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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beldar reacts to tonight's Reagan Library GOP debate

Untainted by other punditry or blogs, my immediate reactions to tonight's GOP debate:

  • Tonight's debate was far more illuminating than most previous ones, precisely because there were only four candidates three candidates and one clown on stage. (Now if they could only lose the clown .... Let's hear it for the return to the Gold Standard! But seriously ... what's Ron Paul's position on whether America should join the League of Nations?)
  • John McCain is a grumpy, grumpy old man. He is mean. And he rambles.

  • McCain's nasty and deceitful distortion of Romney's supposed endorsement of a "secret timetable" for an Iraq withdrawal managed to put Romney in the unfamiliar (but welcome and sympathetic) position of someone badly sinned against. The harder McCain struggled to repeat the charge and defend it, the more petty and disingenuous he seemed.

  • Every bit of ground that McCain tried to make up in his Florida victory speech (and before and since, including tonight) by stressing his intention to appoint clones of Roberts and Alito was undone by saying he's "proud" of Sandra Day O'Connor. I'm sure he felt obliged to say that as a matter of personal loyalty and friendship to his fellow Arizonan. But it confirms that he still has no clue — or simply doesn't care (and I tend to think it's exactly that) — just how much he is mistrusted on the issue of judicial appointments by conservatives for whom that is an important issue.

  • Mitt Romney is improving dramatically as a debater, and tonight he was better, by far, than I've ever seen him. He is at his least appealing to me when he's trying to use his one-liners (e.g., "Washington is broken"). When he lets his MBA-wonkiness loose, he's at his most impressive, even if he's not necessarily generating any warm fuzzies. His best moment tonight was when he took umbrage at McCain's argument that "Anyone can hire [mere] managers." Romney's right to insist that managers can indeed also be leaders.

  • I became gloomy tonight trying to imagine John McCain debating Barack Obama in the general election. If McCain does become the GOP nominee, he should refuse all face-to-face debates, and just let Obama call him a coward. That charge might not stick badly anyway, but whatever damage is inflicted by McCain's refusal to debate would be less than the damage that would be inflicted in the debates — regardless of substance. The contrast in age, energy, hopefulness, optimism, and articulateness would be devastating — vastly more damaging than Nixon's sweat and five-o'clock shadow, which probably cost him more votes than were the margin of his loss in the 1960 election against Kennedy.

  • Huckabee was mostly ignored by the moderators, which he resented, but I didn't much mind. He was only a slightly more serious participant than the clown. He's not thinking in terms of a second spot on a McCain ticket, or else he wouldn't have seconded Romney's argument about why governors make better presidents than senators.

I am not a McCain supporter for purposes of these primaries, and my view may be heavily colored by that. I'd be especially interested in your reactions, in the comments to this post, if you, too, watched the debate.

Posted by Beldar at 09:05 PM in 2008 Election, Politics (2008) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Beldar reacts to tonight's Reagan Library GOP debate and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) Heather made the following comment | Jan 30, 2008 9:25:26 PM | Permalink

Yesterday, after McCain's win in Florida, I decided, with reluctance, to vote for him in the CA primary next week. I thought he'd be more able to beat the Clinton's sleaze machine. I listened to the debate tonight, hoping to feel better about voting for him, hoping that he'd act to unite Republicans behind the winning nominee. Instead, he made mean, nasty attacks. He refused to acknowledge that there are two kinds of withdrawal of troops, one because of mission success, and one because of surrender. I now plan to vote for Gov. Romney because I believe Sen. McCain will lose more Republicans, than pick up Independents. I was infuriated by him tonight. I think he may well have fractured the party to the point of throwing the election to the Democrats, which I believe will cause major national security problems down the road.

(2) Antimedia made the following comment | Jan 30, 2008 9:43:30 PM | Permalink

Heather, your intuition is right. I will never, under any circumstance vote for John McCain. Nor will many, many Vietnam veterans, who believe he has betrayed his brothers in arms on more than one occasion.

