Monday, November 14, 2011

Debate Wrap Up: 89 Seconds And Counting

The current debate system is a joke, as highlighted by Saturday’s foreign policy debate. There isn’t enough time to get anything useful from the candidates, the format encourages speaking in soundbites, the division of time is incredibly biased, and the questions asked are awful. Here is your debate wrap up and a few complaints.

Unequal Time: If you’ve watched the debates, then you noticed there are too many people on stage to get any useful flow of discussion or meaningful answers. In fact, the candidates are being asked to speak in soundbites. But before we get to that, have you noticed that the distribution of time is highly skewed toward Romney and Perry? Here’s some proof.

A University of Minnesota study has determined how much time was given to each candidate in the last three debates before this week. Here are the results:

41 min. Romney
34 min. Perry
24 min. Bachmann
22 min. Huntsman
21 min. Cain
21 min. Gingrich
21 min. Santorum
18 min. Paul
Fascinating, isn’t it? Romney gets twice as much time as anyone except Perry. In last Tuesday’s debate, Romney actually got 25% of the total time, leaving the other seven to divide the rest. In Saturday’s debate, Ron Paul was given a grand total of 89 seconds to speak. . . less than one second for every minute of the debate.

After the debate, Bachmann’s campaign produced an email proving that CBS intentionally minimized candidates. In an email inadvertently copied to Bachmann’s staff, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson was lukewarm about a post-debate interview with Bachmann hoping he could get a higher-tiered candidate. Interestingly, he mentions in this internal e-mail that Bachmann would not be getting many questions during the debate: “let’s keep it loose though since she’s not going to get many questions and she’s nearly off the charts in the hopes that we can get someone else.”

Why invite her at all?

Inadequate Time: Even beyond the issue of the time being divided unfairly, the real issue is the completely inadequate time in these debates. How in the world can you explain how you would reform health care in 30 seconds? How can you explain what’s gone wrong with Obama’s foreign policy and what you would do different to solve both Afghanistan and Pakistan in 30 seconds?

Unfortunately, this leads to speaking in soundbites, which tell us nothing. Newt in particular has mastered this art, and that’s one thing that keeps me nervous about him. Indeed, Newt’s answers all follow this pattern: Attack the moderator for asking the question and complain about being unable to answer in the short time given. Huff. “Reluctantly” agree to answer and spit out a rapid succession of key words and phrases to give the impression Newt has significant knowledge about the issue and that he was prepared to give a lengthy response before he “shockingly” learned he would only be given 30 seconds to respond. Finish with soundbite. The next time he does this, ask yourself if he actually told you anything? The answer is no, he didn’t.

Romney, by comparison, goes straight to soundbite speak. He spits out lots of words and generic thoughts that mean nothing: “I’ll be tough with people that deserve it and rebuild our relationship with our friends while maintaining America’s interests.” Does that actually mean anything? No. Being tough could be anything from nuking them to sending a harsh letter, and how do you rebuild a relationship with a friend, whoever that is, and rebuild it into what? And what are America’s interests? This is placebo-speak. Newt finishes his responses the same way.

Moreover, the questions are horrible: How do you make decisions? Do you believe in torture? Should we ever go to war? How do we “fix” Pakistan? These are softball, meaningless questions that are so vague they cannot lead to genuinely useful answers.

Saturday’s Performances: Finally, you want to know how the debate went, so here's a summary.
Gingrich: Gingrich won. He had excellent soundbites and sounded the most knowledgeable. He also had an excellent answer, which he and Cain seemed to share, about how to handle Iran -- covert action to disrupt their nuclear program including killing scientists and supporting Iranian opposition groups. He also said when an American joins a terrorist group and goes to war against the United States, they have no civil rights and our military can kill them just like any enemy combatant -- it's sad this even had to be explained to the MSM. Newt also has adopted Cain’s happy outlook and has nothing but love for everyone else on stage. That plays well.

Cain: Cain had a great night because he had solid answers (though the neocons continue to mock him). In particular he led off on Iran and his answer was a home run (see Newt's answer above). He also gave a solid answer about how he would make decisions, which is listening to knowledgeable people with a variety of opinions and choosing among them. He gave a good answer on torture too, which is he wouldn’t allow torture, but he doesn’t think waterboarding is torture.

Romney: Romney offered many platitudes. He believes in sanctions against Iran. . . and war, though he won’t call it that and he won’t say when it would become an option.

Perry: Perry wasn’t drunk or drugged, but he made it clear he still doesn’t understand the difference between Texas and Washington -- his answer to how he would make decisions was that he knows good people in Texas. He had a great applause line about zeroing out foreign aid, BUT he actually backtracked immediately and said each country could then explain why they needed aid. . . so “zero” is actually “no change.”

Bachmann: Bachmann tried to bury us with minutia by listing lots of troop numbers. Yawn. She also said the US has nowhere to put people it captures in the field, which is laughably stupid.

