Cain is using Obama’s playbook, from playing the race card (which you will not address), to the cult of personality (“They like me” cain told Greta about his increasing poll numbers), to blaming everyone under the sun for his problems and never addressing the issues he is wrong on where he sticks his foot in his mouth to the very last page out of the Obama playbook.

I give you the Herman Cain version of, Obama’s spin site to dispel what we know was the truth about him:

    Weirddave in reply to retire05. | November 12, 2011 at 3:27 am

    It kills you that Perry’s sucking it up in the debates, doesn’t it? It just kills you. I don’t hate Perry, he has a great record, but he’s proven that he just isn’t able to walk on a national stage. Unfair? Absolutely. Biased? Undoubtedly. For right or for wrong, and I believe it’s more for wrong than right, the format that winnows the candidates early on is right smack in Perry’s blind spot. That’s a shame, but from my POV, the bigger shame is that Perry didn’t recognize this and drill harder to overcome it. Face it, your guy is a lost cause. That bothers me because based on his record I could have supported Perry, but when the rubber meets the road, the best ideas have to be “sold” to the electorate. Perry is daily showing he isn’t capable of doing that. In a just world, his record would be what matters. We don’t live in a just world.

    And just to rub salt in your wounds, the non-candidate that does the best job of “selling” her ideas is Palin. Sorry, but even as a non-candidate, she’s shaping the debate. If Perry had that ability, he’d be the anointed Republican One before any election. He can’t. Sucks to be you bro.

It seems people are going to believe what they want to believe regardless of what the good professor actually writes.

Perry has largely created his own problems. And Perry continues to regularly demonstrate manifold weaknesses. Yet, the good professor seems to be blamed for those problems when he points out something that is as clear as the nose on his face.

The good professor has been pretty fair from my perspective. And he is most certainly not carrying water for Cain. From where I sit, he inexplicably leans toward Newt which I find perplexing considering his otherwise keen insight.

Blame Perry for Perry’s problems (except for the rock). If he stops trying to provide tuition breaks for illegal aliens and stops trying to force young girls to take unproven and unnecessary vaccines and stops putting both feet in his mouth in debates then he may turn out to be an acceptable candidate. But he seems incapable of doing so this year. And blaming the professor won’t change that fact.

    retire05 in reply to WarEagle82. | November 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    WarEagle82, thanks for showing us just what an uninformed voter you are.

    So let me correct your ignorance:

    first: the Texas legislature passed in-state college tuition at state universities for the kids that the SCOTUS says we have to educated up to the 12th Grade. If you have a problem with educating kids, who the SCOTUS says are not to be held liable for the crimes of their parents, take it up with them. One city in Texas tried to stop that. They lost. The case Texas vs. Certain Named and Unnamed Alien Children was incorporated into Plyler. Since this blog is run by a law professor, I would think you could ask him about this, that is, if you really wanted to know, which I suspect you don’t.

    second: no one is being, or was going to be forced to take the Gardasil vaccination. At least not in Texas. The EO that Perry issued went so far as to provide the opt-out from on the internet for parents who are too damn lazy to get out of their Lazy Boys and go to the school to sign it. Unfortunately, the kids in Washington, D.C. are not so lucky. They are required to take the Gardasil vaccination or they can’t attend a public school. That was voted in by the D.C. school board and had to be approved in a resolution by the U.S. Congress, while Bachmann sat on the very Congress that approved the D.C. rule. Refresh my memory. What did Backmann say about the D.C. rule then?

    Now, perhaps you would like to tell me if you also object to the tentanus vaccination since it is not a vaccine that protects against a communicable disease? But guess what, if you put your kids in a public school, they were required (mandated) to have that vaccination. Many states, including Michele Bachmann’s Wisconsin, requires (mandates) vaccinations against Hepituts B, also NOT a communicable disease. And CDC records show more side affects from the Hep B vaccination than from Gardasil. Where is your outrage?

