Debate impressions: Ron Paul has guts. In my article in the latest issue of WORLD I wrote that the campaign now had a Big Two, Mitt and Newt, and some evangelicals were sticking with Herman Cain. I made a mistake in not mentioning Ron Paul. He's right that it's the job of Congress to declare war. His redefinition of compassionate conservatism to encompass medical marijuana was amusing.
Paul is also right to point out that the "cuts" scheduled for domestic and defense expenditures are cuts in the rate of growth, not absolute cuts. He's refreshingly cranky when pointing out the falsity of so much political rhetoric: How about Paul as the replacement for Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes? Given that the Iowa caucus often reveals the intensity rather than the quantity of support, he may win it.
And maybe Rick Perry, gaffe-less tonight, can get back into it. He deserves applause for getting back on the horse after falling off so dramatically. I'm still hoping that Rick Santorum gets some traction, but I still suspect that even a Paul win in Iowa will still leave a Big Two, Gingrich and Romney. Thinking through that choice is hard.
Romney has lots of business and finance experience and is very smart. He's a much better campaigner than he was four years ago and is the candidate most likely to defeat Barack Obama. If we believe in family values, he's our man. I oppose his Mormon faith, but God has still been in charge even when pagans and practical atheists have inhabited the White House, so He can certainly survive a Latter-day Saint.
Gingrich has lots of Washington experience and is also very smart, with the ability to bring to bear on issues the reading and analysis he's done. He'll do well in debates against Obama, but I wonder whether non-conservative voters will find him likable. If we believe in family values, he's not our man, but God is still in charge even when people who were reckless in their previous leadership positions are in the White House.
As I trawled through email while watching the debate, I ran across a press release from sojo.net, Jim Wallis' publicity outlet, about the failure of the supercommittee. He had criticism only for Republicans: "Congressional Republicans refused to compromise on tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires while advocating disproportionate cuts to programs that serve low-income people. … The Republicans have been taken over by an extreme ideology." Not a smidgen of criticism of Democrats.
Both Republicans and Democrats deserve criticism, and either Romney or Gingrich would stand up well in a debate with Barack Obama.
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