Weekly Presidential Politics - 10/10/07
Last night, newest official presidential candidate Fred Thompson joined the rest of the Republican field for the CNBC Debate, marking Thompson’s first appearance at a presidential debate. Here is my diary of the event.
4:00 – Co-hosting with Chris Matthews is Maria Bartiromo. (Yes, she was available.)
4:02 – Fred Thompson appropriately starts things off. Equally appropriate, he frequently stammers, pauses, and uses words like rosy.
4:04 – Romney does an excellent, organized job with his first response. As the most prominent governor in the race, a debate on managing an economy is right in his wheel house. Of course, that might not matter, as he’s also the most prominent Mormon in the race.
4:08 – Giuliani easily turns a question on hedge funds into a reason to nominate him because he has the best chance to beat a Democrat. I outlined this as his inevitable strategy early this year. His ticket to the nomination was never security. It was electability.
4:09 – And here comes Ron Paul bringing the sense. Yes, the country is richer… but that does not mean the average American is.
4:10 – Rudy Giuliani’s talking about the Yankees on a public platform, John McCain just said “straight talk,” and I was home from school by 3:30. Did I just hop in a time machine and go back to 2000?
4:15 – Duncan Hunter. I mean come on.
4:16 – For an actor, Fred Thompson does a horrendous job remembering his lines.
4:17 – Sam Brownback just criticized a random Kansas constituent for wanting, “A new hospital.” Those bastard Kansasites! Who do they think they are? Don’t we know we’re in a war??
4:21 – Hey, did you know Rudy Giuliani cut taxes in New York City 23 times? He should really mention that more often then every day of his life.
4:23 – Romney and Giuliani are going back and forth, and why not, considering they will be the only two candidates still going on February 6th.
4:31 – Romney points out that he is the candidate with the most business experience. It’s a calculated risk, deciding that this is a desirable trait, but anything that distinguishes you from this field is probably a good thing.
4:36 – John McCain, “It sounds like a lot of fun to bash the Chinese and others…” Line of the night.
4:37 –Fred Thompson’s doing a terrible job. What’s worse is that he knows it. This is not the man that’s going to rally the conservatives, which was his only ticket to the dance.
4:39 – Does anyone else think Sam Brownback looks a lot like Jimmy Kimmel? Does anyone else think they’d be more comfortable with Jimmy Kimmel as President?
And here' commercial break as I approach my word limit. Back at the end for more thoughts.
All right, the debate just wrapped up. As usual, I was most impressed with McCain, Huckabee, and Paul, the lot of whom make up the second tier in the race. Maybe there's something to say about not being a contender that allows you to do a better job at these debates. Though I have a distinct disagreement with each of them (McCain - the war; Huckabee - the national sales tax; Paul - where do I begin?), I respect their consistency, intelligence, and the way their articulate their issues.
What most frustrated me this afternoon was that most of the candidates want to fix many things and address many issues (bridges, roads, borders, energy) but also want to cut spending and cut taxes (revenues). It's an odd platform, yet it's the GOP norm. They don't want to raise taxes and they'll spend a lot of money, even though they tell you they won't. When they do, many Americans just worry about the tax relief, and up go the unchecked deficits.
That's why Paul and Huckabee make so much more sense than the rest. Paul truly wants to reduce taxing and spending, and he offers a plethora of examples. While I fundamentally disagree with Paul on almost all issues and think that he would make a horrific President, I have respect coming out of my ears for him, because he's consistent in his ideology and it actually makes sense, if small government is the kind of thing you like.
Paul and Huckabee, while other candidates couldn't stop glowing about the strong and growing economy, articulate a fact that many Democrats are screaming at the television whenever a President Bush or Sean Hannity is bragging about a country that's getting richer. The money is going to the rich and most Americans are not feeling this economic "boom!" Yes, we have more money than ever, and stocks are booming, but the money is flowing to a minority of the people. The majority of the people's earning power has actually dropped in this "strong and growing economy."
For a simplified example that does not take into account interest rates, say Tom, Dick, and Harry make $50,000 in the year 2007. In the year 2008, Tom makes $100,000 while Dick and Harry drop to $40,000 each. As a group, they're making more money, right? As a group, they are objectively doing better ($180,000) than they were before ($150,000), right? Well, yeah, that's true. Objectively speaking, the group is doing better. But individually, more people are doing worse than better.
And that's America.