Scorecard: October 18, 2011 Republican Debate

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on October 18, 2011 – 10:45 PM

The Western Republican Presidential Debate found seven GOP candidates in rare form, rhetorical guns a’blazin’ as they attacked one another without mercy. 

Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann attacked Herman Cain. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum attacked Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry looked like they might come to blows. And as he does so well, Ron Paul attacked legislators who vote for things.

Oh, and the crowd cheered for putting an electric fence on the border with Mexico. It’s an interesting election season, folks. 

Here are tonight’s grades, in order of best to worst:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

THE TOP TIER

HERMAN CAIN (1st Place, Grade: B+)

Mr. Cain’s “9-9-9” plan dominated the early portion of tonight’s debate, demonstrating that he is still having an impact on this race. Mr. Cain’s plan is vulnerable to attack, and I suspect he won’t be able to defend it successfully much longer. But he deflected his competitor’s attacks well tonight, and came away from the exchange (mostly) unscathed. On the whole, Mr. Cain continues to improve as a debater, knows how to deliver an applause line, and intuitively understands how to connect with conservative voters.

Mr. Cain had a couple of off-notes when he risked looking like an undisciplined flip flopper. He backed away from a comment he made earlier in the day about negotiating with terrorists, and again when he claimed he didn’t support TARP in 2008.

RICK SANTORUM (2nd Place, tie, Grade: B)

Sen. Santorum had a (mostly) good night, but lost a lot of points when he interrupted Mitt Romney for a solid 15 seconds, then said, “sorry, you’re out of time.” The audience booed him, and he looked like a bad sport.

That moment aside, he had one of his better performances. Mr. Santorum did a nice job of answering a question about his views on Latinos by praising their faith and commitment to family. He effectively attacked Gov. Perry regarding his previous support for TARP. He also scored some points against Mitt Romney on health care.

Since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980, the more charismatic candidate has won every presidential election. Mr. Santorum conveys moral certitude, but lacks the sunny optimism that wins elections. Still, if he’s aiming directly for his narrow Evangelical base in Iowa, he had a good night.

RICK PERRY (3rd Place, Grade: B-)

Rick Perry came to play tonight. He was tough, steely, aggressive and nasty – and he demonstrated a (somewhat) better command of facts tonight.

At times, he overshot and verged on caricature – but this version of Rick Perry is much more likely to win the nomination than the one who showed up to the last three debates.

He passionately delivered an energy-centric jobs plan that would, he claimed, create 1.2 million jobs. He fought against the idea of building a fence along the entire border, instead making the case for an alternative solution.

Mr. Perry was effective when he attacked Mitt Romney for hiring an illegal immigrant – at least he was effective the first time he used the attack. When he tried to resurrect the attack minutes later, he stretched too far and earned boos from the crowd. When Mr. Romney accused Mr. Perry of attacking him because he’s had a tough few debates, Mr. Perry looked piiiiiisssed.

Still, awkward syntax and over-stretching aside, Mr. Perry asserted himself tonight as a candidate who plans to be in the race for a while. Pundits are already writing that he tried too hard and failed tonight – but his approach will likely appeal to many base voters, and I suspect his poll numbers will bounce a bit in the next few days. 

MIDDLE OF THE PACK

MITT ROMNEY (4th Place, tie, Grade: C+)

Mitt Romney was more aggressive tonight than he’s been thus far. The Nevada crowd seemed to love his aggressive tone, but his tone won’t play as well in people’s living rooms. The condescending tone he used against his competitors brought out some of his most unlikeable qualities.

When Gov. Perry interrupted him, for example, Gov. Romney placed his hand on Rick Perry’s shoulder during a particularly heated moment. I can’t remember a moment at a debate when two candidates looked so close to coming to blows. He later patronized Rick Perry, scolding: “You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking, and I suggest that if you want to become President Of The United States, you have to let both people speak.”

When Sen. Santorum interrupted him, Gov. Romney channeled Ross Perot, shouting “May I finish? May I finish?”

Although Mr. Romney was solid during the second half of the debate, his aggressive responses showed that he still views Mr. Perry as a threat – despite the Texas governor’s dramatically declining poll numbers. It’s a fine line between tough and grating, and Mr. Romney was on the wrong side of that line tonight.

RON PAUL (4th Place, tie, Grade: C+)

As happens often, Rep. Paul found himself alone a few times tonight. For example, he pointed out that President Reagan negotiated with terrorists.

He offered a solid reply regarding storing nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as it related to states rights, and his opponents found rare agreement with his position.

This was generally a good debate for Dr. Paul, but his performance did little to change the dynamic of the race. He’s trailing badly in all national polls (he’s fared better in a few, mostly useless, straw polls), and tonight will not fundamentally re-set his place in the race.

MICHELE BACHMANN (4th Place, tie, Grade: C+)

Rep. Bachmann had a relatively good night – but like Dr. Paul, she did nothing to fundamentally re-set her place in this race. She had one particularly strong moment when she looked into the camera and appealed directly to women and mothers whose houses are threatened by foreclosure. She also demonstrated her knowledge of foreign affairs tonight.

None of that will matter. Her star has fallen, and she did nothing tonight to help herself earn a second act.

Update: A few readers rightly pointed out a Bachmann gaffe I missed: During one answer, she seemed to forget that Libya is in Africa.

TRAILING THE FIELD

NEWT GINGRICH (7th Place, Grade: C)

For most of tonight’s debate, Mr. Gingrich was a non-presence. He delivered a few winning applause lines, but he’s at his most effective when he shows his softer and more humorous side along with his more bellicose one. He failed to do so tonight.

As a media and presentation trainer, I appreciate strong language – so phrases such as “suicidally stupid” appeal to me. But his pedantic, finger-pointing, and angry responses won’t win him many new votes. Not one of his stronger performances.

Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? Please leave your opinion in the comment section below, but remember the blog’s comment policy – no ad hominem attacks or pejorative name-calling will be posted.

Related: October 11, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard

Related: September 22, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard

Related: September 12, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard

Related: September 7, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard

Related: August 11, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard

Related: June 13, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard

Related: May 5, 2011 Republican Debate Scorecard

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments (37)

  1. By Dave Nagle:

    Agree about Santorum – he had a pretty good night. Good enough to make me wonder if he’ll be the next new “it” candidate.

    Perry definitely had a much stronger performance. Wondering if it’s enough to keep him in the game for a while.

    Paul had a couple of “swing and a miss” moments talking about cutting foreign aid for Israel and the line about Reagan trading weapons for hostages. Awkward audience silence.

    Bachmann – time for her to tap out. She’s done.

    Good analysis!

  2. By Brad Phillips:

    Dave –

    Thank you for your comment. I’m glad the first comment came from someone who’s not telling me why Ron Paul should have gotten an A++. I’ve become accustomed to that as the norm!

    Thanks for reading…
    Brad

  3. By Ryan:

    Debates are supposed to be about ideas and not personal attacks. So who won? We all know the damn answer. Give me a break!

    Perry was booed 6 times for junior high level antics and rightfully so.

    Romney was strong in his defense of himself… If you can believe him.

    When will ppl wake up and see that Herman Cain’s 999 plan is completely ridiculous? a 9% federal sales tax on top of whatever your state tax is… hmm only on new goods.. well what a better way to kill the incentive to buy new goods? Next to robbing everyone’s money I don’t think there is a more effective way. By the way… Robbing people of their money is exactly what we’re doing with the spending overseas and the actions of the central bank.

    Seriously a little thinking would go a long way for our country. Think before you vote for the love of god please.

    Have a good day and night.

  4. By kathy:

    I wasn’t impressed with Bachman at all. I kept yelling at the TV for her to shut up. I disagree with her belief that “everyone should pay tax, even if it is only $1.00.” I disagree because my only income is Social Security, a tax that I have already paid. To be taxed on it again is neither right nor fair!

    The crowd was obviously partial to Romney. He’s okay, but I think he is a little too slick, much like the jerk who is currently in the oval office.

    I really like Rick Perry, but got tired of his “fighting” with Romney. Both were trading insults and attacking each other.

    I like Herman Cain, but am not sure he is the right man for the job since he has no international experience. Running a company is similar but not the same as running a country.

    We need a strong person in the oval office, not someone who kisses our enemies back side, who sets out to alienate our friends, who apologizes when he shouldn’t, who doesn’t stick his nose into everything that doesn’t concern him. That’s what we have now. It is time for a clean slate and a big change.

  5. By Jeremy D. Adams:

    Ron Paul’s grade is nonsense. He’s the only conservative of that group and his message is popular. Nearly every single candidate at some point said that Ron Paul was right.

    He really won this debate.

  6. By Bill:

    I thought Romney won the debate, again.

    I also thought that Perry looked like a snake oil salesman who didn’t get much sleep, again. Grouchy and nasty, too.

    Cain’s 999 plan gets crazier with each peel being stripped away – I’m glad Romney simplified it for folks to understand that Cain wants to sell them the apple and the orange, whether they won’t both or not.

    Newt went after Cooper about setting folks up to bicker, but Santorum, Perry, and then Newt took I on their own to attack Romney. Romney won each bout despite the fact that Santorum and Perry tried to prevent him from defending himself by talking over Romney when he tried to respond to their ridiculous accusations.

    Ron Paul is clueless about national security, yet he wants to be Commander in Chief. He doesn’t realize that US Armed Forces are in NATO and USPACOM, and that we are in Germany and South Korea not only as a protectant, but to also be there with our allies for joint training exercises, as well as being near where we may need to be rapidly deployed.

    I think Bachmann is doing OK.

    Perry has the least education, has never held a private sector job, and it really, really shows. His record is horrible. Texas is #1 in low paying no benefit jobs. 40% of hires in Texas since 2007 were to illegal aliens. Texas has the highest high school dropout rate in the country. 25% of Texas’ workforce do not have health care. He had to slash services and use Obama stimulus money to help patch his budget mess.

    Now Obama in a debate with him can say, because of neglectful governors like you having Texas with 25% of its workforce without health care, I had to enact ObamaCare – I am a savior from the GOP ways.

    Obama will also be able to say, if not for my stimulus plan……. I am a savior of the GOP ways.

    Perry will be the poster child for the DNC in the general election to kill the GOP’s efforts to take the White House and the 23 liberal Senate seats up for grabs. Perry is not only a risk, he’s a major liability.

    People really need to use their brains on this one – Romney is the best chance the GOP has for taking the White House from the DNC. Give him a Republican-controlled Congress and he WILL do wonders for America.

  7. By Walli:

    I found your assessment very interesting as well as the comments. Herman Cain has been very impressive but did not show as well in tonight’s debate. He’s at his best sitting down giving interviews – excellent. Appreciated him not backing down when asked his opinion of occupy wallstreet.
    Ron Paul is so extreme it’s an embarrassment to common sense. There are moments of lucid thought and off he goes. Insulting Reagan among Republicans endears him to noone on the right. It makes him appear obnoxious.
    I thought Newt was brilliant in his comments about personal faith and it’s effecting ones judgement. He seems to separate from the pack with far more intellect and experience. A cut above. Would have given him higher grade as well as Bachman. She’s very strong and would have given Perry poor marks tonight except for his strong discussion of boots on the ground remarks.
    A – Newt, A- Mitt, B Herman and Bachman, B- Santorum too nasty tonight but strong on defending family and his record, C Perry love the guy but poor debater coming off petty, D Ron Paul would cut funds to Israel!!!! A strong economy is our best defense ( against terrorism? They hate capitalism…could that be a reason they bombed the World Trade Bldgs?) nonsense.
    But all of them would repeal ObamaCare and reduce spending, taxation and the size of govt. Great choices. The GOP is not without excellent candidates to challenge Obama. Everyone has more experience than he did when he was elected. I would vote for any one of them even Ron Paul…but hopefully it won’t come to that.

