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NBC New Hampshire Republican Debate II: a Few More Sparks Signifying Little Change in Romney Prospects

–Richard E. Vatz

The second presidential debate in 10 hours: MSNBC’s professional conservative-haters were wowed by what they regarded as a potentially transformational debate in which Gov. Mitt Romney was challenged on his motives for leaving political office and his knowledge of Super PAC’s advertisements.

Let’s grant that Romney’s motives in leaving politics were partially that he felt he might not win re-election. Let’s grant that Romney, who claimed he hadn’t seen the ads that Speaker Newt Gingrich claims were revelatory of “lies,” was aware of what was in them regardless. So what? And by law he may not control them.

Sorry, this was no last minute, transformative debate, nor should it have been. There were a few quasi-new issues discussed, but everyone performed true to form: Romney was articulate, forceful and prepared — the most prepared, as always, although his fellow debaters are no slouches in the debate preparation biz.

Sen. Rick Santorum, as always, provided the strongest right-wing arguments, and it must be said that again it was he who brought up the most important conservative mega-points, such as the fact that the key of keys to the Democratic-Republican differences is the former’s emphasis on dependency.

Gingrich is always cerebrally impressive, and his unwillingness to accept the debate paradigm with many irrelevant and liberally-based questions from moderators was once again a breath of fresh air. Challenging the value of questions such as “what Republicans are you willing to hurt” or what remedy do you have for Americans who are “fed up with the fighting in Washington,” he diminishes the questioner by implying “there is no more time for such nonsense.” The issue is not policy outcome of Republicans’ happiness or unhappiness; it is whether policies are reasonable, fair, far-sighted and effective.

Gov. Rick Perry, relaxed and at peace with himself was fine, save for his calling Obama a “socialist.” Not true precisely, and certainly a dumb rhetorical move.

Again, Jon Huntsman is always the debates’ Washington Nationals. He debated pretty well, but no one will long recall what he said in any of the debates.

Ron Paul was Ron Paul, nicer than in ads and interesting, as long as no one takes seriously his isolationism dressed up as economic policy.

David Gregory must be best friends with Brian Williams…it’s all about him with his self-satisfied irrelevancies and interruptions. Is there no conservative at NBC who will say to him, “Hey, David — focus your intelligence on disinterested formulations of important questions.”

What we need are several more debates before the New Hampshire primary; the topic could be, “Do We Need Several More Debates?”

Outcome: mostly good candidates; mostly intelligence-wasting moderators with a few exceptions; and Mitt Romney has earned the Republican nomination for President.

Prof. Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University and is author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion






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