Reactions to the Fox News Iowa Debate

Last night, the Republican candidates met for the final debate before the Iowa Caucuses in two weeks.  It was awfully nice to finally be back on friendly soil with Fox News after debate after debate with the Drive-By Media moderating.  I also had friends over to watch the debate and, in between serious conversation of the candidates, we also had a little fun and figured out which character of Jim Henson’s Muppets each candidate looked like, and I thought I’d share that fun with you.
So let’s play a round of everyone’s favorite post-debate analysis game: Buy, Hold, Sell, or Sell All. 

Michelle Bachmann (Red from Fraggle Rock) – Sell All (Sell):    
Congresswoman Bachmann really explained the problem with continuing the Payroll Tax holiday…the payroll tax pays for Social Security and cutting that tax is the equivalent of cutting 1/3 of your personal food budget while still needing to spend the same amount on food.  Social Security is self-sustaining through the Payroll Tax, but now the Obama solution is to use money from the general fund to pay Social Security, which means you pay for someone else’s retirement…that is Socialism.
Bachmann would make a great Vice Presidential nominee.  Like Sarah Palin, she’s an excellent attack dog.  That’s what you want in the #2 spot, especially if the nominee isn’t Newt Gingrich, who would be his own attack dog (his perfect VP would be someone like Herman Cain).  I just don’t see her rebounding, but I’ve been wrong twice before in this race so don’t trust my predictions in this race!
Congresswoman Bachmann is getting desperate.  She’s going on the attack, trying to land haymakers on Newt now, because he’s the current official alternative to Mitt Romney.  She didn’t come across as solid…she came across as desperately trying to get traction.  Like her reaction to Newt saying she had her facts wrong.  Any time you have to say “I’m a legitimate candidate” to me it just sounds desperate.  I do love Congresswoman Bachmann as a politician, she’s one of my favorite elected officials, and I wish she was my representative.  But barring a miracle, she’s done. 

Newt Gingrich (Fozzie Bear) – Buy (Buy):   
Newt did a pretty good job of explaining his support of an individual mandate in the Hillarycare battle and explained that it was an attempt to deal with the real problem of people failing to pay for themselves when they could afford to…he also admitted flat out that he was wrong. You see, I don’t expect people to never make a mistake in their political past.  (I’ve been convinced to change my mind on certain issues too…I’ve done so in this year that I’ve been writing this blog through debates I’ve had with others.)  The reality is sometimes you consider a pragmatic solution that you decide after it’s failed to be implemented (or succeeded) you change your mind.  Newt has done this on other issues too, like sitting on the famous couch with Nancy Pelosi.  He was also very candid and, I felt, genuinely contrite of his marital failures and spoke of going to God for forgiveness.  This is why I feel his past sins are not a problem, because I believe he has genuinely repented.
Aside from that, Newt was straight forward and honest.  He reminded me of Ronald Reagan saying “there you go again.”  I would like to see Newt have more of a grandfatherly tone than a professorial tone…in other words, I’d prefer that he’d say “there you go again” instead of blinking with a tone that says “are you stupid?” but I do know that Newt would trounce Obama in a debate, and that, I believe, will do wonders to take away Obama’s pretty words.
I am becoming confident that Newt is going to be the Republican nominee, and that frankly excites me, because he can effectively communicate conservatism, and real conservatism wins every time it’s effectively communicated.  I also think the digging for skeletons in the closet with Newt is going to fail, because his skeletons are in his front yard, and they’ve been there so long that people have stopped noticing them.
First of all, I want to thank Newt for actually saying “Merry Christmas.”  Secondly, I think Newt did a fine job destroying the silly argument that Newt isn’t a “real conservative.” He really hammered on those points and continually showed why he is the best conservative in the race.  Newt answers every question clearly with a frankness that I find refreshing.  Newt was on the crosshairs tonight, which is what happens to the frontrunner.  He did a far better job than Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain before him. Every attack levied at him he handled clearly and openly.  He also knocked it out of the park on the issue of courts.  I loudly cheered at that moment. 
Every time Newt debates it helps him.  Once again, I feel like he did an excellent job of answering every attack clearly without sounding defensive.  He really fended off the attacks and did a great job.  Newt is continuing to prove that he’s a genuine conservative and that he can absolutely effectively communicate conservatism, which means, absolutely, he can beat Obama, regardless of what a poll right now is saying in a head to head matchup with Obama.  Once a national campaign is underway, trust me, Obama will lose, and I believe he will lose huge to Newt if Newt is the nominee.