Santorum: Santorum exposed yet another serious flaw in his thinking when he said he would only hire people who think like he does. Those are called “yes men,” and Santorum sounds increasingly like someone who should never be trusted with power. He also continues to whine that if all those evil Republicans in Washington hadn’t opposed him over and over, the world would be nearly perfect today.

Paul: Paul didn’t promise to disarm. To the contrary he said that if we need to go to war, then he would go to Congress, get the authority and win it and get it over with.

Huntsman: I’m going to say something nice about Huntsman, though it pains me. Huntsman was more honest than the others. On instances like how to handle China to the elimination of foreign aid, the other candidates said things to rile up the pitchfork crowd, but always quietly reversed that in the small print. Huntsman was the only one to be honest about these issues and went straight to the small print. For that, he deserves credit. Unfortunately, his foreign policy sounds a lot like Obama’s.


Cronickain said...

They just want to ask a specific pointed question that they already know the answer to without really allowing the candidate enough time to answer the question.

AndrewPrice said...

ACG, It really is about getting soundbites of the candidates rather than answers. That's why the questions are framed the way they are and why the answer periods are so short. Seriously, 30 seconds to answer?

Tennessee Jed said...

I don't disagree with your thoughts, Andrew, but honestly, it is hardly just the debates at fault here. General campaigns love to run negative soundbite advertising. The media is not really in it as a public service. They are asking soundbite questions hoping against hope to get a "Rick Perry moment." that is, something they can endlessly loop and have their talking heads analyze and blather about.

To me, a better way would be to have all candidates prepare position papers on various topics, both domestic and foreign. Then each one would be given an hour to have a discussion in order to elaborate further, followed by a q&a limited to items in the paper.

Won't happen of course, but it is a thought.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's true, the whole system has taken on the trappings of a game show rather than an actual vetting of candidates. If you go to their websites, they're all slick and substance-free. The debates are about creating soundbites. The commercials are about imagery. There's little substance.

I think you're preference is a much better one. I would rather see CBS sit down with each candidate for an hour or half an hour and get into a discussion with them over these issues so we can hear the candidates actually have to SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS rather than spit out soundbites.

That's another reason I love the idea of the Lincoln/Douglas debate Gingrich and Cain tried.

Do I think the American public at large would listen? I think enough of them would. And I know the people who will make the decisions in the primaries definitely would.

DUQ said...

Andrew, I think I get what you mean about Gingrich. It sounds like he's saying a lot of buzzwords but he's really not SAYING anything. Plus, it does seem phony, now that I think about it, the way he acts about the 30 second rule, as if he didn't know it would be the rule.

I do like him, but I think you're right about how he's answering the questions.

Anonymous said...

There was a debate? Was it even advertised? I had no idea until after it was over.

Thanks for the summary!

Writer X

P.S. Blogger is also acting funky with commenting here too.

Unknown said...

I guess I look at it as stretching the entire meaning of "debate." These are a series of mini-speeches rather than a debate. And the format also allows too many opportunities for "gotchas" from the candidates and the moderators.

Debates with more than two debaters (or two debate teams) become chaotic very quickly and are easily sidetracked. One-to-one debates are much more revealing, and another reason why I want an experienced debater as our candidate facing Obama in the general election. So far, that has been Newt Gingrich in spades.

Excellent summation of how each of the candidates fared in the "debate."

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, First, don't get me wrong. I like Gingrich and I could happily support him. BUT what I'm saying is that he's mastered the art of APPEARING to be much deeper than he really is. He makes it sound like he's giving some huge answer that he's "frustratingly" had to pare down because he suddenly discovered he only has 30 seconds. Then he gives the same kind of soundbite everyone else does.

Here's an example of what I mean:

Mod: “Mr. Gingrich, how do you make cheese?”

Newt: “I can’t believe you would ask that..... really. .... You’re asking me to explain something that took thousands of years to develop and you want me to sum it up in 30 seconds? You’re robbing the American people of genuine answers..... Harrumph. There’s so much. You have different kinds of milk and enzymes and then you have to decide what type of cheese you even want. You need to know the times to let it sit and a whole host of other processes..... Look, let’s bottom-line this: you have to know what kind of cheese you want to make and you can’t be afraid to oppose those people who say cheese is only for the elite.

Is there an answer there? No. But it gives the appearance of being someone with a hugely indepth answer.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I agree, these are more mini-speeches and gotcha questions than debates in any real sense of the word.

I would honestly like to see them pare down the numbers and get us to 2-4 people and then open it up to an actual debate... or switch to one on one discussions with the candidates on issues. I really think that would be the better format at this point.

In terms of winning a debate against TOTUS, I think they could probably all do it, though Gingrich would crush him, that's for sure.

T-Rav said...

Thanks for the wrap-up, Andrew. I honestly didn't worry much about the debate, because I doubt many people pay attention to it when it's on a Saturday night. Probably the only thing most of them heard was that Gingrich won, so no harm done.

On the debate format, I might be more bothered by the manner of Newt's responses except that the media is pretty much asking for this kind of reaction. Demand soundbite answers and you open the door for candidates to score points by denouncing the demand for soundbite answers, which is in itself a soundbite answer. Wow, I just got meta there for a second.

