Thursday, September 6, 2007
Personal Asides: How the GOP Candidates Did on Last Nights Fox-TV Debate McCains Response to High School Kids Callow QuestionPerfect Fred Thompson Trivializes the Presidency by Announcing on Leno.
The Fox-TV debate last night featuring all the Republican candidates but Fred Thompson was revelatory and in fact some of my earlier impressions about candidates standings have been revised.
The Overall Winner: John McCain. He seems to have come back from the precipice by becoming the white-haired, most mature and seasoned hand as we face a highly dangerous time. McCain has to have picked up significantly by his performance. (Earlier I had downgraded him).
Most Sympathetic: Rudy Giuliani. He still has an edge since he is the only candidate of whom we have personal knowledge on how he handles himself in a crisis. He won a tad on the question about his personal life which he deftly handledsaying that his personal life did not enter into his ability to handle public crises. The crowd winced when the question came, relaxed when he handled it effortlessly, winning sympathetic approval. Best line was when he said he was in real life the prosecutor Fred Thompson played on Law and Order. (Earlier I thoughtand still dothat all things considered, hes the best bet to win if nominated in a race the GOP is almost sure, by fate, to lose).
Most Helped by the Debate: Ron Paul. To understand how, you have to calculate that Paul is the darkest of dark horses. What he had to do last night was to separate himself from the second-tier pack so that with the help of a heavy crossover of liberals against the war he can place second somewhere on February 5 most likely in the liberal northeast. If he places second to, say, Giuliani, he will have the chance of debating the front-runner with the outside chance of really making himself the anti-GOP establishment hero. His performance last night with the help of Mike Huckabee (who also wanted to attract attention to move up from the second-tier) even though Pauls answer on the crisis scenario tossed him by Brit Hume was simplistic and faulty was excellent, judged from the standpoint of what he had to do. Do you reckon he bears a little resemblance to Jack Roeser? (Earlier I had given him no chance unless he moved to stand out from the crowd and debate one of the competitors: this he did ably last night).
Most Helped for Possible Veep: Mike Huckabee. It is clear he is not going to survive the cut so he has to make a movement toward the vice presidential nomination. Notice how he did so by dovetailing his views to Giulianis and McCains on national security. (Earlier I had all but discounted him in either top or second billing).
Most Helped for Possible Cabinet Post: Duncan Hunter. He never had a chance for the presidency anyhowbut his encyclopedic handling of the military on the crisis hypothetical question demonstrated that he knows all the levers to push and would be an excellent choice for secretary of defense due to his vast knowledge of the defense establishment from his earlier chairmanship of House Armed Services. (Earlier I said he is the best bet for secretary of defense: it still holds).
Most Disappointing: Mitt Romney. Always graceful and competent he didnt do badly but failed to outshine either Giuliani or McCain. (Earlier I had given him first place all-round).
Most Outclassed: Tom Tancredo. A one-trick pony (immigration) he had nowhere to go but up but he stayed rooted where he had always been. (Earlier I felt the same way; no change).
Sen. John McCain, campaigning at a high school in New Hampshire, gave a response to a stupid little snot who asked him a question about his age, was perfect. The idea that a candidate has to take all the guff that a mental dwarf hands out in order to show fairness is ridiculous anyhow. That a highly decorated ex-POW who showed his mettle during five years of horrendous captivity has to tolerate insults from a prepubescent is ridiculous and McCain won my heart when he answered the question. It dealt with the fact that if elected, McCain will be the oldest president.
The insulting question comes from a kid who undoubtedly has been jaded by intemperate questioning of candidates by mass media Big Hair reportersstarting with Sam Donaldson twenty years ago--confusing them with media persona, rather than serious rivals for the presidency.
McCain went on to give a reflective answer, noting that his own kids have jested that he is coming to the age when he can hide his own Easter eggs adding that he is proud to have the genes his mother has who is 95. Then in conclusion, he said:
Thanks for the question, you little jerk.
That kind of guts may well win my heart for his candidacy after all.
Insulting questions like this kids are by no means tough or penetrating. In contrast, a penetrating questionfor an examplecame from Bernard Shaw who asked Mike Dukakis whether he would favor the death penalty were an assailant to rape Kitty Dukakis. Dukakis bland comment was a ten-striketelling the nation that Dukakis was an antiseptic, dyed-in-the-Massachusetts blue liberal with little human juices. But asking if McCain feared Alzheimers was tossed out for effect and deserved the response it got. To McCains credit he answered the question thoroughly, reviewing the facts and then dispatched the little snot with a verbal upper-cut which put him in the 10th row.
Fred Thompson has trivialized the presidency he seeks by deciding to announce on Jay Leno, the comedian who drags his big jaw on TV every night, ridiculing everything in sight and concentrating on scatological humor. At the time Thompson announced, to the guffaws Leno coughed up from the immature late-night audience, the former senators colleagues were debating serious issues on Foxsomething Thompson who riding on his TV prosecutor image has gotten away with media murder, dealing with glittering generalities. Thompson is by far not the only presidential candidate to eschew bona-fide appearances in order to hit a bigger audience (McCain came close to announcing but teased a little that his formal announcement would be later), but the continuance of this thing cheapens the electoral process.