The Orlando Debate
Posted on September 23, 2011
Gary Johnson reappeared last night at the GOP debate in Florida, and he walked away with the best line. When he said that his next door neighbor’s two dogs created more shovel-ready jobs than President Obama, he brought the house down. (I don’t care if he stole it from Rush Limbaugh. It was still a good line well-delivered.)
Johnson did more than that though. His mere presence shifted the debate sharply towards the libertarian line, giving Ron Paul some needed intellectual support. If you are the only libertarian out there, it can be lonely. If you are joined by a former governor, who actually governed as a libertarian, it can be uplifting.
All that being said, this night belonged to Mitt Romney. Romney did pretty well in delivering some clear shots at his chief rival, Rick Perry. His toughest attack was when he put into detail how much of a break illegal aliens get when they go to school in Texas. A hundred thousand dollar tuition tax break for 4 years is a pretty nice bennie for those kids whose parents snuck across the border illegally. Romney’s hit on this subject will hurt more than Perry’s attack on Social Security.
Rick Perry was awful. He stumbled. He bumbled. He lost his train of thought. He said that the vast majority of the Republican base who have problems with illegal immigration don’t have any heart. His attacks on the Romney flip-flops were uninspired. He couldn’t really articulate how silly Rick Santorum’s attacks on the border issue really were. In other words, he lost his second debate in a row in spectacular fashion.
At some point in time, these debates have to get serious. Herman Cain, who is everybody’s favorite guy, needs to stop running. Michele Bachmann has to pack it in. I like Gary Johnson and Ron Paul, but they have to run in the Libertarian party primary. Santorum and Newt play important roles, because they actually know something, as does Jon Huntsman so they can stay. But we have a lot of stuff going on in the world today, including a full-force financial panic, and an increased possibility of a shooting war involving Israel and its neighbors. We also have to figure out if we are going to do something serious about Pakistan, a country which seems to go out of its way to sponsor attacks on American interests in the region.
I would like to hear more from the serious candidates about how they handle these situations. And I would like to hear from them in a setting that is sober and quiet. Presidential debates shouldn’t attract the same kind of crowds as Arena football games. At many of these forums, it seems like the crowd is getting liquored up before they start and during the intermissions.
If the Republicans want to appear to be serious, they need to stop playing to the crowds and start acting as if they had done more homework than learning the latest soundbites from their spin-meisters.
So far, Mitt Romney appears to have a commanding lead, at least intellectually. Perry seems to be in big trouble.