Tim Russert is a tool. Mike Huckabee seems like a nice fellow. Mitt Romney is not a robot. Republicans do have a Clinton obsession.
I watched the Republican debate last night (full transcript here), even though the odds on me voting for any of the R candidates is currently set at 1,993 : 1 at Mandalay Bay (surprisingly, Caesar's has me at only 1,100 : 1).
I'll spare you a recap of the 90 minute affair. Many of the arguments presented deserve discussion and a single debate can give a critical person like myself a few billion excuses to launch into a rant. I'm going to pass on that, though. Instead, I'm just going to share Four Things I Noticed. Not all of them are new developments or groundbreaking insights, but all were clearly illustrated during the Boca Raton talkfest.
ONE. TIM RUSSERT IS A TOOL. I'm sure that co-moderating a debate with Brian Williams is a Herculean challenge, so I don't want to be too critical. However, Tim Russert is a piece of shit in that role. Period. Did you hear his questions of the candidates? Sweet baby Jesus on a fixed income, they were pathetic.
"Do you trust Candidate X to be a tax cutter?" He tossed that one out to every candidate. Why would anyone ask that question? The answer is utterly predictable. The respondent will either ignore it completely before talking about his own position vis-a-vis taxation or the respondent will graciously commend his competitor for wanting to keep taxes down before launching into his own "I'm gonna cut 'em" speech. It's elementary. I suppose someone COULD say, "No, I think the guy is an untrustworthy POS", but the odds of that happening are probably hovering near the odds of me voting for Rudy911. Slim to fuckin' none.
Oh, and Russert also had the "Here's a long list of things that sucked during periods of Republican governance. Why should anyone trust a Republican and will you run on this record of abysmal failure?" thing. Look, I'm as anti-GOP as the bastard child of Keith Olberman and Cynthia McKinney. I think it might actually be sort of fun to beat Sean Hannity around the head and shoulders with the severed leg of Rush Limbaugh. Yet even I recognize that the Russert questions were too editorial and far too loaded.
Another great Russert moment: "I want each of you to take 30 seconds. Will you go to the country... and say the war was a good idea worth the price in blood and treasure, and we will stay?"
Thirty seconds. Was the war a good idea? Was it worth it? Will we stay in Iraq? Thirty seconds. The clock is ticking. Don't try to make any distinctions between the value of the objectives underlying the war and its actual execution. Don't bother discussing the difference between shorter terms costs and potential long term costs and benefits. Don't even try to figure out what the hell "will we stay" means in a nuts and bolts kind of way. You started with thirty seconds. Tick tock. You are out of time. The lights are blinking. Boy, aren't you flustered!
Tim Russert is a tool.
TWO: MIKE HUCKABEE SEEMS LIKE A NICE FELLOW. Hey, I'm not going to vote for Huckabee. I don't give a shit if Chuck Norris summons the ghosts of Bruce Lee and Charles Bronson and then comes to my house ready to "persuade me", but he seems like a genuinely nice guy.
I'd guess that I wouldn't feel comfortable with about 99.9% of Baptist preacher dudes who used to cook up squirrel in popcorn poppers. Huckabee, though, might be an exception. He'd be an okay neighbor.
He has a certain earnestness about him and he at least attempts to have a sense of humor about things. The whole deal about giving Romney's kids a better world and a larger inheritance with a Huckabee vote was over the top, but it was still funnier than Rudy911's attempt at humor (note: if you have to explain that you were joking, you are not funny).
I currently have a list of 369 reasons NOT to vote for Huckabee. Personality, however, is not among them.
THREE: MITT ROMNEY IS NOT A ROBOT. Much is being made about the magic whisper of "he raised taxes" that was audible just in time to help Mitt with an answer to a question about Ronnie Reagan's behavior in 1983. In case you missed it, Tim "the Tool" Russert mentioned that Romney (like every other Republican) had mentioned a love of the Gipper. He wondered if Romney would follow in His 1983 footsteps.
That was a sneaky little Russert trick because '83 was the year Reagan hopped up a few taxes in an effort to keep Social Security rolling along.
A voice out of nowhere appeared to help Romney, just in the nick of time. "He raised taxes", the magic voice uttered. Romney ran with the hint, giving a "I won't raise taxes" answer.
Some have maintained that a Romney aide blurted out the clue. Others think it might have been one of the other candidates chatting into an open mic. I'm sure someone thinks the answer emanated from Romney's magic underwear. Here's a post about the whisper that has over 100 commenters offering opinions. I tend to believe that it was Brian Williams or someone else on the MSNBC production team.
Based on my not-so-careful review of the matter, it was a network hand who piped up with a little extra information in order to create a (hopefully) more meaningful Q&A. That makes a lot more sense than believing Romney had a midget aide hiding under the lectern.
John Brown concludes that the magic whisper to Romney is a non-issue. Romney may be many different lame things, but he is not a cheating robot debater.
FOUR: REPUBLICANS DO HAVE A CLINTON OBSESSION. Did you happen to notice how many times Hillary Clinton's name was invoked last night? Seemed like plenty. Susan Davis at the Wall Street Journal says that Hillary received a whopping 29 mentions. My favorite was the "General Hillary Clinton" crap Romney was slinging.
Meanwhile, there was little or no discussion of Barack Obama. The individual who counted 16 "Clintons" came up with ZERO "Obamas". What does that mean?
Personally, I think it demonstrates that the Republicans believe raising the specter of Hillary is the best way to get their base all riled up and active. It also shows me that the Republicans have been planning on facing Clinton for awhile and may not be as ready to take on Obama.
Both of those notions could be considered reasons for Dems to back Barack, from a strategic sense. John Brown believes in selecting candidates on the merits of their positions and skills, as opposed to doing so on the basis of "electability", but the Republican hate of all things Clinton is an interesting point to ponder.
Technorati Tags: Romney, hillary clinton, huckabee, republicans, Politics, debates, Tim Russert, media Del.icio.us Tags: Romney, hillary clinton, huckabee, republicans, Politics, debates, Tim Russert, media Furl Tags: Romney, hillary clinton, huckabee, republicans, Politics, debates, Tim Russert, media