Republicans Debate, Anarchy Wins
There were clear winners and losers in the latest Republican debate, held at the Reagan Library. But before we score the candidates, it’s worth noting the two über winners. The first was Ronald Reagan. While I remember Reagan as the affable con artist who decided kids were properly fed if their school lunch included ketchup, the candidates invoked him some two dozen times.
The other big winner of the night was the political model known as Anarchy. The elephant now has a circle-A tattooed on his butt. One after another these candidates proved that the Republican Party no longer stands for conservative principles like small government. It now stands for dismantling government altogether.
From ending all regulation (Paul) to ending progressive taxation (Cain) to ending Social Security (Perry) to ending Medicaid (Perry again) this group of candidates is running on a platform of ending a federal role in government. (The party was previously on record for wanting to end Medicare, product safety regulation, the EPA and the Department of Education.)
Rick Perry even talked about “cutting off the head of the snake.” It was an odd analogy. He’s running to be the head, isn’t he? But enough meta-analysis, here’s how the winners and losers stack up.
Biggest winner: Rick Perry
Perry didn’t win the debate. But he did perform well enough to solidify a two person race. He made the biggest gaffe of the night, calling Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme.” But otherwise, he answered every attack credibly, accomplishing what he needed to.
Perry also got the biggest applause of the night, when the moderator noted he’d executed more prisoners than any other governor. Apparently revenge is pretty darn popular in the R-party these days.
Best performer: Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney won the debate. He gave the best performance and was only one of two candidates (with Huntsman) who seemed presidential. He made no major gaffes and successfully answered attacks from Perry—obscuring his record on health care (he used to be for it) and deflecting his record on job creation (he wasn’t very successful at it.) Most notably, he deflected the factual criticism that his private sector experience was as a corporate raider.