October 9, 2007

Fred Wins, Chris Loses (Update: My Prediction Comes True)

The first debate with Fred Thompson was expected to reveal whether the lanky actor had what it takes to make a national run for the office. Instead, it revealed Chris Matthews as a hack of the first order, one who tried his best to torpedo Thompson -- and failed utterly. He got so desparate that he demanded to know whether Thompson knew who the Canadian Prime Minister was -- and he did. Matthews grew so frustrated that he openly critiqued one of Thompson's answer for being too detailed, which prompted a scolding from Thompson.

That was the game behind the debate, and Thompson stomped Matthews into a laughingstock. In the rest of the debate, Thompson showed that he was comfortable and prepared, even for the silly attacks from other candidates. Mitt Romney went into a long, telegraphed, and obviously gag-written punch about how the debates resemble "Law and Order" and how Fred shows up last, which Fred neatly returned by feigning surprise that he wasn't the best actor on the stage -- jabbing at Romney's perceived plasticness.

Rudy wisely chose to stay away from Thompson. Romney pulled Rudy into a catfight, but neither man scored a knockout punch. Rudy's team sent out a flurry of e-mails showing that Romney didn't have his facts straight, but Rudy shrugged it off anyway. He showed poise, humor, energy, and personality. He continues to show his mastery of the format.

Romney and McCain did pretty well, although they had rough spots. When asked about war powers, Romney's insistence that he would have to check with his lawyers sounded like he didn't have a firm grasp on the mechanisms of war. Fred got it right first, and McCain answered well. McCain started off shaky, with the unusual "angry man" gambit in the opening minutes, but relaxed and was much more himself.

As for the rest, well, they occupied subplots most of the evening. Paul mostly continued his odd hand-flailing and high-pitched shouting. Tancredo couldn't seem to get words out of his mouth. Brownback faded into Tommy Thompson-like dullness. Duncan Hunter did well and his protectionism may have sounded good to the Michigan audience, but it won't sell to the GOP. Mike Huckabee again did well, but after Ames, he needed a breakout performance and didn't get it -- in part because he didn't get a lot of opportunities to respond. Matthews spent too much time hunting the Great Fred Whale, and coming up empty.

Fred's in now, and he will find new momentum after this performance. Matthews will become more of a joke, if such a thing is possible at a network that employs Keith Olbermann.

UPDATE: Earlier this morning, as Rick Moran reminded me during the Debate Central roundtable, I urged Republicans to engage against Chris Matthews:

Mike Allen at The Politico believes that Chris Matthews will be lying in wait to find a "gotcha" moment for Thompson. Allen thinks it will come from an economics question, but it could just as well come from a foreign-policy query. Matthews has been accused of having a "man crush" on Thompson by some of his critics on the Left, and will no doubt want to establish some credibility with a tough attack on Thompson. Thompson will have an equal opportunity to pop Matthews' bubble by responding calmly and in the same 30-second generalities as everyone else on stage.

I guess I had that about right, didn't I? Also, I suggested that "the candidate who can push back best against Matthews' potential low blows should be strongly considered for the nomination." I think Fred qualifies as someone who can fight for himself.

The debate roundtable starts at Debate Central at 5:30 with Rick Moran and Macranger! Call in at (646) 478-4565, and listen at the link or with this player:


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Fred Wins, Chris Loses (Update: My Prediction Comes True):

» Fred Thompson Puts Chris Matthews In His Place from Stop The ACLU
Another humerous one liner from Fred Thompson. A nice quip after Matthews says his answer should have just “stopped at no.” He responded, “Well thats your opinion, Christopher.” Its all in the tone. Watch. Link: sevenload... [Read More]

» Fred Thompson’s Debate Reviews: Not A Flop Not A Smash from The Moderate Voice
Former actor and aspiring 2008 Republican Presidential nominee Fred Thompson debuted in his first debate today - -and he was big b.o. (that’s Variety parlance for box office, by the way.). But did he live up to the advance billing? Was he anothe... [Read More]

» Who Won the Debate? How Did Fred Do? from RealClearPolitics - Blog Coverage
Debate +1: [Read More]

» The Debate: Fred! was solid, Matthews unhinged from Leaning Straight Up
What is it with Chris Matthews, and why do they keep letting him moderate?  Ever debate for the right wingers he hosts he has to waste our time taking shots at the candidates and trying to attack their answers instead of just letting them live or ... [Read More]

» Why is the Left So Afraid of Thompson? from Webloggin
This is what I don’t get. Thompson’s critics have been coming at him for being unprepared and not ready for prime time. So when he finally does debate and handles himself well the criticism is that he didn’t soar. Well duh. The debate was constra... [Read More]

» Speaking of Fred!, he gets a perfect score from FactCheck.org from Leaning Straight Up
The joke always goes like this:  how can you tell when a politician is lying?  His lips move. Exaggeration, nuance and outright lies go hand in hand with politics. So there is a thriving market to take the stump speeches and campaig... [Read More]

» Semi-live blogging the live bloggers - Republican Debate Starring Fred Thompson from Divided We Stand United We Fall
On the no-brainer query "should the president consult congress on war" Romney got the answer wrong, while Paul and Thompson got it right. Ultimately, it was Fred's show. Yes, expectations were low, but he delivered some good lines, he didn't hurt himse... [Read More]

Comments (73)

Posted by Mike | October 9, 2007 5:24 PM

I agree with Ed. I though Thompson looked good. I don't get why MSNBC is reporting that Fred did poorly though. Social engineering?

