Well, I recorded the debate and just now finished watching it.
Some observations for anyone interested in a biased non-politician's perspective (
-It was a lot messier of a debate than was the one in New Hampshire. Honestly, Fox regained a hint of credibility in my mind, because the questions asked were usually pretty testy and even occasionally over-the-top (watch for news coverage of Gingrich calling out the moderator, as well as the crowd booing the moderator after a question to Bachmann about the role of women's submission to men in the Bible). As a result, I hope the moderators of the next debate move beyond asking the candidates to clarify statements or resolve apparently disparate positions and rather focus more on general ideological and political viewpoints; the media do a fine
job already in cycling through soundbites and redos. In addition to candidate-moderator clashes, though, there were plenty of candidate-candidate clashes, too. Bachmann and Pawlenty had some exchanges, as did Pawlenty and Romeny; Paul and Santorum, Bachmann, and Pawlenty went at each other's throats over foreign policy in the Middle East.
-Even as a liberal, I thought each candidate gave one or two responses that conveyed glimmers of hope. Particularly memorable were Santorum admitting that arguments not to raise the debt ceiling were gimmicks and Huntsman standing firm on his calls for equal marriage rights for gays.
-As usual, it was fun to watch Paul even though I don't agree with him on much. He absolutely took everyone to town, in my opinion, on foreign policy in the Middle East. He also did a clever job stealing Gingrich's thunder when Paul mentioned "I'm glad the mainstream has finally caught up with me" in response to Gingrich's calls for an audit of the Fed.
-There were a couple of times where candidates honestly seemed to be lying through their teeth, or at the very best, doing some serious tap-dance flip-flopping. Romney's answers were most memorable in my opinion. He apparently once said in MA that the state legislators should have decided on gay marriage equality, not the MA Supreme Court; then he turned around and dismissed New York's legislature's actions and said that he'd support a federal marriage amendment. As far as I can remember without checking a transcript, he pretty much flat out lied about raising taxes to help restore Massachusetts' credit rating; at the best, he somehow spun the discussion to argue that that circumstance shouldn't be extrapolated to the national level. And yet again, he dug himself deeper into a hole in talking about how he was going to give all the states a waiver from Obama's health care overhaul--when it's well-known that Obama's plan allows states to apply for waivers given that their plans ultimately cover the same breadth of the population
. So between all of that and the fact that his colleagues finally started taking some shots at him, I don't think it was his best night.
-Every single person on stage raised his or her hand in affirmation that he or she would not accept a deficit reduction plan composed of 10 dollars of spending cuts for every 1 dollar of tax revenues raised. (And what's so frustrating is that you could see some of the candidates hesitating!) Honestly I had to restrain myself from turning off the TV right at that moment because the ideological partisanship was sickening, even as a couple of the candidates were talking about how important it was to be able to work effectively in a divided government situation.