20 Jan 2012

Last Night’s Debate

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I caught most of yesterday evening’s debate, missing only the opening portion.

Personally, I found all the candidate’s positions generally agreeable and it was refreshing to hear, openly expressed, so many heresies from the consensus of the elect. All the GOP candidates acquited themselves well. I thought Romney has mastered playing the role of still-young-and-vigorous mature father figure to perfection. His voice and manner are remarkably pleasant and agreeable. One reflects that watching him spout generalities and persiflage at press conferences for four-to-eight years would probably be less painful than other alternatives.

Newt Gingrich, of course, is everyman’s bright, but bratty, younger brother grown old. Rick Santorum astutely identified Newt’s special instability and unpredictability, pointing out his lack of complete domestication as a drawback. Santorum was right, of course, that Newt Gingrich is a bit of a loose cannon, but I think myself that we are facing a crucial watershed moment in which what is vitally needed is a radical and far-reaching change of direction and fundamental revisions and reforms. I think that an unconventional person capable of original thought and willing to flout established opinion is precisely what the times require. Electing an enthusiastic nerd has genuine appeal as a proposition, I think.

Newt Gingrich is my favorite candidate, despite my having literally cursed his name and cast him out of my regard more than once, specifically because I think he has earned the front running position in the race. Newt Gingrich has, again and again, elevated the level of the conversation, clarified the issues, and moved the conversation beyond the media’s range of comfort. We should be supporting the candidate who makes the national conversation more intelligent.

Rick Santorum, despite my personal prejudices against traditionalists, deeply impressed me with his sincerity, intelligence, and combativeness. I did think he was a bit appalling in his position on illegal immigration, a regionally characteristic streak of Pennsylvania (Presbyterian-culture) fascism, came out in him on that one. I recognize exactly where this kind of morally delusive interest in following the rules for the sake of following the rules comes from. I grew up in the same state. People like Santorum are actually generally better than they sound. Beneath the (totally insane) insistence on always following all and every one of the laws and rules, they are generally quite good-hearted. Fill out the form they are insisting on being completed correctly, and they’ll give you the shirt off their back.

Even Ron Paul (who has frequently been the most self-righteous and obnoxious of the candidates) was pleasant to listen to. Ron Paul tends to remind me of a different back-home type, one’s clever, but slightly crazy, uncle, who has lots of theories and knows a whole lot about certain things, and who is very eager to tell you all about them. For a change, I thought Ron Paul added more pleasantness and good lines to the debate than extravagant accusations, and I was even beginning to lean to seeing him as a useful and creditable contributor.

Watching the debate conclude last night left this conservative Republican feeling happy and optimistic. I grew up in the same state as Rick Santorum, but I’ve come to appreciate the South. I’m decidedly comfortable with a key role, perhaps the decisive role, in selecting the Republican nominee being played by South Carolina.

One Feedback on "Last Night’s Debate"


Unfortunately those “fundamental revisions and reforms” will require convincing the Senate to agree to them. It is not clear to me that Newt will be in the best position to do that after the election. Romney’s history is much about getting others to do things without public confrontational drama.
Conservatives have noted correctly that fundamental revisions and reforms (e.g. Obamacare) usually require some sort of broad consensus to be effective. I’m afraid that if President Gingrich asked the Senate to concur that 2+4=4, all the Democrats would oppose the initiative and NBC would declare it racist mathematics. I admit that electing an enthusiastic nerd might feel very good, but it may also not get us to where we desperately need to go.


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