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McCain Shines at Latest GOP Debate

The Fix didn't liveblog last night's Republican debate in Florida, but I certainly watched it, interrupted only by the occasional channel switch to check on Game 7 of the Red Sox-Indians series.

The Republican presidential candidates stand on stage during the Republican Party of Florida debate Sunday night at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. The debate was moderated by the Fox News Network. (Getty Images)

The first 30 minutes of the debate provided some of the best moments of the campaign so far, with John McCain accusing Mitt Romney of seeking to fool the American people about his record, and Fred Thompson challenging Rudy Giuliani over his public declaration that he voted for Democrat Mario Cuomo in New York's 1994 gubernatorial race.

After those first 30 minutes, the debate lapsed into standard-issue talking points. But as always, The Fix was able to divine the winners and losers. Feel free to offer your own in the comments section below.


John McCain: McCain won the debate with a single line. Talking about the fact he wasn't able to attend the Woodstock rock festival back in 1969, McCain said: "I was tied up at the time." Wow. A subtle reference to his time as a POW in the "Hanoi Hilton" that the crowd slowly but surely caught on to and eventually rewarded McCain with an extended standing ovation. McCain also nicely balanced seriousness (his unwillingness to gratuitously attack Hillary Rodham Clinton) with his trademark wit (poking fun at his advanced age in a question on Social Security). It felt like McCain was at the center of the debate last night.

Mitt Romney: At the start of the debate, the former Massachusetts governor seemed off his game. He flubbed a line about Hillary Rodham Clinton and seemed more car salesman than presidential candidate at times. But as the debate wore on, Romney scored points with his passionate defense of his record as governor -- most notably on health care. Romney is most natural when speaking about his record of accomplishments; from Bain Capital to the Olympics to Massachusetts, he has put together an impressive resume of results. Romney spent much of the latter half of the debate reminding viewers of that.

Charlie Crist: The Florida governor got more face time than everyone on stage except the four frontrunners, thanks to being seated directly behind the debate's moderators. (Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, who recently stepped aside as general chairman of the Republican National Committee, wasn't as lucky; one moderator's head blocked the camera's view of him.) Behind the scenes, Crist surely got plenty of attention, as all of the top-tier candidates covet his endorsement before the Sunshine State's January primary.


Fred Thompson: Unlike the last Republican debate (Thompson's first) where the former Tennessee senator stood at the center of the proceedings, he seemed to fade into the background tonight. Thompson's speaking style -- slow and, at times, halting -- coupled with his tendency to look down at the podium (notes?), made him look something short of presidential. Thompson's best lines of the night came at the very end of the debate; his rebuttal to persistent charges of laziness were very effective, but by the time he uttered them even the most dedicated political junkies had probably clicked over to watch either baseball or football.

Barack Obama/John Edwards: We listed Clinton as a winner in the last Republican debate and could have done the same for last night's proceedings. But we figured we'd change things up and put her two main rivals for the Democratic nomination in the loser category this time around. Why? Because the more that Clinton is cast as the inevitable nominee in national forums like the Fox debate, the more likely it is that she will become that nominee. Clinton's name was invoked last night more than former President Ronald Reagan's; not a single Republican candidate mentioned either Obama or Edwards.

The Second-Tier GOP Candidates: For the first half hour of the debate, it was easy to forget that Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and Mike Huckabee were on the stage. As usual, Huckabee made the most of the time he had, but the brutal reality of not being in the lead pack hurt him more tonight than it had in other debates. As for the other three, is it possible they don't make the cut at future debates? It sure felt like we were moving in that direction last night.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 22, 2007; 10:32 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Posted by: phoobaar | October 23, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Tony, I agree with you that we all love the USA or we wouldn't bother to be on this blog or even care what happens in this nation. Kudo's for being a uniter.

Point taken concerning the 2nd tier candidates. However, that's democracy for you. At times it makes me roll my eyes and shake my head, yet it also made me go to the recruiters office, the MEPS and join the Naval Reserves. Democracy, in it's presentation can be the greatest or worst form of government...but only democracy allows both the best and worst of it to be presented.

Posted by: bryant_flier2006 | October 23, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

What, are you an "entertainment reporter" or something?

Absolutely every "professional reporter" at the post ignores substance. None of you ever (ever!) write stories describing candidates' positions, or take any (other than Hillary) to task for misrepresentations.

For that sort of journalism, one must read the independent blogs.

Yet all of the professional journalists oppose extending any sheild law protection to bloggers.

Posted by: fschmitz1 | October 23, 2007 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Phoobar: how ingenious of you to sneak that moniker past the clean-minded Washington Post censors! On to the DMV!

Posted by: iyenori | October 23, 2007 2:19 AM | Report abuse

I have spent the last minutes reading this entire submission of responses. My only conclusion is that we all love our country, and we all care about it equally. Many fail to agree with each other, which rocks. The best part of freedom is the ability to speak our minds openly. With the exception of people wishing death upon others (which frankly is not cool no matter how jokingly it is written), most points are well grounded, and have merit. I personally do not agree with the second-tier designation. I also believe there should be a cut made down to five candidates on the republican side (Rudy-Romney-McCain-Huckabee-Paul). Tancredo and Hunter are topic-specific candidates who can't gain traction, and Thompson has zero gravitas. There was a reason that he waited so long. He would have been out already had he started in April with the rest of the candidates. I believe that the Dems should cut down to four (Hilary-Richardson-Edwards-Obama) candidates too, so they can really hash out their differences too. America chews up its candidates to see who is strong, who is worthy, who is resilient. We just need to focus on the eight or nine candidates who really have potential mass appeal.

Posted by: tonyjradco | October 23, 2007 12:27 AM | Report abuse

I think park of what drives the positive press for McCain is that a McCain comeback makes great political drama.

A Ron Paul-driven revival of a consistent conservatism (small government, both in foreign and domestic policy)isn't as sexy.

Posted by: nicoleparish | October 22, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cillizza, before you relegate Ron Paul to the "second-tier" dust bin, you may want to look at his fundraising analysis:

Summary: Financially, this is a 3-man race between Guliani, Thompson and Paul.

You'd think Paul were broke, the way he is still being marginalized. Funny how McCain, who *is* broke, still gets face time, while Paul still cannot. And when Paul dominates text message polls, pundits cry foul, suggesting manipulation. They never do explain *how* Paul supporters are supposedly manipulating the results -- because it can't be done. Unfortunately for his detractors, Ron Paul simply has *huge* grassroots support.

Paul's message is so fresh, people are afraid. What's funny is that his message is 230 years old.

Posted by: phoobaar | October 22, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey Chris:

NEWSFLASH: McCain's campaign is dead--he is simply out of money. He would be forgotten by now if the media would stop pushing him. I'm pretty sure I saw him at a gas station last week passing gas to try and refuel the "Straight-Talk Express."

If you listened to the voice of the people, you would have reported that RON PAUL WON THE POST-DEBATE PHONE POLL BY ALMOST 10 PERCENT. In fact, he has won every post-debate poll and most of the straw polls.

RON PAUL HAS MORE CASH ON HAND THIS QUARTER THAN JOHN McCAIN! He has the third most solvent campaign in the GOP. Quit ignoring him and give him the fair coverage that he has earned!

Posted by: navymanusna | October 22, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

McCain has shown contempt for fellow sailors. He Betrayed the dead and survivors of the USS LBERTY ship in favor of Israeli Bribe Money for his campaigns.
They asked for help and he betrayed them, ask the Phoenix newspapers for reference.
Wasn't he a member of the Keating 5?
Is he even eligible to run for US president as he wasn't born in the US?
Also from they claim he wasn't that helpful in Vietnam prison camp.
Better check out this liar.

