Saturday, January 07, 2012

58 Second Flat Post-GOP Debate Analysis: Showdown Fizzled And Postponed ... Till Sunday?

Newt Gingrich, inexplicably, pulled his punches literally getting his swipes at Romney stuck in his craw. Georgie Boy launched into an obsessively annoying line grilling Romney, killing a lot of time, on the question of whether Romney was in favor of states outlawing contraception. Asked and answered, in Romney's weasely way; no, sort of, it's a non-issue. But Georgie, inexplicably, kept insisting until the audience hissed (which may be what his script called for), never asking Santorum, who had openly stated his preference for criminalizing birth control, the question. Inexcusable and inexplicable, absent a conspiracy of interests. Or maybe Georgie really is that stupid.

These were the two biggest stories of tonight's debate: Romney escaped unscathed, and Georgie et al behaved like confused pundits asking scattershot, unfocused questions and utterly betraying their responsibility to report, though they may be mere media personalities and news readers. There was little consequential follow-up, none in the foreign policy segment, especially on Romney's recklessly irresponsible saber-rattling against Iran, along with Perry and Santorum, all chomping at the bit to start a war with a nation of 70 million people that is a formidable regional military power.

Ron Paul, the "constitutionalist," was by far the most reasonable of the bunch, not a particularly high bar, but still, clearly appealing to Democrats and independents. He viciously attacked Gingrich for being a "chicken hawk" who wants to send young people off to war but took several deferments when his turn came up — Paul connected — and Santorum for being a "big government conservative" who voted for multiple spending bills then "did very well" as a lobbyist — connecting again. But Paul never attacked Romney. Clearly, Ron Paul served notice he was conceding Romney's first place finish in New Hampshire and going all-out for that strong second-place finish, ahead of Santorum and Gingrich. The others, by comparison, were timid and paralyzed in the face of the great Romney juggernaut, and more than a bit scared of Paul, too.

Newt Gingrich totally wimped out on directly attacking Romney, citing New York Times and Wall Street Journal articles critical of Romney instead; an utterly defeatist tactic — ridiculous considering he was talking to Republicans — akin to throwing in the towel. For their part, Georgie Boy and his media cabal seemed to deliberately act out a pre-planned establishment 'protect Romney' play, letting him off the hook on the most controversial issues. There were no questions of Mitt's carpet bombing SuperPac attacks on Newt in Iowa, nor a request for an answer to Newt having called Mitt "a liar", or any question about Romneycare funding of abortions, potentially the most damaging line of attack raised against him by Newt. Instead, Georgie Boy spent an inordinate amount of time on the faux diversionary issue of whether states should outlaw contraception — again, it was Santorum's issue, and he was never asked to explain it. But Georgie Boy gave the impression he was pressing Romney — which was his intent? What a despicable worm.

It seemed scripted, as if there was an agreement before the debate between Romney's people and ABC that certain questions would not be raised by the panel. If other candidates did, well, then so be it ... Interestingly, Newt was effectively muzzled; Perry was mum; Huntsman ineffective — the weird moment when he spoke Chinese made him sound like the Manchurian candidate of the Paul ad — and Romney landed the hardest counter-punch pointedly noting Huntsman served the President as Ambassador to China; Santorum was timid toward Romney and defensive against Ron Paul ... who seemed to be the only candidate onstage that was unscripted and not in on any prior non-aggression pact.

Ron Paul won. Romney won. Santorum, tied. Newt, Huntsman and Perry lost. Oh, and the voters lost as well.

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