I agree, the Lincoln/Douglas-style debates such as he and Cain held would be much more informative. Unfortunately, that would mean less opportunity for the moderators to get involved, so it probably won't happen.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Just in case I was unclear in the article (I had to recreate my draft after our crash this morning), I'm not particularly worried about anything in this debate. I think they all did well enough that no trends will change.

Nor am I saying they did anything wrong. The candidates are doing it exactly as you would expect. They have grasped how our media will sell them to the public and they are playing it well. Gingrich in particular has found a tremendous formula that plays well in that regard.

I just don't like the way this is being handled all around. I think it's bad for America. Indeed, my bigger beef is that WE the public aren't really getting anything out of this. Yes, we're seeing some action and we can kind of get a sense who is fast on their feet and who isn't, but we really haven't learned anything about what these candidates would do.

If Venezuela invaded Mexico on day 10 of their administration, I honestly can't tell you how any of them would react or how they would even make a decision.

I find that troubling.

DUQ said...

Nice "meta" there T-Rav! You can almost see the zen of the universe when you first realize the circularity of it all.... like one hand clapping. :D

Joel Farnham said...


By now, you must know this is by design. Debates have always been between two groups or two people until Clinton, Bush and Perot debates. They never had any moderators until it became apparent that the media couldn't control the debate and the candidates would control what was said.

With this bastardized format, the media can control what information the people receive. With more than two candidates on stage, the likelihood of any thing representing their true beliefs is minimized.

If the media prefer a certain candidate, they will call on that one often. If they think they can embarrass one, they will call on that person.

With this in mind, can you see that it is by design? The Establishment Republicans, the Democrats and the Media are just giving the people many choices. Er... Like many flavors. Next time they will have 31 like Baskin-Robbins. Don't you think that they are just beautiful people for giving us so MANY choices? ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ and T-Rav, It's deeper than an infinite hole. ;)


AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I do indeed see that. This is absolutely by design. The establishment media has set up a game show here, where they control the outcome.

First, they control where people are placed, how much the camera focuses on them, and how long they get to speak. They've reduced the response time to 30 seconds to prevent actual thoughtful answers and to keep the people at home from using their own brains -- they want only top of the head, gut reactions from the audience because that makes it easier to tell you what to believe.

Next, they pick the questions. It's fascinating that they don't all get the same questions. If they like you, then you get these softballs "sir, you've said you want to change the world, tell us how." If they don't like you, then they zap you with something where you are weak or where they've already scored a hit. Perry has legitimate complaints about this because they keep going back to his stumbled from prior debates and basing all their questions around those -- just like they hit Cain with a harassment question in an economic debate!

Then they tell you what to think by adding commentary such as "that wasn't my question" if they don't like the answer you gave.

They also keep people thinking we should judge these debates based on verbal punches because that's how they score the debates and they encourage the candidates to go after each other: "candidate X, tell me why candidate Y is a turd." Don't worry about substance, just listen for the Jerry-Springer moments.

Finally, the moment the debate ends, they bring on the spinners who all say what they planned to say no matter how the debate went. Seriously, listen to those people some time and you'll be amazed that they seem to have watched a completely different debate.

You can't help but see that this is all about trying to sell the public on the chosen candidate(s) and then marginalizing and denigrating the others.

I take it that's what you mean?

Ed said...

I didn't even know there was a debate until I read it here.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Commentarama... your source for news! ;)

Seriously though, who in their right mind schedules a debate on a Saturday night? Also, they moved the last half hour to the internet where you had to get the feed, which stank. These debates have really shown just how bad the MSM is at handling modern technology.

Ed said...

I agree with you and Joel, I think these debates are nothing more than the DC establishment trying to convince us that their chosen candidates are acceptable. I'm not a Paul fan, but how can you give a man who is third or fourth in the polls and who has run for president twice before 89 seconds out of 90 minutes? Also, it's amazing how 30 seconds is the same time as a commercial. These are minicommercials, not minispeeches.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I can't disagree with that. The whole process is meant to feed you an image, not anything substantive. And if they like the candidate, then they boost the image and give you more of it. If they don't like the candidate, then they throw mud on the image and minimize them.

I would very much like to see these people break free from this. It troubles me that we are being asked to pick a president based on platitudes and placebos.

Cronickain said...

I like Ron Paul but he has no charisma :(

AndrewPrice said...

ACG, I like a lot from Ron Paul, though I think in some areas he goes too far or has misunderstood the nature of the threat (e.g. Iran).

On the charisma thing, believe it or not, I actually think he's very charismatic. He and Cain strike me as the two candidates I would actually like to meet.

Joel Farnham said...


That is exactly what I mean.

One other thing, don't tell me that the media which can send news to all parts of the country every day without fail, screw up on the internet. You give them too much credit when you say that they are messing up. That too is deliberate.

Even with this format, information is leaking out. Also, people who are watching are also commenting either on live chat or through Commentarama's deal.

