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Live blogging the GOP Iowa Debate

Saturday, 10 December, 2011

The last few days have not been lacking in newsworthy events.. I’ve read a lot of reactions to the European Council Summit and Cameron’s “veto” etc.. and have a lot of thoughts but haven’t as yet produced anything blog worthy. Equally, the President’s Osawatomie speech caused a bit of a stir, and I’ve been going over some thoughts on that as well. Anyway, the best way to get over the blog-block is to jump right into something so I’ve decided to try my hand at live blogging. This will inevitably be a GOP debate like any other, but I’m interested to see how the ideas factory that is Newt Gingrich will perform as the new undisputed front-runner.

I’ll post thoughts on the proceedings below:

18:59 – I hate when it comes to streaming.. so we’ll see how this will go!

19:05 – Great live blog going on over at Democracy in America.

19:05 – Little history lesson from Ron Paul… credit where it’s due, he is the only one who even attempts to try and say something different – i.e. focusing on the whole inflation/Fed Reserve schtick. Only problem is that he never attempts to put those policies into context with current economic realities. What is the current rate of interest on US debt? ..the inflationary pressure story doesn’t really work here. Paul has just as little of an idea of how to stimulate macroeconomic growth as the rest of them.

19:11 – First mention of the fallen: pouring one out for Hermain Cain

19:16 – Why feathers in the Treasury exactly Bachmann?

19:24 – Romney returning to the “bump in the road” story used in his first campaign video back in May. His comments are in many ways shocking… saying that the President hasn’t put forward a plan, and claiming he’s busy working on his golf score is just stupid. I seem to remember Romney complaining that Obama is running around the country “campaigning” or trying to push for his job plan that most of the candidates have dismissed as failed Keynesian economics… the bit about working in the private sector is getting old — it doesn’t exactly make him seem like the man of the people he so wishes to be. The entitlement society idea is also opposite in every single way to the speech given by Barack Obama on wednesday..

19:28 – I would be genuinely surprised if Gingrich doesn’t legitimately believe that his work for Freddie wasn’t just him unleashing himself on the private sector..  besides apparently he made more money selling his ideas on the book tour so hey, who cares right?

19:33 – I would love for Stephanopoulos to ask the likes of Romney in the course of this discussion.. what is it that you would say to those who would lose the coverage they’ve gained under the Affordable Care Act? Why is this question avoided? Oh, and Rick Perry is here..

19:37 – So Mitt Romney apparently has $10,000 to bet on something with Rick Perry… 1% anyone?

19:42 – Thoughts at the break: the candidates really have gotten much better at debating over the course of the primary, despite many of them seeing drastically declining poll numbers. The attacks on Gingrich are, hopefully, just the beginning… there is no reason why the field should let his many shady qualities go by unchallenged. On that note, I’m continually surprised with the way Romney is able to deflect criticism. I think it is both his skill as a debater, and the deficiencies of his opponents that allow his questionable credentials to essentially go without real challenge. Gingrich’s interjection on the indiv. mandate, at least rhetorically, takes some of the pressure off on the health care issue, but thats not exactly something the base will find compelling.. ok, and we’re back with a zinger on Newt regarding infidelity!

19:52 – agree with Paul… character obviously matters, but it shouldn’t necessarily be something we should talk about in the manner we do. Political integrity is much more important to me than marital fidelity.

19:56 – I think Bachmann bringing in the “measure of a man” quote from the Fed papers is a poor example… Don’t think the founding fathers would have been supportive of her candidacy. Also… the fact that Gingrich never talks about his Catholicism, I think, is interesting. I would be surprised if a majority of primary voters know that he converted just recently as well.

19:59 –  This is an excellent example of Gingrich’s love for narrative and “big ideas” …and an incredible lack of interest in actual politics. Citizen review boards? American sponsor? …do Muslims who are active in their community count? I don’t think many GOP primary voters would like that. Aside from the fact that Newts ideas are very vague.. On Romney, I still don’t understand what the point of amnesty would be if we essentially are going to deport them, send them home and send them to the back of the line for immigration clearance.. is that his idea of softening the blow?

20:00 – Paul is interesting on FP… and represents the traditional view of the Republican party (pre-TR). I don’t agree that the US should become isolationist, there is a role to be played in the world.

20:09 – A true conservative FP on Israel would recognize that it is in the US’s best interest to leverage our power over Israel to force them to the table.. why must the United States allow them to pursue a policy that is contrary to our broader interests in the region? It’s fundamentally illogical, and and incredibly naive.. that said, it is also inhumane and is an abrogation of the US’ role in the international system to stand on the sidelines when we could pressure Israel to agree to Palestinian statehood based on reasonable and workable terms.

20:20 – Romney has no answer to this question on personal hardship… most of them probably don’t have an answer since adolescence.

20:24 – .. really.. in this economy, when so many are suffering, not one candidate can effectively articulate the emotions/experience of loss. I don’t want anybody to lie.. I just don’t understand how they seem to lack to vocabulary to relate. Perhaps this is a mark of modern conservatism..

20:29 – Bachman the strongest on that answer.. Gingrich not bad. Also, if Bachman is so frustrated with the banks and wall street “rolling the dice” ..why does she vehemently despise Dodd-Frank? I’ve never heard her explain which parts exactly she seems to hate so much.. clearly not increased regulation of derivatives/securities etc..

20:36 – While I believe Ron Paul when he speaks, and respect his consistency… I really do think that his rhetoric is only surface level. Essentially, in the name of respecting the revolutionary spirit, we should reject all of the gains our society has made in the past century. Libertarian.. fine. Believe in state’s rights.. fine. But I can’t see how literally, returning to the politics of 19th century America is at all a reasonable policy approach to our 21st century society.

20:46 – Ron Paul apparently doesn’t respect anyone he shares the stage with.. and Bachman’s answer.. Herman Cain? Really?

So my impressions from the evening’s festivities aren’t very different from any I’ve had from previous debates. Answers on the economy remain severely deficient, and I believe it will become only harder for them to pin the do-nothing-president label on Obama in coming months so they need come up with something better. The media continually claims that no president has been elected with an unemployment rate as high it is presently… but as Seth Masket reminds us in this post: FDR was successfully re-elected 3 times during the depression, in large part due to the rhetoric he, in opposition to that of the GOP at the time (shockingly similar to today), employed and by focusing on employing the powers of the federal government to create jobs. Obama is now turning to such rhetoric. Foreign policy discussion was equally disappointing, but I’ve come to expect little else from the GOP on Israel. No mention of Europe again, nor of Russian riots surprisingly. Gingrich getting apocalyptic on Iran is mainly annoying as it remains a feeble, surface level attempt to scare voters into falling for his “big ideas” on the middle east.. which, as we saw in this and the last FP debate, are essentially to follow Israel’s lead. Oh, also.. I quite enjoyed the bitch fight between Gingrich and Romney regarding who knows Netanyahu better.

Cain was missed.. but not that much. I’m beat.. hopefully it won’t take the Donald to pull me into the blogosphere next time.

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