Saturday night’s Republican debate has to go down as one of the worst debates of the year, and maybe even in history. It was hosted on ABC and moderated by Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopolous and some other dude who disappeared half way through; there was some question as to whether or not Diane Sawyer was actually sober. Her speech was slightly slurred at times, her eyes not always focused, and in some points it seemed she wasn’t really even paying attention. Perhaps there was something spoiled in their “pre-game” meal because her colleague, Josh somebody (McElveen, actually) asked one question of the candidates before he disappeared. He wasn’t heard from again for the rest of the broadcast, which mysteriously ended a full 20 minutes early. It was unclear if that was planned or not, but the end came so abruptly it was jarring. The audio from the mics made each candidate sound like they were broadcasting from outer space and I’m not sure, but I think Sawyer may have forgotten to comb her hair before she hit the stage. It was all extremely odd.
Apparently George has some insider information that Republicans will be selecting their primary candidate based on gay marriage and contraceptives. That’s right: birth control. Georgie grilled Mitt Romney over the issue of states banning contraceptives for minutes! It was so bizarre even Romney was taken aback by the question…all four times it was asked. By the last time even the largely subdued audience was booing Steph, and one heckler managed to raise his voice above the boos to chide Steph. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but if it was anything close to what I was yelling at the television it went something like this: “Contraceptives George? Really? Unemployment is sky high and national debt is at $15 trillion and rising and you’re asking about birth control? Shut up!”…I’ll stop there because it got a little blue after that. My apologies to my Twitter followers.
Gay marriage and birth control may be issues the larger population will want more answers on in the generals, but these are primary elections and it’s the economy, stupid!
The candidates were largely a let down as well – although I can’t tell if it was really them or if the moderator’s questions were so inane that the candidates could do little with them. Santorum was obviously the one to watch Saturday night coming out of Iowa. The first question was directed at him and he got off to a choppy start. He seemed a bit nervous. Santorum isn’t used to leading and it showed. His performance got stronger as the night went on, but it wasn’t as strong as he needed it to be.
This was perhaps Rick Perry’s best debate so far. Unfortunately he wasn’t given the opportunity to answer a question until 20 minutes into the debate, and he was rarely heard from the whole evening. Could that be why he sounded so much better? In actuality, Perry had some very solid and stirring points on defense, foreign affairs and energy. If his heart is still in this thing, this could be the point where we see Perry start to gain some momentum. Clearly debates are not his strong suit, but Presidents are not elected on debates alone. Two words – George Bush.
The rest of the field seemed satisfactory, if not boring. Romney was strong but vague as usual and Newt made an applause-worthy point during Stephie’s sexy-time grilling about gay marriage and contraceptives. He pointed out the hypocrisy of forcing Catholic adoption services to close and leave orphans without this vital service because of their beliefs and anti-Christian bigotry. It was a great point that only Newt could have made with such sharpness and confidence.
Ron Paul actually played the race card and it was very strange. This may be the first time I’ve ever noticed Ron Paul responding to his media coverage. He’s been having a few issues with old racist newsletters he published (but did not personally write) many years ago and it was obvious he was sensitive to that. I think Paul’s surge is over, despite ABC’s best effort by giving him more screen time than any other candidate. Will he go third party?
Jon Huntsman was there. Skipping Iowa, he seems to have put all his eggs in the New Hampshire basket; but if he was hoping this debate would give him the chance to surge I suspect he and his supporters will be disappointed. Huntsman seems like a nice man and he’d probably be a whole lot better of a President than Obama, but he’s not a serious candidate at this point.
Besides a couple of chuckles and one or two applause lines no one stood out Saturday night. No one stepped out to claim his right to the Presidency with boldness. The losers of this debate were clearly ABC, Stephanopolous and Diane Sawyer. I was on Twitter and Facebook through the entire debate and the general consensus seemed to be that Diane was drunk and George was stupid. Why do Republicans let former Clinton operatives and liberal journalists who hate us all run these things? Its ridiculous. Saturday night must surely go down as the Worst Debate Ever. My professional conclusion? ABC sucks. Worst debate ever. Oh, did I say that already? Sorry.
Worst Debate Ever.