Ok...I don't want to do it.
But the reality is that I really can't avoid it.
Unlike most liberals/progressives, I do not believe that I have the option of simply ignoring facts and talking about something totally different.
Today is the day after the night before...and what a night it was!
While pundits and talking heads are trying to work out which candidates improved their positions, which did not, and which may have ended any serious contention, I am far more interested in what this debate did for the conservative movement.
The truth is that while it is quite likely that a box of rocks could beat Obama in the next election, we still have to select the right box of rocks.
And the tougher, the meaner, the better defined our box of rocks become, the easier the task becomes.
And that is why I found last night's debate so interesting.
In fact I was surprised, and thought to myself that the real winner here, was the conservative movement.
While I think some performed better than others, which I will get to in a minute, I thought that the willingness of all of these people to take shots at their competitors, to jab frequently and strongly, to quip cleverly and accurately, was a huge step forward in preparing the victor for his battle with the slimy cockcroach that currently occupies the White House. While there is nothing that these contenders can throw at each other that will even come close to what will happen when the gloves come off in a Presidential race, if they can stand and counter-punch in a long drawn out knock-down battle just to get the republican nomination, they will be well place to withstand the coming onslaught.
And last night we saw the start of that training program.
So what did we see....let's look at each individually and compare with what I wrote yesterday....
Mitt Romney. As expected he started strongly, setting out a reasonably easy to understand 7 point plan....which he referred to a couple of times. the rest of the debate he spent avoiding direct answers on policy and execution (dare I say ...as I predicted). He took a few good jabs from opponents and placed a couple of well timed body blows in return to both his opponents and Obama...but in my mind, did nothing significant to advance his cause. He will remain the front-runner ...for now.
Best line from last nights debate...."I would have thought that a person who is endeavoring to create jobs, whose major responsibility today is to create jobs...would have at least had one!"
Great line, Mitt! Wish I had thought of it!
Michelle Bachman. It was clear that she understood that to increase her position in this field she had to focus on her solutions. And to a large extent she tried to do exactly that. (As I said yesterday, she needs to try to not be drawn into comparison type arguments.) Unfortunately for her, Tim Pawlenty was not going top let her play that game, and did everything he could to attack her record...or lack thereof. That left Michelle a little like a fish out of water, trying to defend herself while at the same time directing us to the future. I think she did a good job of this, although she was definitely hurt by Pawlenty's attacks.
When asked about her submissiveness to her husband....a question that would never have been asked of a man in regard to his wife...she answered in a way that won back most if not all the points lost in the Pawlenty battle.
Best line: "I respect my husband. And he respects me as his wife. That’s how we operate our marriage. We respect each other. We love each other,”
Well played Michelle...the perfect answer to a difficult situation.
Tim Pawlenty. Yesterday, I wrote "Tim who?". I suggested he needed a megaphone and was too scared to speak loudly against his opponents. Well, last night I saw a Pawlenty that was ready to bury any opponent under the biggest pile of crap he could find. I like that. What I didn't like was that he came across as arrogant and whiny at the same time. He kept comparing his experience as Governor (top job) with Bachman's experience as Congresswoman (one of many). He compared his ability to get things done (as GOvernor) with her ability to fight but not get results (because as one of many she was outnumbered). I found this to be intellectually dishonest, and while Pawlenty may have succeeded in damaging Bachman somewhat, he damaged himself more. He would have been better advised to have spent more time focusing on the future than attacking based on the past. Just my opinion.
Best line: When offering to come and mow anybody's lawn if they could locate Obama's policies...he looked at Romney and said..."and if Mitt happens to win, the offer is limited to 1 acre...1 acre!"
That was almost a home run Tim... in one simple sentence you managed to put Romney in the hated class of "millionaires and billionaires"....unfortunately for you, while it was funny, it does not score political points because conservatives generally do not hate the rich as liberals do...did you forget who your audience was last night?
Rick Santorum. The moderators did not have many questions for Rick in the first half of the debate and he clearly found this frustrating....and that showed in some of his actions. While it was not on screen, I could sense him being like a schoolboy waiting for selection on a team for a playground sport...you know the look, jumping up and down, hand in air..."pick me, pick me".
Now, when he was asked a direct question or was able to jump in on other peoples answers, he showed his skill as a debater...but unfortunately for him, neither the moderators nor the other candidates seemed to give a toss about what he had to say. His frustration with Ron Paul's foreign policy ideas created even more of the schoolboy feel for me. I believe his presidential aspirations are dead (he just doesn't know it yet)...but he could be a good prospect for VP?
Best line, while waving hand in air..."hey, there are more than 3 or 4 of us here...."
Newt Gingrich. Newt was a surprise for me last night. He did three things that I though were fantastic. The first was to attack the moderator for asking gotcha questions. He made it clear that in his opinion, the problems facing this country were far more important than the small issues like what happened to his campaign. Secondly, he answered questions with clear, simple, understandable and logical responses. He showed that his intellectual acuity was significant, that he understood the issues and that the solutions were far more simple and easy to implement than we are led to believe.
While I don't think he is near the front-runners....yet...he certainly did not do himself a disservice last night.
Bets line...which is the third thing I thought was fantastic...was his summary at the end of the debate when he said...."look, the elections are 15 months away. We have problems now. So we need to start work on fixing them now...."
Mr Speaker, this was the closest I heard all night to my wish that somebody would say "It's time"....thank you for bringing us back to today and not the future.
Herman Cain. In my opinion a solid performance. He showed that he is smart, knows which way is up, and knows where he wants to lead the country. He played well on his experience outside of the political arena and made it clear that he and Romney were the only two that had the right "growth" experience. He is very good. White House material? Not for me...but would make a great adviser.
Best line: America needs to get a sense of humor!
Ron Paul. There is no doubt that Ron Paul is collecting followers. There is no doubt that he understands the Countries problem. He is smart...he sees how the puzzle pieces fit together. As I said yesterday, much of what he says hits the target....but what doesn't hit the target is too far off to be embraced by the average person. He also has a problem in explaining how the puzzle pieces fit....he understands it and tries to explain it...and ends up appearing like he is talking about different subjects. His flow of consciousness is way too fast for the average person. Having said that, he performed well....and is not gong away any time soon.
Best line..."We just don't mind our own business. That's our problem."
By the response from the audience, they loved it too!
John Huntsman. John...I have a bottle of Pepto I can give you....it looked like you really needed it last night. I don't know if he was physically ill...or what was going on, but he looked like he had swallowed a gallon of castor oil. What was with that? I give him credit for trying to appear defiant....very hard to do when you look green around the gills...but he stuck it out and got through. To my way of thinking he is not much more than an afterthought, someone to make up the numbers. I am no more inclined to think this guy can win than I am inclined to think Obama is a good president. But hey, what do I know? The left seems to think I am wrong on both counts!
Best line:....ummm....ahhhh....hmmmm....don't recall one John...sorry about that!
So...while every talking head in the country and possibly much of the world will be dissecting and analyzing this debate, I will be looking ahead. I will be polishing my crystal ball. I will be looking to see what has to be done to toughen up these folk as they continue their voyage. Sometimes they will have to work together, sometimes they will have to travel alone.
But know this.
The path to the White House is paved with the bodies of those who traveled before you. Those who failed before failed because they did not read the will of the people, or could not explain themselves, or simply could not gather the support and trust needed to get to the next step.
But all you contenders were given a gift last night.
Because you were so willing to fight for your beliefs, to argue and contest the beliefs of others, and to create and identify the differences that make you, you...the audience responded with gusto.
It is the audience's responses that you must now study. Do not worry about what your opponents said or didn't say. Do not worry about what you should or should not have said. Focus solely on the reaction of the audience.
That will tell you what the people want....what policies they want....what the want from their candidates and their presidents.
The winner of this campaign will be the one that stays true to the voters...and last night they made it clear what they want.
Your job now, is to understand it...and bring it back to them.
It is all there. It was a gift to those who understand.