PJ Media

Perfect 10? 10 Angry Men? 10 Little Indians?

Peggy Noonan: “They stood earnestly in a row, combed, primped and prepped, as Nancy Reagan gazed up at them with courteous interest. But behind the hopeful candidates, a dwarfing shadow loomed, a shadow almost palpable in its power to remind Republicans of the days when men were men and the party was united. His power is only increased by his absence. But enough about Fred Thompson.

This is a piece about Thursday night’s Republican presidential debates, but first I would like to note that the media’s fixation with which Republican is the most like Reagan, and who is the next Reagan, and who parts his hair like Reagan, is absurd, and subtly undermining of Republicans, which is why they do it.”
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“The winner, I guess, is McCain by default, but we’re going to have to do much, much better than this at articulating a vision that will get us elected in 2008. Dogmatic references to a pro-life culture and endless evocations of Ronald Reagan are not going to get the job done in the current climate. I think the Republican Party itself came out a pretty big loser on the night…” (Mark Coffey @ Decision ’08)
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“It’s telling that the Democrats refused to debate on a Fox affiliate because they claimed Brit Hume was biased. But th Republicans went on fanatically anti-Republican MSNBC (home of Keith Olberman) and was questioned by Chris Matthews an ardent Democrat and former Carter staffer. Not a pep of complaint.” (James Hudnall)
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Rick Rice @ Brutally Honest: “I. Was. Not. Impressed.”
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Michelle Malkin: “The ‘debate’ was an unenlightening game-show spectacle “moderated” by a Beltway hack.

Big loser: the viewing audience. Among the lesser-known candidates, Govs. Huckabee and Gilmore seemed the most polished and comfortable-and more importantly, solid on national security and defense issues. Rep. Tancredo, while strong on fiscal issues and, of course, immigration, seemed nervous and off his game. But no one disappointed more than Rudy Giuliani, who seems to be tiring of his own talking points, his own voice, and maybe the whole campaign.”
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Doug Heye: “The format of debates such as this evening’s provide little opportunity for voters to learn in detail about the candidates. In a ten candidate debate, the top-tier candidates are generally focused on avoiding mistakes, not scoring points with voters. This is especially true with primary voters. Primary voters usually don’t give points, they take them away – one at a time. That said, tonight’s debate was certainly much more substantive in nature than the recent Democrat debate.

“One surprise was Chris Matthews’ question regarding Catholic Bishops denying certain Catholic politicians the Sacrament of Communion. Governor Mitt Romney handled the question in exactly the manner he should have, by dismissing it. Do we really want the government interfering in doctrines of religious faith?

“Also notable was the strong showing of Governor Mike Huckabee. Tonight’s performance may help provide a shot in the arm financially for his campaign. However, none of the top-tier candidates made a serious mistake and the front-runners continue to be Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney – along with the (as yet) unannounced Fred Thompson.
Doug Heye is a veteran of political campaigns throughout the country. He has served in leading communication positions in the House, Senate and Bush Administration.
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Richard Buchanan @ Opinionist: “The debate was a bucket of contradictions. Whilst the diversity of core beliefs, policy statements and values was thoroughly on display … the wholly generic effort to rally Reagan symbolism was horrendously over-done by every participant to the point of plastic fakery. Who won? I believe Romney looked smooth and almost artificially calm whilst McCain almost shook with nervousness. The first debate and the clear winner? I believe it was Romney by yards.”
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Robert Godwin @ One Cosmos: “I don’t understand this early obsession with who ‘won’ the debate. Can’t they all be losers?”
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Nelson Guirado:“Some of the candidates looked bad, but none of them looked dumb. I could have done without the constant and cheap references to Ronald Reagan, but the debate showed the Republican field to be made up of serious, knowledgeable men.” More HERE.
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Layla [email protected] The Hill Chronicles: “Rudy Giuliani was the man – a 100% thumbs up. He was consistent, spontaneous, and genuine. I did not get the feeling he was scripted as several others came across as. Rudy understands the war on terror. His knowledge of Islam and terrorists is impeachable. Rudy was the most articulate and eloquent during the debate – doing what Rudy does – lead.

“A thumbs down completely on Congressman Paul’s (R-TX) projection. Of all the candidates he was the worst. He was nothing one would expect in a presidential candidate. Paul has no ideas and he is all rhetoric, which at some instances during the debate did not make sense. He continually made it clear every opportunity that he did not agree with the war. That gave me the feeling he was more of a Democratic mole than a potential GOP presidential candidate.”
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Max Sawicky @ Max Speak: Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran . . .

These people really scare me.

Favorite bit: Tommy Thompson on tax reform: get rid of the AMT, replace it with a flat tax, and let people choose whether to pay it or the regular income tax. Duncan Hunter was the only one with a clue about the Federal budget. Surprising that Huckabee, who seemed reasonable, is backing the loopy FAIRTAX.

Romney is going to be the nominee. He is way slick.

