Thursday, November 29, 2007

Florida GOP candidate debate impressions

For the first time in years, probably, I watched CNN last night. The Clinton News Network was broadcasting the GOP candidates' debate from Florida, with all 497 candidates responding to questions submitted from YouTube.

Now, there are two warning-signs right there: CNN, and YouTube. But I haven't watched any of the debates yet, we're getting close to the primaries, and I haven't a clue as to who I do want to vote for. So I watched almost all of it. Here are my impressions.
  1. Most surprising: The questions were on balance far better and more substantive than I ever thought they'd be. (Note how qualified that statement is, before jumping all over me. Then jump, if you like.) (UPDATE: oops, I evidently missed the guy with the guitar at the start. Yikes.)
  2. Nobody really wowed me, of the viable candidates.
  3. Gosh Ron Paul just seems nuts. Sorry for how that will upset some, but he does. He's nuttier to watch than to read. Has to be our enemies' favorite GOP candidate, though. And I mean foreign and domestic.
  4. Mitt Romney was almost lifelike. Whoever wrote his Laughter Program needs to hit the code again, though. If I wanted to vote for an android, though, he'd be my man. Er, my android. Whatever.
  5. Huckabee was better than I expected, but the other candidates (including particularly, to my chagrin, Mitt Romney) scored significant points off of him for his own liberal policies and eagerness to spend others' money.
  6. Huckabee fielded the stupid WWJD question in re capital punishment quite well. He gave a substantial answer, but moderator Anderson Cooper didn't like it. He hadn't gotten his "gotcha" moment. So Cooper repeated the question. To which Huckabee said, "Jesus was too smart to run for office." Nicely done.
  7. On Anderson Cooper: had virtually no control. Back-and-forths went on, and on... and on... and on....
  8. I wanted Fred Thompson to impress me, but he really didn't. Great voice, great presence, answers that didn't wow me.
  9. Duncan Hunter certainly did wow me. Very straight answers. He was thrown a CNN "gotcha" question on homosexuals in the military. Well, actually, of course, it was on "gays" in the military. But Hunter resolutely said "homosexuals" in his response. And even when the CNN plant retired "gay"/general Kerr was revealed to be in the audience, Hunter was respectful but resolute.
  10. On that. Sigh. CNN. You know, I was actually thinking that they were doing a pretty decent job -- and then this YouTube (yeah, I bet) question from retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr about homosexuals in the military. The question dragged on, and was answered. Then -- surprise! -- he was actually in the audience! The only questioner given that distinction. Not only was he there, he was asked if his question was answered, he was handed a microphone, and he was allowed to go on and on and on and on about his pet cause.
  11. Funny thing about the general. Picked at random? Don't think so. CNN already featured him and his perversion.
  12. But wait, there's more! Turns out General Kerr is on the LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee. Surprise, surprise.
  13. UPDATE: The indispensable Michelle Malkin exposes a veritable nursery-full of plants among the questioners.
  14. Could this heavy, intense spotlight on a relatively minor issue be related to "Out" magazine ranking moderator Anderson Cooper as the number two "most powerful gay" in America?
  15. So, reason this out. Homosexuals are maybe 1-2% of the general populace, but CNN hammered this side-issue for all it's worth. Let's see, what would balance it off at the next Democrat debate?
  16. A whole lot more than 1-2% of Americans are pro-life, and abortion affects millions of Americans every year. Say, I know what would be fair. How about if CNN puts Gianna Jessen in the audience with a question for Hillary! about abortion? And then asks her if Hillary! had answered her question? Yeah, that'd balance it out.
  17. Maybe CNN's motto should be — "CNN: hemorrhaging credibility for X years!"
  18. Rudy Giuliani, for some reason, kept making me think of the doctor in the Twilight Zone episode The Eye of the Beholder.
  19. Did I mention how nutty Ron Paul seemed? And, frankly, offensive. America's wrong, America's losing, give the terrorists what they want and they'll leave us alone. I know earnest, serious, good people support him. His supporters are better than he. But I think Paul is the wrong man with the wrong message at the wrong time in the wrong party.
  20. Next debate should just feature Mitt Romney 2.0 debating Mitt Romney 1.0. He could explain why positions he was still aggressively promoting five years ago are wrong, wrong, wrong.
  21. Wasn't it Duncan Hunter who said he believed in a conversion on the road to Damascus, but not so much in conversion on the road to Des Moines?
  22. In fact, the biggest problem is that there were too many onstage. I liked Hunter's and Tancredo's answers probably best... but sadly they (and of course Paul) should drop out, and probably McCain. Leaving a duller field, but one that would allow more of a focus on the positions of the viable candidates.
  23. Did you love Romney stammering out that he believed the Bible? (He didn't add the part about only insofar as it is correctly translated, and the Book of Mormon is the Word of God.)
  24. Did Romney lose the South when he slammed the Confederate flag? Or is that not much of an issue anymore?
  25. I did very much like Giuliani's and Hunters' answers to the be-hijabbed lady who asked what America could do to make Muslims like us better. Giuliani said redouble our efforts in fighting the terrorist extremists who've hijacked Islam, and Hunter said he'd never be caught apologizing for America.
  26. Loved Tancredo's answer to the guy who pled for a commitment to send a mission to Mars. He said in effect, "See? Everyone worries and worries about the national debt, and at the same time folks like this want us to spend more and more. Well, we can't do both. We can't spend on everything. And this is one of those things we don't need to spend more money on."
  27. Sad bottom-line: the debate did not help me pick a candidate. **No point talking about Hunter, he can't win. **Robert Novak is not always right, but I think he's right about Huckabee: he's a rare combination of social conservative and fiscal liberal. **I wouldn't vote for Ron Paul. **I could vote for anyone else with varying degrees of misgiving — except Giuliani. **I pray I don't have to face the choice of voting for Giuliani. I know the arguments, I really do; but I just don't think I could do it.

