Friday, May 04, 2007

Giuliani Most Presidential In First GOP Debate

Alessandra Stanley, the New York Times' TV critic, probably got off the best lines of the night of the first GOP debate when she wrote, "Viewers who stayed with MSNBC for the full 90 minutes had reason to be confused. The candidates had reason to be annoyed."

Confused and annoyed are appropriate words when you have 10 candidates, at least seven of whom stand no chance at all, trying in 30 and 60 second soundbites to develop a meaningful exchange in 90 minutes. Especially when the questions range all over the lot.

That said, I still had the impression that it was former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who looked the most presidential in the evening's exchanges. He is the front runner in the early polls, and he made some fairly impressive points, although he waffled on the abortion question. Still, he was the only one to say, finally, that he backed a woman's right to choose, which is, lest we forget, the majority opinion in this country.

Perhaps, Giuliani only looked good in relation to the two other candidates who have a chance, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. McCain in particular sounded too shrill, he was probably too enthusiastic about the Iraq war, and his line that he would follow Osama bin Laden "to the gates of hell" to rub him out frankly sounded bombastic. It reminds me of some unsuccessful lines I once used in a speech (1955) at Boy's State. McCain is showing his age from time to time. Once, he said Iraq when he meant Iran and quickly had to correct himself.

Romney was hardly very definite. I didn't think he made much of an impression one way or another. He looked pretty much like several others, and none of these candidates wore name tags.

Giuliani, however, was fairly effective in pounding away at his experience reducing crime in New York, fighting terrorism and suggesting that the Democrats weren't really up to doing so. All these would be likely themes if Giuliani ends up as the Republican nominee. Giuliani is sometimes compared to the conservative candidate for President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy. Sarkozy now seems to be leading in Sunday's forthcoming French election.

The New York Times story on the debate didn't even mention four of the candidates until the last paragraph, and then only to say that they were there.

But one of the candidates left for that last paragraph was Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who was the only one to emphasize he had always opposed the Iraq war. There may be more than a few Republican votes for that position when the primaries come around next year.

The greatest laugh of the night came when moderator Chris Mathews asked the candidates whether they disagreed with the theory of evolution. Three, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Brownback and Rep. Tom Tancredo, said they did.

On stem cell research, only McCain and Giuliani really spoke up in favor of it. Otherwise, on this and other issues, most of the minor candidates on the stage said nothing that would indicate they are anywhere close to positions taken by a majority of American votes.

Normally, I'd say anyone taking a daily pasting like Giuliani is from the New York Times and other representatives of the liberal press would be hurting. But in this race, unless McCain can muster up a better performance that he put on last night, he is out of it, and Giuliani will probably be the nominee. Former Sen. and actor Fred Thompson of Tennessee, of course, still hasn't entered the contest. If he does, he might give Giuliani a run for it.



Anonymous David Glick said...

Were we watching the same debate? How in the heck do you possibly think Giuliani looked "Presidential"? As if his waffling answers on abortion were not bad enough, I particularly loved his answer on the differences between Sunni and Shia muslims. He looked absolutely stunned by the question. While he managed to sputter out an answer, I would wager that most people had no clue what he had just said.
And what is up with your whole one sentence on Mitt Romney's performance? You claim he didn't make much of an impression. News to me. Most commentators and online bloggers, posters, etc.., felt he definitely came out the winner last night. So the question comes: Are you a paid blogger for Giuliani or just mesmerized by his celebrity?

5/04/2007 5:38 AM  

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