January 25, 2008

Last night's debate.

I didn't post last night about the Republican debate because I was on an airplane, but since it was a JetBlue airplane I had TV reception and was able to watch the whole thing on the seatback in front of me. Admittedly, I slept through part of it, but I saw at least the first hour of it.

I turned on CNN in my hotel this morning and heard talking heads yammering about how there were "no fireworks." Oh, too bad!

On the subject of the media's ridiculous hunger for emotional outbursts, watch this "Daily Show" clip:



But let's discuss the debate. I thought Mitt Romney was especially good. Beginning with the first question, he let us see some of the depth of his expertise on economic matters.

Meanwhile, John McCain was challenged on a statement of his that conceded he was not well-versed on economics. McCain seemed to deny that he'd said any such thing. I say "seemed" because it was a little hedged: "I don't know where you got that statement." But as TPM makes painfully clear, he has disparaged his own understanding of economics on several occasions.

Romney must be terribly pleased that the central issue in the campaign is suddenly economics.

42 comments:

Original Mike said...

Romney must be terribly pleased that the central issue in the campaign is suddenly economics.

It's causing me to consider him seriously for the first time in this election.

Lawgiver said...

"When Hillary Clinton speaks men hear TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE!"

Garbage? Garbage? I don't take out no stinkin garbage!

Middle Class Guy said...

Mitt should have got the mook reporter a chair. Then the the media would have invented a chair attack on a floored reporter.

Roger said...

To the disappointment of the moderators--most notably pumpkin head himself, the debate produced no fireworks--in fact credit should be given to the Clintons who succeeded in uniting the candidates. Russert should not be allowed near a debate--his whole schtick is to try to get them to respond to negative quotes about their opponents. To their credit, the candidates did not do that. I only wish they would have told Timmy to f**k off.

This debate appeared to be primarily for policy wonks.

Kirby Olson said...

The only real "event" in the debate was when Mitt said he didn't think the American people wanted Bill Clinton in the White House with endless time on his hands.

That was really funny, but Chris Matthews pretended not to get it, or maybe he didn't.

rhhardin said...

Who has a ridiculous hunger for emotional outbursts?

It's not the news media.

Not the news media itself.

SteveR said...

I watched just enough to draw two conclusions: Russert's MTP style questioning is annoying in a debate and Rudy looks like someone who shows up for class and forgot there was a test.

Maxine Weiss said...

I don't email anyone. If you can't put all the relevant details right here, in these comments.....then forget it.

Right here: This is where we hash out all the plans.

It's either here, or nothing !

Middle Class Guy said...

Kirby Olson said...
That was really funny, but Chris Matthews pretended not to get it, or maybe he didn't.

Chris Matthews was rendered a eunuch by the Clintons. He will poke not fun or laugh at them again.

goesh said...

I for one hunger for your posts, Maxine and as far as Russert goes, I'll have an emotional outburst here and call him a mean little tick.

reader_iam said...

Not the news media itself.

Bull. Ever been in a newsroom when news breaks? Especially of the overwrought type?

And of course it goes without saying that media is audience driven. That's always been true, back to the "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" days and before. Only someone with tunnel vision would think this is some sort of new ande deep insight.

Oh, yeah. We're talking about RHHardin.

madawaskan said...

Wow.

I thought Romney was particularly weasely when it came to economics.

Supposedly he is an economics wizard but when Russert threw at hima question with one of the few "facts" or statistics being about how dreadful the rise to a 5% unemployment rate is-Romney just let it stand.

5% ain't that bad, in fact if you get much lower than 4% it can be argued that it creates such a tight labor market that it has an inflationary effect.

Romney could not have been bothered with refuting the only stat Russert threw at him in the question-he'd rather have that issue to run on-disgraceful. I was shocked.

Then on the issue of China. Romney actually tried to throw the boogeyman of China element around.

Wow- he has got to be kidding right?

NRO is *shocked*, *shocked* that Duncan Hunter endorsed Huckabee over Romney-ghee they have no idea that Hunter has objected to Romney's corporation Bain being too cozy with China.

Now say what you will about Hunter I think he wants to hold China accountable for human rights violations and he wants to do it through economics-man it's an honorable idea but to be pragmatic just how do-able is it?