(3) Patterico made the following comment | Jan 30, 2008 10:02:45 PM | Permalink

I thought McCain's performance was disastrous on several levels. He slouched in his chair. He gave inappropriate and supercilious smiles. He was nasty. The notion of him as "electable" took a big hit, I thought.

Romney did very well.

(4) Pat made the following comment | Jan 30, 2008 10:12:18 PM | Permalink

McCain went on about the company he keeps He failed to mention, Juan Hernandez, his Hispanic outreach director,and Jerry Perenchio, National Finance Co-Chair of the McCain 2008 campaign, and the billionaire founder of Spanish-language media conglomerate, Univision.

Henandez is an open borders zealot. Perenchio has financed causes dear to the pro-illegal immigration left. Neither are fit company for a presidential candidate, given the state of America's borders.

McCain was quite loathsome this evening and confirmed every bad feeling I had about him.

Frankly, Hillary would be a better choice for GOP voters. The GOP senate would be able to block her excesses; they would have a much harder time blocking McCain/Kennedy II if McCain was president.

McCain also looked old and whiny. Remember what happened to the last old war-horse the GOP put up against the DNC/MSM smear machine. Dole got his clock cleaned. Little wonder the MSM loves the idea of a McCain candidacy.

(5) DRJ made the following comment | Jan 30, 2008 10:55:08 PM | Permalink

I must be the epitome of grumpy. I'm still with Fred.

(6) Michael Myers made the following comment | Jan 30, 2008 11:33:55 PM | Permalink

Old, mean, grumpy, and with a smarmy smirk--all given while being quite properly reamed out for being a liar. This is a recipe for disaster for the GOP.

One continuing McCain meme bothers me. "I was the leader of the largest squadron in the U.S. Navy"--as proof of his ability as a leader. He was leader of VA 174 a training squadron for A-7 pilots in Florida. I'll take him at his word--and for purposes of argument will assume that VA 174 was the largest aviation squadron in the Navy at the time.

I'm not denigrating the job--it's a tough one. And the main stream media will lap it all up at the words "largest squadron in the navy". But it's not as big a job as he makes it out to be. If he took his "largest squadron in the navy" on a carrier cruise to the Western Pacific or the Persian Gulf, it would be just one of several squadrons and lesser units in a single carrier's air wing.

Being a squadron commander is an 0-6 job--a Navy captain holds the same rank as an Army colonel. The Navy had its own view of McCain's "leadership abilities". He didn't make admiral, despite being the son and the grandson of admirals; he had a drinking, partying and womanizing problem and at age 43 or so was clearly on his way out in an "up or out" culture.

I'd turn a blind eye to all of this; we've had several recent presidents in both parties who have or had drinking and womanizing problems.

But McCain hauls out his experience in leading the largest squadron in the Navy as proof of his ability to lead the largest economy in the world.

Wait a minute Buster! That's not enough.

(7) Paul McKaskle made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 1:29:47 AM | Permalink

McCain isn't my ideal candidate by a fair margin. His campaign finance efforts are disasterous. (I think campaign finance is, itself, a disaster, but the attempts to "cure" it are even worse.) He has bought into the Global Warming issue. It may be a problem, but governmental attempts to deal with it--in view of the burgeoning economies of China and India--are unlikely to be successful or even useful on a cost-benefit basis. But, at least McCain is apparently against the scam of ethanol as a method to combat global warming and domestic self-sufficiency.

McCain is highly likely to be the Republican nominee. Clinton is somewhat likely to be the Democratic nominee (and as far as policies are concerned, Obama is not much different).

So, the real issue is not who is the ideal candidate, but between the two, who is the better one on most issues. Judges: even if McCain's choices are not ideal, are they going to be better than Clinton's? On the budget: McCain (wrongly in my opinion) has voted against some tax cuts, but he argued that they should be linked to budget cuts and he has opposed many budget enhancements. Cinton has proposed in her various campaign speeches some $800 BILLION in new spending.

I think the issue is who is better, not is McCain the best candidate.

