Reagan Library Debate Roundup And Reaction

Before I get into the analysis of what happened in Simi Valley tonight, I’ve just got to say —- best debate backdrop ever.

I mean, seriously, how can a stage somewhere in Florida, New Hampshire, or Podunk, Iowa compete with a stage that looks out on the plane that served as Air Force One for nearly two decades and a beautiful California sky ? Quite literally, it seemed as if Ronald Reagan himself would come down the stairs, walk into the hall and tell all four of these losers to go home and let a real man lead the country.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we’re stuck with the candidates we’ve got, so let’s take a look at what we have.

So what the heck do we have ? In one sentence, we have the coronation of John McCain as the Republican nominee even if nobody wants to admit it yet.

John McCain: Less than an hour after an endorsement that pretty much guaranteed he would score huge victories in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut on Tuesday, McCain pretty much did what he needed to, which is not make a mistake. He did reveal his relative economic ignorance in the first question, but, quite honestly, I don’t think anyone noticed or that it will make that big of a difference. At this point, it’s all about winning primaries and getting delegates and McCain is set to score big on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney: Given the fact that he’s got guys like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin egging him to take McCain on, one would’ve thought that Romney would have been far more combative tonight than he was. Yea, he challenged McCain on tax cuts and got into an argument with him over a negative ad that McCain ran in Florida (which got so confusing that I honestly lost interest), but he didn’t really do much of anything to distinguish himself from McCain in a way that would make a difference to the people that will be voting next Tuesday. Romney will be in the race for awhile if only because he can afford to be, but he’s not going to be able to stop McCain.

Mike Huckabee: Apparently, not only does Mike Huckabee want to spend billions of dollars on a make work project to add two lanes to I-95 on the East Coast, but he’s open to spending billions more to do the same thing to highways all over the country. That, pretty much, was the only thing that Huckabee said that differentiated him from the other candidates. When I listen to him, I just can’t shake the feeling that he’s interviewing for the position of John McCain’s running mate, and judging from the reaction shots of McCain that I saw when he was speaking, he seems to be making some progress in that regard.

Ron Paul: What can you say ? He scored some points when he talked about the economy, but this debate made even clear than others that Ron Paul just isn’t an effective communicator of the philosophy of freedom in a political context. That, more than the newsletter story or anything else, is probably the main reason that conservative/libertarian voters who might otherwise agree with him haven’t voted for him and aren’t likely to anytime soon.

At this point, I don’t think that anything that happened in this debate is going to change the nature of the race. It’s more important the McCain has received endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and, reportedly, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, both of which will go a long way toward making Super Tuesday a big day for the Senator from Arizona.

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  • Dodsworth

    Doug if Ron Paul has been as eloquent as Henry Clay in the debate you still would lead with the negative. If I was a betting man, I’d be a rich man if I had put money on your predictable anti-Paul spin. Why not suprise us sometime?

    Your analysis was all too glib. When he had chance to actually respond to a question. Paul not ony scored points on the economy but on foreign policy. One of his best moments (that is when Anderson gave him a chance to get a word in edgewise) was when he lambasted McCain/Romney for their silly exchange, encouraged by Anderson, over who was the first to support the surge. Paul called for a debate on foreign policy fundamentals instead. He was obviously right on this and got to the root of the issu.

    You praise McCain’s performance but don’t note, as Paul and Hucakbee properly did, that they were wasting time in their pointless food fight.

    Are you planning to endorse McCain or is politics just a spectator sport for you? i suspect the later. Your main interst is apparently like to the horse race aspects and playing the role of pundit, right?

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Dodsworth,

    Take off the blinders, Paul’s not a good public speaker and not a good communicator. It’s just that simple.

    And I’m not “praising McCain’s performance”, I simply noted that he did what he needed to do tonight to keep his momentum moving forward.

    I don’t like it, but it’s true.

    And regardless of how I feel about the candidates, reality is reality and, yes, in some sense, politics is a spectator sport when we’re talking about a race where there’s no way in hell that I could vote for either of the two men — McCain or Romney — who actually have a snowball’s chance of winning the nomination.

  • Dodsworth

    I didn’t claim he was a great speaker but he did a good job tonight both when he mentioned that it is not the job of president not to “manage” an economy. Even Romney nodded on that one. He also was a breath of fresh air when he noted the silliness of McCainRomney exchange. Frankly, I don’t know of any candidate tonight, he spoke truth so cogently as in that exhange and ripped the facade off the charade so effectively. Yet…..you don’t see fit to even acknowledge it.