Jon Huntsman (Grover) – Sold (Sold):      
Huntsman’s absence left me without opportunities to use the bathroom or get myself a beverage.  Of course, it did mean there was more real debate happening. 
Instead of wasting time on Jon Huntsman, I’ve decided to link to a video from one of my favorite sites, “How it Should Have Ended.”  So here is How Wizard of Oz Should Have Ended for your viewing pleasure.

Ron Paul (Rizzo) - Sold (Sold): 
(No, I’m not calling Ron Paul a rat, folks.)
Ron Paul danced around with his Happy Imagination Hat on again, talking about his unrealistic non-interventionist policies as if they were practically possible in the modern world.  Those policies only barely worked in the early 19th Century and they absolutely don’t work now.  Look, the reasons that the Islamic Fascists (note: does not include all Muslims) hate us does not have to do with bases in any location or interventionist policies.  They hate us because they believe their god commanded them to kill all infidels, which is defined as all non-Muslims, in an effort to spread their religion.  (As a Christian, I understand proselytizing, I was commanded by Christ as all Christians were to go into the world and preach the Gospel and make disciples…but we do it through love and through service, not through killing unbelievers.) This debate showed why Paul is not going to be the Republican nominee.  He is out of line with the vast majority of the Republican Party, with the conservative base, and yes, with the Tea Party…on the subject of defense at least.
I loved when Paul stated that absolutely anyone on the stage could beat Obama.  He’s right.  I’ve said it over and over: Foghorn Leghorn (R) could beat Obama.  Now for my biggest concern with Paul:  Every time he is asked if he would mount a 3rd party campaign in the likely opportunity that he is not the Republican nominee.  Paul had a good debate, but how I feel (and I believe how most conservatives feel) about Paul hasn’t changed:  He lives in the Real World up the street from me eight months a year on economic policy but moves to his timeshare in Happy Imagination Land four months a year on foreign policy. 
Rick Perry (Ernie) – Hold (Hold):                                                                                  
I loved Perry’s statement that his marriage vow was not just a vow to his wife but a vow to God.  Perry was on the attack, and honestly I wasn’t a fan of it in many cases.  I think Governor Perry is throwing haymakers.  He’s been kind of the Rocky Balboa of this race, in that he’s taken a terrific beating largely by blocking punches with his face and won’t go down.  He’s losing on points by a whole lot, and he’ll lose the decision if he lasts to the end of the final round.  But, like Rocky, there’s the possibility he’ll last that big knockout blow in the final round and win in a knockout, which is why I continue to hold Perry’s stock. 
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  I love Perry on paper.  I just don’t think he’s ready, yet.  Remember how many Presidents ran previously and did not win the first time:  from Thomas Jefferson (1796) to more modern examples like Richard Nixon (1960), Ronald Reagan (1976), and George H.W. Bush (1980) all ran for President before they were ultimately elected.  I think Rick Perry might be one of these.  I’d look for Governor Perry to be a much stronger candidate in the election of 2020. 
One final note on Perry:  He made Romney look like a fool with his response to Mitt’s “I’ll bet you $10,000” remark by simply smiling and stating “I don’t gamble.”
Perry’s turned into a competent debater, but I think it’s too late for 2012.  I love his plans, but he’s not ready yet.  I honestly believe that you’re going to see Perry in the Presidential arena again in eight years, and I think he’ll be a much stronger candidate at that time.  The only question is whether or not it will be too late for him, because in eight years young stars like Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and Bobby Jindal are going to be ready to step into national politics.  The question for Perry is will he be the guy who is finally seasoned enough for the national scene or is he the guy who is now pas this prime?