Besides, McCain might even choose Thompson as his Vice President.

(8) Jim Peterson made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 2:10:47 AM | Permalink

I may disagree with Ron Paul's foreign policy, but I do know of many new laws, mostly dealing with Internet regulation, that are seriously taking away our rights (not just terrorist and sex offender rights). Ron Paul often stood alone in Congress voting NO to all this vicious new nonsense that the MSM will not talk about, and which Ron Paul was not asked about last night.

Also, if you want to describe him as a "clown", please do not do so by also calling Reagan a "clown". You can do a Google search to see that Reagan did say that a great country that goes off a gold standard will not remain great. That is nothing to laugh about even if I were to agree that it is impossible to go back to that standard now.

(9) Mark made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 4:42:47 AM | Permalink

I gave my first and probably last donation for 2008 tonight: $1000 for Romney. (I hope he can make it more than a wasted gesture).

I don't like the personal attacks on McCain, (he's unstable, crazy etc) but he has been acting like an unprincipled scumbag (hmmm- like Hillary) with these smears on Romney, and he showed his true colors tonight as a cranky, angry old man who feels seriously miffed that the Conservative base won't roll over and hand him the keys after he has spit in their face and dares them to entrust the keys with anyone else.

My question is twofold: How the does a guy who can't even get the plurality of the conservative base walk through the raindrops and take the nomination? [Answer: Huckabee - and unfortunately, the willingness of establishment types to ignore the "electability" parallels between John McCain and John Kerry]. (John McKerry?)

Secondly, What does a nominee owe a party which he hijacked with RINO's & independents? [Answer: Nothing, especially when the opposition holds the majority in Congress. Hope you enjoy the payback from Mr. Gang of Fourteen when we ask for a few conservative appointees.]

My thinking is that if we show up with Hillary-lite then we'd better get used to hearing "Madam President".

OTOH, Mitt would look pretty good against Hillary the angry troll or the nice young man from the black supremacist church who vaguely reminds the deeply deluded of Kennedy if they squint hard enough.

Even if I'm wrong, it would be better to lose with Romney than win with McCain:

The former means a democrat president tries to ram a bunch of initiatives that 70% of Americans disagree with: Socialized medicine, Tax hikes, huge quantities of pork, and a massive new voting bloc of illegals and brand new entitlements programs for the DNC's newly minted victim class. (We probably keep Iraq, because not even Hillary is crazy enough to let it go to hell on her watch) All in all, this would be instant rehab for the sins of the 2006 GOP.

If McCain wins, we get the same thing, minus some symbolic pork increases (He doesn't owe us anything - remember?) but the MSM will make sure the GOP gets the blame because it will be "our" president.

So if McCain wins the nomination, I won't be giving a dime to the RNC this year, and I will not be voting for him either because I don't think such a state of affairs should be rewarded with anything other than a stinging rebuke at the ballot box.

If you care about the GOP's future and want to avoid Flick the angry troll then time is running out. Guess what Fredheads: Nobody is going to pick a running mate who couldn't manage to turn in a better performance in six months than could be seen in any throwaway episode of Law and Order.

Guess what Huckabee fans, you can't win the nomination when you haven't scored above 15% since Iowa and your candidate keeps talking about amending the constitution in ways that make a majority of the country extremely nervous. Please pull your heads out of your posterior and stop throwing the election to McCain. Get behind the only candidate that is actually binding his fortunes to the GOP base. He will need us if he makes it, and contrary to what some people think, he's a pretty decent man who will stop the socialists.

(10) Beldar made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 6:38:53 AM | Permalink

Mr. Peterson: Reagan made the attributed remark, but he made no effort as president to return America to the gold standard. Reagan wasn't always right, but he wasn't a clown. Ron Paul isn't always wrong. But he's very consistent in spouting this kind of nonsense, which makes him a clown. Making a serious suggestion in a setting like this one that the solution to our problems would be returning to the gold standard -- well, that's so un-serious, despite Dr. Paul's subjective intentions, as to be hilarious. It's a subject that is, to put it mildly, no longer current; hence my comparison to the debate over America's entry into the League of Nations.