One way the best way to introduce China to the inherent values of Democracy is through economics- capitalism baby- and we want them interested in the mutual stability of the global market-it's almost a security issue.

Instead Romney wanted to play to the Lou Dobbs isolationists and the fear factor. Even though his company does or did business so much with China Duncan Hunter had problems with it. nI'm beginning to see why the rest of the candidates don't like how they can't pin him-and it was weird how they all to a man and their wives walked away from him on the stage last night.

Also Romney pulled a Kerry last night.

He felt sorry for all the "poor" snowbirds...

Maxine Weiss said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veB52xIc2aY&NR=1

Flippy curl.

reader_iam said...

A whole lot of political coverage, especially in context of campaigns but not only that, is done in terms of oneupmanship, who's winning and who's living, playbooks, keeping score, and the whole "ecstasy of victory, agony of defeat thing."

Which brings to mind--what? What, exactly.?

And the historical, invested audience for that would be--who, exactly?

As I said, tunnel-visioned. And boring.

reader_iam said...

living=losing.

Though it sort of works, anyway.

madawaskan said...

Jeebus. Romney use to be my second choice and know I think I like him less than McCain-that takes some doin'!

Maxine Weiss said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5lZoz0ouoA&NR=1

PatCA said...

McCain continues to act like he despises his constituents, like hiring Juan Hernandez, an open borders and racial activist, that it makes Romney look less dangerous. At least he knows something about succeeding in business, although he comes from a rich, political family. Another rich, political family. "Sigh*

Not much to pick from. Is there ever?

Cedarford said...

Good debate for Romney. It showcased his economic knowledge. He looked and acted damn Presidential - in command of himself and his facts in a way you saw in Bill Clinton in his prime, Reagan on a subject he was familiar with - though Mitt the amateur politician still needs more work to better connect. Still, for the 1st time showed he does have an excellent sense of wit - the whole Bill-alone-in-White-House!!! bogeyman scenario and Romney's facial expression of slight disgust and shock conveyed the "euuuuw!" factor perfectly. Except for it being way over Matthews head.

"Whattayah mean by that???"

Jeez, Matthews! You were perhaps in the 1 in 20 there or watching that didn't get exactly what Romney was getting at...

I wish that the moderators had followed up asking the other candidates, especially Romney, about Mike Huckabee's point that spending money on America's aging infrastructure offers far more economic bang for the buck than Bush cash checks to consumers that will lose a good chunk of the money to ChinaMart and create less jobs.
I think the reason money never goes to fix bridges and airports and harbors is that all the environmental and other regulations and attendent permits and allowing people to challenge such projects in courts for years blocks us from public works and favors getting quick satisfaction with far less effect from throwing money at the masses for imported bread and circuses.

I would have liked Romney to explain why economic stimulus has to go to buy Chinese sneakers rather than repair the 22 structurally deficient bridges in his state that creates good jobs. And a far greater economic effect locally than a Federal dollar "given" to a consumer which is then split 80 cents to China and 20 cents to large businesses - where only the 20 cents works locally and may not generate any jobs at all.

rcocean said...

Once again we get a badly moderated debate. To Whit Pumpkin head and Williams:

-Asking Gotcha questions
-Asking Long-winded questions
-Interrupting and debating the
Candidates.
-Asking irrelevant questions
-And worst of all, ignoring topics important to Republicans and focusing on Liberal/Democrat issues.

I don't care what the New York Times editorial writers think, how Rudy thinks he can win, how much money Mitt has spent, or Global warming. Meanwhile, it took almost 90 minutes before immigration was even mentioned. The GOP needs to start moderating their own debates.

Revenant said...

Supposedly he is an economics wizard but when Russert threw at hima question with one of the few "facts" or statistics being about how dreadful the rise to a 5% unemployment rate is-Romney just let it stand.

Probably because if he had said the truth -- that 5% unemployment is nothing to worry about -- he'd have had to deal with that sound bite being used in "Mitt Romney doesn't care about the unemployed" ads for the next year.

Roger said...

the "terrible" 5% unemployment rate: which is probably very close to full employment, but then Romney would have had to explain the difference between frictional and structural unemployment. As Rev says: it would have ended up as a sound bite against him.

Sloanasaurus said...

I agree with Revenant. We all know that 5% is great. But politically Romney is smart to avoid any sense that he is not attacking the problem.

