Published On: Thu, Nov 10th, 2011

A Debate in Michigan

Wednesday night we saw the latest in what seems like an interminable number of Republican debates. The overarching question of this debate is why would Republican candidates subject themselves to questioning by a television  network, NBC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Obama White House? Only the other day, David Gregory of NBC informed the nation that the GOP had no “Grand Wizard” to move Herman Cain off the stage. Now you can take that in one of two ways: either Gregory is comparing the GOP to the KKK, or he is admitting that you can only find “Grand Wizards” in the Democrat party. What’s your guess?

The debate was to be on the subject of the economy, but it didn’t take long before moderator Maria Bartiromo attempted to inject the subject of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Herman Cain. The audience was not amused and they let their feelings be known by the loud booing over Bartiromo’s question. Herman Cain dismissed the claims against his character as unfounded and a false allegation. John Harwood then tried to draw Mitt Romney into the fray over the Cain matter, but Mitt was having none of it. He said it was a matter for Herman Cain to address and Cain had just done so. Harwood’s attempt to bring up the subject of the allegations was also met with boos.

The next highlight of the debate was an exchange between Newt Gingrich and Maria Bartiromo over Newt’s charge that the media does not report accurately how the economy works that went like this;

BARTIROMO: Mr. Speaker — I’m sorry, but what is the media reporting inaccurately about the economy?


BARTIROMO: What is the media reporting inaccurately about the economy?


GINGRICH: I love humor disguised as a question. That’s terrific.

I have yet to hear a single reporter ask a single Occupy Wall Street person a single rational question about the economy that would lead them to say, for example, “Who is going to pay for the park you are occupying if there are no businesses making a profit?”


It does not pay for reporters to challenge Newt.

Then there was this cringe moment in the debate. It had to be one of the most painful exhibitions to watch since George H W Bush kept looking at his watch in the debate at the University of Richmond in 1992.

It is unlikely that Rick Perry will be able to survive this one. It was a moment in time that completely destroyed any credibility that Rick Perry might have had as a prospective presidential candidate. Rick Perry may still have millions in campaign contributions to spend, but they would be wasted on his presidential campaign.

The rest of the debate went as well as can be expected with 60 and 30 second response times. Mitt Romney was his usual disciplined and well informed self. Herman Cain missed no opportunity to bring up his 9-9-9 plan. When Ron Paul spoke about the domestic economy he sounded much more sane than when he discusses foreign policy. Michele Bachmann seems to have gotten back on her debate game, but it may be too little, too late. Rick Santorum still seems angry when there is no obvious reason why he should be.  What can be said about Rick Perry, other than goodbye? And the question remains, why is Jon Huntsman there at all? That leaves Newt Gingrich, who has certainly earned himself another look by Republican primary voters. In the past week, Newt has done himself quite a bit of good with his Iowa speech, his one on one debate with Herman Cain and last night’s debate.

These debate formats with eight candidates are tedious and it is difficult to get a clear understanding of what each candidate proposes to do as President. That is probably why Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is so attractive: it is a simple concept to understand. It is certainly easier to grasp than Mitt Romney’s 59 point program for jobs. The fact that debate moderators want to play “gotcha” games rather than elicit real information does not help the process of informing the public on the issues at hand.

What does come out of these debates is a look at each candidate under pressure. So far, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have passed that test with flying colors. Rick Perry and the other candidates have not done as well under pressure. It is still too soon to predict what the final outcome of the Republican primaries will be, but the picture does appear to be coming clearer.

The latest Republican debate is now history. The result of the debate may be that it put and end to any chance Rick Perry had to become President of the United States. That is unfortunate for Rick Perry but it is an integral part of the process of selecting a president. It is not a game for amateurs.

Lastly, there was one other disappointment in last nights debate and that was that the question of Barack Obama’s Christmas Tree tax never came up. Too bad, the answers would have been hilarious.


About the Author

- Paul Bianco, retired from a career in sales, now spends his spare time as a gadfly on the many political blogs. Paul says he is just going through a phase, but that phase seems to have lasted two decades. Paul's conservative political philosophy was formed well before conservative talk radio and Fox News came along. Paul remembers the days when conservatives like William F Buckley Jr were voices in the wilderness "standing athwart history, yelling stop!" From time to time Paul contributes some of the insights he has gained from observing politics for so many years, and hopes that readers will be entertained and perhaps even enlightened.