"Can't stop the signal, Mal." ;-)

Cronickain said...

I just find it hard to believe that out of the ENTIRE US this is all we can come up with. It is equally embarrassing that we have a non-US/quazi maybe-sorta US citizen but not really as President of the US in charge of US policies. Just makes me go.. HUH!?!?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Nice Serenity quote! And interestingly true as well. We've hit a point where I think it's impossible to suppress information like the MSM used to be able to do at will.

That said, I don't think they they intentionally messed up their feed, I think they really don't know how to handle the internet yet. I also think they didn't think anyone would be watching. This was a foreign policy debate, which Americans really don't care about, and it was Saturday night, and I'll bet their affiliates were screaming bloody murder about losing paid programming for this.

Also, I'm not sure it really achieves anything to bury the last third of this debate. I think they just got caught flatfooted.

BUT then, memos and things do come out from time to time which show a great deal more manipulation that we would expect. So who knows?

AndrewPrice said...

ACG, I agree. What absolutely SHOCKS me is that I personally have known maybe a dozen people in my life who have all the skill and judgment to make great presidents. I've seen hundreds more giving interviews on television and the such.

Yet, when it comes to choosing a president, it seems they open the door and in flow the clowns.

Where are the tens of thousands of people who would be good at this job? Why are we getting people who lack the skills and judgment to do this job? Why are we stuck with the very people who should probably never be allowed anywhere near even a hint of actual power?

It's frustrating.

Ed said...

Andrew, I am happier with this group of candidates than I've been in many years, but I agree that something is wrong in a system where we get the likes of Obama, Bachman, Romney, Perry, John Edwards, John Kerry, etc.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Blogger is indeed acting funny. Your comment was lost in the spam filter. Sorry about that.

You're welcome on the summary. Yeah, there was a debate. I don't think it was advertised anywhere. We only found out about it late Friday evening around here.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Oddly, I am as well. There are a couple in this group that I can enthusiastically support, which is a new feeling for me. :)

But that doesn't change the fact that our system is horrifically broken. It seems to have become a game show to find the least offensive.

Joel Farnham said...


It isn't the debate the network is worried about. It is after the debate. That is when reporters get to the candidates and ask them questions. The debate before last, Cain had a good five minutes uninterrupted on the internet.

Heads must have rolled after that screw-up.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I actually do agree with that. The debate is packaged to create bland images. When it is over, you really know nothing you didn't before except "X looks comfortable, Y is quick on his feet and Z was drunk." The real "analysis" comes afterwards when the talking heads tell you what to believe.

And let me be clear, I'm not a believer in vast conspiracies. I don't think there is an establishment that gets together and decides how they will script the future. But I do accept that there are people whose interests are to handle things in certain ways.

In this instance, it is well within everyone's interests to handle debates this way.

1. The candidates don't need to talk substance, which means they don't have to say anything to anger the country, and they don't have to show how stupid they really are.

2. The MSM gets their soundbites and their horse races, which makes their jobs so much easier.

3. The talking heads get to keep everyone dependent on them for how to understand what is going on, which makes them more important and sells books and drives ratings.

It's not a huge coordinated effort, it's just the unfortunate convergence of a bunch of interests which eventually result in this theater rather than an actual political campaign.

We might as well start casting politicians rather than letting whoever wants to run into race.

tryanmax said...

I remember we were commenting on debate night about how the stage looked like a gameshow. And now here we are, talking about how the format was just like a gameshow. Even the radio talkers have jumped on that meme because it is true in the extreme.

If winners and losers had been declared on this "debatle," I think the losers should be the moderators for their quiz-show style questions.

Some questions pulled directly from the transcript:

Define victory in Afghanistan for the American people.

Can you explain to me what's happening there [in Afghanistan]?

Pakistan, friend or foe?

Why is Pakistan playing this double game?

How do you define torture, sir?

Is it appropriate for the American president on the president's say-so alone to order the death of an American citizen suspected of terrorism? The redundancy is no mistake, that's the "gotcha!"

I guess Romney is the only one the MSM sees as giving the right answers, as they keep giving him control of the board. (I'd LOL but it's not funny.)

tryanmax said...

I agree that the process is really skewed to funnel unqualifieds into office. I'm not against political parties per se, but the degree to which they are entrenched has got to be dealt with. Unfortunately, I can offer no ideas for that.

I will say that I look upon Herman Cain as that qualified individual with sound judgement--and look how he is treated. Sucks.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, This one more than the others really felt like a game show to me -- though the others were as well.

I agree completely about the horrid questions. These are neither probing questions designed to get at specific information, i.e. what would you do about X, nor are they philosophical questions designed to get at the bigger picture of what the candidate believes. These are basically "fudge-ball" questions. They are designed to imply that the moderator has asked a specific question about a specific area of policy, but their topics are too broad to be meaningful. They are what you might open a discussion with, but offer little more than an intro.

It's like asking "what is life?" It's just an opening to a larger conversation.