Posted by: comyhoo | October 22, 2007 8:24 PM | Report abuse

McCain has shown contempt for fellow sailors. He Betrayed the dead and survivors of the USS LBERTY ship in favor of Israeli Bribe Money for his campaigns.
They asked for help and he betrayed them, ask the Phoenix newspapers for reference.
Wasn't he a member of the Keating 5?
Is he even eligible to run for US president as he wasn't born in the US?
Also from they claim he wasn't that helpful in Vietnam prison camp.
Better check out this liar.

Posted by: comyhoo | October 22, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Chris, please quit journalism and find a new profession. You are a GOP hack. McCain didn't shine and no one who saw the same debate thought that he did for a second. Paul had the best points and didn't play the one-liner game with the rest of them.

You are nothing more than a neocon in disguise who is perpetuating the notion that Paul and Huckabee are second-tier candidates simply because the media wants them to be.

Get lost.

Posted by: trackerbishop198x | October 22, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

You people are feeding kingofzouk again. I know it is hard to just ignore him--after all, there is that nagging feeling that someone gullible might actually take his outlandish misrepresentations at face value instead of spending two minutes on Google (which would flat-out debunk most of his claims.)

However, I would encourage everyone to please refrain from engaging him in a "dialogue," where the term is used loosely. He will completely ignore the easily delivered complete rebuttals to all his claims and, incongruously, usually tout how his "facts" went unchallenged. This happens EVERY SINGLE TIME. You cannot win. You cannot get him to respond. You cannot get him to admit he is wrong or lying.

It is much better to point out the true nature of kingofzouk--he himself admitted in exactly so many words right after the 2006 election that he knew his side was losing but he had to keep cheerleading without regard to any facts. This is what he does--possibly even gets paid for.

Posted by: roo | October 22, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

So Paul is second tier despite the fact he has more money on hand than McCain does and five-times the amount of money Huckabeee does.

When Paul saturates the airwaves with ads on radio and TV in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada with the money he's raised and Huckabee or McCain can't print so much as flyer because of their lack of funds we'll see what tier everyone's in by December.

Posted by: sean4 | October 22, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Kennedy years - Cuba is overrun by communists. US president does nothing. Allies invade with assurance of air cover. Dem president reneges and essentially kills them all. cuba settles into decades of oppressive communism and stagnation.

Johnson - escaltes war, losing effort, 60,000 killed

Nixon -- ends war, promises ongoing support to S vietnam.

Ford - support cut off for S Vietnam by Dem congress over objections. millions die.

Carter years - Shah ( a US ally) is overthrown, US president does nothing. US embassy is taken over, hostages seized. Us does nothing.

Reagan years - Wall comes down, Soviet communism is defeated. Libya bombed for killing US citizens. Libya retreats. Greanda, El Salvador, etc. remain free.

Bush 1 - Saddam hussain is thrown out of Kuwait.

Clinton 1 - Sudan - US soldiers corpses dragged through streets after failing to get appropriate support. embassies exploded, WTC bombed. USS cole attacked. OBL plots more. US President dallies with intern, fails to act.

Bush 2 - Iraq defeated in record time. Dem congress attempts to sabotage war effort.

Inconvenient truths.
Rudy = pressure continues on forces of terror, Iran backs down, russia and china straighten up

Clinton 2 = appeasement becomes official policy, rougue nations are gleeful and test all boundaries. Nuclear weapons are distributed.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, there is a column in today's WaPo about the increased drumbeat for war with Iran.

Zouk, where does Rudy come down on the theory of the unitary executive? If you know, and especially if you can point me to a source, I would appreciate it.

Because I missed this debate and have no personal opinion about it, I can only say I
am gratified that the old Navy pilot was perceived to have done well by the WaPo.

To all of my reasonable D acquaintances on this web log; surely you find Speaker Pelosi's recent support for bringing the "Armenian" resolution to the floor at a time when our relations with Turkey are delicate to have been very unwise, do you not? I always thought of her as a mere operative, a counterweight to DeLay, so I am coming from a position of skepticism about her, I admit.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 22, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Destabilization of the whole middle east, in order to realign it with governments that are US puppets, was certainly the strategy laid out in the neocon Project for a New American Century, so everything IS goinng according to plan for them.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

"the carter/clinton mess is finally starting to get cleaned up."

Talk about your selective memory. Carter was in office for only 4 years, after which Reagan/Bush had 12 years to 'clean up' whatever alleged messes were left behind. While Bush did take on Saddam he had the foresight to not go all the way to Baghdad. Then 8 years of Clinton, which basically continued Reagan/Bush policies in that region. Now Bush II, approaching his 8th year in office is finally getting around to Iran and you want to claim he's fixing a carter/clinton mess? There have been 19 years of Republican Presidents since Carter was in office. 19 years! Isn't that enough time to do the job, or is this their example of how 'small government works better'?

(Of course, you ignore that the Iran problem wasn't created by Carter, it was created by prior administrations' support for the Shah, who's autocratic regime imploded while Carter was president. While Carter certainly didn't handle that situation as well as he could have, he is hardly the sole president to deserve blame for that mess)

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to see someone breaking out of the pack now. But remember the 1992 primaries. The top Democratic contenders, Al Gore, Cuomo, stayed out, because the early take of the press was that Bush Sr. was unbeatable after the popularilty surge following the Gulf War (One). Yet Bill Clinton, at first almost written off because of sex scandals, broke out of the pack running and vaulted to first place in the polls right after the Democratic Convention.

So though no Republican seems to have caught fire yet, don't rule them out. The party may yet emerge from the summer of 2008 with a championship contender.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | October 22, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

No judge, what we have here is a long neglected corner of the world sitting on top of prime resources which is finally getting the attention it deserves. compare that to "I tried but I failed". the holiday from history in then 90s with the feckless feel-good foreign policy only fiddled while Persia burned. the carter/clinton mess is finally starting to get cleaned up. Of course, due to the delay the cost has gone up.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, everything's just rosy in Iraq.

"An audacious cross-border ambush by Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq killed at least 17 Turkish soldiers Sunday, ratcheting up pressure on the Turkish government to launch a military offensive into Iraq."

Lessee here: what we have is a war in Iraq threatening to spread to Turkey and Iran and this is somehow defined as a success? I suppose if it drags in Kuwait and Saudia Arabia then we can declare total victory?

Posted by: judgeccrater | October 22, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

iyenori, I completely disagree with your assessment of McCain's debate performance. How about looking at the night objectively....from the perspective that the candidates have just gone through the wringer at the weekend-long conserva-thon, the "Values Voter Summit" and then capping it off with the debate Sunday night. I dare say, Fred Thompson looked a helluva lot less energetic and responsive than McCain....not that hard to do admittedly, but McCain showed mastery of every topic and substance instead of fluff or quips alone.

I'd rather have edgy any day than lackluster or befuddled. (Both Thompson and Romney fall into the latter category.)

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | October 22, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Last night, the Clintons watched the GOP debate. For reasons that remain unclear, a tape recorder captured their comments during the program, and an anonymous source supplied a transcript. Here are some highlights...

Romney also caught her attention when he defended President Bush: "Hillary Clinton is trying to rewrite history, that somehow he did this all by himself, going to Iraq. He went to Congress and got their support."

"That's not fair," she said. "The president misled us. Why I remember when we launched military strikes against the so-called WMDs. The president said oh-so- confidently: `I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again."

"Uh, you know, Hillary," interjected the former president, "The guy who said that was kind of ... me."

