Photo: Courtesy of Think Progress
Political pundits seem to pull their analysis out of thin air, filtering the candidate’s performances through their own filters and expectations. The result seems to be support for bland candidates whose ideas most closely match the reporters involved.This is how we end up with nominees like old Bob Dole (1996), flopping John Kerry (2004), and grouchy John McCain (2008) and reject potential revolutionaries like Jack Kemp (1996, though he was the VP pick), Howard Dean (2004), and Ron Paul (2008). Say what you want about each man’s politics; at least the latter group had something to say and a reason to be president beyond “I want to be president”.
Monday’s debate seems to be bringing out the same silly analysis from Washington pundits. Romney is declared with winner despite saying nothing of substance. Bachmann gets high marks for not tripping over her words? Ron Paul gets a C grade despite being the only candidate to actually SAY something? Crap, crap, and more crap. Here are my grades for the debate.
Mitt Romney Media Grade: A. My Grade: B The media elite and the GOP party seem to want to coronate Romney the nominee before the rabble (the Republican primary voters) get a chance to ask questions and cast their votes. The media calls Romney the front-runner? Romney is a robot who advocated essentially the same health care plan as Obama. While that may or may not play nationally, it certainly should be a deal-breaker in Republican primary circles. Romney is the Bob Dole of this election season. He does get points for emerging from the first debate without anyone laying a glove on him, but there is no reason to think he did anything exemplary.
Michele Bachmann Media Grade: A. My Grade: A+ Bachmann is the tea party favourite who isn’t supposed to be able to manage walking and chewing gum at the same time, so you can imagine my surprise when she walked onto the stage and did extremely well. She connected with voters in a way that does not always carry well across television, and was clearly comfortable with the format. She may not be ready for the top of the ticket, but she has worked herself into the conversation for vice president.
Ron Paul Media Grade: B-. My Grade: A- I know Ron Paul’s fans think he deserves an A for every single performance, but something was still missing from Paul’s game last night. He deserves major points for having the willingness to speak honestly, even on issues that may cost him among primary voters. He also articulates libertarian and freedom ideology better than anyone else in politics. It’s a shame he’s peaking now, in his 70s, rather than when he was a younger man. Still, Paul could benefit if a candidate like Romney emerges as the early favourite, and tea party activists turn to an alternative with views closer to their own. He would make an interesting top of the ticket for Bachmann.
Newt Gingrich Media Grade: B. My Grade: C- Newt needed to hit a home run to make up for the weeks of missteps, and he just…didn’t deliver. His homage to gentle, southern racism was strange, as was his inability to coherently go after anyone else’s poorly laid out ideology. The path to victory for Gingrich requires him to bowl over Romney and he did little to slay Romney in this early contest. Maybe if he hadn’t chased all his strategists off, Gingrich could have been better prepared.
Herman Cain Media Grade: A-. My Grade: D Does the media give Cain bonus points for being a businessman and not a politician? Under any normal circumstances, opposing the civil rights amendments of the post-Civil War era would be political suicide. Apparently it is kosher for Republicans to be blatantly racist if they happen to be black. He also has a huge political hard-on against Muslims, which is an odd position for constitutionalists (remember that pesky First Amendment?) to take.
Tim Pawlenty Media Grade: B-. My Grade: D Why in the hell is Pawlenty still a candidate? His tax plan was made fun of ON FOX NEWS, which means he’s officially too right wing for Fox. He has no support, no actual name recognition, and no chance of being the VP pick. Pawlenty should consider packing it in and heading back to Minnesota.
Rick Santorum Media Grade: D. My Grade: F- Can you even earn an F-? I guess you can. Whatever the lowest grade is, create one step below that and assign it to Santorum. He’s a social conservative who talks about taking the bullets for the abortion cause. Umm, no, that would be the abortion doctors his supporters shoot. He’s also a world class hypocrite, and for the love of god, do not google “santorum” anywhere that you cannot view filth and pornography.
Gary Johnson Media Grade: Incomplete. My Grade: A Johnson gets good marks for being a good sport about being left off by the CNN folks. He had something to say and was left off because he’s a libertarian. CNN can spin it all they want — Johnson is a compelling voice and needed to be on the stage with Paul, Cain, and the rest of them.
— Luci Morland
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