Posted by Casey Tompkins | October 9, 2007 5:25 PM

Hmmm. Stephen Green over at the vodkapundit doesn't seem to agree with you about Fred.

On the other hand, Stephen seems rather underwhelmed by all the candidates. On both sides.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | October 9, 2007 5:31 PM

Hunter's a trade protectionist? Time to scratch another off my list. Although I have a feeling he'd make a fine Secretary of Homeland Security.

As for these "debates," (really they're just extended quiz shows) wake me when we're to 3-4 serious candidates.

Posted by John | October 9, 2007 5:38 PM

Mitt immediately wanting to lawyer up before anything else when it comes to war makes me very uncomfortable about his instincts as a possible Commander in Chief

Posted by GarandFan | October 9, 2007 5:43 PM

Go Fred!

Posted by Jon Prichard | October 9, 2007 5:45 PM

Fred! wins this one. I thought he was a bit stumbling at the first but came on more and more as the debate went on which says something positive about his stamina and energy (so often criticised by some TV idiots).

Rudy was great. Feisty and happily combative. Wouldn't have a problem with him as POTUS but the control stuff bothers me (e.g., policing the Internet).

Mitt still seems like a TV president in a liberal movie about the President. Like 'The American President'. But he comes across as terribly inauthentic.

McCain seems out of touch and a little old. Maybe its the white hair and difficulty hearing.

The rest of the participants...well...I just don't care enough to listen.

Posted by se7en | October 9, 2007 5:50 PM

Your assessment of Romney is a bit harsh. Others seem to think he did very well, and seemed to enjoy his one-lined attacks on Fred Thompson. Perhaps you carry some anti-Romney bias.



Posted by se7en | October 9, 2007 5:54 PM

Plus I forgot: most commenters at Politico thought ROMNEY is the winner. Granted, he screwed up the Iran question, but the near-perfect presidential hopeful can't be perfect all the time.


Posted by Terry Gain | October 9, 2007 6:04 PM

I don't get why MSNBC is reporting that Fred did poorly though. Social engineering?

They attack him because he did fine. Hint: if you are liberal you attack the Republicans who you most fear.

I expect liberals to trumpet Ron Paul's warrior-like qualities. The koskids will be very active on the internet tonight voting for him on internet polls and otherwise declaring that Ron Paul won.

Posted by Mike | October 9, 2007 6:11 PM

Thanks Terry. That make perfect sense. I kinda figured it was something like that.

Posted by Eric Classic | October 9, 2007 6:24 PM

I thought Fred did well. I thought Rudy did really well.

Rudy made a few very beautiful comments about “ending the pessimism” that has become so common in America. At one point, asked about London passing New York, he actually mocked the moderator. “Get your head up.” Stop pouting. We’re rich and successful. Try to enjoy it more, and let’s spend more time making sure we stay on top.

“Where will Canadians go to get health care if Hillary has her way?”

That’s more than funny. That’s the sharp mind and sharp wit that we need in our White House.

Good message Rudy

One other point – how much better is it to watch these guys than the Democrats. They have such an improved stage presence over all the Democrats. They don’t take themselves as seriously. They state their opinion more clearly. They have better voices and better messages. Except Ron Paul – he’s a crank and he sounds like a woman.

Posted by Eric Classic | October 9, 2007 6:37 PM

Rudy slapped Mitt pretty hard and it stuck.

On the line-item veto issue, Rudy stated his reason for fighting it very clearly and effectively. He actually changed my mind on the point as I had favored it. His parting phrase to Mitt about “it doesn’t matter what you think – the Supreme Court sided with me and therefore, I’m right,” and then putting it into perspective by saying it’s not a bad thing to beat a Clinton.

Well that’s just pure gold.

Rudy is going to win this thing – I’m quite certain. I like Fred, and I like Mitt, but Rudy is going to win. Furthermore, he’s going to beat Hillary and he and Fred are the only two that can. Rudy picked up enough conservative Democrat votes today to tell Dobson to go pound salt. Imagine how many Democrat votes he will pick-up when he’s only debating one person. Remember – he was going to win the New York Senate race before he decided to implode. Hopefully, he has his life structured better now.

Posted by Monkei | October 9, 2007 6:38 PM


it was just another boring debate with one more face on the stage ... answering the same old boring questions with the same old hack attackes, just again with another new face in the mix.

it is like watching a democratic debate, same old crap, just a different date.

nothing new to see here, move along.

Posted by Eric Classic | October 9, 2007 6:42 PM

Jon Prichard said:
Mitt still seems like a TV president in a liberal movie about the President. Like 'The American President'. But he comes across as terribly inauthentic.

McCain seems out of touch and a little old. Maybe its the white hair and difficulty hearing.

The rest of the participants...well...I just don't care enough to listen.

Eric says:
I agree totally. And the thing about Mitt is kind of unfortunate because he has some solid ideas.

Posted by Jon Prichard | October 9, 2007 6:46 PM

Eric, I didn't know Guliani 'imploded' in his Senate run. I thought he dropped out when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Turned out well though...if he had beaten Hillary for the Senate seat he wouldn't have been there as Mayor for NYC on 9/11.

One point to consider in thinking seriously about Rudy as the nominee...just what you wrote: "Hopefully, he has his life structured better now."

That's going to be the real rub for a lot of Conservatives as this thing plays out and there stands Fred whom I think is growing into the singular viable alternative to Rudy.

Posted by PollM | October 9, 2007 6:50 PM

The sixth Republican debate kicked off Tuesday in Dearborn, Mich., with nine GOP presidential hopefuls taking the stage.

Who do you think won the Dearborn, Michigan MSNBC News Republican debate?