She paused, then said: "You and I have a number of things that we've agreed not to discuss. Let us add that item to the list."

The debate then turned to the issue of entitlements. Hume asked Fred Thompson about his proposal to curb the growth of Social Security benefits.

"Yessss!!!" she said with obvious enthusiasm. "I love it when my opponents talk about doing something with Social Security. Even Obama has said that nothing should be off the table. Yeah, right, I'll slam their heads on the table. When I'm done with these guys, everybody will think that they want to hire old people out as speed bumps. No tax increases, no benefit cuts -- that's my story and I'm sticking to it."

"Darn right," said the former president, "who the heck cares about arithmetic?"

Thompson then said his plan is "based on the notion that there's no reason to run for the presidency of the United States if you can't tell the truth."

At that point, the Clintons had nothing to say.

the non-answers are coming to a late-night comedy show soon.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Could we lose the outside issues and the buzzwords ("moonbats" vs. "fascists") and get back to the Republican debate?

"Worn and strident" for McCain (by erickoe) is spot on. At least at the beginning (and how many viewers tuned out early?) he seemed to me old, tired, edgy (in the old sense of this word), and perhaps vaguely resentful at having to answer all these questions. This may be important because the function of television debates is the same now as in 1960 (see White's original "Making of the President"): to give viewers a feel for who these people are. In the time and the format allowed, specific issues can't be raised with any subtlety; very seldom can a candidate even make one coherent point clearly. All he or she can do is brighten, or at any rate not tarnish, the image.

Final note of thanks to CC, who gets a lot of flak for not setting this site up the way other people want it: How refreshing it is to find the comments arranged in chronological order, so I can follow the threads! A lot of WP sites are laid out bass-ackwards (go all the way to the end and work back and up).

Posted by: iyenori | October 22, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"I guess you moonbats don't read anything but the NYTimes so you didn't hear that... the US has not been hit at embassies, cities, ships, etc, since clinton left office."

Yeah, instead they hit us in New York City and Washington DC. And London and Madrid and Bali and Baghdad...


Posted by: piper190 | October 22, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I see another alleged bin Laden tape has been released.

What happened to 'wanted dead or alive?'

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

35 Errors Found In Gore's Film A detailed report published by the Science and Public Policy Institute, not only refuted Gore's defense of his movie, but also listed a total of 35 errors in the award-winning abomination

Recount please

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent since the end of June, when U.S. forces completed their build-up of 30,000 extra troops to stabilise the war-torn country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday."

That is good news! More good news is that IED bombings are also down. Hopefully this means that the 'all war all the time' administration will tone down its rhetoric claiming (without proof, as usual) that Iran is destabilizing Iraq. Wouldn't it be nice if at least our part-time soldiers in the Guard and Reserves could come home for a while and work their real jobs and spend time with their families before traipsing off to Tehran?

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Hi I'm zouk, blah blah blah Clinton, moonbats, Libs, blah blah blah Reid, Pelosi blah blah blah.

Repeat ad infinitum.

Posted by: Spectator2 | October 22, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Of course Ankleless Annie was the cynosure (arf, arf!) ... it's only nine days to Hallowe'en.

Posted by: sawargos | October 22, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Last week, Democrat Niki Tsongas won a special election with only 51 percent of the vote, in a Massachusetts district where John Kerry won 57 percent in 2004 and would have run much better in 2006. History doesn't stand still -- we're not in 2006 anymore.

the trend is definately down for Libs. If you can't force a loss of a war, you can always go back to losing elections.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps bombings in Baghdad are indeed down...

Nothing is left to bomb and nobody is left there to be killed any more.

Posted by: urban4 | October 22, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

you old hippies never learn do you? the Iraq debate, unlike global warming, is settled. The Senate will not do anything, the Dem leader is a girly man. the house will not do anything, the Dem leader is inept. Even your candidate for President will not do anything, having announced that there will be troops there for at least the next six years.

so the logical thing, not that logic ever enters the Lib mind, is to move Instead the aging hipsters from the woodstock genration, think they still hold some sway over anyone and continue to fight the ancient battles. More welfare, no nukes, peace, love, sex and drugs, all free of course. and they wonder why the center voters continue to reward the Rs with the head office.

the problem with you Libs is that you refuse to even consider any alternative point of view that doesn't comport with your absolutist socialist or communist world view.

but Americans are not the bad guys, we are not ruining the world, we are not evil and stingy, we are not killers. You would never know this from the Lib websites and media, Much less the leftover and spoiled freaks on this blog.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

we give up because you're a pointless waste of time.. but go ahead, the room is empty, keep talking to yourself.... no one's listening.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the war in Iraq is going great! Sure, it was rough going for a while, but now we've turned the corner! Things are looking up! The insurgency is in its last throes! We're about to win!

That's been the official Republican story for approximately 4 years. Every month brings more dead soldiers, more wasted money, and more officials speaking out against the war. (Most recently, the former head of US troops in Iraq, General Sanchez, said Iraq is a never-ending nightmare.) And it's always accompanied by the right-wing shills touting our amazing progress. Sometimes they'll admit that we used to have the wrong strategy, but right now things are always going great.

Posted by: Blarg | October 22, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I figured all you moonbats would give up. Facts were never your strong suit. go back to chanting and spinning.

drindl's ideal post:
Rs are evil. they kill babies. don't the rest of you think I am swell? al gore won in FL. bill clinton never lied. hillary is so centrist.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Baghdad - Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent since the end of June, when U.S. forces completed their build-up of 30,000 extra troops to stabilise the war-torn country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. (Snip) In Baghdad, considered the epicentre of the violence because of its mix of Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs, car bombs had decreased by 67 percent and roadside bombs by 40 percent, he said. There had been a 28 percent drop in the number of bodies found dumped in the capital's streets.

moonbat Delusion

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Luckily you can just scroll through zouk's posts. Ignore the provocator and let will fade into oblivion.

Posted by: urban4 | October 22, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I give up. He really is a total moron and malkin tool. Hopeless, useless.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

My delusional universe:
Al gore won in 2000
Kerry was a valid war hero
the war is already lost
Hillary will not be the nominee
Reid is a strong leader
Pelosi knows foreign policy
Bush blew up the towers
Petreus is a traitor
Rush hates the military
Media matters tells the truth
Lib books sell
Lib TV shows have audiences
Libs are frugal
Libs will lower taxes
Dems answer hard questions
Dems will be strong on defense
bill clinton is honest
hillary never touches chinese money
Obama and edwards stand a chance
ss can be fixed by ignoring it
teachers unions care about kids
Keith Olbermnan makes sense

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

'drindl, I guess those writing assignments are in short supply again today. a good excuse to blog all day and spout your utter nonsense.'

unlike you zouk, I can do two things at once. and what did you say you did for a lving again?

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

yes, jenn2 and Loudon, you are right of course. zouk is just a cog in The Machine, and nothing you could show him could cause him to accept reality -- I'm sure it would kill him, so he has to live in his little delusional alternate universe.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

drindl, I guess those writing assignments are in short supply again today. a good excuse to blog all day and spout your utter nonsense.

the simple fact is that you Libs may try to hide your intentions, but we will not allow it this time.
hillary will be outed for the uber-Lib she is and the voters can decide exactly how much of their paycheck to hand over to her. she has lots of things to spend it on. and she knows best. At least that's what she says when she goes off script.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Wow, we certainly can trust the North Koreans to get rid of their nuclear program, huh? Such an easy country to inspect and monitor, not known in any way to blackmail the world into giving them what they want then turning around and pouring all their money into their military anyway, or anything sneaky like that. Everything is entirely aboveboard with the North Koreans, that's for sure.