  8. By kaitlinc:

    I was suprised by much of this review, because those in our house had a different impression. We rated Mitt higher and thought that he looked dignified compared to the sniping of Perry and Santorum in his direction. Santorum’s interruptions were rude, and Perry’s reaction to Anderson Cooper saying, “You can ask what you want, but I’ll answer the question I want to answer” was also offputting. Perry’s dredging up Mitt’s lawn man again was petty and irrelevant. The audience’s “boos” seemed to agree with our crowd’s reaction. Although we are big Cain fans, we were stunned by his original statement earlier in the night that he would negotiate with terrorists. Cain seems to have thought the better of that, so hopefully this lapse won’t affect his ratings. Ron Paul needs to just step down from the debates. He is a libertarian, not a Republican, and he continues to rant about the same things, and he doesn’t really stand a chance of the nomination. Also, although Newt speaks less frequently, whatever he says is intelligent and well informed. Hopefully he can take a useful place in the new administration, because his personal skeletons will not lend themselves to the nomination.

  9. By carlos:

    From my point of view, the only candidate who makes sense is Ron Paul, the rest are the same crap we have been dealing with for many years after Reagan.

  10. By JD:

    I totally disagree. I thought Mitt Romney came off looking good. As someone who was watching from his living room, I felt like he handled himself very well. He was in a tough spot. The other candidates were unwilling to follow the rules of the debate. They were not allowing him to respond to criticisms levied against him. I am very disappointed in Rick Perry. When he first came on the scene I was excited about his candidacy. So far he has come across like a bafoon. I like Herman Cain, but don’t think he can make through the long haul and I’m concerned that he has no experience with anything except economics. We already have a guy like that and it’s been a disaster. I don’t agree with him on everything and have some concerns about his postions on certain issues, but Mitt Romney is the best shot to get rid of Barack Obama. There is no perfect candidate, but Mr. Romney is infinitely better than what we have.

  11. By Brad Phillips:

    Thank you all for this vigorous debate. Before I posted this review, I knew it would likely be the most controversial one I’ve posted. That’s not surprising, given the Tyson-Holyfield nature of last night’s debate.

    I watched the debate a second time after posting this scorecard, and had the same impression on second viewing.

    Despite a comment on this blog, Mitt Romney was not merely fighting for time. He launched unilateral attacks, often in a condescending tone.

    Rick Perry was stronger than he’s been in the past few debates, but he came across as angry and went too far.

    Herman Cain may not be a serious frontrunner, but he weathered scrutiny with an even-temper and humor.

    Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich did little to propel themselves to the front of the pack.

    Keep debating…that’s the spirit of this blog!

    Thanks for reading,
    Brad

  12. By Miguel Rodriguez:

    Everyone, we all know that Newt Gingrich won the debate, and also Herman Cain did good!!!!!

  13. By Sam Bam:

    Jeremy D. Adams you have a good perception of the debate it seemed like every other one of the candidates looked at Paul with awe. It is true Regan did negotiate with terrorists and no foreign aid should be given to any country. Many repubs forget about the Iran–Contra affair, yeah Reagan aint lookin’ so good now.

  14. By MrJ:

    It’s a shame that Ron Paul doesn’t run as an Independent or a Democrat, he might actually beat out Obama with the popular vote. He’s too intelligent to be on the same stage with this group of nut-jobs.

  15. By Bill:

    I disagree with the comment that Newt did well because he said personal faith affects one’s judgement. I think it may have done well with people who are religious, but not everyone in America is religious.

    Newt is in a national stage, and he alienated himself from non-religious voters.

    We need the majority to win the White House, and the majority doesn’t care about religion right now, it cares about the pocketbook.

    I am not religious. I do not like people injecting religion into politics – it turns me off. I will not vote for someone who injects religion into politics.
    Perry, Santorum, and now newt are OUT in my book.

    America has a separation of church from state. I know some argue this point, but it’s already been settled.

    The government tried to tax the church, and the church argued that if the church was taxed it could not be separate from the state – the church won the argument and are not taxed because of it.

    If folks want religion in politics then the church should pony-up tax just like any other business.

    That is not going to happen – the church doesn’t want to pay taxes, so let’s keep religion out of politics.

    We end up with lousy politicians almost all the time because too many voters look at everything except the person’s resume – their schooling and their experience.

    Right now the central issue is the economy – it’s the economy, stupid, hasn’t held this much weight in a ton of years.

    Romney is the best schooled in business, has the best experience in business, and has the best turn-around experience than anyone on both sides of the aisle.

    The resume is what counts most. <—— period

  16. By Letha:

    Perry needs to get some anti-bullying therapy!!!

  17. By Paul Smith:

    I disagree. While Cain’s 9-9-9-9 plan (no, I didn’t miscount*) was the center of attention, I did not feel that it faired well. Cain’s marketing campaign is beginning to lose its luster as the plan’s weaknesses are revealed.

    Romney and Perry beat on each other and each scored blows against the other. Overall, they both lost ground in my mind.