Look at the "define victory" question. How do you answer that in a meaningful way? To answer this honestly and completely would literally require you to explain how we've gotten to this point, what you want to see as the ideal resolution, what alternatives you would accept, what you are willing to risk to get there and then coming up with what you would hope would be the best case or the acceptable case goals and methods.

... all in 30 seconds?

It would be like asking FDR in 1941: "how do you plan to win the war?"

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think Cain is the perfect example of what happens to qualified "outsiders" who happen to slip through the cracks -- they get smeared and minimized until people turn against them.

I disagree on the strength of the parties. I actually think the parties have become very weak and are little more than a facade now for a permanent establishment class. I think the people running both parties are non-ideological plunderers who see the US government as a device to let them earn a living by robbing taxpayers and to control the masses from "doing anything stupid."

Where they do differ is only in the handful of disagreements about which members should get the lion's share of the latest spoils.

It would be as if Coke and Pepsi were secretly owned by the same family.

Joel Farnham said...


To take your point (It would be like asking FDR in 1941: "How do you plan to win the war?") one step further, the current media would publish to the public, because of the public's right to know, any and all war plans along with the names and addresses of the French Resistance as well as the people who are helping to extract any Jew from Germany or occupied territory. The media would quote the Constitution when asked about their patriotism.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Not only would they publish the plans, and the identities of resistance members (see Wikipedia), but they would

1. Wonder why FDR didn't stop Pearl Harbor.

2. Debate whether we brought Pearl Harbor on ourselves.

3. Debate whether this requires a military response or if the sanctions put in place since the 1920 should be given a chance to work.

4. Claim the enemy really is Americans who want to protect us from "militant fascism" as compared to "blameless, holy, ideology of peace fascism." In fact, should we use the term "fascism" at all?

5. Debate whether or not Hitler is really a threat and whether or not we can't solve the whole crisis by just dropping a single bomb on Dresden to make a point (which they would later claim was a war crime if we did that).

Have I missed anything?

Joel Farnham said...

The only thing left is commiseration for the German Spies caught on our land spying on us. Giving their names out, as well as calling for the Supreme Court to intervene and give them citizen's rights.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, "spies" is such a harsh word. Think of them more as "patriots for different beliefs."

And we should learn to accept these difference of opinions. After all, they aren't hateful, unAmerican racist murderers like the Tea Party!

Sadly... I can see all of this being said seriously today.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

AndrewPrice said...

"Joel, I do indeed see that. This is absolutely by design. The establishment media has set up a game show here, where they control the outcome."

The Running Man format would help the ratings and probably tell us a lot more about the candidates, lol.

Thanks for the nice summary Andrew!

What's this I hear of Cain stumbling over Libya? I'd rather hear about it from reliable sources (you guys) because I simply don't trust anything from the MSM anymore.

I also read that SeeBS switched to the bad internet feed when they started asking questions about Israel.
Any news on what was asked and how the candidates fared?

Unfortrunately, I already know what Payul has said of Israel and most of that is BS (Israel "created" Hamas and the US "created" Al Qaeda).
Sorry, I like a lot of what Paul says about the economy and our Constitution but Paul is a twit on foreign policy.

It also irks me when he gets into his American "empire" full retard mode.
I'm not surprised he attracts dolts like the Truthers and anti-semites with talk like that.

Needless to say, Paul is not popular among Israelis and rightfully so.
Those are just a few of the inflammatory (and destructive) things he has said over the years.

I consider Paul to be pretty smart so I can't understand how he can be so stupid about foreign policy.

One would think he at least could find ways to stop the over the top rhetoric and insults to the US and Israel but perhaps he thinks he would lose support of the Stormfront crowd?

I dunno. Just doesn't make sense and it's not helpful in any sense of the word.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Also, I really do think that the leftist media conspires to destroy the most conservative candidates.

For example, MSNBC has Politico propagandists that call themselves journolists (pun intended) as talking heads on a regular basis and we all know that Politico is simply another bullhorn for, Mediamatters, and powerful commies like George Soros who like to pull the strings behind the scenes.

I believe they spend so much time coordinating their character assassination hit pieces that they have no time to actually investigate and get to the truth of matters even if they wanted to, which they don't.

When Hillary said there was a "vast right wing conspiracy" she was really projecting, because there is evidence of a vast left wing conspiracy to turn America into a socialcommie country.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, You're welcome! And yeah, the Running Man formula would definitely boost ratings! Plus it might actually get us better presidents. At least we'd know they were good in a fight! :)

The Cain thing. He actually had the right answers, but he stopped after he started and asked, "Libya, that's with Gaddafi, right? I want to make sure we're talking about the right place."

It shows he doesn't have a real firm grasp of overseas issues. I can't defend that except to say that none of these guys knows jack about foreign policy either, and 2/3 of Americans can't find Mexico on the map. I personally think that obscene, but it's sadly the level of knowledge we now accept in this country.

So let me be clear, I'm not saying "oh, it's no big deal," but I also lament the fact the people attacking him are hypocrites on this. Too many idiots roaming the world right now... Darwin was clearly wrong.

On cutting out the debate, yep, right as the Israel questions got started. Basically, they asked Perry about Israel and foreign aid and he said "cut them off" before he backtracked. Then they took a break and went to the net.

I don't honestly know what Paul said because (1) I don't think they asked him and (2) they had moved to an usable feed by that point. So I can't tell you what his answer is. But he has proven to be hostile to continuing the relationship with Israel as it now stands in the past and I assume that would have been his answer.

I don't like the American Empire garbage either. I agree that we are over-extended and we do too much in the world (and at the same time not enough) and too many people (especially neocons) see us as an Empire. But we aren't. The American public doesn't think that way. The military doesn't think that way. Only some pundits think that way and we should not be "confirming" the false idea that we do think this way.

That said, I favor a serious reassessment of our overseas roles. I think our foreign policy is a hodgepodge of failure and ineptitude. We waste vasts amounts of money and often American lives and get little for it. That needs to change.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Okay, my mistake. Cain was asked about Libya today, I read it at the Daily Caller. Not a stumble IMO so I don't see where they get that.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, That I believe as well. But that's different than believing there is a vast cross-ideological, cross-industry conspiracy to control the process of presidential elections.

I think what we are seeing there is the result of a whole bunch of bad incentives coming together from people who have a stake in keeping things exactly as they are. That's what's ruining our elections.

Then on top of that there is the second issue, which is that leftist journalists do conspire in the sense of coordinating ideas and talking points, sharing stories, backing each other up, turning a blind eye to contrary evidence, and letting their ideology control stories rather than reporting the facts and providing an honest analysis.

In other words, like a school of fish, once one descends upon a target, all the rest will follow and do the exact same things. They are "fellow travelers" in the truest sense.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, On Cain, it is a mistake. It is a mistake that tells me he is not well informed on foreign policy. Does it change my mind about him? No. It doesn't help. But his strength is not his ability to tell us what is going on overseas.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Too many idiots roaming the world right now... Darwin was clearly wrong."

LOL! Aye! That he was! Reminds me of the idiots in The Walking Dead this season (I finally had to quit watching).

The writers made everyone except the redneck walking retards that don't even remember the first seasons lessons.

Too bad. The show had potential.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I'm actually about to give up on it. They seem to have forgotten the cardinal rule of story-telling.... something must happen.

The pacing at this point has gotten painfully slow. The zombies seem to have vanished. The characters got really stupid. And it's just become intensely painful to watch.

T-Rav said...

DUQ, that's just how I roll. ;-)

Andrew, I agree it's a pretty awful formula and tells us nothing about how the candidates would actually perform as President. Maybe that's why Newt is doing so well; he's voicing the frustration all of us feel about these circuses.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


I concur we need to have smart foreign policy, and it's only gotten worse under Obama...much worse.
The unintended consequences of the Arab Spring is beginning to rear it's ugly, murderous head.
And the way he treas our allies is disgusting.

So yeah, there's a definite need to have a smart foreign policy.
I just don't think Paul has a good one, but I'm sure Santorum's would be just as bad.

I would really like to see more thoughtful questions and longer answers (foreign and domestic).
And more thought about the consequences of policies before flying off the handle.

Foreign policy is no time to do night at the improv.
There should be concrete goals in mind for one thing, and anyone wanting to be President should be seriously thinking about that and learning as much as they can because they won't have a lot of time to do that if they are elected.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, "that's how I roll" -- LOL! +100

That could well be a big part of it, but I also think Newt is in his element at the moment -- he gets to say things that are/sound smart and he doesn't actually have to withstand the pressure of making actual decisions.

And while I seem to be doing nothing but criticizing him, let me be clear -- I like him. I think he's the smartest guy on that stage by far and I could easily, enthusiastically support him. I just think he's being a bit cynical here.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Ben, I was actually going to bring up TWD at some point, seeing as how I've written a post on it.

I don't know where to begin on the show. It's had flashes of greatness, but it's so slow, and frankly, if they killed off everyone but Daryl (redneck guy), I couldn't care less. I really want to see Andrea bite it (no pun intended), but she's a major character in the graphic novels so I doubt that happens. But yes, they need a major overhaul on that show.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I agree 100%. I think we need a much smarter foreign policy than we've had in decades. And I agree that Paul's foreign policy or Santorum's would both be horrible.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure any of them have a good foreign policy plan. Most of them basically want to continue what we've been doing for decades and when they do talk about doing something new, it often sounds like dishonest "play to the base" rhetoric.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

SciFi did Zombie Apocalypse a few weeks ago and it was surprisingly good for scifi, and better than TWD.

I actually liked most of the characters and a few were interesting.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree. The only character I am finding interesting at this point is Daryl. The rest have just become so intensely dull.

And even beyond that, the plot seems to have stopped. I guess we're supposed to be excited about the love triangles or whatever, but it just isn't interesting.

I haven't quite given up yet, but I'm close unless things really change fast.

Unfortunately, I've seen this a lot, where a show has a great first season and pulls you in and then suddenly the show makes a dramatic change in style because they misunderstand what people liked about the first season.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I enjoyed that too, but then I enjoy those kinds of shows!

tryanmax said...

The parties may be weak in terms of their influence on popular opinion, but they are still very strong where it counts: providing the selection of candidates.

You're Coke and Pepsi analogy is more apropos than you know. It's like the parties are the producers and the various media outlets are convenience stores. When is the last time you saw an off-brand in a convenience store? Most of them won't even carry RC.

Which brings up the point of the strength of the media. The radio talkers love to decry their influence, but the fact remains that most people still get their politics from convenience outlets that only carry the biggest brands (i.e. the two parties). The convenience outlets may be losing market share faster than ever before, but the inevitable outcome is yet to come and is not here today.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I know how you feel about Newt. Two-thirds of me is loving the idea of him as the GOP nominee, smashing Obama in a debate; the other third of me is still thinking, "How did it come to this?"

On TWD, I'm still of the opinion that a bad zombie show is better than no zombie show. But it's getting hard to endure the dullness.

tryanmax said...

I only got to see TWD after it got to Netflix (I killed the cable). Now I am sad because I was looking forward to S2. I guess there are always torrents to keep up with you guys.

Now SciFi, I think, might be on Hulu, so I may be able to join in on ZA.

tryanmax said...

Thought on TWD (not having seen S2), I've noticed a lot of shows slump in either the second or third season and then pick up again. So it might be worth hanging in.

tryanmax said...

Blech! I just checked the SyFy website and they have turned their motto into "Imagine Greener" because it is must be Earth Day in November or some $#!+.

Just had to share.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmx, We may be saying the same thing. I don't dispute that the two parties control the two halves of the process and there is no third way because they control all the outlets.

But I don't think the parties are very ideological in the truest sense. They fight like mad about a handful of approved issues, but 99% of what they do is work together to make sure nothing changes, and even in that 1% (like healthcare) neither side will do anything that is radical "to the system."

I agree about the new media v. the old media as well. The old media still runs the information market because the vast majority of the public (probably 80%) get their news from the MSM only.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's exactly how I feel. Two thirds of me is happy because Gingrich is a solid conservative in most ways, he's a smart and capable man, and Obama is a politician he can beat.

But the other third is concerned about what I know about Gingrich and is concerned that this is just proof that the media is controlling the process and not conservatives.

I agree about zombie films. I believe that any zombie show is better than no zombie show, but TWD is really starting to test that belief.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I've noticed that shows that get a lot of critical attention will often change their nature in their second season because they apparently think they suddenly need to get more artistic or dramatic or something like that, and it wipes out the mood they built up which attracted the public.

TWD S2 started quite nicely, introducing another neat idea and giving you a decent set up for the first episode. . . then they stretched what should have been an episode into two and then three and it's still going. You could literally take each episode and cut it down to 5-6 minutes without missing a beat.

Plus, the characters have suddenly gotten very stupid and whiny and it's really hard to like them. Plus, when I watch the episodes I find myself constantly saying "why?" as in "why do they care about that?", "why bother with that?", "why not do XX instead." A lot of what they are doing feels really forced to create drama, and the few good moments are being buried in lots of sitting around weeping.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, SciFi Channel annoys me to no end with their garbage. They are part of the NBC and so they fall for all the environmentalism propaganda..

Cronickain said...

That's because it's the best loser for the job. No one really wants to be president.

tryanmax said...

Laura Ingraham is trashing Cain over the Libya "gaffe" this morning. So far, she's devoted the majority of her show to that. Basically, she's throwing in for Romney now.

But she's made it very clear that this isn't about the gaffe. It's about fulfilling the prophecy that an outsider shall not win. That and Cain has proven he is not a magic robot.

Plus, according to Ingraham-math:
Sharing a couch with Nancy Pelosi > Enacting RomneyCare

I wouldn't listen to Ingraham except that Beck is delayed in my market. But it's nice to know how principled a conservative she it.

AndrewPrice said...

ACG, Sadly, it's the wrong people who want to be president -- the very people we should never elect. And that's what happens when the system is designed to slander and trash anyone who tries to run.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, She was pimping for Christie at one point and then Romney for a long time, so I'm not surprised she would trash Cain (Gingrich will be next).

I agree the Libya thing shows a definite problem... as far as I'm concerned. But it's the same problem the rest of them have. The idea that this somehow sets him apart from the other clowns is just wrong. As for comparing him to Romney, sure, Romney knows the nomenclature, but he doesn't know what to do with it.

tryanmax said...

I think Cain deserves credit for saying out loud that the president cannot and will not be an expert on everything because no one is.

The media, new and old, left and right, are going to attack him over that, but that doesn't change the fact that it is true.

For me, that still keeps Cain one tick above Newt because the latter is still courting the notion that if you have a prepared soundbite for everything, that counts as being all-knowing.