What I love is that no matter what is happening, the Republicans use it to bolster their own arguments. We need secrecy and torture and extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo because we are at war! With an enemy that hates us! And doesn't wear a uniform! And other sneaky things! And they are going to come here and kill your babies unless we get them all in Iraq! But also we've been really really successful against them! Killed a lot of them! We're pretty sure there aren't any new ones taking their place! The next Iowa State Fair and 4-H Cattle Judging is going to be held in Baghdad! And there have been no terrorist attacks! That's because of us! We rock! And if there is another terrorist attack, it's because the Democrats made us quit torturing people or something and we have to fix that! Because we are at war! With an enemy that hates us! (REPEAT CYCLE.)
You might have noticed, zouk, that even the Bush administration has been mighty hesitant to hang another "Mission Accomplished" banner just yet.

Posted by: Jenn2 | October 22, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

claudia: when you see a poster use the word moonbats you can be 100 percent sure said poster gets his talking points from the cretinous Michelle Malkin.

Posted by: Spectator2 | October 22, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

zouk writes
"I will make a simple point:
donations are based on the likely contender. the Rs are not completely settled yet and the time is still long. the money will come in after the nomination, never fear."

Did you deliberately ignore that Hillary has managed to attract a bunch of Bush Ranger/Pioneer donor/bundlers? Are they changing teams or hedging their bets? Maybe the rightwing media isn't covering the story, but the WSJ, and other mainstream sources are reporting that pro-business Republicans are disappointed in the direction of the party. Could they be abandoning the Theocratic Party in favor of good old separation of church and state?

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

'How concerned should the U.S. be that Iraq is awarding more than $1 billion in contracts to Iran and China to build power plants?'

from CNN. I guess that's good news to you, right zouk? Iraq is giving $1 billion dollars of US taxpayer money to Iran and China?

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

'al-Qaeda 'rebuilding' in Pakistan

Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, left, are on the top of the wanted list
The head of US spying operations says the leaders of al-Qaeda have found a secure hideout in Pakistan from where they are rebuilding their strength.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said al-Qaeda was strengthening its ties across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.'

?From the mouth of tht famous liberal Negreponte...

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

'I guess you moonbats don't read anything but the NYTimes so you didn't hear that the war in Iraq is going better, that N Korea is dismantling its reactor, that al queda is mostly dead and on the run in lots of places, that the US has not been hit at embassies, cities, ships, etc, since clinton left office.'

I guess you don't read anythng but the Washington Times or you would know that everything above is a complete figment of your tiny little imagination.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't expect the moonbat contingent to understand or agree with reality. but I will make a simple point:
donations are based on the likely contender. the Rs are not completely settled yet and the time is still long. the money will come in after the nomination, never fear. but the majority is always easier to raise money for, this does not indicate some sort of conspiracy or political prowess.

I guess you moonbats don't read anything but the NYTimes so you didn't hear that the war in Iraq is going better, that N Korea is dismantling its reactor, that al queda is mostly dead and on the run in lots of places, that the US has not been hit at embassies, cities, ships, etc, since clinton left office.

but don't let reality get in the way of your conspiracies. there is still lots of investigating to do before you lose congress next year. Maybe you could find time to pass the approps bill between shuttle flights betwen Syria and Iran.

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Kase, I think Claudia is correct. No good person should wish another person or persons dead. That is wrong. It is wrong when right wingers do it, it is wrong when others do it as well.

Posted by: kind671 | October 22, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

No R trool I-
I sincerely feel that the only GOOD R is a DEAD one.

While YOU have a "paper ass"

Posted by: kase | October 22, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Uh, did North Korea stop being a threat recently, zouk? Must've missed that victory on the War on Terra. Who took their place in the Axis? Did Bush stop terror from advancing throughout the world? If so, when should I expect us to get out of Iraq, ignore Iran, and quit torturing people? I've never heard Hillary say she wanted to go back to the '90s, but thank heavens those days are gone, I hated peace and prosperity. the world actually kind of liking us, and a president who had a first language, said language being English.
Look, you guys do yourselves a huge disservice when you look at the upcoming election and the world through your own point of view rather than what research and polling and data actually tell you are what people are concerned about. And to the radical right, Hillary represents CCCP, Commie Commie Commie Pinko. Let me clue you in on something, this is not a socialist nation. Someone who was actually socialist would not even get on the ballot in this country. Whereas something approaching half the country is willing to vote for Hillary, and you guys can demonize her all you want and paint her as being to the left of Mao, and until you wake up to the fact that simply by virtue of the fact that someone has a plan to try to help some of the folks in this country who are asking for help does not make her a communist. It means she is responding to what people are telling her. And there is a sea change going on with regards to how much people are interested in the government helping the middle class.

Posted by: Jenn2 | October 22, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

zouk as usual, trots out as usual, the same tired, ancient strawman to flog, as he does every day. a pathetic living cliche wihtout a single original thought.

'this election is going to boil down to a classic capitalist/socialist choice. hillary is a big spending, regulation loving, tax-hiking, nanny state seeking Lib.'

LOL. what simple people you cons are. simple, credulous, not too bright. pehaps you could explain this then, but i sort of doubt it. Maybe rush can figur out some way to spin it and hten tell you what to say:

'The defense industry this year abandoned its decade-long commitment to the Republican Party, funneling the lion share of its contributions to Democratic presidential candidates, especially to Hillary Clinton who far out-paced all her competitors.

An examination of contributions of $500 or more, using the Fundrace website, shows that employees of the top five arms makers - Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics -- gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to Republicans.

Senator Clinton took in $52,600, more than half of the total going to all Democrats, and a figure equaling 60 percent of the sum going to the entire GOP field. Her closest competitor for defense industry money is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R.), who raised $32,000.'

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Claudia, thanks for the info. Then I'm the only one who remembers Father Coughlin, darn! Well, actually I wasn't yet born during his broadcasts either but my late mother, who DID live through it, told me about him.

Posted by: kind671 | October 22, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I am happy John McCain is getting some traction in this, if for no other reason than he is a person of substance who should have won the nomination in 2000. I don't know if the far-out Values Voters are really behind him, but for one thing they are increasingly irrelevant, and I think McCain is closer than Giuliani and I don't think they would keep threatening to vote for their wingnut of choice if he were the nominee.
The problem I would see for him in the general election is that he has much less maverick appeal than in 2000. Partly that is due to, uh, let's charitably say some stuff that has happened in the last 7 years that have soured independent voters on Republicans, which would work in his favor if he were still seen as an independent thinker, but I think he has gotten increasingly dogmatic and partisan and his hawkishness, which was always there, has gotten more evident. By abandoning that independent spirit and trying to embody the Republican wing of the Republican party, he becomes just a symbol of what most of the country is trying to get away from.

Posted by: Jenn2 | October 22, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

One thing I think is clear from that debate - Any R would do better than hillary. I also noticed that the candidates actuallly answered the questions. Haven't seen any Dems do that yet. I particularly liked Rudy's answer about education. And all the rest concerning SS and Mediscare.

this election is going to boil down to a classic capitalist/socialist choice. hillary is a big spending, regulation loving, tax-hiking, nanny state seeking Lib. she has little actual experience, despite her claims and has a funny way of avoiding an answer the voter deserves. She wishes to return to the 90s, a holiday from history. We can decimate the military, retreat on all fronts, trust our enemies, and ignore confrontation.

no thanks!

If we had the military budget clinton had, we would now have a big surplus. not realistic. If we had the policies clinton had, we would have a still nuclear N Korea, a bio weapons armed Libya and terror advancing througout the world.

contrast that to a muscular foreign policy, tax cutting, liberty seeking, individual choice making Repub admin.