    Gingrich is the smartest person on the stage hands down. I would vote for him against Obama (as opposed to Romney or Perry in which case I’d write in Ron Paul). I wish he would express his plans and ideas. He needs to educate the electorate and I don’t feel that he’s accomplishing that.

    Bachman is desperate and it comes through in her repitition of ‘one. . .term. . .president! and constant pushing of her web site. She acts like a high pressure salesman and it isn;’t becoming.

    I scratched Santorum off my list early last night. He needs to regroup for 2016.

    I’m a Ron Paul fan and I enjoyed that he got some face time last night. Hopefully, he will get more and more as the field winnows out as he needs to flesh out his new economic plan and more fully explain why it’s a good idea to close military bases around the world. Dr. Paul needs to explain why his positions are constitutional and why we should return to the Constitution as our defining law in this country.

  18. By Paul Smith:

    Sorry, I meant to give a reference for Cain’s 9-9-9-9 plan:

    Peter Schiff on Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iJvtQpyx1A&feature=uploademail

  19. By Bill:

    I’m wondering when Cain is going to come out and say that his 999 remark was just a joke.

  20. By Greg:

    I just find it amusing that all you can say about Ron Paul is that he is trailing badly in all national polls.

    He ranks third in most national polls. And, you can bet for darn sure that if Romney had won those straw polls, they wouldn’t be “useless.”

  21. By Brad Phillips:

    Greg,

    Dr. Paul is in roughly the same position nationally now as he was at this point in 2008. He failed to win a single state in 2008, and isn’t leading in a single state poll this year. If that’s not the definition of “trailing badly in all national (or other) polls,” I don’t know what is.

    Brad

  22. By Bill:

    “Despite a comment on this blog, Mitt Romney was not merely fighting for time. He launched unilateral attacks, often in a condescending tone.”

    It could be viewed as a condescending tone, but Mitt was hit wrongly by Santorum about RomneyCare, then Santorum wouldn’t let him reply back, as per the rules.

    Santorum’s attack was senseless because Romney already explained the differences between ObamaCare and RomneyCare in several previous debates. Santorum was just being who knows what – desperate, to say the least. Drowning and trying to grab onto something solid.

    Then Perry made accusations out of nowhere, and also would not allow Romney to reply back, as per the rules.

    This would frustrate anyone, and under that circumstance I thought Romney held OK. He didn’t lose it, and he even was able to set the record straight a bit and hit back – E-Verify in your face, Perry.

    I am glad to have seen that side of Romney. He was wrongly pushed, and against the rules in both accounts, but showed that even in a limited window, not being allowed to reply as per the rules, he could set the record straight and give it right back, and then some.

    Perry is slower than slow. You would think he would have learned from his mistake of going off from nowhere trying to attack Romney before, then getting hit back with his own club instead, but…. he obviously can’t learn from his own mistakes. He doesn’t only not look presidential……. America deserves better.

  23. By Bill:

    I think folks need to look at it in the respect that one of these candidates has to go up against Obama or Hillary in the general election debates.

    Romney is the best person for the economy, which is the central issue of our day, as well as to beat Obama or Hillary in the debates.

    Now, people may say that debates don’t count – BS – look at us here, and everywhere – all eyes and ears are on the debates, post debate news, editorials, articles, blogs, you name it – debates are a very, very important part of the selection process for the position of president. And with today’s media and internet, even more so than ever.

    That said, Romney takes the club from Perry and beats him senseless with it each and every time Perry tries to use it on Romney, and trust Romney has been kind and gentlemanly – keeping the gloves on for his fellow Republicans.

    Romney condescending? It’s more like mild frustration.

    Santorum even knew he had to cheat and not let Romney reply. He’s a jerk, but he’s not stupid.

    Newt, as smart as he is………. Romney pegged him right back with Newt’s Heritage mandate.

    When Romney hits, it’s a shot that can’t be counterpunched. Romney’s shots and counterpunches always stick.
    Romney’s not teflon. It’s not like he ducks the blows, or the blows don’t hurt. It’s that he turns the blows into dust – they have nothing on him, then he counters back with a jab of his own, if he feels it’s necessary.

    He’s highly intelligent. Nobody stands a better chance than Romney going up against Obama or Hillary.
    Romney is what the GOP needs to take the White House from the DNC. He’s not a risk. The other candidates are a risk, and a few are actually liabilities to the GOP’s elections efforts.

  24. By Greg:

    Brad–

    Well, perhaps that might be a definition of “trailing badly.” However, the real problem that I have is that you choose to point out that Ron Paul is “trailing badly,” but don’t say anything of the sort about, for example, Santorum, who is polling about 1.5-2% nationally. Ron Paul is polling 4-5 times as well. Or Gingrich, who is polling about what Ron Paul is.

    Why is it that Ron Paul is “trailing badly,” but Santorum and Gingrich aren’t?

    That just seems like bias to me.

  25. By Brad Phillips:

    Greg –

    I’m honestly a bit surprised by your comment that my review is biased. In my review of Sen. Santorum, I wrote that he, “lacks the sunny optimism that wins elections.” For Ms. Bachmann, I wrote that, “…she did nothing tonight to help herself earn a second act.”

    You’re right that I didn’t specifically cite their poll numbers in their reviews, so let me do that here. Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, and Buddy Roemer are ALL trailing the field badly. But you didn’t need my blog to tell you that. Every national poll has made that clear for the past month.

    Best wishes,
    Brad

  26. By Bill:

    I agree with you, Brad – Santorum went from looking like a kid’s coach with a phony smile looking for the kid’s mother’s approval to a grovelling dog – unstable, to say the least. He’s certainly lacking sunny optimism.
    Not having consistent, friendly optimism is a major flaw with him. He came off very mean and unfair during the last debate. He failed to speak without coming off with a desperate, nasty tone about him. Then his disallowing Romney to respond, along with the ‘you’re out of time’ remark, as if it were icing on his cake – pathetic.

