Anybody see anything good at GOP debate? (FYI, this post mentions Ron Paul)

As I mentioned before, I didn’t go. To the GOP debate in Greenville, that is. And I didn’t even think to watch it on TV last night (was it even on live? I wouldn’t know). When I got home from the Five Points event, the fam was watching a 1944 musical comedy called “Bathing Beauty,” starring Red Skelton, Esther Williams, Basil Rathbone, Xavier Cugat and Harry James and his orchestra. Which caused me to realize something: When he was young, Red Skelton looked a lot like Conan O’Brien.

Anyway, I read the stories about the debate in The State today — this one and this one — and didn’t get the sense that I missed anything at all.

But perhaps some of my readers DID see it, and were impressed by something or other. If so, this would be a good time to share.

I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as this guy says:

Hollywood is reportedly at work on a remake of the 1991 film “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” This, however, is unnecessary, because a remake is already playing. It’s called the Republican presidential primary.

In the original, a mom leaves her kids with a babysitter for three months, but after the babysitter dies of a heart attack, the children fend for themselves for the summer.

The GOP nominating contest so far follows a very similar plot. With the grown-ups (played by Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels) out of town, the field has been left in the custody of caretakers (played by Mitt Romney, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich). When even the babysitters fail to show up at the first debate of the season, the juveniles run the thing themselves.

At Thursday night’s debate in South Carolina, Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul explained why heroin and prostitution should be legal and why the Department of Homeland Security should be eliminated…

As I said, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that bad. But… I don’t seem to have missed anything. There IS quite a bit of excitement among Ron Paul fans, partly because they’re always excited (which is why I put him in the headline — that’s always good for about 1,000 page views), and partly because apparently no one at the debate offered him any competition in attention-grabbing.

Bottom line, what’s going on here is… nothing. You might see some activity at some point in the future among some Republicans who, if they gain the nomination, just might have a chance of giving Barack “Hey, I Just Killed bin Laden” Obama a run for his money, but none of them were going to poke their heads out this week.

And I’m not going to bet that this ever gets competitive, with serious candidates really running hard. At least, not soon. (Which is a shame because, you know, I’d like to get some of those ad bucks here on the blog.)

The contrast to four years ago is palpable. In May 2007, there was a GOP presidential debate here in Columbia, and while I didn’t actually go to that one, either, I did watch it on TV. I watched it in a bar with Bob McAlister. The reason we were in the bar was that John McCain was supposed to show up there after. He did, and that’s when I shot my most popular candidate video ever — the one that has been viewed 62,671 times on YouTube — the one in which McCain refers to Lindsey Graham as “that little jerk.”

There were enough actual contenders for the nomination there that Ron Paul, while he attracted attention, was regarded as a curiosity, as the outlier he is. Not this time. Did you see that Rep. Paul had again raised a boatload of money? Don’t know exactly what he plans to do with it. Surely not even he believes he is ever likely to be president of the United States. I suppose it will be like last time — lots of posters and such, not all that many voters beyond the passionate core, who are sort of doing their own thing. Perhaps Doug can explain it to us…

11 thoughts on “Anybody see anything good at GOP debate? (FYI, this post mentions Ron Paul)

  1. bud

    I only caught the last couple of minutes of the debate while the candidates were giving unremarkable closing remarks. But I did catch the focus group discussion. Everyone was very impressed by Herman Cain, Little Caesers CEO. What made that all the more remarkable was the group was all white and the Little Caesers dude was black. I’ll have to watch some clips to see what all the buzz is about.

  2. Doug Ross

    There is an excellent feature piece on Ron Paul in Esquire magazine. Before you criticize him, please take a few minutes to learn what he is about.

    His commitment to principles would probably make your head explode.

    “See, it’s not about him. Ron Paul doesn’t think that way. It’s about this neat idea, principles versus incrementalism. That’s why he’s taken more lonely stands than any other politician in American history: against the Iraq war even though he’s a Republican, against the Defense of Marriage Act even though he’s a conservative Christian, against farm subsidies even though he represents a rural district, against the Texas Medical Center even though he’s from Texas — the list goes on and on. He refused to award congressional medals to Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan, the Pope, and Mother Teresa. After Hurricane Katrina, he voted against sending federal help to Louisiana.

    “Once you say, ‘Well, you know, we live in the real world and sometimes you have to give in a little bit,’ then you’re never yourself, you’re never your own person, and they’ll badger you to death. So it’s much easier for me to follow a set of principles than fussin’ and fumin’ on knowing exactly when you’re supposed to throw in the towel.”