29 comments:

JackW said...

Good for you for watching this so I wouldn't have to! Thanks!

Ed Groover said...

I actually think Huckabee is not a fiscal liberal. He spent money on the state level. That's where it [i]should be [/i]spent. He took a state that was in woeful disrepair and did what was necessary to bring it to relative competitiveness. He is the only candidate, btw, to take the ATR's no new taxes pledge.

Giuliani is a definite NO for me. His being elected would do more long-term harm to country than any short-term benefits he would bring over Hillary or Obama.

Ed Groover said...

This link puts Huckabee's fiscal policy as governor into perspective http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/?p=203#more-203 .

Dr. Caligari said...

He's a rare combination of social conservative and fiscal liberal

Rare these days, sure, what with liberalism so tied up with abortion and homosexuality, but not so rare in the past-- think of, say, William Jennings Bryan, who not only championed economic regulation and economic redistribution, but asserted that those positions were supported by Scripture.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hugh Hewitt says Mitt Romney won. And that Romney won big.

SolaMeanie said...

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd say that the field was so crowded by design to dilute the evangelical vote.

If I were a conspiracy theorist.

I agree with you about Ron Paul, but I did like his answer on the North American Union kerfuffle. I've been saying that for months about it not being a conspiracy, but an ideology.

Carlo said...

Thanks for the summary Dan. I was disappointed with the Mrs. Bill Clinton, Obama, and Edwards plant but nothing surprises with democrats or the liberal media.

Duncan Hunter is probably the most solidly conservative candidate of them all - unfortunately, he has no chance of winning.

I saw Thompson's interview on FNS and it was a good interview. He is not as conservative as he should be: for example, he rejects a right-to-life amendment but overall I think he is the most conservative of candidates and here is my caveat - with a record.

Romney is pretty conservative but that was only after 2004. Huckabee doesn't impress me on his tax record and immigration. He has increased in the polls and it just amazes how apparently evangelicals are flocking to him.