My only hope is that the losing party (the Dems) will abide by the results of the next election and not go to court, not pollute the press, not claim fraud, etc after their loss. the constant lying and bickering and foreign policy meddling by the inept Pelosi and Reid is simply toxic to both sides.

the victory in LA by an R indicates that the Rs have bottomed out and are heading back up. the Dems have a ways to go to the bottom, but Reid will find the nadir with his leadership skills. this trend will continue with the special election in Hasterts seat with an R win. the momentum will then be with the capitalists and the socialists will lose (again).

Posted by: kingofzouk | October 22, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Another election about what you were doing in the sixties?? About Woodstock?? Fighting the culture wars has allowed the demagogues of the right to destroy this country. All they have to do is say, "those pot-smoking, long-haired, bra-burning, flag-burning, free-love hippies" and every knee-jerk right-winger grabs his baseball bat and pick-up truck and heads over to the demonstration to crack heads. Wake up America, get over it.

Posted by: thebobbob | October 22, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Actually kas, i think you'e an R troll...

'The White House has reportedly tacked on an additional $46 billion to its upcoming funding request for Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the total to a breathtaking $196.4 billion for a single budgetary year -- and assuming this passes as is, there could even be more supplemental spending bills down the road.

Since 2003, over $455 billion has already been provided for Iraq, with this new funding request set to bring it well over the half-trillion mark.'

Jeez that's a lot of money. How many zeros after a trillion? Remeber how this war wasn't going to cost us anything, the oil was going to pay for it all? And it was going to be over in 3 months? Ahh I remembe it well...

Yepsen agrees with CC..

'Influential Iowa columnist David Yepsen says that John McCain had the best night at yesterday's debate, but he also offered a sobering caveat for the Arizona Senator: It doesn't matter, because neither Rudy nor Romney slipped up, and besides, no one was watching, anyway.'

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to offend your (cowardly) middle of the road feelings.

Posted by: kase | October 22, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I genuinely forgot Tom Tancredo existed until you mentioned him in your column.

As far as the 2nd tier being ignored, I'm not too surprised. This was a Fox debate after all.

Posted by: davidm89 | October 22, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong-
I WOULD have gone to VietNam but I was tied up at the time-
Smokin' pot, knocking back cocktails, and doing the girls that were left home alone.


Posted by: kase | October 22, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Kase, I thik your comments are offensive. I'm no supporter of R's, but happily, I don't know a single other Dem who says, or thinks, the way you do. You are allowing yourself to be as hateful as the rightwingers.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Why was the GOP voter focus group so hostile to McCain after the debate even though he was great? Does immigration still bother them?

Posted by: parkerfl | October 22, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

To paraprase a famous movie, Chris: These words that you use "winning" and "impressive," I don't think they mean what you think they mean.

Posted by: havok26 | October 22, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

The GOP candidates are uniform in one respect: they think they're going to score points off HRC by criticizing her as some kind of wild-eyed flaming Liberal. Boy, are they ever headed for disappointment! That kind of argument might have picked them up a few votes 10 years ago, but it's about as relevant to 2008 as criticizing Mark Foley for being a womanizer. HRC is far from the perfect candidate, but if the best they can do is recycle the silly old "Hillary is Bella Abzug reincarnated" charge, she might as well start planning her Inauguration.

Posted by: Budikavlan | October 22, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Senator McCain is the only Fearpublican I have ever wanted to vote for. That was only until he started to bow down to the Evangical Taliban far right. His newfound Radical Christianity among other outlooks, makes me unable to vote for him.
What I took away from the debate was it is never right to utter the name of your opponent, (Hillary!), over and over again. It makes people want to find out what is wrong with the oppponent. They do some reading from other sources and discover the opponent views things pretty close to how they may be thinking.
Please keep saying it loudly! Hillary, Hillary, on and on again! And thanks for the plugs!

Posted by: musselmanm321 | October 22, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

As someone who WAS at Woodstock-

...we didn't want McCain types there anyway, so here's a belated THANKS to his captors in Hanoi.

Posted by: kase | October 22, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, kind. I don't actually remember Coughlin, just have read of his as the "Father of Hate Radio' -- propagandist, and a big booster of Hitler and Mussolini and enemy of FDR.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

That's ALL the Baby Burner McCain has got!

I'm sorry he made it home....

Posted by: kase | October 22, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank you claudialong for your posts and especially for the one that mentions that rotten anti-semitic Father Coughlin. We must be the only ones here who remember him, though lol!

Posted by: kind671 | October 22, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

'Either that, or we all vote for Steven Colbert.'

Hey, the truth is, I think he'd probablymake a bette president than most of the rest of the candidates.

Rich5 -- yes, the con mindset requires an enemy, always--someone to demonize. Orwell, as always, captured that perfectly. They are fearful and angry people and what holds them together is the rhetoric of victimization and and the direction of their anger towards specified targets.

Hillary is, right now, their Emmanuel Goldstein, and the base loves to hate her. Also ole 'I'm a Dinner jacket', as was Saddam, before him, and bin Ladin [altho they don't seem to care much anymore about Mr. 9/11, strangely.] and before that it was of course Bill Clinton. And then there's always the gigantic and non-existent spectre of a kind of Liberalism that all but disappered in the 70's but they still somehow [because the pundits who tell them what to think say so] beleive exists.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I've gotta say, there is some incredible irony in two of the leading GOP candidates' highest office held are: Governor of MASSACHUSETTS and Mayor of NEW YORK CITY.

Just shows how pathetic this party is, having to bring in guys who had to pander tremendously to the left to get elected to their previous offices.

And why not? Whoever gets the nomination will turn his back on the righties and concentrate on the middle.

Posted by: Spectator2 | October 22, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I watched some, but not all of the debate. They are a pretty sorry lot, as a whole. McCain certainly had a single good line, but did not dominate at all. He seemed rather worn and strident through much of the debate. If we are judging debates by single quips, then McCain gets some points. If we are judging by substance, he hardly moves the meter at all. Even if you credit McCain's "line" and his heroic Vietnam service, in fairness you have to make the stark comparison to the much less honorable work that he has done in the Senate finding clever ways to help the Bush administration avoid complaince with the Geneva conventions.

Posted by: erickoe | October 22, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The WAPO would like nothing better than a McCain/Clinton race. McCain's being the R nominee would probably clinch the race for Clinton because McCain supports the war. AND he's very weak on illegal immigration.

Just like the WAPO is whipping the Hillary horse for the Dems, don't be surprised if they whip the McCain horse for the Repubs.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | October 22, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Miata7 asks
"Has anyone thought about the possibility that no candidate would muster 51% of the delegates in either parties' primaries?"

Yes. From time to time we discuss that here. I also see that our local paper (star tribune) has a little piece on how the GOP nat'l party might penalize early primary states by disqualifying some of their delegates. That's the first I'd heard of the GOP doing so - the Dems have made similar threats.

Its an interesting situation, to be sure. The Repub race will most likely last into February. With any luck, the Dem race will too.

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

It looked like Mitt didn't have his usual $400 haircut for this debate. Instead, it looked like he just got up from a nap.

Posted by: rich5 | October 22, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey Chris,

Thanks for letting us know what's important about last night's debate. NOT. I'm not sure how McCain shined at all. Giuliani, whom while I don't support him, elicited the most vocal crowd support and generally seemed to be on his game.

Oh, and as for moving the so-called 2nd tier candidates out of the debates, I would like to know how on earth we're moving "in that direction". Any evidence to support this? Paul has $5 million in the bank and Huckabee isn't a slouch either.

