Monday, June 13, 2011

Final candidate scores from the debate

Okay, a couple of other thoughts. I'll just go candidate-by-candidate:

Santorum: Pretty boring. He seems to have taken the mantle of "placeholder Republican" from Pawlenty for the night. Seemed nervous a lot. Funniest moment: Explaining that illegal immigrants only want "government benefits," as opposed to legal immigrants, who want "freedom." Grade: B-

Bachmann: She did surprisingly well, if you ignore the content of her ideas. Kept the crazy out of her eyes and voice. A lot of people lately have been saying Bachmann is going to replace Palin as the Tea Party's favorite candidate, and I'm not sure they're wrong. On the other hand, Bachmann's much more policy-oriented, and therefore more prone to saying truly nutty things, than Palin. Palin's gaffes seem mostly rooted in her straightfoward, unfiltered stupidity, and are easier to characterize as homespun wisdom. Funniest moment: The opening speeches quickly turned into a game of family-values one-upsmanship, where the candidates listed how many members were in their immediate family, and mostly forgot to mention their experience in public service. Bachmann won in over-the-top fashion, when she told us she was the proud mother of five, and proud foster parent of twenty-three. Grade: B+

Gingrich: Probably did the worst out of all the candidates. Hardly ever spoke, and when he did, came off as a slow-witted, listless contrarian. He also seemed really, really old (him referencing his legislative work during the Reagan presidency didn't help). He seemed strangely concerned with majoritarianism, explaining early on that the president can't repeal the ACA without congressional help, and expressing a great deal of ambivalence over Ryan's plan for Medicare "because it doesn't have the support of the American people." These surprisingly honest positions did him no favors and opened him up to attack from, well, everyone else. Funniest moment: Gingrich tried to take a bold stand on the space program. Then he walked it back. Then he seemed to walk back the walking back. His apparent conclusion: the space program is okay, just so long as the rockets aren't physically riveted together by Washington bureaucrats and launched off the National Mall. Grade: F

Romney: As if it weren't clear already, Romney was the obvious winner, and barring some sort of collapse I can't conceive of anyone else winning the nomination. He was professional, confident, and basically spoke and acted like a guy who should be running for president. That might have something to do with the circus atmosphere fostered by the rest of the candidates, but... well... those are the rest of the candidates. Funniest moment: Romney occasionally took a break from smirking at the other candidates to make bold statements that proved his conservative credentials. His zeal for privatization and against health care reform were pretty entertaining to witness, if only because they're so utterly implausible. Grade: A

Pawlenty: Early on, someone on Twitter pointed out that Pawlenty seemed physically intimidated by Romney, and it's true. The worst moment came when John King tried to get Pawlenty to explain his "Obamneycare" quote from a few days ago. Pawlenty should have taken the chance to highlight the clearest difference between him and Romney. Instead, he hemmed and hawed and acted like a guy who had just gotten caught in a lie. No, Tim, Obamacare and Romneycare really are the same! You should say so! But his reaction was in keeping with his performance all night, which revolved entirely around his ability to echo empty conservative platitudes while taking very, very few actual policy stands. Funniest moment: Time Pawlenty is congenitally incapable of being funny. Grade: C

Herman Cain: I have no idea. He didn't stand out much, has no experience to speak of, and just basically came off as "some random guy who wanted to run for president." He seemed slightly more eager to talk about the primacy of business and the many subtle joys of entitlement privatization than the other candidates, but only very slightly. Funniest moment: Explaining that he's not racist because he only discriminates against Muslims when he thinks about "the ones that want to kill us." Nah, man, that's pretty racist. Grade: C

Ron Paul: Pretty much spent the entire debate seething with indignation at the temerity of anyone who dared suggest that the government has any role in anything. Mentioned the tyranny of the Federal Reserve early and often. At least the man is consistent. Funniest moment: Whenever he spoke. Grade: 24 karat

No comments:

Post a Comment