------------> http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=672


Posted by brooklyn - hnav | October 9, 2007 6:53 PM

i think you are dreaming Captain.

Fred was good, better than i imagined.

his response to Hunter's foolhardy attempt to exploit isolationist nonsense, with the strong endorse of the Free Market was wonderful.

i give Fred credit...


as many posters on the Powerline Forum noticed, he is far from Presidential and looks rather unhealthy.

he stumbled, but will probably get some practice.

Romney and Rudy rocked...

Romney, Rudy, and Fred in that order in my humble opinion.

FRED helps the field, brought good stuff to the table.

But Romney - Rudy have the positive, optimistic, charisma, etc...

Both are simply outstanding.

The GOP shows itself to be far more impressive again than the Democrat alternative.

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | October 9, 2007 6:57 PM

"jabbing at Romney's perceived plasticness."

sorry, this is too overt.

for some time you have shown a little favoring for Fred.

he is a good Man.

but both Mitt and Fred looked good jibbing each other.

it was a sound showing by all.

Romney and Rudy were wonderful to challenge the folly of Hillary.

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | October 9, 2007 7:04 PM


(last point - promise)

"When asked about war powers, Romney's insistence that he would have to check with his lawyers sounded like he didn't have a firm grasp on the mechanisms of war."

you suggest this, but Captain, please review the transcript.

Matthews asked him about the past, and he responded lawyers someday will decide.

NOT THAT Romney would check with attorney's in a moment that requires action.

He was talking about (in proper context), post analysis.

Then Romney clearly stated a President doesn't have to check with lawyers.

It wasn't incredible, but his offering wasn't as you suggested in the weak offering.

I have to wonder if some have a bias against Romney.

I admit to not being excited about the hype on Fred, because of his overt McCain-like record.

His work on the McCain Campaign that rejected tax cuts.

But I can freely admit he did well...

One thing to be sincerely concerned about, is his suggestion of future debts about our Children (sounding like a Democrat), and the failure to convict to NOT raising taxes.

Posted by skeptic | October 9, 2007 7:14 PM

"The koskids will be very active on the internet tonight voting for him on internet polls and otherwise declaring that Ron Paul won."

Terry, you should check Kos once in a while. Any discussion of Ron Paul is instantly met with condemnation.

And another thing, can you show any evidence where these pols are spammed? And why aren't the other candidates supporters doing this?

Posted by Elais | October 9, 2007 7:26 PM

Guiliani is the only Republican candidate I can stand, he is the lesser of all the other Republican evils.

Thank GOD for the democrats! A democratic president will undo the damage Bush and his republican cronies have done to the country.

Posted by Dawn | October 9, 2007 7:26 PM

Thanks Ed for the live radio debate discussion.

I missed the first hour of the debate but plan to watch when they repeat on MSNBC.

From the second hour here's my take:

Like Fred's short but concise answers.
Like Rudy's combativeness and especially taking Hillary to task.
Mitt did ok also.

McCain appeared weak due to his inability to hear.

Posted by Christoph | October 9, 2007 7:39 PM

Rudy picked up enough conservative Democrat votes today to tell Dobson to go pound salt.

I won't call you a moron since I am merciful. Instead, I'll just boldface the laughable word.

Posted by Pho | October 9, 2007 7:39 PM

So someone let me in on the joke here....

... is Ron Paul just being sent up to these debates at this point as a target dummy for Rudy, so that Rudy has an easy score slapdown on every debate? Or does he really believe that nonsense?

On the Matthews issue... I was originally curious why ANYONE (including Democrats) would agree to a debate with Chris Matthews at the questioning table. He's a textbook case of a worthless "journalist", who can't keep from injecting himself into whatever the story of the day is. But after watching Fred smack him down a few times, I think I too was overly concerned about it. If he's the best his network can put up... then I'm happy I don't watch them any more.

Posted by Eric Classic | October 9, 2007 7:43 PM


What's funny? Are you a Dobson fan?

Posted by Doug | October 9, 2007 7:56 PM

Rudy clearly won. Freddy looked old and beat. Because he has a southern accent and can smack down Chris Matthews doesn't mean he is qualified to be president. Sorry Captain!!

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | October 9, 2007 8:05 PM

Is there any reason why Captains Quarters continues to be the only blog I go to that freezes my Firefox or Safari browsers?

This site still seems to have technical issues.

Check it out Cap'n.

Posted by Monkei | October 9, 2007 8:08 PM

Because he has a southern accent and can smack down Chris Matthews doesn't mean he is qualified to be president

although he has not smacked down Chris Matthews, we have proven that the last 6, heck the last 14 years of men with southern accents simply doesn't cut it.

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | October 9, 2007 8:08 PM

A democratic president will undo the damage Bush and his republican cronies have done to the country.

I still don't get this talking point.

What has Bush done to this country besides pull out all the stops, as we all expected him too, after 9/11?

No one; no one has yet to show me where this administration has violated the Constitution, no one has shown me what policy has not undergone judicial or Congressional oversite.

Posted by capitano | October 9, 2007 8:15 PM

Matthews' cheapshot Canadian-Prime-Minister sucker punch was so transparently a reprise of the Bush/Musharraf question during the 2000 election, that you have to wonder if it wasn't predicted by the Thompson team. The "oh, by the way do you know who the Canadian Prime Minister is" attempt to appear to be adlibbing...the Dems really must be worried.

Posted by Dr. Mercury | October 9, 2007 8:25 PM

Dear Ed:

My car's been running a little rough lately and-

Well, you know the drill. :)

"I guess I had that about right, didn't I?"