    Newt looks OK, but not as good as Romney. I hope he has stock in Samsonite, because he has a lot of baggage. Way too much to win in the general election.

    Bachmann has flat-lined flat. I think it’s because folks saw the press attack her, and they really don’t want to have to listen to the mainstream media ranting on with another Palin-style attack. People know it’s coming if they support her. They just don’t want to go there. Her constant talk about the Constitution didn’t help her much either. The president has no formal role in the Constitution – the president can’t even vote for or veto an amendment or a ratification. If Bachmann is wanting to work with the Constitution she is better off staying where she is – in Congress.

    Romney – I think the real problem is with the Christian social conservatives. They really wanted Perry, but Perry turned out to be Perry – really, really stupid, and having a lousy record – his illegal alien stance….. so they feel they were forced to switch over to Cain, and they are mad about it. Sure, some really like Cain, but most of the ones who jumped from Perry to Cain are mad, and they have misdirected their anger toward Romney.

    I’m not religious, so I only look at a candidate’s resume – I sure wish everybody did – we wouldn’t be in the pickle we are in if we did.

  27. By Bill:

    re: Ron Paul.

    When Paul speaks about Iran not being a threat most people think he’s not in tune with reality.
    Iran, through its proxies, is directly responsible for a lot of the problems the West is forced to deal with. The world needs to be able to trade peacefully, but Iran’s leaders don’t want it that way.

    OK – Let’s excuse that for a moment. Let’s instead take his recent comment, during the last debate, when he questioned why, after all these years, we are still in places like Germany and South Korea – that there is no reason to be in these places – there’s no longer any threats for us to protect them from in these places.

    South Korea – there’s North Korea who can be backed to roll over the south if we weren’t there.

    Germany – they are rehiring Putin, so who knows – maybe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    BUT, Paul has been in Congress for a long time – he’s either out of touch with reality, or he’s disingenuous.
    America is in NATO and USPACOM. We are in those nations with our bases so that we can also conduct joint military exercises with our allies, as well as being in those regions in order to help more rapidly respond to anywhere, if and when called upon to do so.
    They are training grounds and bases to respond from, as well as a protectant to the individual country and/or region.

    Paul might not like this, or may be oblivious to the reality and the need, but this is the system our leaders and our allies have come up with. There is a reason so many organizations and people work to maintain it, despite what Ron Paul may say or think.

    Let’s put it this way – prior to the US getting into WWII and building NATO and USPACOM, a lot of countries in Europe and Asia battled and brutalized each other for hundreds of years, if not a thousand and beyond. Time and time, and time again. Not a one since the US stepped in. We are a good thing, and it’s not right when it is insinuated, or we are accused, otherwise.

  28. By Greg:

    To Bill:

    I don’t think Paul is out of touch with reality or disingenuous. There is a third option: He sees reality differently that you do. A lot of people do, including myself.

    Here is how we differ.

    You seem to feel that it is the United States’ job to protect our allies. You say that the reason that we have bases in 150 different countries is “as a protectant to the individual country and/or region.”

    What Ron Paul and many of us are saying is: Why in goodness’s name is that the United States’ job?

    Or, if you flip it around, why don’t Germany and Israel and Japan have military bases of their own in Upstate New York or along the Mexican border? Don’t they have just as much a responsibility to help us protect our borders as we do protecting theirs?

    So, first of all, I disagree that is the US’S job to protect our allies against all threats— and certainly not against IMPLIED threats.

    Instead, I feel that it is the US government’s job to protect the homeland of the United States (lower 48, AK and HI and PR and the islands) from imminent threat of invasion, and to treat other countries fairly in trade.

    Next, you point out that countries in the EU and Asia brutalized each other for thousands of years before the US stepped in as the world’s policeman after WWII— but now they don’t. First of all, I don’t believe that is factually true (Kosovo, the Balkans, Northern Ireland, the Basque region of Spain, the Republic of Georgia.) Second of all, even if it WAS true (which it isn’t,) SO WHAT? This country was founded on liberty— which means that you have the right to self-determination. That applies to individuals (who are free to wreck their lives becoming alcoholics if they so choose,) as well as to countries.

    To attempt to force a way of life— no matter how good we think it is— on others is not only arrogant, but also against the very notion that our country was founded on, which is liberty and it’s cousin, self-determination. And, finally, when change is forced from outside, it doesn’t really work anyway.

    So, basically, please don’t call Ron Paul out of touch or disingenuous. Call him a bulwark of the Constitution instead— because that is what he is.

  29. By Greg:

    Brad–

    Thanks for clearing that up.

    I guess I am so sensitive because there has been a media blackout of Ron Paul, even though he consistently polls third in national polls, and has come in first or second in many straw polls. The Atlantic magazine did a study confirming as much to be factually true. Here is the link: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/10/ron-paul-media-blackout-confirmed/43747/

    Related to this whole post, I wanted to remind you what the polls looked like this week four years ago:

    Giuliani 27.6%
    Fred Thompson 18.7%
    McCain 13.4%
    Romney 12.7%
    Huckabee 5.4%
    Paul 2.8%

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/2012_2008_gop_presidential_race_4_years_ago.html

    McCain— the eventual nominee– had HALF the numbers that Giuliani had. Fred Thompson was beating him by 50%. Even Romney was neck and neck with him.

    By March McCain was at 56.7%, Huckabee at 23.3% and Ron Paul at 6.5%. Everyone else had dropped out.

    Ron Paul is at 8.5% in this week’s polling four uears later, four times what he had in 2008.