    Yes, Perry has performed badly in these debates. But if performace on the stage is your bench mark for a president, either stick with what we have now or write in George Clooney. And while you’re at it; remind me again how many people Obama has had to debate since he was elected?

    I can’t wait for the Obama/Netanyahu debates.

      WarEagle82 in reply to retire05. | November 10, 2011 at 10:23 pm

      I get it. I don’t support your candidate so I am uninformed. The professor doesn’t support your candidate and he is a shill. You believe everyone is entitled to an opinion as long as it is your opinion.

      I haven’t made up my mind about this election cycle yet. But the more I see Perry demonstrate who Perry is, the less I am inclined to support Perry. And that is Perry’s doing.

      But at least I now know enough about you after your last post so count me “educated,” at least about you…

        retire05 in reply to WarEagle82. | November 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

        WarEagle, yes, when you push false information there can only be two reasons why: a) you are totally uninformed on the issue or b) you are willfully pushing false information for the purpose of an agenda. I gave you the benefit of the doubt, not wanting to label you as an agenda driver.

        Now, let’s take a look at your link, First off, it is a website that is solidly in the Sarah Palin camp. Secondly, the date of your link is prior to Palin’s announcement she was not going to run. Third, the link is heavy on spin and very, VERY light on facts. The entire purpose of the site was to cast doubt on someone they felt would be a strong competitor of Sarah Palin.

        Most curious people, who are wanting to know the facts, and not the spin, would not have to refer to a Palin-supporting website, but would take the time to read the actual EO signed by Perry, which happens to be on-line. You didn’t do that. You took the word of someone who also didn’t bother to do that.

        So, I can only assume that you are willfully uninformed.

        And exactly what is it that you think you know about Perry? Do you know his stance on ad valorum taxation? How about sales tax, which is the next largest tax that Texans pay? What is his stand on abortion, border security, national debt, the budget that we have not had for almost 900 days? You see, I doubt you know much about Perry, or any candidate for that matter, that you have not gleened from talking heads that have already decided that if not Obama, then Romney will be their man.

          WarEagle82 in reply to retire05. | November 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

          Glad to see you have everything figured out. It helps to know that the world is full of clever people like you. I’ll sleep better tonight…

    spartan in reply to WarEagle82. | November 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm


    Tuition breaks for illegal aliens; is that the gist of the argument you wanted to make when you posted on the ‘worst enemies too’ thread? That’s it?

    I noticed you did not respond to my question then but I will help you out so you never make this mistake again. The answer, as retire05 adeptly points out, is the SCOTUS case Plyler v. Doe. When Perry got in trouble with his ‘you don’t have a heart’ remark, I posted here that Plyler was controlling case law. The good professor did not respond to my post and I did not push the issue.

    There are states trying to enact laws to NOT give children of illegal aliens tuition breaks. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the state of Florida to force the state to give these tuition breaks.
    Now, honestly answer the following questions:
    1) Is it wise to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight a case you will likely lose because of the Plyler precedent or try to legislate a solution and avoid Court oversight?
    2) If and when the plaintiffs win their case against Florida, will you then accuse Governor Rick Scott of being soft on illegal immigration?
    3) Using the “Cain/NRA paid off his accusers nuisance money to avoid litigation” defense, is that not the wise move to make? (see what I did there?)

    Go Dawgs!!

      WarEagle82 in reply to spartan. | November 11, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Oddly enough, the articles I read call Perry an ardent supporter of the tuition policy and I have never seen your legal issue raised.

      Believe what you will. Actual facts don’t seem to matter to you as long as you can construct a defense for Perry that even he doesn’t use…

      Despite his ardent support for the tuition program, Perry says the issue is about states’ rights and he respects the decision of other states not to pass a similar bill.

      “In Texas, we made the decision that it was in our best interests as a state, economically and otherwise, to have those young people in our institutions of higher learning and becoming educated as part of our skilled workforce,” Perry said, according to the Associated Press. “If you don’t want to do that in your state, I absolutely respect that right.”

        spartan in reply to WarEagle82. | November 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm

        Perhaps, you should not rely on what you read and what others in your circle tell you. I pointed on this blog that Perry should have brought up the Plyler case. It really isn’t too far of a reach to include in state college tuition.
        It may also explain why you did not answer the 3 questions I posited to you.

myveryownpointofview | November 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I have to agree with the first two comments.

I have noticed that when Cain has a REAL gaff, which happens often, or draws a blank, his crowd finds it endearing because it’s proof he’s not “a real politician”. But is that necessarily a good thing?

This youtube video is why I jumped off of the Cain bandwagon:

BTW, how can Cain be given pass after pass for far worse brain freezes and screw-ups? Perry or Bachman, even that nut Paul – they get roasted alive for gaffs.

Something I like to think about:

“Cain has no political experience” (and voting “Present” is actually experienc?)

“Perry does poorly in debates (and this is somehow worse than POTUS without his TOTUS fix?)

“Cain has the harrasment baggage” (accusations are now more devastating than actually watching POTUS violate the Constitution time after time?)

“Perry supports tuition breaks on illegal immigrants” (and someone who does this is somehow worse than the one who instructs DOJ to pursue elected officials for enforcing immigration laws?)

It is about time we wipe the fog off the window and see the real world – primaries aren’t about “ideas”… it’s about which candidate makes himself appealing the most to the big dollar donors. Now, I’m not even going to begin to harangue on this one – what I do want to remind myself…. the only candidate I stand against, Democrat or Republican… for President, House of Rep, Senate, State Assembly, Governor, heck…even dog catcher… is the one who says we need to stay the course because the last four years have been good, that the bridge still stands over the canyon, and there is no need to stop the train.

Today’s Fortune Cookie: “No one wins a race by watching the man behind him”


Just when you think you want to support the guy the pundits say won the debate comes this:

But Gingrich has some explaining to do about his own role with regard to Fannie and Freddie. At the very least, by enlisting Gingrich as a “consultant,” Freddie managed to get a powerful critic of government mismanagement to provide his critiques privately, out of earshot of the public. At some point, maybe in a debate, the voters should get a full accounting of his role. They can then decide if Gingrich was helping the taxpayer by trying to get Freddie to clean up its act, or helping himself to the trough at the later expense of U.S. taxpayers, or some of both.

It appears Gingrich and Freddie Mac have a longer history than just the $300,000 paid for ‘consulting fees’. Yes, the author Jen Rubin seems to be in the tank for Romney but Gingrich will have to answer for this relationship. Winning debates does have its price.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to spartan. | November 10, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    That’s just Jennifer Rubin doing her Romney blogging
    There’s nothing substantive to her attack just innuendo.

Given that my two favorite people are not running (Palin and West), I think I might be in one of those “open mind” positions. I had high hopes when Perry announced, but it’s just not there. I’m not seeing a grasp on the facts or issues; I’m not seeing the necessary intellect. For a number of reasons, some people in the party here in Florida felt that supporting Cain’s campaign made sense in a number of ways. However, I’m not seeing an improved grasp on the issues from him, either, and enthusiasm is fading. He feels like VP material.

I can’t believe I’m coming to this position… Newt Gingrich was a politician I dismissed years ago. But with each debate, and every media appearance, I’m more impressed. Of all the candidates, Gingrich is along in not fudging by falling into sloganism. He has not responded to questions with conclusions about what we “have to do” or what end result we need, but over and over gives specifics of how he thinks we might get there. What else is impressing me is that unlike every other candidate, who continually answers some questions me-me-me and what “I” have done, Gingrich frequently credits, refers to, and shows respect for the other candidates, talking in terms of “we”. Character is a collection of attributes. If I were interviewing candidates for an executive job, and had to make a decision right now, today, and it was important to me that that I could rely on the advice, instincts, and knowledge of the person I hired — which, actually, is what we’re doing — it would have to be Newt Gingrich.