I say this as a Texas Republican who first met and spoke with him in 1974 at a Texas Young Republicans function in Dallas, and who's followed his odd career ever since. It's my considered and reasonably well-informed opinion, albeit a harsh one, but I think it's deserved.

You're certainly entitled to your own quite different opinion, and you're welcome to express it here (so long as it's done civilly, as you did tonight, but which a remarkably high percentage of Ron Paul supporters can't manage).

Mr. McKaskle: I would be surprised if Fred Thompson wanted to be anyone's running mate. But obviously I've been surprised by several other developments during this campaign cycle, as has been just about everyone else.

(11) R. Steven Cox made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 7:24:56 AM | Permalink

Agree with all of Beldar's bullet points.

Bill Bennett is suffering from cognitive dissonance as he rhapsodizes on about the war hero turned politician. John McCain simply has too many disqualifying attributes to be classified a conservative - a disregard for truth being the single most important disqualifier.

(12) cboldt made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 9:40:16 AM | Permalink

Very nice to read your posts again, Beldar. As always, directly stated and a great pleasure to read.

Other than opining in general, that I think, just as a matter of prediction, not as a matter of preference, that the race is Romney's to win, I tend to not comment on the election.

Aside from the substantive aspects of each candidate, and one of the Reasons I predict Romney, is the shallow consideration of appearance and "voice." Romney looks healthy, alert, and young. He is tall. He speaks well. He has few cliches in his lexicon, like the "my friends," and "I say this" baggage of McCain, or the cackle and "You know" baggage of Hillary!. A substantial number of voters never get past the shallow, and there are some who choose a candidate just to "keep that other face off my teevee."

(13) kimsch made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 11:53:09 AM | Permalink

Beldar: great post.
DRJ: ditto. I'm an ÜberTuesday voter and my choices, while all are still on the ballot, have been diminished because of people withdrawing ahead of time. Illinois used to be SuperTuesday, rather than ÜberTuesday and I really thought that this year I would have more choices and a real voice...

I hate McCain. McCain/Feingold, McCain/Kennedy, The Gang of Fourteen, and his choice of Hernandez and Perenchio for advisors.

I noticed that when Romney called him on the "withdraw from Iraq" comments, McCain didn't answer. He talked about himself and the fact that he was for the surge and against withdrawal.

(14) Milhouse made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 2:12:36 PM | Permalink

Another reason to oppose McCain: his vicious attack on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, four years ago. He stood up for his Senate colleague Kerry.

(15) Beldar made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 5:54:10 PM | Permalink

Milhouse, my recollection is that McCain never disavowed his (passing strange) friendship with Kerry during the 2004 campaign. The bonds they formed during their common campaign to "normalize" relations between Vietnam and the U.S. were apparently quite strong. McCain criticized the SwiftVets' ads and charges relating to Kerry's entitlement to his medals and his direct service in the Swift Boats, as I recall. McCain has said, and I don't doubt, that he was not similarly critical of the SwiftVets for their criticisms of Kerry's anti-war activism, meetings with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong in Paris, Senate testimony, and so forth. But even if that's so, the widespread public perception was that McCain defended Kerry and attacked the SwiftVets.

The most charitable (dare I say, nuanced?) view toward McCain is that he was actually defending the Navy and its brass, on the notion that Kerry couldn't have gamed the system in the ways alleged by the SwiftVets; but I think that's probably too charitable, even if it's also partly true.

I would agree with you that permitting that perception, even if it was mistaken in part, is culpable on McCain's part. And of course, I continue to agree that the SwiftVets' criticisms even of Kerry's Vietnam service were appropriate.

It is clear that despite his warts and his volcanic temperament, McCain has formed many deep and lasting friendships as a senator — some of them quite improbable. I do try to keep that in mind in tallying his merits and demerits as a presidential candidate in my own mind. I count it in his general favor that he inspires loyalty, and returns it. There are those who've criticized Dubya, though, for being "loyal to a fault," and I suspect that criticism is even more often a fair one for McCain.