    My point is simple. if when Paul does a good job (as he did tonight when given an opportunity) you will also emphasize the negative. If he had been five times as good as he was tonight, it would make no difference to you. He’s your Rodny Dangerfield “It’s just that simple.” Again, if I had bet money, I’d be betting a sure thing that Paul could never, never get a postive review from you even if he had performed miracles.

  • Dodsworth

    Read this. The other one had too many typos:

    I didn’t claim he was a great speaker but he did a good job tonight both especially when he said it is not the job of president not to “manage” an economy. Even Romney nodded on that one. He also was a breath of fresh air when he noted the silliness of McCainRomney exchange on the surge. Frankly, I don’t know of any candidate tonight who spoke truth so cogently on that point. Yet…..you don’t see fit to even acknowledge it.

    My point is simple. When Paul does a good job (as he did tonight when given an opportunity) you will also emphasize the negative. If he had been five times as good as he was tonight, it would make no difference to you. He’s your Rodny Dangerfield “It’s just that simple.” Again, if I had bet money, I’d be betting a sure thing that Paul could never, never get a postive review from you even if he had performed miracles.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Dodsworth,

    I agree he made some good points on the economy. On the whole, I think this was a horrible debate — almost as bad as the YouTube debate which, ironically, was also moderated by the detestable Anderson Cooper.

    I guess the truth is that we’ve reached the point in this race where Ron Paul’s presence is, quite frankly, unnecessary.

    He’s not going to be the Republican nominee. He’s not going to be President. To be blunt, nobody is listening to him.

    They don’t invite Mike Gravel and Alan Keyes to debates and I’m not quite sure why they should continue inviting him anymore.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    if I had bet money, I’d be betting a sure thing that Paul could never, never get a postive review from you even if he had performed miracles.

    Actually, I’ve had some fairly positive things to say about him over the course of this race. Back in May, I thought he had the right side of the argument with Giuliani over the terrorism issue.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Took the words right out of my mouth, dodsworth.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Back in May, I thought he had the right side of the argument with Giuliani over the terrorism issue.

    Didn’t you basically recant and endorse interventionism? I remember several debates about the word “isolationism”.

  • Chris

    Huckabee was definitely the winner of this debate – the only mature, rational adult on that stage. McCain and Romney just made me want to send them to their rooms. Grow up, guys! Huckabee looked and acted like a president. That’s the man I want representing my wonderful country.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Quite literally, it seemed as if Ronald Reagan himself would come down the stairs, walk into the hall and tell all four of these losers to go home and let a real man lead the country.

    That alone made this post worth a read.

  • http://www.ronpaulblimp.com Pablo Escobar

    “He’s not going to be the Republican nominee. He’s not going to be President. To be blunt, nobody is listening to him.”

    This must make you feel real good inside, saying that.

    The point is not whether Paul is a good public speaker. The point is whether his ideas are right or wrong.

  • UCrawford

    Pablo,

    The point is not whether Paul is a good public speaker. The point is whether his ideas are right or wrong.

    Actually in a presidential race the point really is whether Paul is an effective communicator. You can’t lead if you can’t get the people to buy into what you’re saying. And based on the declining numbers for him they’re not buying in.

  • UCrawford

    Doug,

    Back in May, I thought he had the right side of the argument with Giuliani over the terrorism issue.

    Yeah, in all fairness to Jeff your foreign policy positions often are about as clear as mud. I seem to recall you dismissing Paul’s positions as naive and stupid (which they’re not).

  • Max

    Fuck you doug, you scum sucking status quo enforcing piece of shit.

    Ron Paul 2008

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Welcome back Max,

    Glad to see you haven’t lost your gift for logical argument.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Paul & Crawford,

    It’s true I disagree with Paul’s foreign policy in it’s extremes, largely because I think it relies primarily upon a naive view of the not-so-good intentions of the other nations in the world and assumes that people hate us only because of what we do to provoke them.

    At the same time, though, I’ve always said that he did have a point when he talked about the idea of blowback and that our actions do have consequences, something that neither political party has thought much about in the years since the Cold War ended.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    The point is not whether Paul is a good public speaker. The point is whether his ideas are right or wrong.

