Post-Debate Thoughts

Once again, life has intervened in my desire to post regularly to this blog, but I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things shortly. As was the case four years ago, I am likely to write some posts of a political nature as the 2012 presidential election draws nearer. As always with posts of a political nature, I ask for good-natured and civil comments from those who read this! Politics is divisive, but it is also a very important part of a Christian’s interaction with our world. That is, after all, the point of this blog.

This morning I watched last night’s GOP debate. It’s actually the first debate I’ve watched in its entirety during this campaign season. Having no television or Internet at home prevents me (blessedly) from watching them live, but I had some time this morning to devote to listening more intently. Here is the video if you’d like to watch as well:

I don’t want to comment too much at this point; I’ll just share some initial (and possibly superficial) responses.

The first think I’d like to point out is the behavior of the audience. I have been fortunate enough to attend several political debates, and I’m thankful to have never been part of a crowd with so little respect for the participants. Todd Graham, a collegiate debate coach, provides excellent analysis of the raucous crowd’s behavior, which I commend to you. The last paragraph in particular is a good warning:

My advice today is for the general viewing public at home. Simply keep in mind that the opinions of the live audience are not necessarily reflective of anything, including logic. And try to resist being influenced by overzealous fools watching the debate from the cheap seats. If this continues, we’re in danger of letting the loud few influence the silent many watching at home.

Read the full post here.

Now a few quick hits:

  • He’s not my favorite candidate, but Newt Gingrich sure knows how to debate. He has the modern televised debate down to an art. He pauses at all the right moments for applause (which isn’t supposed to come but inevitably will), and consistently has the best sound-byte quotes of all the candidates. Best of the night? “99 weeks is an Associate’s Degree” and “Only the elites despise earning money”. Judging on debate performance alone, I have to give the win to Newt.
  • Ron Paulis my favorite candidate, but this wasn’t his best debate. Granted, that convention center was a hostile environment for him, but I’ve heard him articulate many of his points much better than he did last night.
  • Regardless of his policies, Rick Santorum drives me up a wall in debates. Everyone was interrupting and clamoring for more time at various points last night, but he was by far the worst. Act like you’ve been here before, Rick, and wipe that smug look off your face.
  • Mitt Romney certainly seems like the guy to beat, and I thought he had a mixed performance. He’s about as slick as Bill Clinton when it comes to dancing around the issues, but it seems to work well for him. I thought he ended very strongly, with his comments on campaign finance reform. He also did very well in highlighting points of agreement between himself and the other candidates; people are looking for someone who can unite GOP voters, and Mitt probably won a lot of points on that front last night. My biggest question mark for him was his stance on military spending. America outspends the rest of the world combined  on military spending, and he thinks the problem is that our military is too small?
  • I don’t have much to say about Rick Perry, other than that I can’t figure out why he’s still in the race.

Here is one last interesting post-debate video:

Granted, Twitter is never going to be a reliable standard of measure for debate performance (much like the “applause meter” mentioned in the Graham article above), but if you’re going to share the information in the guise of “We Report; You Decide”, then maybe just let the stats speak for themselves? This was more like “We Report, Roll Our Eyes, and Laugh in Utter Incomprehension at How So Many People Could Possibly Disagree With Us; You Decide”.

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