Yes, you did. You've summed it up perfectly. You had it about right.

Uh, one little itty-bitty "Prime Minister of Canada" question isn't any big deal, and, given that, it's not much of a gotcha question, in that a proper narrator would first introduce the name of the P.M. to the audience before asking the question. In this case, he gave Mr. Thompson the honor. Lucky Fred. :)

Otherwise, except for the incessant droning of that horribly-pitched voice of his, I thought Matthews was a non-player. That Italian-looking babe was pretty hot.

I thought the debate was a blast. Thompson did great, and I was ready to vote for everybody there except for one older, kind of thin guy who kept sounding like Hillary Clinton. Paul somebody. Do they let just anybody into these things?

A few observations:

- If it were up to me, I'd hand the job to Tancredo in a heartbeat. Jeez, that guy's a breath of fresh air. I had the same feeling this time that I did months ago -- this is one tough nut. Like, Sicilian tough. Wiseguy tough. Chicago tough. Not afraid to break a few bones defending the family honor tough. Very forthright and sure of himself. He was the only one who a novelist would say jumped on the questions. Ed, give him a fresh look the next time around and see if you can see what I'm seeing. He kind of comes across as rolly-polly at first glance, but look beneath that.

- McCain was the only one guilty of true pandering. That sop he threw Florida and California about "getting the people's permission" to explore for oil off the coast was almost embarrassing. Well, of course they're going to keep you out if you ask them politely. If we ever want to get serious about energy dependency, that 'politely' crap has got to go.

- I wasn't really looking for it, but I don't recall Giuliani using the words "I" and "9/11" in the same sentence very much, if at all. It was one of the other candidates who referred to him as a "hero of New York" or something.

That's been one of Rudy's criticisms, that he plays up 9/11 too much -- which probably ranks as one of the most hypocritical statements in human history. That anyone wouldn't use such an accolade to promote themselves everywhere they went, in a similar situation, is beyond absurd.

- As I've said for six months, Giuliani's going to take the Convention. I adore Fred!, but Rudy's the one with the camera charisma. Voters are going to love him. He comes across as very straightforward, honest, and strong. Want to see a subtle distinction?

Romney looks like he'd make a great president.

Thompson looks like he'd make a great president.

Giuliani looks like he'd make a great president.

So, what's next, that YouTube debate?


Posted by Terry Gain | October 9, 2007 8:27 PM

Terry, you should check Kos once in a while. Any discussion of Ron Paul is instantly met with condemnation.

It's a cover. I guarantee you they support Paul on the internet. And why wouldn't they? He undermines the coherency of the Republicans message on their srongest point: Defense.

Posted by crossdotcurve | October 9, 2007 8:36 PM

Good Lord, the GOP field is a bunch of pathetic panderers. What an out-of-touch group of old balding country-club windbags they are.

Brin 'em on!!!

Give us the delusional megalomaniac!

Give us the geriatric idiot!! (Nixon's words, not mine...)

Give us the Flip-Magic-Underwear-Flopper!!

As Mr. Burns would say....eeeeeeeeeexcelent.

Posted by Dwain | October 9, 2007 8:57 PM

I must say it's so refreshing to read posts by Ed Morrissey at Captains Quarters blog because, unlike Hugh Hewitt, Ed is not a shill for anyone! I refuse to continue reading the biased posts by Hugh Hewitt who wrote; "Fred Thompson is just flat. Period. And the perpetual frown isn't going to win anything." For all of Hugh's intellect, that's hardly an analysis worthy of reading. I encourage everyone to read Ed Morrissey more often at Captains Quarters for an honest and unbiased view.

Posted by Lynn | October 9, 2007 8:59 PM

I am not impressed with Fred. His expectations were pretty low so a lot of people are just thrilled he didn't totally blow it. But the idea of watching him and listening to him for four years is appalling. He is slow and doesn't come across as a particularly quick thinker.

Rudi does well in debates, but his liberal stands will hurt him in many states. I honestly think that a lot of conservatives refuse to support him. I have said for years that I won't vote for someone that supports abortion. If Rudi is our candidate I will face a difficult decision. And to top it off he is also pro-gay marriage. Ouch!

Mitt Romney does not come across as plastic to me. How anyone can see plastic in someone as tremendously successfull as he has been in so many ventures is beyond me. He is well spoken, quick thinking, and experienced in leadership. He had a great debate tonight.

The others are just taking up space and time. They may have some good answers here and there, but nothing that would inspire me to support them.

Posted by Carol Herman | October 9, 2007 9:01 PM

Actually, Chris Matthews was way better than I thought he'd be.

Fred was okay.

But Rudy was the only one taking on Hillary!

Hello. Hillary is the competition.

That the program went well? Sure. It's paced at a fast clip. So you're NOT getting what Fred Thompson said he wanted to deliver: Lincoln/Douglas debating.

And, among the comments piling up, now, the one I read that made sense is that Americans are becoming familiar with men who will appear in Guiliani's cabinet.

In other words? The good guys aren't going to be going home.

You want to pick someone else? Go ahead.

But Guilini still has the added strength of appealling to mainstream voters.

And, Little Green Footballs put up the link that made it easy to watch the debates. Plus, no need to hear the commercials. That was a wonderful bonus.

I couldn't believe it, when Ron Paul, over-heated, and went nuts. When he said "America has never been attacked, my jaw dropped. What about Pearl Harbor? December 7, 1941.

FDR went to Congress a few days later, and gave the speech where America then declared war; with the words that December 7th would be a day that would Live In Infamy.

Of course, Rudy immediately corrected Ron Paul with the facts of 9/11.

