From 10,000 feet-Any time a “debate” is held, wherein the questions asked of the candidates are not the same question, the observer must look closely at the questions asked and consider the possibility of an engineered or staged outcome. Last night’s “debate”, was the epitome of that concept. Some questions were hard balls and some were quite soft, but the equity and quality of the questions certainly begged.
Another consideration, an observer must account for is, some of the candidates have a record and others speak out of idealism. In this day of the drive by media, a candidate’s record - even if it is sound – can be most often cleverly demagoged; but alas this is the nature of politics in a nation where the people are delinquent in the pursuit of the truth. Further, being without a record provides a candidate the opportunity to speak not from experience but draw from the abstract; nothing to defend and a hypothetical world of idealistic utopia. This sort of dynamic handed Barrack Obama the Presidency in ’08.
Based upon those considerations my first grade goes to Fox News, they earn a D-
Ron Paul- The questions aimed at Ron Paul were certainly tactically designed to damage. They were loaded with far more content than could be addressed properly in the allotted one minute response time. Although, Dr. Paul answered the questions and did not hurt himself, if anything his gain was small. It is no secret Dr. Paul is not the greatest orator of our time, and I think this may hurt him in the long run, considering the importance of superficial polish and charisma in this age of national politics. In a split field this may prove to be an asset in the long run however, as a certain group of people might find commonality with a real person, rather than a Ken Doll. Dr. Paul’s score B
Herman Cain- The questions asked of Cain were the softest in the field. The hardest question asked of him was the one on the flat tax. The question was phrased, in a manner as to sound tough, but this area is Herman’s specialty, and he nailed it for the republican crowd. Consider however, since the flat tax/fair tax is one of the most favorable topics amongst republicans, and since the IRS is the most hated institution on the face of the earth, is there any way Cain could bomb that question? In my opinion at times Cain got a little “evangelical” in his presentation, but in this day and age style and substance are interchangeable. To honestly score Cain in this debate, we must handicap his performance with the difficulty of the questions asked. Cain’s score B
Tim Pawlenty- The questions asked of Tim were amongst the hardest of the field. I really don’t know why Fox decided to smash him like they did, perhaps he was the sacrifice to the gods of journalistic equity; you know to make it all look fair. Either way, Pawlenty flamed out. Although I listened closely to every thing he said, I found myself hitting the “skip back” button on the DVR because his body language distracted me. To sum it up, Tim Pawlenty reminded me of a poor attempt at an impression of Will Farrell impersonating George W. Bush. Stick a fork in Pawlenty. Even though the questions were bangers I can not handicap him to a higher score; a snowman is a snowman. F
Rick Santorum- Rick’s questions were pretty soft, and his answers were typical; no gain or loss based upon content. I hate to draw two comparisons to past figures in one article, but Santorum reminded me of a young John McCain. He was stiff in the neck, shoulders and arms; his hand gestures were abbreviated. I know this is superficial but I think unless he changes that and loosens up people will record the commonality subconsciously and look poorly upon him. His score C-
Gary Johnson- Gary got a bad shake in this debate. They ignored him and phrased questions in a no win way. It is quite obvious Fox wants Gary out of there. He did a nice job being forthright and no-nonsense with his answers (even his abortion stance), which people appreciate, but on the flipside of that an impression of dryness came through. Gary is going to have a rough time, especially in this type of a forum. Considering the handicap Gary gets a C-