    If Ron Paul were a professor or a political commentator, you’d be right. But he’s not, he’s a Presidential candidate trying to convince people to vote for him, which means how he presents his ideas are just as important as what his ideas are, if not more so.

  • Norm Nelson

    I think I’m done with Ron Paul. Last night was the straw that broke the camels back. What did it was when Cooper shut down RP and RP LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT.

    We need a warrior for freedom and Ron Paul is not it. He has the ideas but he’s not a tenacious salesman. He needs to confront these other RINO’s and let them know in no uncertain terms that conservatives don’t take money from one group of people and give it to others. That’s what socialist do.

    Unless Ron Paul starts to challenge the other candidates by rubbing their noses in their lack of basic conservative principles he’s done. Instead he sticks to his script, repeats the same points, and doesn’t react and challenge what the others are saying.

    He’s a terrific grandfather but hes no warrior for freedom! I’ll still vote for him in the primary but I’m done looking for my name on the ronpaul2008 web site.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Norm,

    You know, that’s a great point. It reminds of a day in New Hampshire back in 1980 when a moderator tried to shut Reagan up and he came back strongly and said “I paid for this microphone” — in that case it was true because this happened at a “joint appearance” that had been paid for by the Reagan campaign.

    There are some who say that Reagan — who had lost in Iowa to George H.W. Bush — turned the campaign around that day. Whether their right or not, it was a heck of a memorable moment that people still talk about 28 years later.

    Anderson Cooper is milquetoast. If Paul had been just a little more forceful with him, he would’ve folded like a loser in a poker tournament.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Anderson Cooper is milquetoast. If Paul had been just a little more forceful with him, he would’ve folded like a loser in a poker tournament.

    Eh, it would have backfired. Cooper dropped a boldface lie. Paul would have been right to disbelieve it, but it wouldn’t have come across right. Viewers would have believed Cooper when he “promised” to get right back to Paul.

  • UCrawford

    Jeff,

    Eh, it would have backfired. Cooper dropped a boldface lie. Paul would have been right to disbelieve it, but it wouldn’t have come across right. Viewers would have believed Cooper when he “promised” to get right back to Paul.

    I’m sorry, but no, that’s not a line of thinking a competent candidate would have accepted. There are times that you have to be concilatory and informative and there are times you have to dig your heels in and fight when people do you wrong…and instead of stepping up when he needed to Ron Paul folded. If Paul can’t even challenge a bad moderator he’s got no place here anymore. Hell, it’s foregone conclusion anyway, Huckabee got squeezed out too so this is essentially between Romney and McCain now anyway, or at least that’s the way the press will treat it. Once the you’re at the point where the other candidates can safely ignore your very existence you’re pretty much done.

  • http://www.orderhotlunch.com Jeff Molby

    Would you have had him go with “but I want my time nooooooow!” or “liar, liar, pants on fire!”?

    What he probably should have done was force the issue 5 minutes later, after it was clear Cooper had blown him off.

  • Kevin Houston

    I think Ron Paul did great (not president’s job to run economy, let’s have serious discussion on foreign policy instead of the Mitt McCain show, the boom-bust cycle and inflation is caused by Fed Reserve printing presses, guns-n-butter is not a sustainable national policy.)

    Ron Paul never attacks directly, he always slips it in quietly when your listening to something else (i.e. asking McCain the PWGoFM question) Doug, you are right that Paul is not a good orator. Anderson Cooper handed Paul the best line, and Paul missed it! When McCain and Romney were saying how much Reagan would have endorsed them (as if!) Ron Paul could have easily said… (say it with me now…) “I knew Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine, and Ronald Reagan Reagan and trust me, he would not have endorsed either of you.”

    Huckabee by contrast had the perfect answer – “I don’t know if he would have endorsed me, but I sure endorse him.”

    I think the real loser in this debate was McCain. he was shown to be a lying, spinmiester with his Romney quote, and Anderson made him eat those words. The fact that McCain didn’t back down was a huge mistake. If you watched closely, he just shrugs off the audience’s boos and acts like a petulant child.

  • Kevin Houston

    D’OH!

    I totally flubbed that quote.

    That’s what I get for trying to type before my first cup of coffee.

    [sigh] ok, going off to work now.

    Later.