McCain is too mechanical. Giuliani is too gay. The rest of them are in it to get babes. Babes of faith. Except for Ron Paul. He actually believes in stuff. How did he get in there?”
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Brandon Henak @ GOP3: “The worst of the field definitely included Ron Paul and Tommy Thompson. Paul for his hard, disagreeable demeanor and Thompson for his apparent struggle to present a congruent, holistic answer. McCain had the advantage of “straight talking” right into the camera but, Romney and Brownback definitely won as they came forward with polished ideas posited in a professional manor. It will be interesting to contrast these performances and ideas with those presented by Senator Fred Thompson tomorrow night.”
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Rich Masters: “I thought they all did an excellent and extraordinarily impressive job and I urge them to continue their good work!

Each of them held President Bush’s failed policy in Iraq in a warm loving embrace, even though 70 percent of all Americans are completely opposed to him.

Their sloppy wet kisses to Nancy Reagan made them all look like puny little pretenders to the Gippers legacy. Instead of inheriting the “Reagan Aura” as they had intended they inherited the stench of wet lap dogs desperately panting, to try out “ring-wing” the other guy. Kudos indeed, I think they’ve really gone a long way to solidify the angry, scary, old white guy vote

As a democrat I heartily congratulate them on their impressive showing and urge them to continue advocating polices that the vast majority of Americans are opposed to.

Individually– McCain: Stammered and talked in circles more than “W” in his drinking days. Romney: Took so many different positions he should contact the DC Madam. Giuliani: Perfected the Beavis and Butthead look when asked for the difference between Sunni and Shiite.”
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Joe Gelman @ NeoCon Express: “Good debate, fast pace… and with the exception of Ron Paul, I could live with any one of these candidates. McCain seemed a bit stiff, rehearsed and sometimes over-eager. Tancrado was a bit out of his league on foreign policy. Romney was smooth as silk, and Giuliani hit a solid double.”
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Karen Hanretty: “Interesting that McCain and Giuliani show more nerve when it comes to bombing Iran than they do when it comes to answering whether or not the U.S. Constitution should be amended to allow non-U.S. born citizens, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, to run for President. Both men are eager for the endorsement of the world’s most recognizable politician who campaigned for President George W. Bush in Ohio back in 2004. McCain went so far as to suggest last February, at an event with Schwarzenegger in Los Angeles, that the governor’s laudatory praise for him was a de-facto endorsement. It of course was not. Neither McCain nor Giuliani should hold their breath in anticipation of that coveted prize. The Republican Governor didn’t bother to campaign for GOPers on the statewide ballot last year. In fact, he went out of his way to lob a verbal grenade at Tom McClintock, a staunch fiscal conservative who ran for Lt. Governor and subsequently lost, in the final week before the election. McClintock’s opponent used the governor’s attack against McClintock in recorded phone calls that went out to voters in Los Angeles.

“Otherwise, a rather dull event. It’s a shame Chris Matthews and the team at MSNBC/Politico.com think Republican primary voters are as obsessed with the war in Iraq as the mainstream media. GOP voters are angry at McCain for his support of campaign finance reform and his opposition to President Bush’s tax cuts. A few more of those questions may have yielded some interesting sound-bites. But I get the impression that this debate wasn’t about Republican voters.”
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Stephen Green @ Vodkapundit: “After watching tonight’s Republican debate, I’m reminded of the “Seven Dwarves” of the 1988 Democratic field. Right now, I’m certain the entire 2008 Democratic field is feeling pretty comfortable. Of course, I’m just as certain that the Republican candidates felt the same way after last week’s debate. And I think everybody, everywhere, can take great comfort in the fact that Chris Matthews isn’t running for anything, anywhere. One of my commenters wrote, “I think Fred Thompson is winning,” and I won’t argue with him.”
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Roger L. Simon: “The big winner of the first Republican presidential debate was the man who wasn’t there: Fred Thompson. Although I admire Giuliani and agree with him on most issues, the presidential look and feel of the absent Fred loomed over this boring event with only Ron Paul for comic relief.”
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Robert Dreyfuss: “Republican primary voters looking for a presidential statesman last night may be forgiven if they started surfing channels looking for reruns of “Law and Order,” where they could at least take a look at Fred Thompson – or, for that matter, they might have hoped for a brief glimpse of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the audience.

Never did the shadow of Ronald Reagan loom so large as it did over the Ten Little Indians last night. Most of them spent the evening referencing Reagan and Schwarzenegger, which only had the effect of making them all look smaller. The Ten Little Ones competed with each other with square jaws, resolute looks, defiant gestures, and looks of utter resolve. They swore to God that the war in Iraq can be won, they warned ominously what they would do to the Iranians if they could get their hands on them, and they waxed militant about how they’d deal with Osama bin Laden. “He will have to pay, and he is going to die,” said Romney, with great solemnity. “We will bring him to justice, and I will follow him to the gates of Hell,” said McCain, trumping the Mormon governor.

And so it went. Unable to shake the albatross of Iraq from around their collective necks, the Ten Republicans sought to outdo each other with tales of how bravely they’d fight Islamofascists, if only voters would give them a chance. Up in heaven, President Reagan could only shake his head. “There they go again,” he said softly.”
Dreyfuss is the author of “Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam”