Friday, January 27, 2012

Today's High 5: GOP Debate Edition

5. I wouldn't vote for Rick Santorum because he and I have significant ideological differences. Still, I find it repulsive and despicable (two words favored by Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich) that a legitimate candidate who appeals to millions of voters and has strong convictions cannot compete because he lacks a gazillion-dollar "war chest."

For what it's worth (not much), I thought Santorum "won" Thursday's debate -- the last GOP debate for a while, thank Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Joseph Smith and Richard Dawkins -- in part because he stood above the petty silliness of the Dueling Liars. His attempt to calm the rhetoric between Mitt and Newt and concentrate on issues was practically heroic (albeit failed).

Unfortunately for Santorum, he has absolutely no chance to emerge as the GOP nominee. Unlike his main rivals, he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he doesn't have a Vegas Sugar Daddy pouring funds into his attack-ad account.

Instead of making our elections more "of the people," the Supreme Court made them even more about who has the most corporate financial backing.

Until a constitutional amendment that repeals the Citizens United decision and crafts fair campaign finance rules is enacted, things will only get worse and worse for regular folks who want to serve their country.

4. Romney claims that he doesn't make his own investments and that he has no input in the brutally negative ads his Super PACs have been running.

I'm pretty sure he'd be a lousy president, but I'm confident he'd be one heck of an Ostrich in Chief.

3. Ron Paul makes a lot of sense when he talks about the need to stop America's ruinous nation-building policies and to significantly reduce the national deficit.

However, he couldn't sound more out of touch every time he makes a reference to the way things were done in the olden days.

He needs to stop suggesting that we ignore the plight of poor people and let churches take care of them "like they used to." He needs to stop pretending that seniors "did just fine" before Medicare was enacted nearly 50 years ago; a huge percentage of them lived in abject poverty, unable to afford even basic care. He needs to realize that every time he starts a point by saying, "Back in 1962 ... " he reminds everybody how old he is.

Paul is a smart man and I'm guessing he was a fine doctor. But no matter how often he longs for simpler times, today's doctors aren't going to start making house calls again and they aren't going to accept chickens as payment.

We have a health-care crisis now, and longing for the good ol' days of leeches and castor oil won't solve anything.

2. Oh, Stephen Colbert ... please come back!

1. The Great Debater -- a.k.a. The Newtster -- is a myth.

Turning legitimate questions about his character into blame-the-media diatribes is not debating. It is bloviating. Such a tactic might be able to incite a frothing-at-the-mouth, intellectually suspect audience of tea partiers, but it hasn't worked when the crowds have been more civil and more diverse. And it certainly won't work in the general election, should Gingrich get that far.

He tried it again Thursday, but Wolf Blitzer, bless his heart, wouldn't let him. Gingrich was forced to deal with a difficult question, and he got his clock cleaned by Romney.

Romney easily out-pointed Gingrich in the two most recent debates, helping explain his renewed rise in the polls. And with Blitzer giving them more opportunities to talk Thursday, Santorum and Paul were more appealing and respectable than Newt.

Gingrich believes he could out-debate Barack Obama, but I doubt there's any way Newt would be viewed as anything but a bully and a blowhard by the independents who will decide the election.

Fortunately for the GOP, it's doubtful Newt will get that far. Republican leaders are coming out strong against him, and the public finds him mostly repugnant. His "likability" numbers are so low they'd lose a limbo contest to Muggsy Bogues.

This will be the ninth presidential election since I turned voting age, and I'm struggling to remember if there has been a more loathsome and revolting candidate for either party's nomination than Newt Gingrich.

Help me out here ... did Charles Manson, David Duke, Bobby Knight or Rosie O'Donnell ever run for president?


  1. The Republicans have already lost the Presidential election. They just don't get it that the left and right don't decide Presidential elections. Their votes cancel each other put. For local races, that is different as the left and right owe the day.

    It's the independents who are the great silent majority and in the middle moving slightly left or right who decide Presidential elections. No Republican candidate has the ability to appeal to the middle of the entire electorate this point in time.

    What will probably happen, is that the Democrats will retain control of the White House, but the electorate will vote control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans. In effect creating gridlock. Which is good because they won't be able to do much harm.

  2. "It's the independents who are the great silent majority and in the middle moving slightly left or right who decide Presidential elections. No Republican candidate has the ability to appeal to the middle of the entire electorate this point in time."

    Have you ever watched a primary? Candidates play to those they think will vote for them and then move towards the center for the general.

    Incidentally, it strikes me as odd that so many have problems with Gingrich's anger over the person issues question when so many defended President Clinton's worse personal behavior on the grounds that it was nobody's business. But then, I suppose it depends on whose ox is being gored.