Thanks for nothing.

Posted by: asublimerhymer | October 22, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Chris may think that McCain's line was a winner, but remember that it came at the end of a intemperate rant about Woodstock and the then-young people who attended the festival. The subtext was "you dirty hippies and antiwar protesters were taking drugs and listening to rock music while I was rotting in a Hanoi prison." He revealed himself as a person who is stuck in the past, still bitter about a cultural and political divide from nearly 40 years ago. he also reminded us that he's even older than all the baby boomers who are now cringing at his attack on their cultural icons.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | October 22, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone thought about the possibility that no candidate would muster 51% of the delegates in either parties' primaries?

We have large fields. I'm not sure how these delegates are allocated by state - proportionally, or winner take all.

However, with these fields split, February 5th may not be decisive at all.

The Dems have 25% as superdelegates who are unpledged. That could help or hurt Hillary in getting to 51%.

This is what I'm thinking: It makes a great deal of sense for candidates to blow all their cash in one or two early primaries and then try to ride the "Big Mo" into February 5th. So these guys are going to be planning on coasting with no cash anyway - you won't have the automatic drop-out when cash runs low this year. So what will happen if no candidate gets the 51% required? The normal flow of the primaries is completely different this year.

Posted by: Miata7 | October 22, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

One of the worst piece of "reporting" I have ever seen.

Paul won the debate with a 34% tally in the Fox straw poll

Huckabee second with 27%

McCain 5-6%

McCain won?

Chris hang it up and try another profession.

Posted by: OldJoe | October 22, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

hey proud, seeing the collection of hacks and has-beens the GOP is trotting out, I suspect hillary voters will have little trouble sleeping at all.

Posted by: Spectator2 | October 22, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

McCain serving his time as a Vietnam War POW doesn't qualify him as a better candidate, citizen, or soldier even. What it does qualify him for are years of therapy, counseling and physical rehabilitation. Unfortunately, McCain up close and personal is a tormented soul with a short fuse and a huge chip on his shoulder. His attack upon Clinton's willingness to fund a Woodstock museum illustrates that he simply hasn't dealt with the issues he carries from choosing to participate in an unjust and ultimately futile war that unnecessarily cost millions of lives. Woodstock was one ray of hope in the world for our country, for those who would choose the message of peace that Woodstock expressed over the brutal hubris that was Vietnam, this is a wakeup call. McCain is a not a hero but we can still honor his service to our country. The heroes of the Vietnam era were the ones who served our country by ending that war and some of them were on the Woodstock stage.

Posted by: g-lo | October 22, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it pretty obvious that the republicans NEED Hillary as a foil? Thinking democratic voters just might want to withhold from the republicans what they need to fire up their base. The only question is whether there are enough thinking democratic voters to make a difference.

Posted by: rich5 | October 22, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

'Hillary's liberal record ;

Yeah,, I guess it must be 'Hillary's liberal record' that is leading most of the defense contractors in this country to donate money to her...

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Dave! writes
"I just think that it's the nature of reporting coupled with the strategies of most campaigns these days."

Certainly true. I'm still bitter about it though.

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

As usual, drindl & the conspiracy nuts think plans of inconceivable complexity worked at 100 percent efficiency in 'rigging' the 2004 election.

On November 14, a New York Times editorial delivered the final verdict on what is now the conventional wisdom:

"There is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale. ... There is also no way to be sure that the nightmare scenario of electronic voting critics did not occur: votes surreptitiously shifted from one candidate to another inside the machines, by secret software. It's important to make it clear that there is no evidence such a thing happened, but there will be concern and conspiracy theories until all software used in elections is made public."

No evidence, drindl. None. Time to moveon, as it were.

Maybe now you can focus on trying to overlook the facts about Hillary's liberal record and lack of leadership experience (co-president? gimme a break!) in order to sleep at night knowing you will vote for her in the general.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | October 22, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Chris seems to miss the point of the debates and that is for the candidates to pass to the public some meaningful substance about what they plan to do once in office. Chris seems to think it's all about the witty quip or great sound bite. I saw very little substance from McCain, Romney, Thompson, or Guiliani outside of the deversionary Hillary bashing which is starting to get lame. Ron Paul along with Huckabee were giving us something we could actually consider as opposed to the one liners.

Posted by: sanantoniocorky | October 22, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

One thing you can say about Jihn McCain - he isn't a corporate owned puppet like Clinton or Romney and he isn't a blind "free traitor" like them or Guliani.

Todays news, boys and girls, that the dollar has fallen to an all time low, again!, against every major currancy in the world. The IMF and the EU are both warning that they expect a percipitous plung of the dollars values by as much as 25%! That isn't in the far off future, that is expected in November! Moreover, the long awaited news of oil being pegged to the Euro is here. $100 a barrel oil will be a reality before years end. The price of gasoline rose 20 cents last week and is embarking on a series of increases that will stagger the economy. All of those outsourced goods and services, due to th weak dollar, are going to cost a lot more. The IMF expect U.S. inflation to climb to *over* 15% early next year. Couple that with real/genuine record unemployment and the clueless fools, the spinless corporate owned and controlled, front runners from both parties are starting to look like the "free traitors" we have known them to be all along.

Now, I am sitting back and watching for CHris...someone in the MSM! start asking these politicians some pointed questions about globalization, reigning in corporate excesses, etc. Either that, or we all vote for Steven Colbert.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | October 22, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

True enough - you could include the american people. But in terming it "playing along" you made is sound like a, um, vast media (and/or right wing) conspiracy which I don't think it is. I just think that it's the nature of reporting coupled with the strategies of most campaigns these days.

Posted by: dave | October 22, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I missed this one ? What rest home did they have it at ? Was there Jello , Cookies an milk ? When Fred was a Lobbist he spent alot of time in Hillerys office , was she there ? Flori-da is such a nice place for old people , don,t you think ?
Did the fact that inflation is at 62% come up ? John just bought alot of Gold ? is he worried too ? About 62% Inflation ? Looks like he is smarter than the rest ? ya Think ? tata

Posted by: mgilfoy | October 22, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

'We'd be in a lot worse shape, I think, with Al Gore. Thank you, Florida. Thank you. You saved us in 2000. That was a big one."

Oh, and Rudy loved the Florida debacle, btw. A big fan of rigged races and not counting the votes...

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Finally, the Newspaper Industry of America reported that industry-wide ad revenue was down 8.6% in the second quarter. At that rate, papers will all be broke in three years."

Is it any wonder that newspapers continue to struggle when they provide such irrelevant analysis as Cillizza's post-debate wrap up? I feel like I'm reading an American Idol wrap-up, not an analysis of who the American people should consider for their presidential candidate based on the prior night's debate. While a large number of Americans may enjoy the Drudge/Paris Hilton culture in which we live, a significant number still crave real news and reporting, and increasingly look away from cable TV and big newspapers for this information. I look forward to the coming bankruptcy of the newspaper industry. Maybe then we can get some real news and reporting.

Posted by: csen | October 22, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

dave writes
"Are you really serious? Misrepresenting someone's position has been politics as usual, from both parties, since I can remember."

if we return to the original context of my comment, it was a criticism of Cilizza for including 'obama/edwards' as losers becaue the GOPpers were attacking hillary. I said, based on that logic, why not list the american people as losers? Which, given Chris' logic, is still a valid response.

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse


Democracy is dead.

Posted by: julieds | October 22, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

destroying the country fo rmoney and fun. the gop way. Real fun. My brothers and sisters in boxs, for your "amusement". Real fun, right zouk. Destroy the planet. Real fun, right proud. HAHAHAHA.

