Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Personal Aside: The Republican DebateWhile He Likely Wont be the Choice, Mike Huckabee Shines Brightest. Then Giuliani. Then Romney. Get the Hook for Tommy Thompson.
The first conclusion I made after watching the two-hour Republican debate on CNN last night was: how fortunate this tattered old party is to have the quality of candidates we have producedand that includes even Congressman Ron Paul. Here we have a party with great talent and diversity Paul providing most of the diversity while the Democrats all sound like they came out of the same ideological dye pot all for socialized medicine, all for pulling out of Iraq without demanding victory all, or seemingly so, for canceling the Bush tax cuts. I know Ill be accused of blind partisanship but here goes: the quality of all the candidates was head and shoulders over the candidates shown a few nights earlier on CNN. And this with one maybe two candidates who are ready to come in.
The second was that the most engaging candidatethe candidate most comfortable with himself, most at ease, the wittiest, a rival to be a latter-day Will Rogers--was not in the first tier Giuliani, McCain, Romney. It was Mike Huckabee, the Baptist preacher who was governor of Arkansas for ten years. The third conclusion was that the most eloquent sound bite came from Huckabee where he defended his belief in Godone of the great down-to-earth yet inspiring presentations I have ever heard. The abjectly secular Democratic party which shies away from religious overtones negating the general view of the American people could be actually stood on its head when this Baptist preacher gets through.
The third was that it is very unlikely that Huckabee will be the choicebut that any candidate who is chosen as the nominee should turn to Huckabee first-off as running-mate. He is that good. And its not just me. One of the legal-political analysts on CNN, Jeffrey Toomin, made the same observation about Huckabee. He is the most genuinely folksy, witty, engaging and interesting political figure since Ronald Reagan. And I have been with Reagan one-on-one. This guy Huckeabees got it, let me tell you. Dont let anybody tell you this guy is a rube and a jester, nothing more. Time magazine earlier this year named him as the best governor in the United States.
The fourth is that Giuliani did very well in this debatefar better than /when he tried to waffle on abortion. He seems to have mastered the knack of holding a pro-choice position in a solidly pro-life party without sounding apologetic, uncertain or hazyan attitude I got from the very first debate where he floundered. Giuliani comes across as one who will be in the first-tier for a very long time, and may just survive the cut to take the nod.
The fifth is that Romneys articulation and presence is almost eerily perfect looks, persona, in presidentiality in deftness in handling difficult positions. From the standpoint of content, delivery and professional aplomb, he was unmatched.
The sixth is that McCain made the best pitch of his life and probably the best summation of all the candidates at the conclusion and helped himself greatly. Second best was his pitch for a return to thrift which was superb for McCain who is not particularly an oracular candidate.
The seventh is that Ron Paul helps the Republicans very much overall because he proves the party is not intolerant of diversity, because while hes a libertarian, his view of Iraq is almost identical to that of liberal Democrats. His views are authentic Robert A. Taft of two generations ago when Tafts views dominated the conservative firmament. Pauls presence in the debates gives the paleos hope that someday their views will dominate the Right once moreand Im not sure they wont. Can you imagine the Democrats having a pro-Iraq War candidate? Or a Democratic pro-life candidate? Or a Democratic Voucher candidate? Or a Democratic candidate who has crafted a reasonably private sector health care bill? Wont happen because its netroots exert a fascist-like stranglehold over the party.
The eighth is that Tancredo vastly improved his presentation this time and comes through as a credible exponent of a view that is majority opinion in the nationfor which his prescience must be credited.
The ninth is that Tommy Thompson really doesnt belong there.
The tenth is that Duncan Hunter would be probably everybodys choice for secretary of defense (except for Ron Paul, of course). Hunter comes over very well as certain for that post if any of the logical presidential candidates here win (Paul would probably be his own defense secretary).
The eleventh is that Sam Brownback has lots to offer but thus far he hasnt come to life on the stage (although in a personal meeting with him a few months ago I was impressed) although his command of the subject matter is impressive.
The twelfth is that Jim Gilmore, as a former Virginia governor, former state attorney general and former general chairman of the Republican National Committee should be more impressive than, say, Mike Huckabee he isnt.