I was a plebe when it came to Republican debates and FOX News, so when I watched the presidential debate held in South Carolina Tuesday night, it was like an initiation to the Sacred Order of The Right. This was a world where men felt they had a right to determine a woman’s reproductive rights; where FOX News included religious affiliation in a short candidate bio; and where presidential testosterone was measured by how long we should stay in Iraq.My first impression of FOX News was: can’t they find some better looking commentators? Are they all related to CNN’s Larry King? Was it my imagination that Alan Colmes was wearing a very wierd rug on his head? Anyway, when I heard a political analyst say in the debate pre-amble that Mitt Romney, as a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, will have to overcome the image of belonging to a cult, I thought the Democratic presidential candidates made a good call by refusing to debate on FOX.
Here was the line-up: Senator John McCain from Arizona; Rep. Ron Paul from Texas; former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani; Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee; former governor Jim Gilmore from Virginia; California Rep. Duncan Hunter; former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney; Sen. Sam Brownback from Kansas, and former governor Tommy Thompson from Wisconsin.
Aside from McCain, Giuliani, Romney and Tancredo, I didn’t recognize the rest by face although somes names were familiar. Even after the debate, I wouldn’t have passed a test. Funny how middle-aged white men all look alike.
FOX News wasn’t very helpful in identifying the candidates either-only once per 25-minute segments did their name appear on screen (with a cute little sound effect.) Maybe we were supposed to speculate the rest of the time. I started to ID the speakers as “red-checked” tie (Hunter,) “blue and red stripes” (Gilmore,) and “blue polka-dots” (Huckabee.)
Guess what?! The Republicans have their own colorful character to rival the Democrat’s Mike Gravel, the shoot-from-the-hip “retired Senator Dude from Alaska” (to steal the line from ColoradoPols.) His name is Ron Paul, the current Congressman Dude from Texas. Both men in their golden years have been telling it like it is in Iraq, which means they are crazy. Don’t expect them to be invited back to another debate. But if they were president today, the Iraq War would end tomorrow and all our soldiers would be home.
The candidates were given questions that measured their positions. All were for staying in Iraq except Paul. All were against a women’s right to chose except Giuliani. All were for torture except McCain. Some got in a few bashes at Democratic candidates, however as a FOX News commentator noted, at least the Democratic line-up included minorities and a woman. Oh, yeah, them. Gilmore or was it Hunter who said those kind of people are here, or somewhere, in the Republican Party.
Newscasters have made it easy for us viewers. They have categorized presidential candidates in first and second tiers. In First Class flies McCain, Giuliani and Romney. Second Class is all the rest, except…in Third Class poor Paul will soon have his ticket voided.
Our Colorado home boy did evoke some laughter from the crowd, but we’re not determining the next late night comic. Tancredo will last probably only one more debate round, as will Gilmore, Tommy Thompson, Brownback and Hunter. They are dragging the TV ratings down and cutting into commercial time.
Who won the debate? Moderate Republicans would say Giuliani, and I think the Conservatives would have tipped their hat to McCain. Too bad Romney has reversed on all his moderate values. He could have been battling for #1 with Giuliani by now instead of flip-flopping in at third-he’s just not that convincing as a Conservative. “Blue polka-dots” might have slid in the fourth slot or was it the “red-checked” tie guy?
My prediction is once former Tennessee Senator and Law & Order actor Fred Thompson enters the race, only Giuliani will survive long enough to compete with Thompson in the primaries.