Like you I'm undecided, however, I am Thompson leaning and who I vote for will be strategic - who has a best chance of winning the Republican nomination with the exception I will not vote for Rudy. (A decision made easier for me since in the general election CA will not vote for a Republican anyway). So, on your point 27, in the unlikely chance of Rudy winning the nomination, Californians are not electing Mrs. Bill Clinton if we don't vote for Rudy because CA would not vote for a Republican anyway. That is my argument I would use if people try to make me feel guilty.

PS - That Gianni lady is pretty cute.

DJP said...

Sounds like I'm almost exactly where you are, Carlo.

Yes, Gianna's not too hard on the eyes; but have you heard her testimony? Very moving. Click on the link if you haven't.

Love to see her in a staredown with HRC. Two "Y'know's," a cackle, and a change of subject.

mikepettengill said...

I used to be a solid Thompson guy. That has changed recently. I am now 60% Thompson, 40% Huckabee. I am trending Huckabee, but, if the election were held today...Thompson.

Carlo said...

Dan,

An amazing testimony Gianni has indeed. I'm going to bookmark the link and save it share it with others when the subject comes up.

gcb620 said...

Dan – I appreciate you brining the election issues to the forefront and sharing your views. While it's greatly appreciated, it's also becoming increasingly very disappointing that you continue to 1) engage in ad-hominem attacks on Ron Paul (“that he’s a nut”), 2) question-beg the normativity of political-ethical positions that you just assume (eg., that the Bible supports foreign intervention into the affairs of other countries), and finally, 3) have not interacted with the weight of history, the Constitution and the Bible – as I attempted to in prior posts (cf., 11/13 “Starting to Worry”) – that there is a prima facie acceptability to Ron Paul’s candidacy. Unfortunately, the historical detail, Constitutional support and most importantly, Biblical proofing, I offered, at length, in posts #10 and #13 on 11/13, did not appear to have been fairly read, consulted or in any way scrutinized that would indicate to me that one has objectively and honestly weighed Dr. Paul’s ideas against the standard of God’s word.

Instead, as evidenced in points 3 and 19 of your recent blog, you appear very passionate about expressing your Ron Paul-animus, and apparently (still) believe it is argumentatively sufficient, to just beat-up a “straw-man”, instead of engaging Dr. Paul’s policies on their objective merits. By mere assertion (by calling Dr. Paul a nut or nutty), you’re legitimately presupposing and relying upon a very distinct view of what you believe governments should be in the business of doing. While I happen to respectfully disagree with what you’re assuming, as a fellow Christian, who believes that the Bible is authoritative in all that it speaks, and it speak to all things - and thus provides the prescriptive norms and principles for all of life (including political life) - I would think that you would agree that name-calling doesn’t rise to the level of sanctified debate that includes an objective, fair and inductive examination of what the Bible teaches about the lawful jurisdictions of states.

For example, it would be just as easy to call every candidate, but Dr. Paul, nutty, immoral, and just misguided neo-cons, but assertion isn’t proof (it’s pontification). Instead, like the faithful Bereans (Actc 17:11), our beliefs must be shaped and confirmed by the light of Scripture.

It is therefore, my contention that once we glean political ethics from Scripture, that despite eschatological claims (eg., Rom 11), good neighbor considerations (Luke 10), and finally appeals to Romans 13 (the sword and punisher), that, unlike purely defensive wars to protect our country against ACTUAL foreign aggression (WWI,WWII, and Afganastan), military intervention and occupation into the affairs of another country CANNOT be Biblically justified (Iraq, Vietnam, Korea etc).

Consider these 2 points (in addition to those already posted in post # 10 on “Starting to Worry”) as justifications for why foreign intervention is immoral.