Other than that? There's something up there for everyone. And, this is good for the republicans.

We're in October, one year away from the "tightening" of the race.

Can't imagine how many more of these debates we will get; but the primaries? They'll go into a backseat, here. Just upping Iowa early won't change reality.

And, I still say it's possible to see BOTH Conventions coming (in August 2008?) ... As events that leave the script. And, the real nitty gritty of political in-fighting takes over.

Just like in Decatur, 1860.

It's a show, folks.

We shouldn't lose sight of it.

America puts on great political theater. Did so before TV became household items. And, we'll go back, there, again.

But I think, instead of the radio; where FDR did successful fireside chats; we'll see things developing on the Internet.

It sure has changed my habits.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | October 9, 2007 9:17 PM

Carol Herman said

"But Rudy was the only one taking on Hillary!"

Rudy's a former Federal Prosecutor who's busted some very powerful people, so he knows the drill stone-cold. He wouldn't go after her without evidence to back him up.

I'm sure she's eagerly looking forward to debating the guy who put her where she is today (ahe'd never be elected if he hadn't pulled out due to health issues in 2000)

Posted by flenser | October 9, 2007 9:37 PM

Duncan Hunter did well and his protectionism may have sounded good to the Michigan audience, but it won't sell to the GOP.

According to a WSJ poll of Republicans, the majority of them DO favor Hunters "protectionism". To be precise, they favor "tougher regulations to limit imports of
foreign goods".


But don't let reality intrude on you.

Posted by flenser | October 9, 2007 9:38 PM

Hello. Hillary is the competition.

Not in a Republican primary she's not.

Posted by richard mcenroe | October 9, 2007 9:38 PM

Just a note that always seems to get overlooked in these discussions...

Right now the Dem-controlled Congress is the LEAST trusted institution in the country. Behind Bush, behind the troops, even behind journalists.

EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Democratic candidates for the Presidency comes out of the Congress. So when people talk about the big lead Hillary has, remember that means she's just the top maggot in the trashcan. The GOP is the only party offering us ANY sort of alternative in Fred, Mitt and Rudy.

Posted by flenser | October 9, 2007 9:43 PM

Rudy's the one with the camera charisma. Voters are going to love him. He comes across as very straightforward, honest, and strong.

It's a darn shame that he is to the left of Walter Mondale. And that his appearence of honesty is an illusion. But you don't strike me as the sort to worry your head about such matters.

Posted by richard mcenroe | October 9, 2007 9:45 PM

crossdotcurve -- As opposed to 'That 70's Show' the Democrats are giving us? I'd rather have cranky old men than cranky old dogma recycled from 1972...

Posted by Jon Prichard | October 9, 2007 9:57 PM

Lynn Wrote:

"Mitt Romney does not come across as plastic to me. How anyone can see plastic in someone as tremendously successfull as he has been in so many ventures is beyond me."

Being successful in business is often the result of a certain amount of plasticity. Some very successful CEOs even get Botox injections so they have a 'poker face' in meetings. When you think of successful businesspeople in America the ones who come to mind seem mostly like salesmen. Donald Trump, Lee Iacoca, Zig Ziglar, etc. Success in business means to sell very well and in some ways a good salesman is looked upon as a glorified confidence man. And a lot of businessmen seem very inauthentic.

Politics at the Presidential level is completely different than making the sale or running a company. People have a need to feel emotionally attached to the President in ways that are not so between the average person and a CEO.

Very rarely has a successful businessman type ever gone on to become a successful President. In fact I can't think of any. By contrast some of the least successful businessmen have gone on to become the greatest of Presidents. Lincoln and Truman were both business failures but they were great Presidents. Even Bush was a failure in the oil business but he's a very good President (yeah, yeah that's my opinion but history will write that story later).

There's something about the personality of a successful businessmen that creates a disconnect with the American electorate. Its how we feel, not how we think and that's probably why Mitt looks tremendously good on paper as a Presidential candidate.

Also, Romney is a successful businessman but he was also born to great priviledge...no Horatio Alger rags to riches story there. For some reason we like log cabin backgrounds in our Presidents. Perhaps because those people seem more like us, comfortable in our kitchen, great to have a beer with. We like the imperfect when we select our primary leaders and especially if they have a sense of humility.

Mitt never has a hair out of place, always the perfect complexion and dances around the issues with great alacrity. He's successful and privileged and perfect in every way. Nothing like me at all! Heh. And I think that's the main problem creating a disconnect between him and the masses of voters.

Posted by burtsb | October 9, 2007 10:54 PM

Fred must be scaring the brain dead clintonista drones since they are all here desperately trying to trash him. Queen Hilary and Soros must have sent out the orders thru her front groups DU. KOS , and MM to these drones.Leftists are so lucky to have such a large pod of drones doing there bidding.
Fred and Rudy were great . Rudy was smart to go after the socialist Queen Hilary.We must unite to keep the evil socialist police state that monster wants to set up from happening. Shutting down this site and talk radio would be top on her list !

Posted by Hollowpoint | October 9, 2007 11:06 PM

How on earth could anyone think Mitt did well except on delivery? Corporate welfare ("investing") for auto makers, ag subsidies, bailing out those facing foreclosure- this is his idea of cutting spending???

How could he not know that there were legitimate Constitutional issues with the line item veto that Clinton had?

And the "sit down with the lawyers" bit was even worse than his previous gaffe when he couldn't give an opinion on whether the surge was working. Definitely not Commander In Chief material.

Posted by Carol Herman | October 9, 2007 11:09 PM

Hillary represents the Bonkey choice;

Hence, whoever wins the republican nomination will be facing her. Or him. Or "it."

