June 6, 2007

Republicans Debate, McCain Wins

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While the difference between Republicans and Democrats in their beliefs was not unexpected, I was surprised that they did not take off the gloves and go at it with each other like the Democrats did, especially with the Republicans’ greater diversity in opinion (particularly Ron Paul). Overall, McCain, Romney, and Giuliani all performed well, and no second-tier candidate had a performance strong enough to catch up to them (though I will give an honorable mention to Huckabee for his views on religion, which set the tone for all Republicans, and also his focus on respecting life not only for babies in the womb, but also for the neglected, abused elderly and the children in poverty in this world). Each first-tier candidate had some great moments, and no one ran away with this debate, but ultimately I have to give the victory to McCain.

1. McCain
Iraq definitely plays a significant role on the election, and McCain handled this issue well. On the issue of going to war, he gave a good case how the UN sanctions were slowly falling apart and how Saddam, given his prior record, could and would have gone after WMDs once the UN with its oil-for-food scandal eventually took the pressure off of him. His explanation for the war makes much more sense than Bush’s explanation.

While admitting to mismanagement in the war on Iraq, McCain also laid out a good case on why we need to stay the course and avoid the dire consequences of failure. He also laid out a great criticism of Hillary: Iraq is not Bush’s war as Hillary said, nor is Kosovo Clinton’s war; both are America’s war as a nation, and the nation has a huge stake in the outcome of Iraq, no matter what has happened up to this point.

In the second half of the debate, McCain really hammered all of this home with his best moment of the campaign. Receiving a question from a woman who lost family in Iraq, he gave her what he called “straight talk.” While giving a realistic picture of the war and how mistakes have created unnecessary deaths, the Vietnam veteran still showed how he wanted to achieve success to honor every lost life in Iraq, praising the new strategy and the new general in Iraq. Crafting a fine balance between reality and optimism, McCain drew an enormous round of applause from the audience.

At the beginning of the debate, McCain took a pounding on the issue of immigration. He received a lot of criticism of his bill, and generally his stance on immigration did not sit well with Republicans. He did make up a lot of ground there, however. He argued a good point on how he had to compromise to do something, and fighting while doing nothing amounts to de facto amnesty. Also, he gave a sensational answer that portrayed immigrants as our friends, not our enemies, towards the end of the debate.

On other issues like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and energy independence, McCain had some good answers, but he did not really differentiate himself very much from other candidates. But by handling Iraq superbly and holding his ground on immigration, McCain propelled himself to the top of the pack last night.

2. Romney
Romney did an especially good job of projecting his own personal character and integrity. After McCain took some huge shots on him at immigration before the debate, Romney called McCain his friend and refused to make the issue personal. He also had a dignified response to the Mormon question, calling it a fair question and giving an honest yet impressive answer about his faith.

On immigration, he had the best moment in the first half when he said the solution to immigration was to enforce the ’86 laws (which were supposed to solve the problems concerning immigration) which called for employment verification and border security, drawing huge applause. He also had a great criticism on how Z-visas can allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country for all their lives.

He had some great original ideas elsewhere. On the issue of Iran, he highlighted reaching out to moderate Muslims. While many candidates talked about energy independence and national security, only Romney specifically cited how our oil dependence benefits Chavez, Ahmadinejaid, and Putin. I also liked his use of the non-sequitur logical fallacy on the issue of Iraq (although it was hard to follow); had we known back then what we know today about Iraq, that would have probably meant Saddam was cooperating much more than he actually did.

He really faded in the second half of the debate, though. His answers seemed to go off in tangents frequently. He had a good point on optimism and hope for the future, but he struggled to articulately express his views and draw applause like he frequently did early on. Even on healthcare, a strong issue for Romney given his healthcare bill that passed in Massachusetts, he could have done a better job of highlighting all his good work there. While McCain and Giuliani gained ground, he made little headway, dropping him from the first spot below McCain and almost below Giuliani.

3. Giuliani
Giuliani displayed some strong credentials as a potential commander-of-chief on Iraq and terrorism, and also joined with McCain in eliciting some applause when answering the question for the woman who lost family in Iraq. To some extent, though, he displayed too much rhetoric and not enough argumentation. When he tried to connect Saddam to the war on terror, he could have used more hard evidence, and he could also have provided more explicit details on the consequences of failure in Iraq.

However, when Giuliani, a pro-choice candidate, received a question comparing his personal opposition to abortion to Pontius Pilate personally opposing Jesus’ crucifixion while washing his hands on the matter, the lightning that disrupted the stage — while humorous — highlighted a serious trouble for him. He never directly answered the question, dancing around the issue as usual. Being pro-choice won’t necessarily break his campaign, but he really needs to come up with a clear and direct answer to his views that would draw applause from an audience.

That being said, though, Giuliani performed well overall. He established some good, specific, criticism of McCain’s immigration bill, and he also had a good proposal for taking on an Apollo-like program to establish energy independence. On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he defused the problem quite well, even citing Colin Powell. However, given the strong performance of McCain and Romney, I do have put him at the bottom of the top three.

