Wednesday night showcased another GOP debate, this time from Michigan. While the night did not feature the fireworks of the previous debate, there were a few noteworthy moments, mostly featuring the John Wayne wannabe, aka Rick Perry, and Dr. No, that courageous Congressman from Texas.
Rick Perry made a notable faux pas, when discussing which departments of the Federal government he would summarily cut. Repubs, especially many members comprising the party's base, love talk of government shrinkage and budget cuts. Gov. Perry could not recall the third department (of three) that he would cut. While it was a humorous reprieve for the Texan, it turned out to be a general indication of Perry's inability to get a handle on the concept of a "debate" (or, really, how to successfully perform at one). In all seriousness, his handlers need to prep him better: he needs to have a firm handle on his policy proposals (ridiculous as they may be) and needs to be given instruction on how to debate, which involves controlling facial expressions and his unyielding penchant to verbally pounce on opponents. Simple, really.
With each debate performance, Perry seems to cede more ground to his Repub opponents. His campaign is rapidly approaching the ash-heap of history. Each debate is an opportunity for each one of the candidates to shine: their answers could be soundbites that could be replayed on news programs and talk shows. I am sure that Perry's answers will be replayed but for the sole purpose of highlighting his incompetence. His poor debate performance is made worse by the fact that he does not appear jovial. To Bush's credit (or benefit), he had a jovial, likable personality. His poor "Yale style" debating ability was somewhat marginalized by his personality--his marketable persona. Perry's persona is one of a John Wayne wannabe--"a tough, rugged individualist." These moments of peril are rapidly accumulating and may sink his already unstable campaign boat.
On the other side is Ron Paul, whose debate performance demands some attention and, well, praise. Paul consistently appears to be the outcast at these debates. Even when he was running for the nomination in 2007, his presence on the Repub. debate stage seemed strange. His Congressional votes match his rhetoric, which has remained consistent for ... DECADES. He is a fascinating politician to study: the Washington political, old-boy network has not corrupted him. Paul is as pure and unadulterated as they come. During tonight's debate, Paul was given the opportunity to make his case for the necessity of liquidating the mal-investment and bad debt that U.S. corporations and banking firms have accumulated over the last forty years. The incorrigible, obnoxious, and overrated Jim Cramer, with his ideologically -laced questions, could not derail Paul. Each one of Paul's responses is really quite wonderful: each clearly articulates the problems with the current system and then proposes a solution that is both constitutional and dedicated to that seemingly antiquated notion of liberty. Just look at Ron Paul's criticisms of the bailouts and the current health system (including but not limited to Obamacare).
Paul's support does not appear to start or end with your humble blogger. According to the Detroit Free Press, the debate audience ranked Romney and Paul as among their favorites of the night. Unsurprising. Romney still manages to court GOP support and still maintains his solid standing in the polls; and, significant too, he performs well in the debates. The audience enthusiastically endorsed Paul's responses this evening, which follows the trend in debate audiences of the past. Paul does well. And continues the trend. Interestingly, Gingrich did well, too ... as did Cain. The audience loved Cain's response to the sexual harassment allegations.
The debate had its moments of worth but it was not a game changer: Perry is still in peril and Paul is still worthy of praise. Business as usual.