Russert cherry picked Clinton economic records - i.e. stating that the unemployment, deficit, and oil were all lower when Clinton left office. Republicans need to come up with responses to these attacks and come up with their own challenges.

Clinton left with a surplus because he reduced military spending by 30% - the result was September 11. Bush is now stuck fighting the war against islamic terror.

Clinton came into office on the coattails of economic recovery and left George Bush with a recession. Unemployment was actually higher on average during Clinton's term than Bush's term despite this.

Oil prices would be lower if the Democrats allowed drilling in ANWR. Those wells would be online today pumping an additional 500,000- 1 million bbl per day into the market. Both reducing the price and generating $tens of billions in tax revenues for the US Gov.

PatCA said...

Yes, I thought the moderators were debating the candidates, using NYT and LAT articles as "evidence" in their cross-examination. Just a taste of what is to come, but I think the candidates held up pretty well against NBC. Against each other, not so much.

Middle Class Guy said...

reader_iam said...
...Especially of the overwrought type?

What is overwrought news? Is that when reporters wring their hands over some tear jerker story?

The media is only about one thing- money. There are no standards except the bottom line. Audience equals money. All the rest is just window dressing.

Andrew Vachss said it best:
It's television, people. They're selling entertainment, not enlightenment. They're not looking for answers; they're looking for an audience. Our "political representatives" are as reactive as protozoans to light. They don't respond to logic, morality, or justice; they move in whatever direction they are pushed … or persuaded...

reader_iam said...

I'd assume that Romney knows he's addressing an audience which, for whatever reason and reasonably or not, appears to be increasingly agreeing that the economy should be the top priority, despite widening gaps (on partisan lines) of attitude on a host of other issues. Perhaps he and his advisors have seen stuff like this survey report, for example.

The summary of the survey says, among other things regarding the economy and attitudes, the following:

...
"The annual survey on the public's policy agenda shows that substantially more Republicans and independents view strengthening the economy as a top priority than did so in January 2007. Partisan differences over the importance of bolstering the nation's economy, which were fairly sizable at the start of last year, have disappeared."
...
"Notably, much of the increased emphasis on the economy comes from upper socioeconomic groups – college graduates and people with relatively high annual household incomes, as well from Republicans and independents.

Three-quarters (75%) of college graduates now see the economy as a major priority, up sharply from 54% in January 2007. The shift has been just as large among people with household incomes of at least $75,000 annually (20 points). As a consequence, the substantial educational and income differences over the importance of the economy as a policy priority also have disappeared."
...


FWIW.

Roger said...

The Bush and Clinton economies look pretty much the same--not a lot of variation and both were characterized toward their end by bubbles: dot coms and housing. As for oil prices, the rise in price appears to be demand driven from the two most populous nations on earth: India and China. The best answer, IMO, would have been the president has no control over world oil prices.

reader_iam said...

For my part, the economy falls further down on the list of my priorities, especially with regard to selecting a candidate this year--and in part for the reasons others here have offered.

However, it seems that this is a minority position, for good or for ill.

Revenant said...

Clinton left with a surplus because he reduced military spending by 30% - the result was September 11.

While I agree that cutting the military was a bad idea, the notion that September 11th would have been prevented if we'd had a larger military is pretty silly.

Maxine Weiss said...

"Ginny thinks she has the key to popularity: parking in cars with the boys at night. When Jerry brags about taking Ginny out, he learns that she dates ALL the boys, and he feels less important. What about Ginny? Does that make her really popular? ... No, girls who park in cars are not really popular. Not even with the boys they park with."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWB9tOu1dxE

(I was raised on this!)

Sloanasaurus said...

the notion that September 11th would have been prevented if we'd had a larger military is pretty silly.

Maybe not, but the drastic reduction in military spending is a reflection of Clinton's over all philosophy and priorities - defending the country was not one of them.

Bruce Hayden said...

The other problem with Clinton (42) cashing in his Peace Dividend is that we are paying for it right now. For one thing, he drastically cut the number of army divisions, which is why we are now having to rotate soldiers back so quickly, with many on their third combat tour.

rhhardin said...

Bull. Ever been in a newsroom when news breaks?

Flip back to the Katie Couric caught off camera post, and notice, off camera, how ordinary and sane everybody is.

