You had a better night than I did Monday night. It’s not that watching the Republican candidates try to convince a crowd of New Hampshire voters of their bona fides isn’t a worthwhile endeavor, but Presidential debates are inherently flawed. Any single-party debate is going to lack a certain honesty, because each candidate wants to exemplify the party’s ideals. In this case, it was a race to see who was the most Republican Republican.
But it’s my job to examine those aspirants to the highest office in the land, vet them carefully and then make cheap jokes at their expense. Barring a surprise entry by a hitherto undeclared juggernaut of a candidate, the next President of the United States was onstage in Manchester Monday night. So it was a hot night of debate-watching for Ben. Luckily for me, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is seriously easy to look at. She’s attractive enough that I’m surprised Ed Schultz hasn’t called her a “slut” yet.
Meanwhile, John King was there with the hard-hitting questions. Otherwise, I would have no idea where former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stands on chicken wings. I know I could never offer my precious ballot to some mild-wing-eating pantywaist. Despite King’s insightful questions, a few surprises popped up in the process. Among them: The GOP candidates are evidently playing nice — for now. None of the attendees took a shot at their fellow Oval Office seekers.
King even tried to force the issue, challenging for Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on his “Obamneycare” remark from Sunday morning. Sorry, John, nothing doing. Granted, with President Barack Obama and his liberal accomplices offering reams of material, there’s no time left to attack each other.
And they are clearly cognizant of the conservative movement’s strength. Even Romney blew kisses to the Tea Party. When abortion rights popped up, the candidates engaged in a rhetorical brawl to out-pro-life each other. At one point, I thought Bachmann might come out for the rights of unconceived fetuses.
All the candidates recognize the need to pry the fingers of government regulation off the throats of economic progress. The National Labor Relations Board’s efforts to stop the Boeing plant in South Carolina as payback to the Democrats’ union thug cronies were execrable. I have to admit I missed which candidate called for the end of the NLRB. I was in the kitchen, distracted by a Krispy Kreme Cookies-and-Kreme™ doughnut. I’m not apologizing (it was cookies and awesome!), but whoever said it got cookies-and-awesome applause from me.
With Obama and the Democrats doing everything for illegal aliens but handing them a fruit basket when they reach Laredo, Texas, all of the candidates agreed immigration reform is an absolute necessity. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave the most reasoned response, including a jocular-yet-logical plan for the Department of Homeland Security.
As for foreign policy, all of the candidates offered solid stances for a strong American global image. Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania offered an especially strong opinion on Obama, the world citizen: “He has embraced our enemies.” Well, he might not have embraced them, but I do think they are past passing notes in study hall.
Businessman Herman Cain faltered when King asked him about his comments regarding hiring Muslims, but he righted the ship when he noted that Faisal Shahzad — aka “The Times Square Bomber” — admitted he lied when he took the citizenship oath.
Meanwhile, Representative Ron Paul of Texas stood firm on his borderline isolationist beliefs. Paul boasts an academic understanding of geopolitics. However, his professorial demeanor needs work.
As far as each of the debaters is concerned, Obamacare is just waiting in line for its seat in front of the death panel. The only candidate who had real vulnerability on the issue was Romney, who played it off fairly well with his Obama-should-have-called-me;-I-could-have-told-him-what-doesn’t-work excuse.
I thought Gingrich probably turned in the best performance. But I still think his campaign’s personnel troubles, combined with his inexplicable “right-wing social engineering” smear of the budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, may have slashed his tires before he left the parking lot.
As I mentioned earlier, debates are hardly the best candidate showcases. But if Monday’s show in Manchester taught me anything, it’s that Obama and his minions should probably have stepped away from their millionaire non-fundraising fundraisers at the White House. Had they done so, they might have discovered that Obama is in serious trouble.