Mitt Romney (Sam the Eagle) – Hold (Buy):       
Mitt is what he is…not a RINO, but a Rockefeller Republican.  He’d be better than Obama and I will get behind Mittens, yep, that’s his real name (no it’s really not…it’s Willard), if he does win the nomination.  I’m glad he’s not on track to put me in that position.  He got roughed up by Gingrich…he was lost when he was asked to name where he differed from Speaker Gingrich…his first response was opposition to a plan I bet none of us had heard of regarding mining resources on the Moon.  (If anyone was actually aware of that proposal before it was brought up in the debate, I will let you guest post on Biblical Conservatism on a topic of your choosing within reason.)  I’d also like to note that he looks orange.  Like Benjamin Grimm orange. 
I did enjoy Mitt’s response to the “Newt Romney” line from Michelle Bachmann with his parody of Lloyd Bentsen in 1988, and more importantly he’s steady.  He knows who he is and what policies he’s supporting.  What I do believe is going to hurt him still is his refusal to back down on Romneycare.  Mitt’s other big problem is the fact that it’s not 2008 anymore.  Something has changed in the Republican Party since 2008.  We conservatives have stood up and said absolutely no to the GOP trying to choose our nominee based on whose “turn” it is…so sorry, Mitt, I don’t think this nomination is going to be yours. 
Mitt also really shot himself in the foot with his “I’ll bet you $10,000.”  It sounded tremendously out of touch…not many Americans just up and wager ten grand like they were waging five dollars.  The response itself wasn’t completely foolhardy, just the wager he offered.  If he had rather said “I’ll wager you dinner after the next debate” or “I’ll make you a bet, if I’m wrong I will wear a Bugs Bunny tie on the next debate, but if you’re wrong you do the same,” he would’ve been fine.  But offering a wager that is approximately 20% of the median household income of a family of four…well, just shows that Mitt is out of touch.  It’s been said of some of the most well spoken politicians that they have a “rapier wit.”  In this gaffe, Governor Romney showed that his wit was more like a fencing foil.
Mitt had a moment that I pumped my fist at when he said the private sector, not government is going to solve the problems we have for needing new supplies, new products, etc.  I also loved his comment that Obama’s defense strategy is “pretty please.”  He had a good debate.  He’s steady, but he’s not super-exciting, but he did remind me why I would be willing to get behind him in a general election.
Mitt’s would be a Dwight Eisenhower type President.  He’s a nice guy, he’d be steady and solid and he’d be fairly conservative, but right now we have an opportunity to be better than that.  We can get absolute conservatism, we need to take that opportunity to nominate someone who can fire up the electorate about conservatism, and I don’t think Mitt’s the one to do it.  He’ll win if he’s the nominee (as will Gingrich, as will Bachmann, as will Foghorn Leghorn (R) if they face Obama).  However, I don’t think Romney will be the transformational conservative, like Ronald Reagan.  He’ll be a good nominee, we can have a great nominee.
Rick Santorum (Bert) - Sold (Sold):         
My concerns remain with Santorum.  He’s a Washington insider.  His greatest qualifications seem to be playing the Washington game, and that is not a qualification in this race.  This election is about anything but Washington Insiders. 
Santorum is as exciting as Ben Stein in “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.”  He’s got no chance, and last night he didn’t even try throwing haymakers.
Debate Winner(s):  Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney
As it sits now, the race for my personal vote looks like this:
1.       Newt Gingrich
2.       Rick Perry
3.       Michelle Bachmann
How about you?  Let me know in the comment section, on Twitter (@UpstateMetFan) or on the Biblical Conservatism Fan Page on Facebook!