    Additionally, Ron Paul has collected over twice the campaign contributions as Herman Cain, having less money than only Romney and Perry. Cain right now doesn’t have the funding to go the distance.

    My point being that it is still very early in the election cycle. A lot is guaranteed to change. Right now, only three candidates have enough money to make it to March and April: Perry, Paul and Romney.

    Here’s where I get my funding information:

    http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/index.php

    Best wishes!

    -Greg

  30. By Brad Phillips:

    Greg,

    On that point, we absolutely agree. I well remember Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani leading the polls, and I never suggested Ron Paul can’t pull it out. On the Democratic side last time around, you probably also remember that Hillary Clinton had a commanding lead for much of the campaign. You’re also right that Ron Paul will have the money to stick it out. Still, based on everything I’ve learned about politics, I have a tough time understanding Ron Paul’s path to 270 electoral votes.

    I think some readers of the blog think I’m coming from an ideological perspective, but I try hard to write nonpartisan, dispassionate analyses primarily focused on communications. You might be surprised who I support in the 2012 election based on stories I’ve written on this blog. That’s as it should be – I don’t want my communications analyses to be tainted by my personal opionions.

    Thanks for writing and being engaged with this blog. I’m glad to have you here.

    Brad

  31. By Greg:

    Oh, and one last thing.

    Less than a month ago Herman Cain was polling at 5%.

    This week he is beating even Romney at 26%

    Now how did that happen? If I had told you four weeks ago that Cain would be beating Romney in a month, you probably would have laughed.

    The point is: Things change.

  32. By Greg:

    Brad–

    Glad to be here! Thank you very much for keeping things civil and the dialogue interesting. It should be a very interesting year.

    -Greg

  33. By Bill:

    Greg, sure, we can sit on this side of the pond with our guns cocked for any intruders but it ain’t good enough.

    We need to be out there to protect our interests around the world, as well as our allies, our friends, and to keep someone from rolling over others, to include our friends, to only end up growing bigger than we are.

    Sorry, we can’t have that.

    It is in our interests to prevent a country from swallowing up others, to include our friends, only to grow big enough to be able to cause us serious harm.
    The threat is out there – it is real – we do not do what we do for nothing – it is for good reason.
    Besides, it is what it is, and no Ron Paul could ever stop it. The end result – Ron Paul is a squeaking mouse in a running wheel – face facts, what he proposes will go nowhere.

    As for your concern with costs to provide our security; the price of not conducting business as we do would be a lot higher in the end.

    Somebody in the West has to do it, and we’re it.

    Besides, our activity keeps people employed in a lot of well paid jobs here. The tax payers get their money’s worth, too. The systems we purchase, on average, are deployed for 35 years. Trust that we get our money’s worth. I know there’s some waste and overcost, but overall, we do OK.
    Also, Military personnel are not the highest paid workers, so we get our money’s worth there, too. But many get good training, then even take it to the private sector where it does a lot of good. Most commercial pilots got their training in the military, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, aviation techs, air traffic controllers, as well as doctors (Ron Paul), and the list goes on, and on, and on. Our overall system does well because of it.

    We all need to try to think of the positive in the respect of America staying strong in every respect possible.

    Peace only comes through strength.

  34. By Greg:

    Bill,

    Our worldviews are entirely different. I will try to respond to your points as logically as I can, but I think what I say won’t have any influence on you at all. I will try.

    “Greg, sure, we can sit on this side of the pond with our guns cocked for any intruders but it ain’t good enough.”

    Says who? It was a perfectly fine foreign policy for 200 years. In fact, we wouldn’t have even entered WWII if Japan hadn’t bombed Pearl Harbor.

    “We need to be out there to protect our interests around the world, as well as our allies, our friends, and to keep someone from rolling over others, to include our friends, to only end up growing bigger than we are.”

    So you are saying it is our job to keep some country from invading others and becoming an empire which will rival ours? Is that what you are saying?

    If it is: Again, I say, WHY? Why is that our job?

    Secondly: Guess what, there already IS such a power: It’s named China.

    “Sorry, we can’t have that.”

    Why not? We did perfectly fine with two world powers didn’t we? In fact, when there was the USSR and the US, there were no world wars.

    “It is in our interests to prevent a country from swallowing up others, to include our friends, only to grow big enough to be able to cause us serious harm.”

    Preventive wars of aggression to prevent the ascendance of a new “superpower” are fueling the exact opposite reaction you say we are trying to prevent. We are inciting hatred for the US by being in all these countries where we don’t belong. We are not making the US safer— we are putting it in a more dangerous position.

    “The threat is out there – it is real – we do not do what we do for nothing – it is for good reason.”

    I would agree with you there, but I don’t believe it is for the reason you think. I believe our foreign policy has to do with securing our access to the world’s remaining oil supplies. Now, don’t get me wrong— I’m not some sort of anti-business liberal– but from what I have witnessed and from what I know about how close we are to Peak Oil, this is the only logical conclusion to be made from our foreign policy as far as I can see. This doesn’t have to do necessarily with money— it has to do with preserving the American lifestyle and hopefully postponing what might be a major shift or crisis in our entire society due to oil depletion.

    Saudi citizens blew up the planes on 9-11. Our response? Invade Iraq! (None of the hijackers were from Iraq.) Iraq, it turned out, also had no “weapons of mass destruction.” Iraq, however, does have a lot of oil, and had a regime that wasn’t favorable to the US.

    Libya? Same thing.

    If you are going to try to tell me that Libya posed an imminent threat to the US, or posed an imminent threat to become a world superpower, I would question your reasoning ability.

    Sure, there are a lot of bad guys out there who treat their citizens poorly, but who we don’t invade. North Korea, Mongolia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Why aren’t we in pre-emptive wars in those countries? I believe it because they have no oil.