1.Only God’s Word can declare the lawful jurisdiction of when and who to kill:

• Despite the cruelty of the Egyptian taskmasters, Moses was NOT justified in his vigilante murder of the taskmaster, as evidence in his conscience and the reaction of the Pharaoh (Ex. 2:11-15).
• Despite the paganism of the Moabites and Ammonites, God told the Israelites NOT to harass nor wage war against these countries (Ex 2:9, 19 respectively),

2. Since family and Church discipline is always local (ie., we don’t spank other families kids nor discipline members belonging to other churches), why would Rom 13 be non-local (or international) in scope?

More can be said here, but I thought, I would just add these comments so that we start the process of less name-calling and pontification, and move towards a sober study of "What say's the Lord" in matters political.

Daniel said...

This is one of those times I am glad I am not an American.

It is heartbreaking to consider how impotent the conservative vote will be if no one can rally the vote. What good is the conservative vote if it is dispersed between so many candidates? It seems as though the liberals are beginning to polarize around a smaller number of candidates, and that doesn't bode well.

If I have misread this, chalk it up to Canadian ignorance.

DJP said...

Nossir, Daniel, I think you've read it correctly. At this point, the campaigners are about half serious candidates, and half vanity candidates. If all continue, then the conservative vote will be divided, leaving one liberal candidate to benefit — one of the two or three GOP candidates who hasn't the slightest chance against Hillary! or Obama.

Daniel said...

It is funny (no haha funny) that the candidates who care most about the country will see the likelihood of a split vote, and therefore will probably be more inclined to drop out of the race early than the ones who, sold out to their own vanity, will pursue the race to the end "just in case".

Enoch said...

Dan,
I'm a little surprised that you gave Huckabee a pass on his defense of scripture, especially the "we must do the simpler, knowable things before we worry about the harder, knottier ones" (or something like that)--and then going on to "love your neighbour" as the heart of scripture. I figured you would have given him some heat on this.
Are you leaning more his way now?

DJP said...

Not at all, Enoch.

Perhaps I was distracted at that moment (dinnertime for my younger boys). I'll try to find a transcript, and revisit. Just for you!

(c:

gopwolfe said...

Hey Dan,

Like you, I watched the debate, and freely admit to being at somewhat of a crossroads over who to vote for. Considering we in CA will be voting in two months, I figured it was time I finally started paying attention to these debates...and left the experience feeling more confused then ever. All things being equal, I suppose Huckabee would be my man. However, for all things to be equal, I'd have to overlook his: tax increases, tuition support for children of illegal’s, letting a convicted rapist go free (Can anybody say Willie Horton??) his implied support of the S-CHIP health care proposal President Bush vetoed AND his support for a federal workplace smoking ban, which greatly trods on the principle of federalism I hold dear. I’m not sure I can overlook all that. The one thing I DON'T want is another four years of George W. Bush "compassionate conservatism" where we think we have to spend (waste?) a lot of money to make people happy. Everything I read about Mr. Huckabee seems to point in this direction.

However, as a Christian, I am deeply torn in this regard. I really want to vote for the man. His defense of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and the answer to the WWJD capital punishment question was biblical, honest, and humorous. Is it wrong to walk away from the only Christian on that stage simply because you fear he may break the bank?

Thanks too for the remark about Gianna. I did manage to find and read her testimony and it hit very close to home, especially since we share the same disability (albeit mine wasn’t a result of abortion). Thanks for bringing some encouragement to my day. We truly serve an awesome God.

--David Wolfe

Enoch said...

Dan,
I took a little liberty with his response (as I look over it right now)--he said (after acknowledging there are some allegorical images in scripture) "But the Bible has some messages that nobody can really confuse and really not left up to interpretation. 'Love your neighbor as yourself' and 'As much as you've done it to the least of these brethren, you've done it unto me.' Until we get those simple, real easy things right, I'm not sure we ought to spend a whole lot of time fighting over the other parts that are a little bit complicated."

DJP said...

Yes: here's Huckabee's answer in toto:

"Sure. I believe the Bible is exactly what it is. It's the word of revelation to us from God himself.