This was the first debate I watched. And, it was easy. Little Green Footballs provided a link to the TV hookup. Without having to listen to the commercials. It just took up a portion of my screen, here.

I thought that for political theater it was excellent!

And, since I've been supporting Rudy, each and every time, I just get more and more, impressed.

There's now some video clips up. Fred "fumfers." And, I haven't quite gotten used to his facial expressions. Maybe it works for southerners?

Rudy, on the other hand, was eloquent. Nailed Ron Paul's flup (that we were never attacked.) And, has the best one-liner about Canada; and what would happen IF we adopted Hillary's health care: Then Canadians would have no place to come for medical treatments.

You need to collect a lot of people to win. It's not something that works when you think your faction has the "social conservatives," or, whatever. I think, tonight, lots of people were watching this debate, who don't even call themselves "republicans."

All they are ... are voters.

Rudy reaches them.

While the guarded language of "life" and "family values" is pretty much a tune playing only among "the faithful."

Well, Ron Paul has "faithful" followers, too.

I wouldn't mind tuning in another debate.

My guess is that as long as there are viewers, the networks are gonna want to do "debates."

I'm not sure how you count "audience," but I'd bet tonight's debate had more viewers than the six or seven others that came before. No. I don't know. I'm guessing.

But when you have political theater this good, people want to tune it in.

There wasn't one boring moment.

Posted by njcommuter | October 9, 2007 11:12 PM

Let's get a bit ahead of ourselves and say that it does indeed come down to Mitt, Rudy, and Fred. If they are all popular with the Right and the Center-Right, and all about equally horrible to the Left, that practically guarantees that Fred is on the ticket. Why?

If Fred wins, he's in. If either Mitt or Rudy wins, he'll need someone to balance the ticket. They both come from the Northeast, so you want someone from well outside that area. That's Fred.

The only reason to go for someone else is to get a younger person who can become the candidate in 2016, but given the present straits of the GOP and the country I think that winning in 2008 must take precedence.

What about Mike H. or Duncan H.? Well, if they are still in it (if it's not down to Mitt, Rudy and Fred) they are both possible running mates, and perhaps a better balance, if they can attract voters from the center.

My favorite ticket right now? Giuliani-Thompson, or vice-versa.

Side note: my thoughts and prayers for Chris Muir and family, whatever the crisis may be.

Posted by Ron C | October 9, 2007 11:16 PM

It was obvious that Matthews came gunning for Thompson - and what Matthews didn't accomplish in the debate, he attempted to accomplish in his post-debate commentary - unilaterally and hilariously declaring Thompson a loser.

MSNBC is the biggest loser here, because that leftist hawking company has no one better than Matthews.

Posted by buma | October 9, 2007 11:23 PM

Glad to see some people actually watched the debate. But I'd say nobody in this debate gained or lost any ground on anybody else in either party. There is a staus quo that won't see any real movement until the primaries begin. This post by Special Ed and most of the ensuing comments are the equivalent of a circle jerk.

Posted by poodlemom | October 9, 2007 11:45 PM

IMHO Rudy gets stronger with each debate. Fred caught my interest when his name first got bandied about, but now I'm left with "is that all there is"? He didn't make any mistakes, but he didn't impress me as being very fast on his feet either.

Paul is an idiot and a one-trick pony also. Every ill that is currently facing us is due to the war in Iraq according to Paul......I was waiting for him to just come out and say "it's all Bush's fault" ;-)

Romney is a slick package, but he just puts me off somehow. He reminds me of that kid in class (you know every classroom had one) who would raise his hand frantically every time the teacher asked a question......that the image Romney set for me.

McCain just comes across as old AND frail. There appeared to be an audio problem for McCain...couldn't tell whether he's really experiencing hearing problems (he seemed to be the only one) or if he was having a senior moment.

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | October 10, 2007 2:18 AM

Yes, the Soros/MoveOn drones are out tonight throwing smoke.

The kids received their funds at their PO Boxes and are going to work.

"Make money at your computer, work from home!"

You know the drill.

Posted by Tillman | October 10, 2007 2:28 AM

Flenser says:

"It's a darn shame that he is to the left of Walter Mondale. And that his appearence of honesty is an illusion. But you don't strike me as the sort to worry your head about such matters."

Hugh says:

Flenser's been taking a dump over at the Power Line Forums too tonight.

Looks like he/she's making the rounds like a good little Sorosbot.

How much bread does MoveOn/Soros slip in your envelope Flenser?

Posted by kamperken | October 10, 2007 3:07 AM

It really doesn't matter who won the debate. With the exception of the paid agents from the leftwing totalitarian groups who deface this blog with what they incorrectly believe to be thought or wit, we'll all be voting for that Republican nominee. None are perfect, as no politician has ever been, but I'll take any over the female incarnation of Joe Stalin.

Posted by the fly-man/bong boy | October 10, 2007 6:14 AM

Facing her or it? Man if Kay Bailey Hutchenson was running all we would hear is how great it would be to have a woman President. "Stalin", "it". You people have absolutely no class and contantly prove it.

Posted by martin.musculus | October 10, 2007 6:30 AM

"His parting phrase to Mitt about it doesnt matter what you think the Supreme Court sided with me and therefore, Im right..."

Ah, yes! The *same* Supreme Court that resorts to Scottish Law, the "*Evolving Standards* of other nations" and foriegn law for basing opinions on *OUR* Constitution!

Ya Rudy, and No Guns, too, right?

In these debates, what SCOTUS has said is irrelivent -- the same, in effect as Mitt's "lawyer-ing up".