"A great time to be gop", right?

What a sad day, for this great country.

Posted by: RUFUS11_33 | October 22, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

A basic, affordable single-payer health plan would do worlds of good in terms of 'incentivizing' [no such word] the 'prevention' of disease.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"That realization can't occur to them. The idea that Feingold -- or Dodd -- actually believe in what they are saying and doing is something they're incapable of ever believing. Because these Beltway journalists are empty and self-absorbed and consumed with pettiness and believe in nothing, they assume that everyone else is as barren and vapid as they are -- so barren and vapid that they see no distinction between catty chatter about Edwards' haircuts and alerting Americans to how radical this government has become, except that the catty chatter is way more fun. "


For zouk and proud

Posted by: RUFUS11_33 | October 22, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

FOR ZOUK. mIDDLE SCHOOL IS OVER. pLAY time is done. Your parties time is up. Fascists, with you rmiddle school games. Grow up, tough guy.

"They think that their jaded, petty, above-it-all, junior high coolness is a sign of their sophistication and insight. Conversely, they think that political passion and conviction is the province of the lowly, ignorant masses -- the overly serious nerds -- who have no role to play in our political system other than to keep quiet and allow the Serious, Beltway Officials and Experts -- who whisper gossip into Murray's ear and flatter her with access and attention -- to make the right, Serious decisions. "


Posted by: RUFUS11_33 | October 22, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Are you really serious? Misrepresenting someone's position has been politics as usual, from both parties, since I can remember. I'm not saying I agree with it or that it's a good thing, but this is certainly not something new or unique to HRC's healthcare plan (or other positions). The media reports what the candidates say. They should also report on the actual positions and I think they do, though not as well as I would like. The problem comes in that they are not done at the same time. For instance, it's hard for the media, especially TV, to report on the R debate (which is the focus of the reporting) and what the candidates say (or better, how they frame issues and opponents) and also go into a dissertation of the issues when they may not match up to what the opponents intend. I have a hard time seeing how that would work. You would lose the focus of of the reporting (which is the debate). Typically, if you watch the post review sessions on any of the channels, you get some of this (but it is mostly spin by various pundits and not actual factual reporting). I don't have any solutions but I do know that framing and defining your opponent is something all of them strive to do.

Posted by: dave | October 22, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I thought McCain won, but not for the line CC cited. It was his jab at Romney that I loved...'Governor Romney, you've been conning people all summer about your record. Don't try and con them about mine'. Now THAT was a direct hit!

Both McCain and Giuliani showed that they can throw a few elbows last night, and Romney definitely came out on the losing end.

McCain and Rudy both had alot of meat on the bone, as far as substantive discussions of healthcare and fiscal responsibility issues, although I have to say I agreed with Huckabee on his health 'crisis' rhetoric if we could incentivize the 'prevention' he talked about as a matter of really hitting the pocketbook for those who don't try to prevent chronic disease as a matter of personal responsibility..then we're onto something.

McCain's the man.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | October 22, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Just thought you would appreciate Rudy's previous feeling about gay marriage..

'For the past two months Rudolph Giuliani has been coming home at night to one of the happiest marriages in New York.

That's how long the mayor, in flight from his own marital wreckage at Gracie Mansion, has been a frequent sleepover guest at the home of Howard Koeppel and his partner, Mark Hsiao. Mr. Koeppel, who is 64, is a Queens car dealer who has been both a close friend and prodigious fund-raiser of Mr. Giuliani's since 1989. The 41-year-old Mr. Hsiao is a Juilliard-trained pianist who works at the city's Department of Cultural Affairs. They've been together almost 10 years -- are registered with the city as domestic partners -- and in happier times for the Giuliani marriage, double-dated with the mayor and Donna Hanover on New Year's Eve. Now they are doting hosts to Mr. Giuliani as he juggles his raucous divorce, his recovery from prostate cancer treatments, his waning months in office, his romance with Judith Nathan, his post-public-life future and, last but hardly least, his search for an affordable Manhattan apartment rental of his own.

The mayor's progressive record on gay civil rights notwithstanding, he has not endorsed same-sex marriage. But, says Mr. Koeppel, ''He did tell us that if they ever legalized gay marriages, we would be the first one he would do.''

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

'Why do the media let them get away with it?'

A very good essay on that, bsimon--

'The tragedy of modern mainstream journalism is that it is epistemologically incapable of revealing the heirs of Father Coughlin and Joseph Goebbels as what they are. Newspapers and networks have been so effectively mau-maued by reactionary talking-heads and politicians that they have largely abandoned the effort to separate true from false, and instead -- waving the cowardly white flag of "balance" -- they content themselves with juxtaposing warring contentions, as though this putative open-mindedness were no different from empty-headedness. '

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Byrant writes:
"Hunter and Tancredo should follow the lead of Brownback...get out of the race! Ron Paul, due to good fundraising and grassroots activism, deserves his spot on stage. Fred Thompson, despite being one of the "front runners", should also exit stage left and forget about it. He's done. It's now a 4 horsed race: Guiliani vs. Romney vs. Huckabee vs. McCain."

I tend to agree. At this point Hunter and Tancredo are simply taking up space, and as I feel convinced that Thompson's going to fade, I wish he'd do it sooner rather than later. Paul can linger as the protest vote, make a few solid points, and still manage to look absurd.


In terms of substance of the debate, Giuliani was certainly dynamic, if not terribly convicting on matters of substance. Still, a good showing. Romney did score on the health care question -- came off as knowledgeable and practical, lacking any of the sensationalism he'd shown in earlier questions. McCain, before the noted zinger, dealt with the Hillary question well, and had a strong showing, though I wouldn't say he won. Huckabee did fabulously up until the question about Turkey and the PKK, where he managed to sound both informed and completely off the mark.

It was certainly a sensational debate and high on the entertainment value. I would have preferred a more in-depth handling of the issues.

Overall, I feel as though the Republican candidates as just falling down in terms of concrete plans. I may have objections to several of the Hillary/Obama/Edwards plans, but at least they HAVE them, and detailed ones at that.

Posted by: Skip_Lively | October 22, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Cilizza: "Losers.... The Second-Tier GOP Candidates: For the first half hour of the debate, it was easy to forget that Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo and Mike Huckabee were on the stage."

There's an infuriating circularity to this comment. Why, precisely, are these four the second tier candidates? Essentially because the media collectively decided that they were, and adjusted their coverage accordingly. Now, even though Huckabee is polling second in Iowa polls, and even though Paul has more money on hand than several of the leading candidates, they consistently get lumped in the "second tier" category. Then, when they consequently are given less time at the debate, analysts like Cilliza say that it is "easy to forget" them and they consequently are the "losers" of this debate. And the cycle continues.

I share the implied belief of most commenters on this blog that Mr. Cilliza would better serve his readers by discussing the actual policy proposals of the candidates and assessing the accuracy of their assertions, rather than treating this as a high school debating contest with "winners" and "losers". Anyone who was interested in sports was watching the baseball anyway.

Posted by: amoffett1 | October 22, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

A really interesting-looking conference I'm going to -- any political junkie in the area should go....

'Conference at The New York Public Library â‹… November 7, 2007

In his classic essay "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell described political speech as consisting "largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness." Six decades later, the tactics of disinformation and manipulation diagnosed by Orwell persist on the political battlefield, along with new propaganda techniques made possible by advances in scientific knowledge and modern technology.

