Presidential debate

How Fox News and CNN screwed Scott Walker

Featured image Before we complete the post-mortems on Scott Walker’s campaign, I want to note how unfairly he was treated during the debates. According to Nate Silver, Walker spoke for only 13.7 minutes in the two debates. This was the the least for any candidate on the main stage in both events. It was less than half the time Donald Trump spoke. It was ten minutes less than Jeb Bush spoke. It »

Donald Trump at three levels

Featured image There are at least three ways of looking at Donald Trump’s performance last night: (1) as an argument about issues, (2) as entertainment, and (3) as an appeal to the viscera of supporters and likely supporters. In my view, Trump was awful on the issues and good, but no more than good, as an entertainer. I don’t feel qualified to judge his effectiveness with his supporters, but suspect he was »

Some thoughts about tonight’s debate

Featured image My main thought about tonight’s debate is that Jake Tapper did a horrendous job of moderating. As John says, he devoted way too much of the first portion of the debate to bad questions about Donald Trump, presumably in the hope of perpetuating the food fight and, perhaps, making candidates look bad. By doing so, Tapper froze out part of the field. The freeze out was exacerbated by the fact »

Bush’s Common Core obfuscation

Featured image Many informed voters who watched Thursday’s GOP presidential debate may have come away confused about Jeb Bush’s stance on education. Bush is known to be a supporter of Common Core. Yet there he was insisting that the federal government shouldn’t be involved in creating educational standards. Bush said: “I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or »

Donald Trump’s latest fact-freedom

Featured image Last night, Donald Trump began his first answer to a question about immigration by modestly declaring that we wouldn’t even be talking about the issue without him. Like much of what Trump says, this is self-inflating nonsense. Trump didn’t run for president in 2012. Yet, somehow, the issue was front-and-center in Republican debates that year. In fact, before Rick Perry’s “oops” moment, he got himself into trouble for being soft »

Ten thoughts about tonight’s debate

Featured image 1. I think each of the ten candidates did decently well in his own way and many did quite well. It’s a flawed field, but viewed collectively, a good one. 2. In my opinion, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — neither of whom I favor at this time — did the best. In that order: (1) Rubio and (2) Cruz. Both, for example, knocked it out of the park in »

The B Team debate

Featured image I agree with John’s assessment of the preliminary event in today’s presidential debate festivities. Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal were excellent and deserve immediate promotion to the A Team (stay tuned for a discussion of whom they should replace). George Pataki also debated well enough to deserve a promotion but, as John says, what would be the point. Rick Perry did pretty well but still stumbles at times. If he »

Debating Debates: A Modest Proposal

Featured image There’s been a lot of discussion the last several weeks about whether and how the GOP should reclaim control of the candidate debates in the next presidential election cycle to end the perverse situation of the last cycle in which the candidates were not just debating each other, but also in effect debating the Democratic party in the form of the biased media “moderators” who are anything but moderate.  But »

The Emperor’s rented clothes

Featured image The first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney was probably the most stark “Emperor has no clothes” moment in our modern political history. And the problem for Obama did not end with that debate. In the second and third debates, Obama tried to substitute shots at his opponent (mostly cheap ones) for clothing. Meanwhile Romney, having turned the momentum in his favor, kept talking about his clothes — his »

Third presidential debate leaves candidates where they were

Featured image The third and final debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney occurred on Monday, October 22. Today, Rasmussen released the results of its latest three-day poll of the race. It was taken during the three days following the debate. According to the poll, Romney leads Obama by 3 points, 50-47. This result reflects essentially no change from the poll Rasmussen reported on the day of the debate. Romney led that »

More thoughts on debate moderators, gender, and age

Featured image Yesterday, I expressed the hope that the 2016 presidential and vice presidential debates will serve up better female moderators than Martha Raddatz and Candy Crowley. One reader-friend asked if I could suggest such a moderator. I can: Gwen Ifill. Here is what I wrote about Ifill after she presided over the vice presidential debate in 2004: Tonight’s vice presidential debate featured two superb performances. Unfortunately for John Edwards, they were »

Kind hearts and bayonets, cont’d

Featured image Yesterday I rounded up some pertinent commentary providing factual background belying Barack Obama’s patronizing gibe at Mitt Romney in Monday night’s foreign policy debate: I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our »

Obama fails Bob Woodward’s fact check on sequestration

Featured image Bob Woodward, who wrote a book about the sequestration, blows the whistle on President Obama’s claim during last night’s debate that the idea of using deep, automatic, across-the-board domestic and defense spending cuts to force Congress to address the nation’s burgeoning federal deficit originated in Congress, not in the White House. “What the president said is not correct,” Woodward told Politico. In his book, The Price of Politics, Woodward reported »

Kind hearts and bayonets

Featured image I thought one statement by Barack Obama was the highlight of last night’s debate. Seeking to land a knockout blow against Mitt Romney’s advocacy of preserving our military spending in the face of the planned sequester, Obama asserted in his patented style: I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than »

Debate indiscipline, an inherent problem for Democrats

Featured image If there’s a common takeaway from the four debates of this presidential cycle, it’s the indiscipline of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The problem manifested itself in different ways in different debates. In the first debate, Obama apparently lacked the discipline to treat the event with the seriousness it required. He seemed comparatively unprepared, unwilling to treat Romney as a serious opponent until it was too late, and unable even »

Wanted: competent female debate moderators

Featured image We’ve commented on the performances of the moderators of the first three debates, so I’ll say a few words about last night’s moderator Bob Schieffer: Job well done. Schieffer stuck to his assignment, which was to ask topical questions that provoke discussion; to move on to other topics after both candidates had a roughly equal opportunity to address the pending one; and to ensure that, overall, the candidates received equal »

The knock-out punches

Featured image Mitt Romney gave a risk-avoiding performance last night, one rather obviously designed to maintain his current position in the race. His approach was extremely conservative in its restraint, as Paul notes (and I agree), but I thought Romney nevertheless landed the better punches. Indeed, I thought that Romney threw just about all of the knock-out punches in the debate (transcript here). All in all, an impressive performance. I thought Barack »