Today’s Debate In Iowa

Like Scott, Paul and most of our readers, I wasn’t able to watch today’s Presidential debate from Iowa. If you, too, missed the event, you can read the transcript here.
I’ve done that, and have a few observations. Like most who saw the debate, I thought Mitt Romney did very well. He was direct, to the point, and above all, positive. Listeners reportedly responded extraordinarily well to Romney’s comments on education:

Education’s an important topic. And the president was right to fight for No Child Left Behind, because we allow states now to test our kids and see how well they’re doing, particularly in math and English. We’ve made the same effort in our state, actually before No Child Left Behind was passed.
We test our kids; we have high standards. We teach them in English, English immersion. We say, to be successful in America, you’ve got to speak the language of America.
We also put in place incentives for kids to do well. For those that take the graduation exam, which you have to take to get out of high school, we say that you’re going to get, if you score in the top 25 percent on the test, a four-year tuition-free scholarship to a Massachusetts institution of higher learning.
MS. WASHBURN: But what about the role of the federal government?
MR. ROMNEY: And the federal government insists on those tests and those standards, and it’s key, and let me continue. I think we also have to have higher pay for better teachers. And people who are not good teachers ought to find a different career.
And finally we need more parental involvement. And we’ve tested our kids in Massachusetts, along with all the other kids in the nation. 50 states get tested every two years in English and math, in 4th and 8th grade. My 8th graders came out number one in English. They came out number one in math. My 4th graders: number one in English, number one in math.
First time in history: one state, number one in all four measures. School choice, better pay for better teachers, high standards, scholarships for the best kids, English immersion: These principles work.

I’m not a particular fan of Fred Thompson, but he did well too. He sounded like a man with nothing to lose; he was irreverent at times and direct always, as in this exchange about what he would accomplish in his first year as President:

Senator Thompson, your first year.
MR. THOMPSON: Well, it wouldn’t take me a year. I’d go before the American people and tell them the truth and try to establish my credibility, and tell them that we haven’t come to terms yet with the nature of the threat that we’re facing or what we’re going to have to do to defend ourselves over the years.
I’d tell them that if they didn’t already know it, we’re bankrupting the next generation and nobody even wants to talk about it, much less do anything about it. I’d tell them that judges are setting our social policy now in this country and that’s going to stop. And then I’d bring in members of Congress and say, look, I just got a mandate. We can work and cooperate together or I’ll go over your head to the American people.

I liked this, too:

MS. WASHBURN: What is the biggest obstacle [to improving education] standing in the way, and how would you address it?
MR. THOMPSON: The biggest obstacle, in my opinion, is the National Education Association, the NEA. ***

Rudy Giuliani and John McCain did fine too.
What made me laugh, though, came almost at the beginning of the debate, when Mike Huckabee achieved a twofer, simultaneously demonstrating his grasp of national security and economics:

MS. WASHBURN: *** Is the debt a threat to our national security?
MR. HUCKABEE: It’s most certainly a national security threat because a country can only be free if it can do three things.
First, it has to be able to feed itself. It has to be able to put food on the table for its own citizens.
Secondly, it’s got to be able to fuel itself. If it looks to somebody else for its energy needs, it’s only as free as those are willing for it to be.
And it also has to be able to fight for itself. It’s got to be able to manufacture its own weapons of defense — tanks, airplanes, bullets and bombs. When we start outsourcing everything and we are in that kind of a trade deficit, then just remember, who feeds us, who fuels us and who helps us to fight, that’s to whom we are enslaved.

Who knew? All these years, the Brits and the Japanese have been slaves! But there was something about Huckabee’s catalog that nagged at me…reminded me of something. It was a quote by Michael from an episode of The Office, when Michael is invited to give a talk to a class at a local business school. Michael says:

There are four kinds of business. Tourism. Food service. Railroads. And sales. And hospitals/manufacturing. And air travel.

I actually like Michael. But I wouldn’t want him to be President.
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