I just watched Perry on Letterman where he did the “Top 10 Rick Perry Excuses.”

Perry looked and acted goofy. It might strike some people as making Perry a regular guy who can poke fun at himself but this stuff goes beyond that. It was Perry belittling and demeaning himself. Throughout the bit, Letterman looked distainful, clearly laughing at, not with, Perry. And at the end, when Letterman walked over to shake his hand, Letterman never even looked af Perry, kind of like he was giving him the bum’s rush.

You can’t grovel for redemption like this and hope to be President.

    spartan in reply to JEBurke. | November 11, 2011 at 1:21 am

    I can’t tell if you giving us your best imitation of Ellsworth Toohey or you are overdosing on vitajex.
    You do realize he is getting more free exposure than anyone right now? What exactly does Perry need to do to garner your support and forgiveness? Good grief.

I agree with the conclusion janitor is coming to. And the only other actual running candidate besides him capable of 1. Beating Obama and 2. doing the job as president, is…
face it, people: Mitt Romney. He’s not leading in the polls for no reason. Do not, do not, let perfect get in the way of the possible. We can get to perfect later. You have to start with the do-able. Let’s get it done!

    MittensforMe in reply to eazymark. | November 12, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Thank you Eazymark, that makes two of us. Romney is a good if imperfect man but a patriot. If were searching for perfection, it just isn’t here or maybe never was. Our lesson from 2008 is to unite, if you must hold your nose, do it for the sake of our country. No more Obama!!

The opposition to free people and their constitution in this country use deep, bloody strokes in anything political and make the fight as low as it has to go to ensure a favorable outcome for these tactics. They make any victory so muddled and costly that the entire debate or ideological confrontation has to be planned around this. “The conservative candidate has to be completely clean and pure. Next time we’ll get somebody clean enough to run against those liberals.” As if that is going to stop the inevitable mental projection of piss and blood hurled in your candidate’s face when push comes to shove and your guy – a clear conservative target come out on to the field for the state controlled media to pick apart, dig through legal histories, break contracts, create possibly baseless and paid off political attacks, and we expect to move on to the next guy, like he’s going to be the better candidate, and this same level of attack won’t be used against him? All I’m saying is just pick the most conservative, constitutional candidate and go with it.We are breaking our strength and power against the rocks and breaks of institutional progressivism in this country, and if we insist on giving in a thousand times, each more weakly than the last, until we are the same as them, why not just crash boldly with the person we feel the best about? We are people that came from brutal, grueling battle and hardship to have a country this wide, safe and prosperous. If there is going to be a great change, let it be a clearly defined break from the forefathers we claim to represent and the people that vote RINO for a middling safety they will never have.

A debate gives us a view of a person. Obviously, debate performance is ONE factor, not necessarily decisive. The format for the Cain-Gingrich debate was helpful, the others, not so much.

“There is no threshold issue, you have to have it all. You have to have a good record, platform, etc….”

Not necessarily. What kind of record or platform did Bill Clinton have in 1992? 1996? If a candidate is very personable and very glib, that can overcome a lot of other weaknesses. Gingrich isn’t overly personable, but he is certainly glib. As people in the video said, he seems in complete command of the issues. He has instant recall of so much factual information, Obama could not get away with the misstatements he is so famous for. Newt would make Obama look like the blithering idiot he is.

    MittensforMe in reply to JayDick. | November 12, 2011 at 1:12 am

    But with a capital B–how can family oriented conservatives who are always giving the litmus test to everybody accept a president with three marriages (divorce under nasty circumstances; change of religion; cranky disposition; probably high cholesterol because of weight problems; and a bleached blonde BarbieDoll wife? Did we not learn anything from 2008; we don’t need another old white haired guy with a plastic wife. Better pick a darn good candidate for Veep if this guy is running.