Some “two man race” this turned out to be!
I just turned on CNN to watch the debate, and what do I see?
Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, that’s who.
I hope I have the patience for this. I wouldn’t mind so much if everyone hadn’t been screaming that the race had finally been narrowed down to two.
MORE: This debate is fit only for drunkblogging.
Fortunately, Stephen Green has that part covered (he just accused McCain of sounding “sensible on the environment, almost Instapundit-ish”), so I can spare my fingers and my liver.
AND MORE: I’m looking at the candidates’ appearance, and Romney wins lots of points on hair and attire. Tanned and rested-looking, there’s no question that he’s the most attractive candidate. (By contrast Ron Paul looks like he needs a touch up from the embalmer.)
The thing is, Glenn Reynolds quotes a poll from Megan McArdle which says “the gay Republican vote is apparently going for McCain, with a margin of error of 100%.”
What’s that supposed to mean? That they’re 100% wrong because Romney is obviously more attractive?
Right now McCain and Romney are trying to claim the Reagan mantle.
Uh oh, now it’s immigration.
Reagan was against that, right?
MORE: Romney says illegal immigration has to stop and that he wants to deport all recent illegal immigrants. McCain says he will secure the border first and says he can, and he will not support the bill that the American people rejected.
8:48: Now it’s right to life.
Huckabee is asked about Reagan’s appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor (“Was she the right choice?”), and he ducks the question. Says he is pro-life.
I think Ron Paul said he didn’t like O’Connor for some reason.
McCain says he likes O’Connor and won’t second guess Reagan, that he also likes Roberts and Alito. Romney won’t touch the O’Connor question and says he likes Roberts and Alito.
I’m glad we’re getting a referendum on Justice O’Connor.
It’s like, the number one issue, you know…
MORE: When Romney talks, McCain sits there with a look on his face which is almost impish and sage like at the same time. It’s as if he’s an indulgent parent letting junior have enough rope to hang himself. If I were Romney, I’d be mussing up my hair.
Instead, he just said McCain’s remarks were “reprehensible.” (To great cheers.)
That’s a strong word, but it didn’t phase McCain. He’s haggling with Romney about the “timetable” charge and it’s getting nasty.
McCain flippantly said Romney mentioned “timetables and milestones” and “waiting in the weeds until we leave” remark, but either he’s quoted Romney out of context or I don’t understand McCain’s meaning. Anyway, the Romney folks are cheering.
Stephen Green said, “I still don’t like or trust Romney, but on this one he’s been wronged.”
McCain keeps repeating that “timetables were the buzzword,” and Romney should have said no.
Right now, Ron Paul is being weird, and his contingent is cheering.
MORE: McCain might be wrong in his accusation against Romney, but he’s really sticking to his guns on “no timetables.” (I think the crowd prefers Romney.)
And now Putin. (Known affectionately to Bush as “Pooty Poot” which sounds dirty.)
Huckabee says he can’t read Putin’s soul. (And I’m reminded of Reagan’s “trust but verify.”) Peace through strength. Romney and McCain both smirk. Romney is talking about the world, and China, and al Qaeda. Strengthen our friends so our kinds won’t know war. Now McCain smirks.
MORE (09:21): Now McCain is badgering Romney with the T-word “timetables” again. He’s being a pit bull and talking about his POW experience and following Reagan’s tradition. (There’s no denying that he’s walked the walk.)
Romney is talking about his business experience, which is good. But much of the world is not corporate; they respect and fear not takeovers, but military force.
He regrets his lack of military experience.
McCain is about as unflappable as they come, and whether he’s right or wrong, he’s calm under fire. I have to say, I think that’s a good quality in a president. (Enemies will get nowhere with him.)
MORE: My thanks to Stephen Green for the link.
MORE (09:29 p.m.): Huckabee says he likes the 10th Amendment, which is great, as it needs fans. But does he really mean it. (Or might I have mis-heard “Commandment”?)
MORE: (9:30 p.m.) Would Ronald Reagan endorse you?
Romney says he would. Ticks off his list and says Reagan would agree with it. (Strong applause.)
McCain says Reagan would not like people whose positions change. Says he knows he stuck with his principles. Hopes that Reagan would be proud of him as a former footsoldier.
Ron Paul says Reagan campaigned for him in 1978 and wanted to bring back the gold standard.
Huckabee says it would be presumptuous to say Reagan would endorse him, and praises Reagan. Has the right answer, but he had the last word.
I don’t know who won this. I suspect it depends on whom you support.
Personality-wise, McCain came a bit closer to winning me over, but I still have serious ideological problems with him. (He’s a tough and very pleasant son of a bitch, if I can say that, and I think that if he made up his mind on something, he’d exasperate whoever crossed him. Which would be good in the case of our enemies as well as those who’d like to bamboozle American leaders).
McCain likes a fight, he sparkles when he gets one, and he won’t back down. He’s turned Romney’s Iraq “timetable” remark from a war over the words into something resembling a fistfight he provoked. Romney thinks it’s about the words, but I think it’s more along the lines of a duel.
Much as I hate to use the overwrought “pit bull” analogy, I know the breed well, and just this once I’ll use it. McCain reminds me of a pit bull whose tail is wagging because an aggressive (but clueless) non-pit bull was dumb enough to accept a challenge. This is not fair, but fairness is irrelevant in the case of aggressive combatants. (McCain is no angel, but Romney is no innocent choir boy.)
MORE: In two posts tonight, Glenn Reynolds noticed that McCain had a distinct anti-business tone, and on CNN I heard Bill Bennett criticize McCain for saying “when I went abroad, it was for patriotism, not profit.” (As if there’s something wrong with profit.)
Not good. McCain would do well to leave the business-bashing to Hillary.