  • Kevin

    First, let me be open and declare my continued unwavering support for Dr. Paul. The Champion of the constitution nnever wavered, and acquitted himself very well last night.

    After watching this third debate, I think I could vote for Gilmore or Huckabee with very little reservation. They aren’t perfect, but they’re darn close, and better than anyone else (except the aformentioned Dr. Paul, of course 😉

    Even Brownback, or Hunter will be better than any of the Democrats currently in the race, although I will have to hold my nose to actually vote for either of them.

    Every other candidate up there (including Fred Thompson if he should grow a pair and actually ennter the race) is completely UNacceptable.

    + Giuliani is a Democrat in Republican clothing.
    + Ditto for McCain. McCain is weak on immigration.
    + Romney cannot be trusted, he flip-flops like a landed fish. MittCare is HillaryCare in drag.
    +Fred Thompson is a CFR/North American Union supporter, who is perfectly fine with anti-free speech laws like McCain-Feingold Campaign reform.
    +Tancredo wants to cut off even legal immigration and has no idea what a free market really means.
    +T. Thompson wants a big government database to “transform” health care

    UGH! All these RINOS should be voted off the island ASAP.

    Laters,

  • Sick of Lies

    It was entertaining to watch these swaggering bullies thump their chests and declare that preemptive nuclear strikes in Iran must be left on the table and in the next breath bow their heads and proclaim their reverence for God and life…all life, from conception to “natural death”. “We love life, we are the pro-life party, blah, blah”. Yeah, right.

    What could be more UNNATURAL than dying in a “preemptive” nuclear blast?

    Oh, let’s see. The bleating fools only love AMERICAN life and all other lives are substandard and put on earth only for Americans to kill at whim. What happened to “all men are created equal”? Aren’t lives in other countries “worth” as much as American lives? If not, why?

    It is categorically impossible to love God and follow His teachings, be pro-life and be pro preemptive war at the same time. It points to a rift in spirit and the psyche and possible clinical psychoses. The clowns were all there with their hats held out and pandering to the audience in the way of most politicians, but this one thing causes me to discount their rhetoric.

    Ron Paul was honest and direct. He wants to “bring America home again” by following the rule of law that worked so well for us until too many politicians and bankers started mucking around in the system. That was called the Constitutional Republic and, man, I sure do miss it.

    Senator Paul was correct: preemptive war is an abomination and not to be tolerated by humanity. On that one point, he has certainly earned my vote in 2008 and my support until then. If other countries used the same criteria for preemption as our current clowns in the White House, every single weapon on Earth would be pointed at the USA right now. Preemption is a dangerous and unholy road. Personally, I have had enough of war-for-profit mongers to do me until the end of my life. Give me someone who says what he means and means what he says. America will reap the whirlwind of what it is sowing if it continues on this course.

    As for McCain he blithered and blathered around enough to make me wonder if he isn’t just a few short weeks away from a diagnosis of senile dementia. To declare him the “winner” in this debate is just plain weird. Did the judges watch it?

  • Anonymous

    Is the Republican slate full of hypocrites or what? On one hand, Pro-Life. On the other hand, Pro-War, Pro-Death. Those creeps are wearing God on their sleeves for popularity votes from the far right, not because they actually belive in Christ and his teachings. Completely shameful of them.

    The only true Conservative I heard on stage was Ron Paul. The rest are fakes and phonies — shills for the corporate elite.

  • TexasLittleEl

    That is Representative Ron Paul not Senator.

    but we get the idea.

    Still waiting on Mike Wacker’s next installment of:

    “The Young and the apPAULed”
    “General Terrorism”
    “One Preemptive Nuke to Give”
    As the World Burns”

    aka Ron Paul Part 2

    As a Lutheran and believer in Christ as my Savior, I need only look to the bible for the answer to a preemptive strike

    In the New Testament, war is universally seen as evil and Jesus emphasized peace instead. He advised us to avoid retaliation and revenge and to extend our love even to our enemies.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (NIV, Matthew 5:38-45)

    The apostle Paul and other New testament writers echoed Jesus’ sentiment and expanded on it.

    Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NAS, Romans 12:17-21)

    The scary part is 9 GOP Presidential Candidates think a nuclear strike is ok and it would still makes them righteous with the Lord.

    Food for thought

  • cake_crumb

    If you look at the speaking time taken up by each individual on the stage, you will find that the CLEAR winner was Wolf Blitzer, who bloviated interminably.

    The two most lucid, well informed and well rounded on the issues were Romney and Hunter. Hunter was even more impressive since he was only allowed about six minutes to speak. While McCain held his own pretty well and was obviously Blitzer’s candidate of preference, it can’t be honestly be said he won because some candidates never got to speak about important issues.

    Blitzer forcing Romney to defend his faith was uncalled for and incredibly intolerant. How many Democrats were asked probing questions about their Christianity (or lack of it)?

    I see the Democrats are back to pushing the lunatic Paul in the same way conservatives hope Al Gore or Howard Dean announce for ’08. We have a year and a half before the election. The spamming is already getting tiresome.