    “Besides, it is what it is, and no Ron Paul could ever stop it.”

    Really? So your final argument is that “this is just the way it is and no one could ever change it so I might as well just not try”? I guess I’ll just lay down and quit trying to improve things, then.

    “The end result – Ron Paul is a squeaking mouse in a running wheel – face facts, what he proposes will go nowhere.”

    Again, I don’t see the same facts as you do. Four years ago he was the only one calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Now all Repub candidates except Cain are calling for it. Similarly his policies on debt.

    His proposals have ALREADY gone somewhere. Sorry, that is fact.

    “As for your concern with costs to provide our security; the price of not conducting business as we do would be a lot higher in the end.”

    Here is where we disagree. I see the cost of these wars in the long run being more dangerous than any implied or real threats otherwise. If you study history, almost all great empires of the past have collapsed because of similar monetary issues and over-extended wars. Why should we be any different?

    In 2008 the US banking system almost collapsed. The US housing market collapsed. People are protesting in the streets of most major American cities as we speak.

    None of these things happened because of a single thing Saddam Hussein was doing or Qaddafi was doing. However, they DID happen because of our flagrant borrowing. If the dollar collapses or inflates, the whole game is up. One of the reason that might happen is because we are borrowing so much money for these multiple wars and military bases.

    “Somebody in the West has to do it, and we’re it.”

    No one has to do it.

    “Besides, our activity keeps people employed in a lot of well paid jobs here. The tax payers get their money’s worth, too. The systems we purchase, on average, are deployed for 35 years. Trust that we get our money’s worth. I know there’s some waste and overcost, but overall, we do OK.
    Also, Military personnel are not the highest paid workers, so we get our money’s worth there, too. But many get good training, then even take it to the private sector where it does a lot of good. Most commercial pilots got their training in the military, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, aviation techs, air traffic controllers, as well as doctors (Ron Paul), and the list goes on, and on, and on. Our overall system does well because of it.”

    These people are paid by the federal government, and spend most of that money overseas— money which leaves our economy. Additionally, all the money we spend on bombs which are destroyed add nothing to the US economy. If we brought those military people home, they would get other jobs, spend that money in American businesses here at home, and spend their time MAKING things rather than making things that DISAPPEAR like bombs.

    “We all need to try to think of the positive in the respect of America staying strong in every respect possible.”

    I agree with you here. I really do! I just see the best way to that strength as spending all the money we spend on war here at home on American people and in American businesses.

    “Peace only comes through strength.”

    If you are indicating MORAL strength, then I would agree!

    Best wishes,

    -Greg

  35. By Bill:

    Greg,

    “It was a perfectly fine foreign policy for 200 years. In fact, we wouldn’t have even entered WWII if Japan hadn’t bombed Pearl Harbor.”

    Japan attacked us because we imposed an oil embargo on them for their brutalization of China – does the Rape of Nanking ring a bell?
    And, Japan was not only brutalizing China – they were moving and grooving on a whole lot of countries.
    So, one way or the other, we end up getting into it, whether we want to or not. It’s better to be there so the brutalization of weaker nations by bullies is kept to a minimum.

    If we were to go out together to a bar in your neighborhood and some goon just started pounding your face in – should I say it’s not my business, he not hitting me, so…?
    I’d put a stop to it, and even go down with you, if that were the case. But I wouldn’t stand there and watch you take a brutal beating from a bully.
    And if I were over in your neck of the woods in that bar when a bully decided to beat on you, versus being in my own neighborhood, wouldn’t you be the fortunate one?
    There’s a lot of bullies out there, and bullies always pick on a weaker loner.

    “So you are saying it is our job to keep some country from invading others and becoming an empire which will rival ours? Is that what you are saying?
    If it is: Again, I say, WHY? Why is that our job?”

    It is within our interest to keep countries from brutalizing their neighbors, taking over those countries, then becoming large enough to then come after us.
    If a leader of a nation calls out for world domination, then starts to gobble up other nations, growing bigger and stronger while gaining manpower, resources, and territories, we are better off being out there to nip it in the bud, rather than wait until it grows, making it a bigger task to thwart, or even growing to the point it overtakes us.

    “We did perfectly fine with two world powers didn’t we? In fact, when there was the USSR and the US, there were no world wars.”

    “was”??? That’s a major misconception. Russia still exists.
    Oil production boosted Russia’s economy, and under Putin they have been ‘coming back’, and now so might Putin. The country’s nuclear-equipped military has vastly improved from the early and mid-1990s. A military confrontation with Russia is unlikely because they still have a superpower-sized nuclear arsenal. They too stay safe from other countries invading them.

    “Preventive wars of aggression to prevent the ascendance of a new “superpower” are fueling the exact opposite reaction you say we are trying to prevent. We are inciting hatred for the US by being in all these countries where we don’t belong. We are not making the US safer— we are putting it in a more dangerous position.”

    I disagree – we took the appeasement approach in the past, with no bases in Europe or Asia, and we were attacked by both Japan and Germany, because we instead used non-militaristic approaches – aid and embargos, and we did so because Germany and Japan were invading and brutalizing their neighbors, some of which were our friends.
    I say it is best to be there to sooner help our allies, our friends, to nip it in the bud as soon as possible, rather than let a bully brutalize our friends.
    As for allowing another country to become a superpower, like Iran; too bad if they get mad. With their outspoken plan to take over the world……. we are doing the right thing. We need to get in there and change that crazy attitude so we can ‘all get along’.
    Russia or even China being a super-power is one thing, they don’t have a religious quest to take over the planet – the Iranian mullahs and their followers do.

    ” I believe our foreign policy has to do with securing our access to the world’s remaining oil supplies.”

