I wasted an hour or so of my life last night and watched the umpteenth Republican debate, this time with just the four remaining candidates. There was nothing that stood out among the pandering and bald-face lying. It seemed like more of the same jaw-dropping head-shaking spew that we've seen in previous debates.
For the most part, it was Romney and Gingrich mano-a-mano, leaving Paul and - to a lesser extent - Santorum on the sidelines (both literally and figuratively - Gingrich and Romney were in the center). The two front-runners battled it out
while Paul and Santorum tried to get some face time. Paul repeated his mantra about not getting involved in foreign affairs, while the others looked at him incredulously. Santorum did his best to out-conservative the others on social issues. Meanwhile, Wolf Blitzer focused on the campaign battle between Mittens and Newt.
There were puff questions like "explain why your wife would make a great First Lady", and the candidates all sung the praises of their families while only marginally answering the question. CNN managed to find a Cuban, a Jew, and a Hispanic for asking questions related to their race/heritage. Ron Paul was the only one that didn't think Muslin terrorists were hiding in Cuba waiting to strike. Newt repeated his falsehood that Palestine was a made-up country in the 1970s, and ALL of the candidates picked Marco Rubio as a potential Hispanic for their Cabinet (although Gingrich went the extra mile down the Pandering Highway, and hinted at a VP slot for the Florida senator). You can see some of the other claims made during the night fact-checked here
How did they do? Here is a graph showing the candidates' polling numbers:
With the FL primary vote closing in quickly, the candidates are picking up endorsements
and pressing the flesh... well - all except Santorum, who is nearly broke and going home to do his taxes
. His handlers have already conceeded Florida, but Rick still thinks he has a chance. Actually, he has two chances: slim and fat.
With all the pandering going on, and with the Florida hispanic vote being so important, it's a wonder why Romney doesn't play up his Mexican roots
more. Perhaps he thinks it will hurt him in the primary, and he's saving it for the General election, should he win the primary? Perhaps he thinks there are no hispanic Republican voters. That's an easy assumption, based on how Republicans have historically treated them (Gingrich called Spanish a "ghetto language"), but I'm sure there a plenty that value their tax breaks over their ethnic roots.
Gingrich pandered to the space coast voters a couple days ago with his claim that he would have a manned colony on the moon by 2020. It's absurd of course (and one would hope rocket scientists would see through the obvious bullshit), but that's Newt at his political... um... best. The absurdity of the claim inspired The Daily Show to skewer him mercilessly
. This is a must-see, so click the link now!
After every one of these farces comes the inevitable question: Who won the debate? It seems over the long haul, the winner has been President Obama. The acrimony in the debates and campaigns, coupled with the economy improving gradually, has boosted his poll numbers
. Obama has a 48/46 approval/disapproval rating, for the first time since May of last year. This is NOT good news for the Republicans. On top of that, the Dems in the House (who are all over the map, politically) are becoming unified behind Obama
. While this may increase the partisanship in the House, it will help expedite legislation, should a miracle occur and the Dems retake the House in November.
On the one hand, I would like the Republican primary campaign to come to an end (I think the debates have worn out their usefulness), it does seem to be helping the Democrats the more the Republicans battle each other. Regardless - here's hoping I don't have to do many more post-debate analyses. I don't know how much more my stomach and soul can take.