Jewish World Review Nov 15, 2011 18 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
Bad News for Dems --- Nobody Terrible at Debate
By Roger Simon
Rick Perry exhibited no brain freeze (at least no more than usual), Herman Cain did not stumble badly (at least no more than anybody else), Newt Gingrich did not attack the moderators (much), and the audience booed only once (when Ron Paul opposed torture).
Awful. Just awful. The lives of hundreds of reporters flashed before their eyes. None wanted to write a "no hits, no runs, no errors" story about a debate between the candidates for the Republican nomination for president, but what could they do?
Maybe the distinguished journalist from the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, summed it up best on Twitter when he wrote: "Am I allowed to say: Bad tie by Huntsman, bad suit by Paul, great hair style by Bachmann?"
Yes, you're allowed to say it, if that's the major news.
The debate, sponsored by CBS News and the National Journal, was limited to foreign policy and national defense, and was rather grandly billed as "The Republican Commander in Chief Debate."
The actual commander in chief almost certainly was not watching. As he told Jay Leno not long ago, Barack Obama is not watching the GOP debates "until everybody's voted off the island."
But that will not be soon. Why should candidates drop out, if they can always get free air time on the next debate?
And the candidates have grown careful enough and rehearsed enough to give the ravenous press pack only table scraps.
Newt Gingrich, rising in the polls, and possibly angling for a vice presidential bid, was sweetness and light, saying at one point, "I agree entirely with Gov. Romney."
True, Jon Huntsman did stand out on a couple of points. "I take a different approach on Afghanistan," he said. "I say it's time to come home." Which is why he is the Republican that Democrats most love. Unfortunately for him, he has to run in Republican primaries.
And, yes, Michele Bachmann did get in a couple of the red-meat one-liners that, once upon a time, propelled her in the polls. "President Obama is more than willing to stand with Occupy Wall Street," she said, "but he hasn't been willing to stand with Israel!"
"If I were president, I would use waterboarding," she promised. "Barack Obama is letting the ACLU run the CIA!"
Herman Cain was often at sea, but he seems comfortable there, bobbing on a life raft of public opinion. "I do not agree with torture — period," he said. "However, I will trust the judgment of our military leaders on what is and what is not torture."
Rick Perry, trying to come back from a disastrous performance in his last debate, stuck to basics like his own life or death.
"This is war," he said.
"I am for the means — not torture — to extract information to save young American lives, and I will be for that until I die!"
Romney managed to turn the debate to domestic affairs, which is probably what Americans care about most, when he pledged to reduce the number of federal employees "by at least 10 percent."
How that would help unemployment nobody asked.
When Ron Paul opposed torture, he got a few cheers and a few boos from the crowd. And CBS moderator Scott Pelley was forced to address the audience at one point, saying: "Applause is lovely, but we will not have booing. We will have respect for everyone on stage."
Whether they deserve it or not.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate