Thursday, September 08, 2011

Obligatory “Debate at Reagan Library” Post Mortem

This is a bit late, but it's not old news yet. In fact, very little about the contest for the Republican presidential nomination can be "old news" at this point. On the other hand, the question of who is ahead can become precisely that overnight. We can still remember this time last month, when Michele Bachmann was considered the rising star from out of nowhere.

Aren't we waxing nostalgic already?

But that was before Texas Governor Rick Perry finally stopped dicking around and threw his hat in after the Iowa State Fair folded up its tents. Here he is at last Wednesday night's debate, comparing notes the hard way with Mitt "Least Offensive Candidate" Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts. Both of them certainaly did their homework, but notice how Romney has been discovering his inner caveman ever since Iowa. He knows he has to convince the conservative base that he has a set of cajones worth putting in the White House. Beyond that, it still comes down to his positions, and his record.

It's interesting how the "Catholic question" came up, and its handling by Rick Santorum warrants some focus here. A good many Catholics who are concerned about social justice issues have long believed that Republicans (and conservatives in general) are not compassionate enough about the poor, but only want to cater to Wall Street, as if no liberal Democrat in recent history ever benefited from the deep pockets. (Isn't that right, Mr Soros?) The thing they consistent forget, in the pages of Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter, is that it is easier to be generous with someone else's money (in the form of taxes) than with your own.

Those of you who are longtime readers of mwbh know that Newt Gingrich doesn't rate very highly around here. But we have to hand it to him for his golden moment the other night, when he took the media mavens to task for putting an arbitrary spin on the nomination coverage. Maybe someday Newt and the rest of the gang will get around to discussing entitlement reform as a critical issue in reconciling the federal budget (which we have yet to see for a fiscal year that is almost over). But first, the pundits need to stop pitting the candidates against one another, and the candidates need to stop falling for it.

Finally, we come to the candidate everyone wants to ignore, Ron Paul. There are many politically and socially conservative Catholics who would like to see this guy win. He doesn't follow the pack, he doesn't shift his positions to play to the pollsters, and he cuts across the usual ideological lines. But every now and then, just when we think he will win the day for once, he opens his mouth and says something completely off the wall. Does he really believe anyone could build a fence to keep American investors from taking jobs over the border, never mind overseas? This sort of tirade doesn't happen often, but it happens often enough. As long as it does, Paul will never rise to anyone's top tier of candidates, no matter how smart enough people think he is.

Now, notice we didn't feature Ms Bachmann. That's because she doesn't have much to show for last Wednesday night. And we have to remember, it's still early in the game. Standing on a podium for one night is not the same as running the country for four years. There will be other podiums, and other nights. The candidate featured on the newsmags one month, could be thinking of dropping out next month. There's still time for the fat lady to sing, don't you think?

Or don't you?

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