Right or Wrong, Warts or Smooth, I want to hear the arguments, see the reasoning displayed! A candidate to unabashedly, unapoligentically[sp?] tell me HIS/HER beliefs. I have more respect for that clown Ron Paul than I have (at this point) for Rudy (for example)! Ron Paul's kookisms are unpopular -- don't think he doesn't know it, its been pushed in his face often enough! He believes it so he says it! Compare that with Rudys on-again/off-again position on abortion and firearms. Ones that have caused intellectual acrobatics ad-nasium by pundits, AM hosts, and other admirers.

I as so completely tired of disingenuousness of all these people. I'd vote for someone who had 70% of my beliefs, if they were **HONEST**! (NB: firearms are a deal breaker, but I'd only demand neutrality to the 2nd Amendment, not hostility {sorry Rudy 8-( ... }).

What I'd like to see, if I had my druthers, would be for people to record & transcribe all that is said by every candidate at each campaign stop and index it by subject -- to be released only a few days prior to the convention. I'd wait to release it to keep the candidates from using it as "polling".

- martin.musculus

Posted by Jazz | October 10, 2007 7:26 AM

I was able to watch all but the last five minutes of the debate, but sadly, as it ran up against another commitment I was preparing for, I couldn't go online to discuss it after nor sit in for the live blogging. I'm glad to find this discussion going on this morning, though.

Reading Ed's review and the comments here, I have to wonder if we were all watching the same debate. Fred did better than some of his recent speaking engagements made me think he would, but I can't conceive of anyone thinking he "won" the debate. On too many of his answers he seemed to be halting, unsure of where he was going on some of the answers. But mostly, I think he failed to project that air of presence and command to give the viewer confidence. Frankly, he just came across as being too old and no longer that mentally sharp. At least that was my impression. He didn't inspire confidence in me... brought on shades of worrying about Reagan toward the end of his second term even before we knew that he was battling A.D.

While Rudy pretty much lost *my* vote last night (were he to get the nomination) I'd have to say he put on the best performance and I would have had to pick him as the "winner" of the debate. No surprises, really, as he's always great in this type of format and he has a powerful, magnetic personality. I'm still sure the G.O.P. leadership will find a way to marshal their forces and torpedo him, but he certainly put on a stellar performance yesterday. Sadly, he has shown that he is totally running away from his career long roots as a New York Republican and making promises like mad to throw red meat to the right wing base. I no longer think I could pull the lever for him.

Romney was once again a very strong, forceful presence on the stage, and I think his line plays very well in Detroit. However, much like Rudy, he's flailing around desperately to try to sell himself in a new conservative package he never displayed in the past. I find both of them to be fairly disingenuous at this point and couldn't vote for them.

Hunter and Brownback seemed to be no-shows and barely made a ripple on the pond. No big mistakes, but also nothing to give them a breakthrough performance, so I'm guessing they'll be fading early in the process.

Ron Paul once again had me feeling sad. I do believe that Paul is highly intelligent and earnest in his beliefs. He has, for me personally, the right ideas and message on a number of issues. However, he handles public speaking engagements like this so poorly. He has a rather high pitched voice that tends to crack when he gets excited. While other, better speakers can simply appear passionate about their views when they become more animated, Ron Paul seems to morph into a GOP version of Dennis Kucinich on the stage. I don't think he's anywhere near as whacky as Kucinich seems to be, but I'm afraid he projects that kind of image. I doubt he'll ever get within smelling distance of the nomination nor a VP slot, but I'm glad he's getting these opportunities to get his message out into the debate process.

Several key questions in yesterday's debate have, as I alluded to earlier, pretty much sealed the deal that I won't be able to vote for any Republican in the general election, and since I've already written off all the Dems still in contention, it's getting more and more sure that I'll be doing a write-in for somebody. Not sure who yet.

It was an enlightening debate, but some of the analysis provided here (particularly in the comments) leaves me scratching my head. I know Fred is some kind of rock star among the more hard core conservatives, so it's natural to want to see him in the best light, but man... he totally failed to impress me.

Posted by quickjustice | October 10, 2007 7:29 AM

Obviously, Romney knows that he's on track to lose the game if he can't knock over the table. I've seen Romney speak in person several times. My impression remains that he's a good, smart guy who's strong on domestic policy, but weak and ignorant on national security and foreign policy. The "war powers" gaffe was just the latest in a string of such missteps.

In other words, a great candidate for cabinet member.

Rudy Giuliani prepares by meeting with top policy experts in every field. He engages the experts aggressively. He's interested in ideas, and willing to take risks to see great ideas implemented as government policy. As I've said before, I'd be pleased to see him get the nomination.

Fred Thompson is great. He has to get past the
perception that he's lazy, but I think he's well on his way to succeeding. I met Fred several times while he was in the Senate, and he expressed his frustration with the lack of intellectual rigor and seriousness in that body. Amen to that!

We're fortunate that many of the GOP contenders are of cabinet stature. Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain clearly are presidential. The American people already know them. There are no more skeletons in their closets.

By moderating her national security positions in conjunction with Reid and Pelosi, Hillary's already moving to capture the center. Can any of the GOP contenders displace her?

Posted by Captain Ed | October 10, 2007 7:34 AM

I think you underestimate Romney. He's actually very knowledgeable on foreign policy. I'll refer you to my interview in June with Romney, in which I focused almost entirely on the subject, and he knows his stuff. He's a good candidate, and I'd have no qualms about supporting him.

I'll try to post that interview on the blog later today. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised about how well he does on foreign policy He just never gets asked about it in detail.