(Applause)

"And the fact is that when people ask do we believe all of it, you either believe it or you don't believe it. But in the greater sense, I think what the question tried to make us feel like was that, well, if you believe the part that says "Go and pluck out your eye," well, none of us believe that we ought to go pluck out our eye. That obviously is allegorical.

But the Bible has some messages that nobody really can confuse and really not left up to interpretation. "Love your neighbor as yourself."

And as much as you've done it to the least of these brethren, you've done it unto me. Until we get those simple, real easy things right, I'm not sure we ought to spend a whole lot of time fighting over the other parts that are a little bit complicated.

And as the only person here on the stage with a theology degree, there are parts of it I don't fully comprehend and understand, because the Bible is a revelation of an infinite god, and no finite person is ever going to fully understand it. If they do, their god is too small."

You know... it's not a great answer, not a terrible answer. You could take it wrong, you could take it right. He affirms verbal inspiration, and implies inerrancy; not so great on perspicuity, but nobody would argue with what I take to be his essential point.

Probably a good argument for a (here's that word) evangelical politician. Mine would have been more offensive and confrontive, which is why I'd never be elected.

Enoch said...

Dan,
Fair enough. I remember when I saw it my first thought was, "Ooof...DJP is going to have a hay-day with this."--no lie! I was remembering how you took him to task for his response to homosexuality and the Bible (he wasn't strong enough for you, but I thought he was being wise by not seeking unnecessary confrontation).
So there you have it--you have escaped from the meta into my private space and are a grid through which I pass things.
Sorta scarry, no?

Carlo said...

Reading some of the posts, I think it's important to note while Huckabee has given some okay responses to Bible inerrancy and other issues of faith - none of us really know whether he is a Christian or not.

One of the big tests will come when the media asks him one of their favorite questions they like to ask to put conservatives in a gotcha situation and that is: "Do Christians and non-Christians pray to the same God" or "What happens to Jews or Muslims - do they go to heaven?" etc. etc. etc. As much as I respect President Bush in the war on terror and judicial appointments and his position on embryonic stem cell research - he was asked the former question and gave the typical "Sure we all pray to the same God" which was disappointing.

Sooner or later the media will ask Huckabee that question - I'm sure it will be asked on "Larry King Alive" if he get's interviewed by Larry King.

Also, I'm not voting for Christian pastor or most theological sound candidate. I'm voting for President of the United States. I'm voting for a candidate whose position most agrees with the Christian worldview (even though he may not be a Christian) and those positions would include their positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, war on terror and the government's legitimate function of exercising its power to protect the innocent from harm (whether her or abroad - especially if we are threatened), homosexuality, etc. etc. etc. What would immediately disqualify a person for my vote would be if they hold a pro-'choice' position or a pro-embryonic stem cell research position.

DJP said...

gcb620 — I have now read all 2993 words that you have written in the comment threads in praise of Ron Paul, and here's the thing: I still think he's a nut, I still think he's giving aid and comfort to our enemies (foreign and domestic), and I still want him off the stage so we can focus on viable candidates.

Here's my point in saying that: I am conservative, Biblically and politically. Reading your careful and rational arguments hasn't budged me in my view of Paul. Seeing Paul himself has in fact firmed up my opposition to him.

If I am to any degree emblematic of other conservative voters (and I think I am, Paul cannot possibly win. He can only increase the likelihood that the eventual GOP candidate will be more liberal and less inclined in the direction we'd prefer.

As I've observed, unoriginally, politics is the art of the possible. Paul may have had a ghost of a point if this election were being held in 1858 instead of 2008. But it isn't. Announcing unrealistic and absolutist goals on the basis of idealism — goals which will have NO positive impact on the ACTUAL political (or world) scene — is unwise, and poor stewardship of our role as citizens of America. Paul wearing a blindfold and plugging his ears and chanting "La la la, I can't hear you, but you should listen to our sworn enemies," won't help us in any way. it isn't being principled and strong; it's being solipsistic and foolish.