Bruce Hayden said...

wish that the moderators had followed up asking the other candidates, especially Romney, about Mike Huckabee's point that spending money on America's aging infrastructure offers far more economic bang for the buck than Bush cash checks to consumers that will lose a good chunk of the money to ChinaMart and create less jobs.
I think the reason money never goes to fix bridges and airports and harbors is that all the environmental and other regulations and attendent permits and allowing people to challenge such projects in courts for years blocks us from public works and favors getting quick satisfaction with far less effect from throwing money at the masses for imported bread and circuses.


One problem with trying to spend your way out of a recession (which technically we aren't in yet, but still...) through infrastructure spending is that it tends to be countracyclical because of its long lead times - and the litigation over permitting issues is only a limited part of this. If Congress were to authorize a lot of bridge building right now, it would be kicking in well after we were coming out of whatever level of downturn we are in right now.

I would be much happier with infrastructure spending if it didn't require inflated union level wages and as a result of the politicized structure of the process, often involved significant corruption. What we would get if Congress tried to spend our way out of this downturn through infrastructure spending would be a new wave of earmarks, with the more powerful members of Congress forcing the spending to be on high profile projects primarily aimed at their own reelection. The last thing that we need right now is more buildings or bridges named after Bob Byrd or John Murtha.

rhhardin said...

A whole lot of political coverage, especially in context of campaigns but not only that, is done in terms of oneupmanship, who's winning and who's living, playbooks, keeping score, and the whole "ecstasy of victory, agony of defeat thing."

I'm not a sports fan, sorry. They've feminized it.

Oneupmanship is interesting ; a lot of good sociologists reference Stephen Potter.

Kirby Olson said...

I can't understand what it's universally considered a good thing to overlook the religious background of a candidate. Romney's Mormonism, for instance, has to have SOME bearing on how he sees the world, as does Huckabee's Baptist background, or Hillary's Methodism.

Religion has an enormous impact on the worldview even when it's somewhat in the background, and a person is not a zealot.

Harold J. Berman's Law and Revolution: The Impact of the Protestant REformations on the Western Legal Tradition (Harvard 2003) attempts to clarify the legal changes that were wrought by the Lutheran revolution of 1517 on Catholic traditions.

Even the very notion of what a person is, is often established by the religious paradigm. The Marxist paradigm and its bizarre optimism about human nature is contrasted for instance with Luther's notion of the total depravity of humankind.

I can't understand why there isn't more sniping on this matter. It's critical. I hope to God that Huckabee and Romney go at it on this issue.

It's at least as crucial as the race-gender-class battle that's being fought out by the Democrats.

I don't think that questioning the religious background of a candidate is necessarily bigotry. There are real differences between different denominations or else the denominations themselves would not exist. It must be a new kind of political correctness not to bring these differences to the fore.

It bothers me immensely.

What influence does the Lutheran background of Ron Paul have on his views? He has two brothers who are Lutheran pastors. At first he wanted to go into the seminary. Why doesn't he bring this up? It's just baffling to me tht this issue has remained in the dark to such an extent.

Since 80% of Americans are Christians, and since you have to be a Christian to win, why aren't people talking about the differences between one kind of Christianity and another, since, at bottom, that's what all this is really about?

titustitus said...

"The last thing that we need right now is more buildings or bridges named after Bob Byrd or John Murtha."

Or anything named after Ted Stevens who has been the biggest porker in the senate.

chuck b. said...

Are you in San Francisco for the net neutrality conference?

reader_iam said...

Maybe she's made a trip to Austin for a belated Christmas trip. Remember how she got stuck in Madison on Christmas Eve in December? So, yesterday's the 24th, she posts about Christmas Eve, and today she mentions having been on a plane last tonight.

OK, well, it's not completely far-fetched, now is it?

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, reader is right. I'm in Austin after the cancellation of my Christmas trip.

hdhouse said...

Well now that the GOP has made Hillary the central issue in their compaign I guess all other problems have been addressed and solved.

Roger. Read you 5x5.Clear as a bell. 10-4. Tranquility base. Eagle has landed. Over and out.

Fen said...

Hey HD, whats the Democrat long-range plan for defeating Al Queda and marginalizing Radical Islam* again?

Laced somewhere inside all the Bush-bashing?

[* or whatver PCBS euphamism you prefer to use these days]