The Republican Presidential Debate 9/7/11: My Impressions


I sat down and watched the Republication Presidential Debate broadcast from the Reagan library last night. My impressions:

Mitt Romney – Mitt remains the tallest candidate in the field, arguably with the best hair. Independent of policy and record, these two attributes make him a serious contender for the nomination. On the down side, Romney’s defense of the Massachusetts health care plan struck me as just that: defensive. On his commitment to “fix” social security: really? Thanks for that. How about a concrete proposal? People are sick of being patronized to about the need to fix so-called entitlements without offering up concrete proposals to remedy.

And the discussion about eliminating jobs in companies acquired while at Bain Capital was also weak and defensive. Why are republicans always on their heels about economics? His response should have been: Yeah, we fired people, and we saved XXX jobs because of it. I’ve got some news for you, something Americans once knew in their bones: either a company is profitable and it and its employees and owners prosper, or it’s unprofitable and it dies. Nothing comes from nothing. This country needs to get back in the business of fostering an environment where regulatory risk and other barriers to return on capital investment are far below those found elsewhere in the world. I have the demonstrated experience and expertise to reanimate the business sector, attract capital investment, create jobs, grow GDP and close the deficit.

That’s what he should have said.

Rick Perry – Established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Lots of Texas swagger, unapologetic about the death penalty. On the death penalty it was, interestingly, the moderators who seemed out of touch on the issue with the audience cheering Perry’s position.

I believe Mr. Perry received the most questions and air time. This was clearly because of his recent entrance into the field and his polling as frontrunner. Perry was good at telling his story about attracting capital investment and jobs to Texas. He stated that companies need to make returns on their investments. But he said it in too esoteric a way. There’s a poison in the heads of too many Americans that profits are evil. This notion needs to be directly addressed and slapped down for the lie it is. Likewise, when challenged about pay in Texas being lower than in other states, Perry floundered.  How about countering that the cost of living is XX% lower in Texas than it is in New York or California?

On Social Security as a Ponzi scheme: OK, yeah, hold your ground. How about some proposals to remedy? Perry was also on the defensive on high school graduation rates and percentage of the Texas population without health insurance.

The moderators beat Perry up on climate change as well. Because, after all, it’s a foregone conclusion that climate change (formerly known as global warming) is an indisputable fact among the informed. They kept poking… what scientist, which study do you look to in your challenge to the orthodoxy of climate change? Perry offered nothing concrete in response. How about: the glaciers have been receding since the end of the last ice age, which last I checked predates the industrial revolution by about 9,900 years. Or this notion currently being researched at CERN that cosmic rays have a greater impact on climate than human activity. Bottom line, our very existence now depends on robust energy resources. It requires power to brew your Starbucks coffee and charge your i-Phone so you can play Angry Birds. In the United States, most of this energy is derived from coal. As President, I will ensure we continue to prudently exploit our abundant natural resources: coal, oil and natural gas to fuel the demands of a growing economy. Nuclear energy will play a critical role as well. Finally, I will foster a regulatory environment that will encourage continued research and development of economically viable alternative energy sources.

That’s what Perry should have said.

Michele Bachmann – Despite her limited air time in this debate, Ms. Bachmann came off as the most informed when correcting Perry and Romney that, as President, you cannot simply will Obama-care away by signing an “executive order.” Bachmann correctly stated that Republicans will need to add to their ranks in the Senate to affect much of what they are advocating. I like how she spoke passionately and unapologetically about the need to exploit our vast energy reserves and create jobs in the process. She left me wanting to hear more.

Newt Gingrich—Newt came across as if he were running to head the RNC or possibly hoping to be a VP candidate. He’s an intelligent guy, no doubt. But he didn’t have enough air time to gain traction.

Jon Huntsman – Nice, clean, articulate. What is it they say about nice guys?

Rick Santorum – Honestly, the only thing I remember about Santorum is that he seemed to credit Gingrich for his own accomplishments.

Herman Cain – A successful businessman. An entertaining speaker and (former) radio show host. Because of his limited face time, he’s been reduced to advocating “bumper sticker” political positions: 9-9-9. If 10 percent is good enough for God, 9% should be good enough for the Federal Government. PULEEZE.

Ron Paul – Because of his libertarian views, Paul was close to being openly mocked in questioning by the moderators. Ron Paul has a strong, principled stand regarding the need to limit the role of the Federal Government. Unfortunately, Mr. Paul does a poor job articulating and selling his position. Paul is also a victim of limited air time and, in his defense, it’s probably impossible to unwrap the Gordian knot that is the omnipresence of the Federal Government and articulate viable free market alternatives in 30 seconds or less. But his use of phrases such as “it’s good” and “it’s bad” to describe positions just falls short. John Galt did a good job at this; but he’s not running.

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