  • Calvin

    I think the US should grow and learn from Ron Paul’s message. His campaign will not stop here. Who gives two hoots about whether he dropped a ball here or there. He’s genuinly on point in most of his answers, and has been since May. I’ve seen every debate, and it amazes me (atleast in the last two) that the other remaioning candidate are starting to skweal a little bit of things RP has introduced months ago.

    Romney: He’s always on the defense…
    McCain: “…My friends, I’m the most conservative member and have leadership qualities…”

    Big deal!!! Since when is their flapping really giving us any true info???

    Ron Paul is truly the only one that can lead this country through a recession, and downsizing a war the no one truly wants. Or do most of you still have short-term memory. Once again, Americans are under the impulse of terror and wanting a leader that will protect them.

    HISTORICAL FACT: Your chances of being struck by terrorism is more rare than being struck by lightning. I guess the nest time there is a storm in my state, we had better call the media and beg one’s help to defend us. The lightning is on the way. Give me a break people… WAKE UP!!! DEFEND YOUR CONSTITUTION and right to sovereingty.

    All-in-all: We know that the crooks (McCain/ Romney/ CLinton/ Obama and Guiliani are all anti-constitution, and want big government. They are all members of CFR and will look to take us on global missions that will see the down-sizing of this great country. We all had better wake up and quit playing around with needless ranting over the way one speaks, or even answers questions. Start doing your own resarch and discover real truths that are not published or endorsed by Time-Warner, FOX, CNN, MSNCB, and even CNN… They (candidates) are all bought and paid for. I will NOT be voting for any of these puppets anytime soon.

    Please research NAU,. Trans-Texas Coridor, Americo (for our declining dolllar…) such issues that may not be imporant at this time, but WILL be during the next election for 2012. Don’t judge until you actually take initiative to do a little research on these.

    This country gets exactly what it deserves as far as I’m concerned. DUMB LEADERS CREATE DUMB SOCIETIES.

    I may not be the best writer, but I guess that you all will just have to get over it. YES I’M MAD ABOUT THIS PUPPET SYSTEM YOU ALL CALL DEMOCRACY.

  • UCrawford

    Calvin,

    Who gives two hoots about whether he dropped a ball here or there.

    The voters.

  • Ian Williams

    Hi from New Zealand,

    I just searched google to have a look at a review of the Reagan library debate as i love to follow the bullshit of it all and wondered what people had to say. Having read your comments to each other i want to give you one perspective from outside the brainwashing zone that is the USA. Here i go, as briefly as i can. We on the outside world (i.e. non-USA) usually look at disbelief at the propaganda that goes on in your country. You can’t see it as well as we can as you in it while we look from outside of it. But it is massive. All these canditates are more of the same for you guys except for one who has everything right, and that is Ron Paul. We non-USA’ers have never seen an american politician without spin and who speaks the truth of what he thinks and believes in and at the same time has the answers that you guys need at this time. The other guys and girl are just saying what they think theu need to say to get elected. The sad thing is the Ron Paul has no chance because the general population is so brainwashed with “the war on terror” and “support the troops” and the usual crap that he seems strange when he talks about the FED and monetary policy. What’s sadder is that he’s right. Iraq is nonsense too. Saudia Arabians attacked (supposedly but who would really know) you and you somehow agree to attack Iraq? Someone is making money at the average citizens expense and taxes and people are dying and it never needed to happen. McCain talk about being there for another 100 years? Lies. Spending on wars is going to kill your country along with a currency not backed by gold. Also, look at how he got no time on CNN. He should have screwed Coooper. Ther are four candidates not 2. Your media is so corrupt its insane. He’s never mention on Fox either. They mention Guiliani when he get less than Paul but never mention Paul. Its ugly. The problem is he’s not tough. You like quarterbacks and war heroes. He could screw those guys with hard talking truth but he stammers a bit and is too nice. Pity. He’d be the best President you’ve ever had. You’d have no war and be safer becasue of it. Your armies kill millions. 3 million vietnamese died in the Vietnam war alone but you only hear about the 56,000 Amercians. I can’t name a good president you’ve had since the first few in the 18th century. Even Lincoln has blood on his hands. I don’t know if you care what a little NZ’er thinks but ignorance is going to get us all in a lot more touble. Why are American so guliable?
    Regards and good luck anyway.
    Ian, Auckland, New Zealand.