Whether I theoretically embrace some of Paul's goals or not is irrelevant. My goal is to help the best viable candidate. Paul is neither.

This again, of course, is my opinion.

Carlo said...

Dan,

If you haven't gone to bed yet, hit the record button on the Clinton News Channel for Larry King Alive. Larry King interviewed Fred and his wife for about 15 minutes. I thought he gave some okay responses to his apparent luckluster performance of his campaign. I think I'm going to just stick with Fred Thompson unless he drops out. God always casts the deciding vote anyway.

Rob Mellen Jr. said...

As a theologically conservative, fiscally moderate Christian myself, I've narrowed the field down to two possible candidates for me come February, Thompson and Huckabee. I cannot and will not vote for any of the other GOP candidates. If neither Thompson nor Huckabee are still around come February, I will not vote.

I am, I think, far more in agreement with Mike Huckabee than with any of the other pretenders to GWB's throne. I agree with his quotation of Jesus' words about doing unto the least and when we as Christians support candidates who promote and implement policies that harm the least among us we also harm our Lord Jesus Christ.

The time has come for us as Christians to put our Christian faith first, not our ideology. Jesus was not, and would not be, a Republican nor a Democrat.

SDG

Carlo said...

I don't normally read the LA Times but Drudge Report had a link to an article. The LA Times gave the CNN a stinging rebuke of the CNN Republican Debate calling CNN the "Corrupt News Network." They criticized CNN for not covering issues considered important by the country but instead covered topics like what do Republican candidates think about Bible inerrancy and propriety of the Confederate flag.

Jim said...

Dan:

I agree with you on Tancredo and Hunter, they both sound solidly conservative but definitely unelectable.

Huckabee is probably the best choice for a "Christian" leader.

Your criticism of Ron Paul is somewhat unfounded though, he does speak the truth on many issues and it's just more obvious all the time how much the evangelical community has become "neo-conned".

If the constitution is truly the backbone and foundation of American democracy then it is time to make it once again the final authority for political decisions. Congress and the White House have both shirked their duties as its defenders. No wonder there is such hostile debate over SCOTUS appointees.

I did have to laugh though at the obvious set up by CNN (A left wing propaganda machine) in it's manipulation of the debate. The infighting amongst the candidates was the intended goal, and as others have pointed out only serves to dilute the focus of the GOP.

Carlo said...

Jim,

I'm not sure what you mean by Ron Paul speaks the "truth" in �many� matters.

I will give him credit for wanting the overturn of Roe v. Wade but he is against a constitutional amendment banning abortions and would leave it up to the states to restrict abortion. If the federal government does not come in and protect the innocent from harm from those states who refuse to protect the innocent then the government stops being the government. That is one of the most biblically legitimate functions of the government - protect the innocent from harm. So, what Ron Paul is advocating there can hardly be called "truth" in my opinion and I'm sure you would agree.

Ron Paul is also libertarian - he is only a RINO (Republican in name only) because he cannot win in his district as an independent. One of his positions is that he is against laws banning prostitution. I fail to see how that is truth and I'm sure you would agree.

Anyway, that's just to name a couple of his positions.

Finally, the reason why there is so much hostile debate in the Senate on SCOTUS appointees has everything to do with democrats not wanting the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Plain and simple.

Jim said...

Carlo, you are probably right on your assessment. The only problem is that the GOP has had 8 years to make a dent in the abortion issue and has failed miserably. Our first openly "Christian" president in decades and nothing has changed on the abortion front.

That is why I think the status quo just doesn't work.

DJP said...

"Nothing"? I wouldn't say that.

It's thanks to President Bush that fed $ isn't turning unborn kids into a harvest.

It's thanks to President Bush and a supportive Senate that we've a couple of sound justices who've made good rulings, and put facets of the Roe culture in real jeopardy for the first time in years.

I don't score real gains as "nothing." Not enough? Yep. Nothing? Nope.

Particularly considering what Presidents Gore or Kerry and Dem Congresses would have left us with.