That said, I was hearing Newt on another morning show (I'm blanking on which) where he was basically expounding on Saturday's debate. As polished as he was, this morning's interview makes me think the talking points were coming from an honest place.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, There is no doubt that Newt is a bright man who has thought all of this through. He's easily the smartest man on stage, and if brains was all there was to this, he would be my first choice.

My concerns with him, however, are his judgment. His history "under fire" so to speak is not good, it's one of rash decision and panicked responses followed by total surrender. I also think he has a problem bringing his mind to bear because he's too desperate to be loved, so he will sacrifice doing what he knows needs to be done in exchange for doing what it takes to make people like him.

All that said, I could easily support him because by comparison he's one of the best of the bunch. But if I had my choice of anyone on the planet as President, he wouldn't come to mind. He's a better behind the scenes advisor.

On Cain, this is how it's done -- the MSM sets up an image of perfection and then piles on to any mistake which shows imperfection and declares that person defective... a standard they would never accept for Democrats.

Do I think it's a big deal that Herman isn't aware enough to understand the basics in Libya without losing track of those details? Absolutely. It makes me wonder what he really knows and what he doesn't and it makes me wonder how he could not know those details. But, by comparison I see this as par for the course in our Presidential races.

What I am looking for is judgment/thought process, not knowledge base because I know the knowledge base of all these people is (1) pathetic and (2) irrelevant -- other people will brief them. What I want to see is what they will do when confronted with problems. And in that regard, I see this:

1. Cain is humble and will listen to others with the goal of achieving the best result. His judgment appears fine.
2. Gingrich can be distracted by the wrong motives and is very cynical.
3. Romney is afraid of decisions.
4. Santorum only wants to hear people who agree with him.
5. Bachmann is an idiot.
6. Perry wants to let others make the decision for him.
7. Paul is a smart man with a great decision making process, except he has a couple glaring defects in his thinking.

Individualist said...

Tennessee Jed says:
"To me, a better way would be to have all candidates prepare position papers on various topics...... Then each one would be given an hour to have a discussion ......"

Jed I beleive you a re 100% correct and debates used to be handled like this. I believe this was the format for the Lincoln Douglas debates....

A candidate could try to end round the MSM using the internet. They could prepare a white paper on one topic, then give a 15 minute video (we are too Fast Food, TVised for the original hour I think) on the topic and then challenge the other candidates to respond.

P.S. Although I don't like Paul's foreign policy postions I too think it is a crime that he was given only 89 seconds. Funny how Romney the one given the most time is the most liberal of the GOP out there.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, The problem with giving too much information today is that all you are doing is giving people something to attack. The way things are set up now, everyone would go through it with a fine tooth comb and rip up every little typo and call you stupid for it, then they would hire "experts" to call the plans stupid and unworkable. Then they would say you aren't a serious candidate.

Meanwhile, no one else would be getting attacked because they remained silent. In effect, it pays to say nothing. And that's really the problem.

I think it's incredible they only gave him 89 seconds. How is that good for America? Why even invite him except to pretend to be unbiased?

tryanmax said...

Just in! You need to see the question Cain was asked in full context before you can call this a gaffe: LINK (starting at 20:23)

Cain was answering a question about Bush's foreign policy when one of the reporters switched it up by asking, "So, you agreed with President Obama on Libya or not?"

Whatever Cain would have said would have been placed in context of his previous answer to make some bizarro equivocation between Bush and Obama. I'm imagining something on the lines of: "Cain says Bush and Obama foreign policy identical"

The reporter was shifting gears without touching the clutch in a "gotcha" setup that didn't produce the desired results.

Did Cain fumble? Of course, he was lobbed a rotten toss. Could he have done something better with it. Doesn't hindsight always tell us "yes"? But does this so-called "gaffe" reveal a woeful lack of knowledge of foreign policy on Cain's part? Hardly.

AndrewPrice said...

WOW! That is not a gaffe! I haven't seen the video, just the transcript.

First, you're right, they did just change topics on him and the "I just want to be sure" is to make sure they're talking about the same thing.

Secondly, he is not trying to get the reporter to confirm what happened in Lybia, as the media sayd, his use of "correct" is a speech pattern and is rhetorical!

Thanks for the link. This deserves an article!

Individualist said...


You are right of course but isn't that indicative of the problem with our culture. There are so few people that will demand real substance that making an attempt to give this is a problem.

It ensures that the only people electied to office are the ones that can talk the way Gingritch does.

Although I will state I am glad Cain does a good job in answering.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's true. And I'm definitely not saying it's a good thing... it just is what it is. It troubles me a lot that voting is now about how someone looks on television rather than what they actually believe and how skilled they are at implementing their beliefs. It really explains why our country is in so much trouble.

I agree about Cain and I think that's actually one of the problems he's facing -- he's trying to give answers and he's getting burned in the process.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I'm planning to stay up late and pen one. I'll link to it when I've got all my thoughts together.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm putting one together for the morning, I'll link to yours when you're done. :)

tryanmax said...

Of course, where one is in a rush, there are always technical glitches. Here it is: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Isn't that the truth!

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