    Wrong – we went into Iraq to overthrow a madman and go after the enemy who went there from Afghanistan seeking a safe haven. Many ranted we went in for the oil, and now we are pulling out soon, while some complain we should have benefited from Iraqi oil – it’s not what we are about. America is for free trade. The claim that we’re brutal aggressors all for oil is nonsense. If it were the case we have what it takes to roll on all oil rich countries and take what we want, but we haven’t. We buy oil. We do not take it.

    “Saudi citizens blew up the planes on 9-11. Our response? Invade Iraq! (None of the hijackers were from Iraq.) Iraq, it turned out, also had no “weapons of mass destruction.” Iraq, however, does have a lot of oil, and had a regime that wasn’t favorable to the US.”

    As I stated already – we went into Iraq because the enemy fled to there from Afghanistan for what they thought was a safe haven – they were Bush-whacked instead. And we let them come from all around into Iraq where we continued to take them out. We also got to help bring Saddam to justice – the Iraqi people tried and hanged him for the atrocities he committed on the Iraqi people.
    WMDs? They certainly had enough time to move them, Saddam used them on Iraqi citizens, and we did find evidence of the Iraqi military stuffing artillery shells with ricin. But, the real, main objective was to take out the enemy who fled to there from Afghanistan.

    “Libya? Same thing.”

    I’m not really sure about all with Libya – because it was a decision that didn’t go through Congress, we really didn’t hear any arguments on it, so we don’t have enough info to pass judgement.
    All we can do is hope they are doing the right thing.

    “Sure, there are a lot of bad guys out there who treat their citizens poorly, but who we don’t invade. North Korea, Mongolia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Why aren’t we in pre-emptive wars in those countries? I believe it because they have no oil.”

    On this I hear you, but I think it’s a matter of setting priorities. We are ranted on each time we move, so we need to limit the amount of our movement. This leads to prioritizing our movements to our interests first. Yes, we need to keep the oil flowing and the shipping lanes open. But, we do not invade countries and take anything from them. We protect our interests – our ability to sell and purchase on the open market.
    I think that if there were less raving about our movement, then we would be more free to move more often – not only protecting our interests, but also moving more often to intervene on behalf of those being harassed.

    “So your final argument is that “this is just the way it is and no one could ever change it so I might as well just not try”? I guess I’ll just lay down and quit trying to improve things, then.”

    Ron Paul has been consistent with his message for years – saying the same thing, but he has done very little to sway his colleagues or the public. And his comments about Iran and Israel aren’t sitting right with a lot of people.

    “If you study history, almost all great empires of the past have collapsed because of similar monetary issues and over-extended wars. Why should we be any different?”

    Because we are a Republic.

    “In 2008 the US banking system almost collapsed. The US housing market collapsed. People are protesting in the streets of most major American cities as we speak.”

    The Democrats, to include Frank and Dodd, had their Frannie and Freddie buddies allowing loans to be underwritten to people who didn’t even have a job – yup, trouble. But it’s not the end of the world.
    OWS – commie pigs, unions, Dems, and some concerned people in earnest. It was put together by the Dems as part of their blame game. It was Wall Street, the rich people, not our policies, so don’t take it out on us at the polls, and tax the rich – let’s allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. Blame and smoke and mirrors. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire will hurt the lowest bracket the most, but the Dems have the fools convinced it will only tax the rich.

    “These people are paid by the federal government, and spend most of that money overseas— money which leaves our economy.”

    No they don’t – most of their money is spent in base exchanges. Sure, they spend some in the economy while travelling about when they have time off, but the bulk of it is spent in the base exchanges.
    And a lot of our bases have foreign military training here in the states, who also spend in our base exchanges and in our economy.
    We only have about 78k military personnel throughout all of Europe and 47k in East Asia and the Pacific. That’s 125k out of 312.5 million Americans. It’s a drop in the bucket in the scheme of things.
    Like I said, we get a good bang for our buck.

    “I just see the best way to that strength as spending all the money we spend on war here at home on American people and in American businesses.”

    What we really need to do is throw out the Dems so we can get America back on track, then everyone won’t be bickering about how much we spend for our military, Medicare, etc. – we need to rise above it.
    We need to set a goal to get rich again, and I believe with the right person at the helm we can turn it around and accomplish that goal, especially if given a Republican-controlled Congress.
    If people can put their ideology, especially the extreme left and right, and religion aside for a moment, and focus on the old adage, it’s the economy, stupid, we can select a president who will help make it happen.
    I strongly believe Romney is the best person for this task. He is the best qualified for the job, and he stands the best chance of taking the White House from Obama or Hillary.

    “If you are indicating MORAL strength, then I would agree!”

    I think both is best – strength in the wrong hands leads to the Hitlers of the world. Having only morals, and not strength, somebody with strength and no morals will knock you down and out.
    Strength in the hands of the moral…. that’s what American is all about.

  36. By Larry Smithmier:

    I have enjoyed your analysis of the Republican candidates over the past year, and like the way that you analyse their effectiveness and the impact of their message without going into the politics the message represents. Tonight I was struck by how interesting I would find your analysis of President Obama’s message and effectiveness as he works his way to the election.

  37. By Brad Phillips:

    Hi Larry,

    Nice to hear from you – thank you for commenting on the blog! You’re right that I’ve focused heavily on the GOP candidates, and not much on President Obama’s message. I’ll be doing more of that once the general election season begins. My sense is that President Obama has improved his message over the past two months, which will help to motivate the Democratic base. The question, of course, is whether or not his newly energized communications will be enough to overcome an approval rating hovering in the low-mid 40s. We’ll know more once Republicans select their nominee.

    Thanks again!
    Brad

Leave a Comment

(will not be published)


six + 9 =