Last night’s Republican debate represented missed opportunities for both McCain and Romney to seal the deal going into Super Tuesday. As McCain goes in the front runner, this does work to his advantage. The biggest controversy was a repetition of McCain distorting Romney’s position on Iraq timetables. I just don’t get why McCain bothers to lie about Romney’s position. McCain could probably blow out Romney in a real debate on foreign policy before a pro-war Republican audience without having to distort Romney’s position. If the debate comes down to what Romney’s position is, I’d tend to give Romney the benefit of the doubt that he knows his own position unless we have clear evidence (as on many social issues) that he has really taken both sides of the issue. If McCain’s point is to show that Romney is inconsistent there are so many other areas he can do this other than on Iraq.
In bickering over nonsense, McCain and Romney gave Ron Paul the opportunity to actually come off as the sane one when he said:
When I listen to this argument, I mean, I find it rather silly because they’re arguing technicalities of a policy they both agree with. They agreed going in, they agreed for staying, agreed for staying how many years, and these are technicalities. We should be debating foreign policy, whether we should have interventionism or non-interventionism, whether we should be defending this country or whether we should be the policeman of the world, whether we should be, you know, running our empire or not and how are we going to have guns and butter.
This is especially foolish for McCain considering that he could wind up running against Hillary Clinton. Against Clinton he might have had a strong case for being the honest candidate and could bring up all the lies Clinton has told during the campaign. When McCain pulls the same thing, even if not as badly as Clinton has, he reduces his ability to show a distinction between Clinton and himself on character. If the desire was to highlight Romney’s inconsistency, McCain also didn’t do himself any favors with an incomprehensible explanation of his own changing views on the Bush tax cuts.
Mike Huckabee again came across as being the best capable of arguing for his viewpoints, even when I disagree with him. I would never want him to be president, but if I had to spend time listening to any of them discussing their positions I’d go with Huckabee. For a guy who has expressed quite a few nutty ideas over the years he does manage to come across as the most articulate and sometimes even most rational of the bunch.