Posted by mrlynn | October 10, 2007 7:43 AM

Hugh Beaumont writes,

"Is there any reason why Captains Quarters continues to be the only blog I go to that freezes my Firefox or Safari browsers?

"This site still seems to have technical issues."

I'm using Safari, and the site is working fine, now much faster than it used to be.

The olive-drab background would look better on a tank, though. ;-)

Re the 'debate': I llistened on the radio, thought it was entertaining.

Fred had a bit of trouble keeping up with the rapid-fire pace of the others' responses.

Matthews wasn't as obnoxious as I expected him to be.

The level of the discussion, and the detail, were head and shoulders above those of the last Democrat debate. The Republican field is far superior to the opposition's.

/Mr Lynn

Posted by MarkD | October 10, 2007 7:45 AM

"By moderating her national security positions in conjunction with Reid and Pelosi, Hillary's already moving to capture the center."

In what world might there be a single human who does not recognize that she pretends to be everything to everyone? Polls are her principles.

Posted by Brett | October 10, 2007 8:03 AM

Well, I see thoughtful Americans still rate people's intelligence by their accents.

I sure am glad the postwarriors outgrew the bigotry of their forefathers.

Posted by JohnR | October 10, 2007 8:22 AM

I am a long time listener of the Hugh Hewitt show, and I must admit I have developed a bias against Mitt due to Hugh's relentless shilling for him. The show has almost become a full time ad for Romney and I have about quit listening to it. Too bad because Hugh still has the best interviews on radio.

Maybe if I take a break from the show I can look at Mitt with fresh eyes.

Posted by Concerned | October 10, 2007 8:35 AM

Those who really want to believe in Fred with continue to do so.

Most of us just saw a nervous old man.

Posted by Jazz | October 10, 2007 8:35 AM

Too bad because Hugh still has the best interviews on radio.

You don't listen to Captain Ed's radio show? ;-)

Posted by james23 | October 10, 2007 8:45 AM

WOW, the Fredmentum!! Fred made no major screw ups, but brought nothing to the table, either. He's settling into the second tier.

Perdiction, Fred's #s continue to float downward.

Posted by Joel | October 10, 2007 10:05 AM

I thought Fred did well. I thought Rudy probably did better, though not by much.

I am a Fred Head. I do realize some of his shortcomings, but I have not yet figured out why people think that he "brought nothing to the table" or that he "looked nervous" or that he looks sick (he has lost weight due to a diet--not sick). Some of the knocks on his speed of talking or accent are ridiculous. I find Rudy's accent aggravating, but at least I listen to what he says before I say that I don't want him to get the nomination.

One of the bigger knocks on Fred has been that he does not have substance. Yet Fred talked about substance (Social Security, War Powers, etc.) where the others were in the land of generalities.

It was that no one took on Fred except Matthews.

Posted by ERNurse | October 10, 2007 11:07 AM

Stomping Chris Matthews into a laughingstock is akin to stomping stink into a turd. I mean, it's kind of a moot issue, isn't it?

Chris Matthews is a screeching, tow-headed sissy who probably got his butt kicked during recess throughout his childhood. And he never lost that special kind of senseless petulance that marks his shows- and the liberals who support him.

Posted by njcommuter | October 10, 2007 12:03 PM

In reviewing my impressions of the debate, something occurs to me. There's a debating technique that Fred Thompson doesn't seem to have mastered. Since it's a dishonest technique, I hope he never does.

Someone check me on this, but both Romney and Giuliani took questions in the 30-second challenge, answered them briefly, and then launched into unrelated repetitions of their signature talking points. I don't recall whether Huckabee or Brownback did, but I'm not sure about Hunter. (Paul's arguments about the gold standard disqualify him from serious consideration as far as I'm concerned; they are in denial of reality.)

If I'm wrong and Fred Thompson did this, please point it out to me. If not, then I'll give him another point or two for intellectual rigor. Given the general condition of this slate, I do hope he turns out to be a strong and sensible candidate.

Posted by Tim W | October 10, 2007 12:37 PM

I thought Thompson did better than expected but I have very low expectations for him. He personally puts me to sleep and does not look well from a health standpoint. I like the guy and agree with many of his views but he is so uninspiring. Romney in my humble opinion did not do well last night particulary with his lawyer answer. He also sounded a little too scripted. I really like the guy but think he would lose big time in the general election. Rudy did well last night as usual and I think he would destroy the Clintons in the general election. I always get a laugh out of the fact that some people think he's a liberal. He may not be a social conserative, but he's conservative in every other issue and pisses off all the right people. The guy just is just a natural leader. The rest are irrelevant and should leave the stage.

Colorado, where I live, is rapidly turning blue but Rudy out polls the Clintons by a wide margin by picking up the large independent voting block. This same scenario will play out in other states as people are really looking for someone to vote for other than the Clintons.

Posted by Brian B | October 10, 2007 2:29 PM

Two questions:

The question about ordering an attack without Congressional approval was one in the context of legality, was it not?

If so, what is wrong with consulting attorneys?

Obviously you aren't going to consult attorneys if the target is "fleeting," but that is not what the question asked. I believe Ron Paul and Mitt Romney were the only ones that actually answered the question (differently). The rest of the bunch threw in some added stipulations and turned it into a different question.

Posted by George | October 12, 2007 6:16 AM

"When asked about war powers, Romney's insistence that he would have to check with his lawyers sounded like he didn't have a firm grasp on the mechanisms of war."

It does give that impression but whom did President Kennedy consult first during the missile crisis? His brother, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, the nation’s top lawyer.

Post a comment