    He’s got a very healthy following among the college age crowd. His goal is to change the next generation of politicians.

  3. Doug Ross

    By the way, Fox News hates Ron Paul – so that’s good enough an endorsement for me.

  4. bud

    Brad I hate to bring this up but it seems like you’re being a bit obtuse here. You’ve hammered away at how much you dispise the partisan two-party system. Yet here is a chance to support an event that is essentially a debate among non-party people. Ron Paul and Cain can hardly be described as Republicans. Heck they were as critical of GOP policy points as they were of Obama. This should be the type of event you’d support in order to broaden the political interest in the country away from the boring ole 2-party system. Don’t criticize the status quo then only get involved in events that feature status quo people. That makes no sense.

  5. Brad

    Bud, I’ve never been able to get you to understand my objections to partisanship. I suppose I must blame myself.

    I do not know how I could ever have given anyone the impression that I object to the two-party system because it’s “boring.” Monotonous, yes. But not boring.

    My objection to the parties — at least, my objection that is relevant in this context (I have quite a few) — is that they pull us apart, toward mutually exclusive extremes.

    When you get a guy like Ron Paul, who is so clearly MORE extreme than the party he is ostensibly running as a part of, that is not likely to endear me to him.

    As for Herman Cain — I sort of need to know more about him than the fact that he ran a chain of pizza restaurants. That is actually a less appealing and less relevant fact to me than it is to most people. I’m allergic to pizza.

    Anyway, wasn’t it Godfather’s Pizza, not Little Caesar’s?

    Just tried to look him up, since you brought him, up. I was on the NYT site. They haven’t even created a “Times Topics” page on him. And Rick Santorum’s got one, so the bar can’t be all that high…

  6. Brad

    Doug, I’m glad you have a candidate you like so much, because I know how hard to please you are.

    Ron Paul is an enthusiast — in the sense that they used the term in Britain in the 18th century.

    Except that he’s not an adherent of a movement so much as he’s an advocate of what HE, Ron Paul, thinks, and he doesn’t have much time for what anyone else thinks. Which can be said about the two parties as well, but at least their tendency toward extremes is at least somewhat tempered by their desire to achieve majorities. Ron Paul doesn’t give a damn whether he wins an election or not.

    And that could indeed be admirable if he were always RIGHT about the issues. But he’s so often wrong.

  7. bud

    Doug your description of Ron Paul pretty much explains why I left the libertarian movment 20 or so years ago. How can anyone argue that the role of the federal government should not include aiding hurricane victims? How does that make us a better nation, a better people? What argument can be put forth that this will improve the efficiency, economy or effectiveness or our nation? Will we become a safer nation? Will our pay checks increase? Will other nations look up to us for having denied these victims a small token of compassion?

    Don’t bother responding because I’ve heard all the arguments many times by many brilliant practicianers of libertarian doctrine. I’ve nodded my head in a sort of trance as the arguments are presented. But at the end of the day I realized that this ardent brand of libertarianism is little different from the Moonies or the koolaid drinkers who followed Jim Jones. Rather than support lunatics like Ron Paul we need to fight this extremism for the danger that it can bring to our nation. We already see parts of this dangerous agenda creeping into the mainstream of the Republican Party as evidenced by the Ryan budget proposal.

    For now libertarian fanaticism is not much more than a sideshow but it could become very dangerous quickly if we let our guard down. Ron Paul may indeed be a principled man who really believes what he proposes. But make no mistake about it, his principles must be exposed for the danger that they are. Otherwise all of us except for the billionares will be living in cardboard boxes and bowing down to our corporate plutocrat masters. And that’s just not the the type of America that I want any part of.

  8. Doug Ross

    Was he wrong on predicting the economic downturn in 2008? Seems like McCain was 100% wrong on that one. Wrong is the wrong word to use when it comes to opinions, especially when dealing with someone like Paul who has invested considerable effort in research and reflection.

    A government built on trying to get 51% consensus will never be efficient. The results show that.

  9. Ralph Hightower

    I found Cain’s thoughts on Afghanistan hilarious. Okay, granted, nobody but the President has the security clearance on what’s happening in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

    But Cain’s “I don’t have a plan for Afghanistan. I don’t get the security breifings, so I don’t have the information needed to make a plan” seems to say to me “Trust me. I don’t know what I’ll do yet, but I’ll make it up as I go along. Vote for me!”

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