(16) ech made the following comment | Jan 31, 2008 6:04:17 PM | Permalink

The contrast in age, energy, hopefulness, optimism, and articulateness would be devastating — vastly more damaging than Nixon's sweat and five-o'clock shadow, which probably cost him more votes than were the margin of his loss in the 1960 election against Kennedy.

Nah. Nixon lost when Kennedy got Daley behind him.

Didn't watch the debate, haven't watched any of them. Huckabee is a non-starter since he cozied up to the Christian Reconstructionists and his talk about amending the Constitution along biblical lines. Who's Bible, Mike? Paul's pushing of the gold standard shows he's ignorant of economics, and his lame explanation of the racist newsletters shows he is a poor manager. I would probably pull the (D) lever in preference to them and send money to help the (R) get more seats in the Senate.

McCain seems to be too dang pugnacious for his own good, and his attack on Romney and the "timetable" issue is just plain stupid. Romney makes me uneasy for some reason I can't put my finger on - he seems like a focus group synthesis of how a president should appear and speak - I've only once heard him speak with a warm, unscripted feel to it. I'll vote for either over any of the (D)s.

(17) BLewis made the following comment | Feb 8, 2008 3:46:05 AM | Permalink

I was in McCain's squadron at NAS Cecil Field. It WAS the largest, but it was a reserve squadron. He completely turned the safety record around, have to give him that. I also have to give him cudos for his performance on that great brown naughahyde sofa in his office. Funny thing..I remember seeing Cindy in his office in 1976.

(18) Eric Joseph made the following comment | Feb 8, 2008 6:47:28 AM | Permalink

Your misconceptions about Paul betray your ignorance. This country maintained some semblance of the gold standard for most of the history of the Republic until Bretton Woods.

As they say, "you're down on what you're not up on."

What Dr. Ron Paul is suggesting is introduction of private competition for the Federal Reserve, by permitting the issuance of gold coin as currency, or convertible gold backed scrip, to act as a refuge against inflation. What he suggests is eliminating all tax on gold transactions.

Given that option I would gladly refuse the worthless federal reserve notes and demand gold at face value. Consider this, since the Federal Reserve took control of the money supply the dollar has lost 96% of it's value. As an hourly employee my wage has remained relatively fixed since about the year 2000. Since the dollar has plummeted in value since that time I've actually received a pay cut because my wage is not tied to inflation.

"The dollar was defined as 25.8 grains of standard gold in 1900. Today it might be defined as one grain of standard 0.900 gold." What this means is that in 1913 one dollar had the purchasing power of 21.78 in 2008 dollars. Not dramatic enough? Inflation remained relatively flat for entire centuries throughout history.

War always drives inflation, wars are expensive. Inevitably when taxation fails to cover the costs, governments print money to make up the difference. Scarcity drives value up. Increasing the money dramtically causes hyperinflation, and a flight from said currency.

What Paul is proposing is not that we simply re-stock the gold reserves, but rather that we have the ability to opt out of a corrupt monetary system, which would limit deficit financing, forcing the privately owned Fed, and the Federal Government to act responsibly.

Given your fervent support for a failed and unpopular foreign policy, I can see why you disapprove, since this would rob the Federal government of it's ability to use deficit financing to fund these opportunistic and offensive wars. Deficit financing, and printing more money would be limited by such a monetary system. Eliminating the IRS would also seriously limit the ability of the federal government to repay their debts, and thusly limit the irresponsible growth in government.

In your hubris you can dismiss Dr. Paul. But you may one day regret it. Many of us are not as myopic as yourself, and we can see clearly the results of such irresponsible policies. History may not repeat itself but it rhymes.

You can defend a failed policy eloquently. But you can't divorce yourself from the consequences of your support for said policy.

But the only costs you count are reflected on a balance sheet, I'm sure.

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