There You Go Again: Orwell Comes to America invites historians, linguists, cognitive experts, journalists, government officials, and political consultants to assess the current state of public discourse -- and journalism's response to it -- one year before a hotly contested presidential election. The panels explore the past, present, and future of deceptive political speech, and assess what can be done to bring more realism and honesty into the conduct of America's public affairs.

What Orwell Didn't Know; Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics, an anthology featuring twenty prominent writers and thinkers, will be released at the time of conference.'

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

dave writes
"If by "playing along" you mean looking at the Dem that is clearly and consistently leading by a large margin in most all of the polls and treating HRC as the clear and undisputed frontrunner based on those polls, then count me as one who is playing along also."

By 'playing along' I mean not correcting her critics when they attack the Senator for wanting to impose 'socialized healthcare', for example. I didn't see last night's debate, so don't know if they pulled out this chestnut, but it is one several of the GOP candidates have used in the past. Now, I'm certainly not a Hillary supporter, but if the media and the moderators continue to let the GOP candidates get away with misrepresenting her positions - before she's even the nominee - we're all losers. Can they beat Hillary - or whoever the Dem nominee is - on their real platform, or do they have to misrepresent the opposition in order to win? Why do the media let them get away with it?

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Just seven words "I was tied up at the time" was McCain's comment, and the writer of the article goes spasmotic with delight and thinks he should be elected to the highest position in our nation. It does not have legs.
McCain is the one who said Iraq was safe as he walked, surrounded by armed guards, the one who voted FOR the rotten Immigration Plan, and the one who FAILED to show up when a vote was taken to overturn Bush's veto of SCHIP. He's a power hungry rich man, who suffered when he was young, and has been cashing in on his past ever since. Sorry, I want a real President, not a temperamental egotist. Honor him for his past, but not with a gift of the oval office.

Posted by: zaney | October 22, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"For who else loses out when the media plays along with not only the Clinton campaign, but the GOP candidates in treating her as the presumptive nominee?"

People can bemoan this all they want but it's just of function of everybody looking at the poll numbers. If by "playing along" you mean looking at the Dem that is clearly and consistently leading by a large margin in most all of the polls and treating HRC as the clear and undisputed frontrunner based on those polls, then count me as one who is playing along also. If the polls start to change, so will the attitude of those of us "playing along".

Posted by: dave | October 22, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"McCain won the debate with a single line."

This sentence encapsulates the vapidity of our modern political press. Sickening.

Posted by: zukermand | October 22, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

McCain "won" the debate because of a one-liner?

So the race for the White House has now devolved into "Last Comic Standing"?


And frightening.


Posted by: pali2500 | October 22, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Lengthening my coffe break to respond here:
I did not see this one, first one I missed, so I am commenting on comments, only. bsimon
and judge are surely right: Rs running against HRC is sensible, but not likely an issue for Ds.

byant_flier, were you "reason" in a former life? I love the old fashioned horse race call cadence of the 11:24A post.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 22, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to vote for Romney. I don't care about his hair, or his over-polished image. I care about results. After the past 8 years, it would be great to see the Oval Office occupied by someone who has been a success. Ever. At anything. Besides cheerleading.

Posted by: rickincincy | October 22, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

So, according to your measuring stick, whenever McCain manages to fit a sentence about his time and suffering as POW nicely into the debate context, he wins the contest. That's rather surprising since McCain rarely fails to draw on that experience. However much one regrets McCain's fate as POW, that experience is not in itself a factor for or against his presidential qualifications.
Should Giuliani win a high grade each time he mentions his 9/11 crisis-management during a debate (or campaign stop)? I do not think so.

Posted by: bn1123 | October 22, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you may as well add 'the american people' to the list of losers, given your logic for adding Obama/Edwards.

For who else loses out when the media plays along with not only the Clinton campaign, but the GOP candidates in treating her as the presumptive nominee?

Posted by: bsimon | October 22, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Hunter and Tancredo should follow the lead of Brownback...get out of the race! Ron Paul, due to good fundraising and grassroots activism, deserves his spot on stage. Fred Thompson, despite being one of the "front runners", should also exit stage left and forget about it. He's done. It's now a 4 horsed race: Guiliani vs. Romney vs. Huckabee vs. McCain. It's Romney vs. Huckabee in Iowa. Huckabee has bet the farm on Iowa, and noone even knew his small farm would be so productive! I believe Huckabee surpasses F. Thompson in Iowa soon, as he now has the Christian right value voters in his corner now. Some have been drawn to Romney, but Huckabee has the Christian right now in his corner. He may well beat out Romney in Iowa and move on as the front runner in South Carolina. He will likely not campaign hard in New Hampshire b/c his chances there are slim to none. But if Huckabee wins Iowa, he is then the front runner in South Carolina and propably the front runner for the R nomination. If Romney wins Iowa, he take the full backing of the Christian right and then he's the bona fide front runner for the nomination. If Huckabee loses Iowa, he likely goes to SC and if he loses there he's out of the race. McCain has bet his farm on New Hampshire. If he wins in New Hampshire, he has a real shot in Nevada, SC and beyond. Romney knows he must win Iowa and he must really hope if he doesn't win New Hampshire that Guiliani does. That means it's Romney vs. Guiliani for the R nomination, something both men seem to want if they had their rathers. Huckabee and McCain could throw a monkey wrench into that plan, however. All the political operatives suggest it's going to be a 2 way race with Guiliani vs. Romney, but I'm thinking an upset will happen in at least 1 of the 1st 2, either Huckabee in Iowa or McCain in New Hampshire. If both happens, then it really becomes a fun and unpredicatble race with 4 top tiers!

Posted by: bryant_flier2006 | October 22, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I didn't see. But clinton is a republcain, so I'll add this:

"Clinton Finds Way to Play Along With Drudge
WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 -- As Senator Barack Obama prepared to give a major speech on Iraq one morning a few weeks ago, a flashing red-siren alert went up on the Drudge Report Web site. It read, "Queen of the Quarter: Hillary Crushes Obama in Surprise Fund-Raising Surge," and, "$27 Million, Sources Tell Drudge Report."

Within minutes, the Drudge site had injected Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's fund-raising success into the day's political news on the Internet and cable television. It did not halt coverage of Mr. Obama's speech or his criticism of her vote to authorize the war in 2002, but along the front lines of the campaign -- the hourly, intensely fought effort to capture the news cycle or deny ownership of it to the other side -- it was a telling assault.

Mrs. Clinton's aides declined to discuss how the Drudge Report got access to her latest fund-raising figures nearly 20 minutes before the official announcement went to supporters. But it was a prime example of a development that has surprised much of the political world: Mrs. Clinton is learning to play nice with the Drudge Report and the powerful, elusive and conservative-leaning man behind it.

That man, Matt Drudge, came to national prominence a decade ago as a nemesis of the Clintons who used the Web to peddle, gleefully, the latest news and rumor generated by the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

That people in Mrs. Clinton's campaign orbit would tip off the Drudge Report to its fund-raising numbers is in part a reflection of her pragmatic approach to dealing with potential enemies, like Newt Gingrich or Rupert Murdoch. But it also speaks to the enduring power of the Drudge Report, which mixes original reporting with links to newspaper, Internet or television reports far and wide.

The site is a potent combination of real scoops, gossip and innuendo aimed at Mr. Drudge's targets of choice -- some of it delivered with no apparent effort to determine its truth, as politicians of all stripes have discovered at times.

Posted by: RUFUS11_33 | October 22, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cilliza: Your conclusion that McCain "won" the debate based on one "subtle" reference represents the worst of today's horse-race reporting.

Instead of focusing on zingers and one-liners, why not spend a few minutes actually analyzing the candidate's "standard-issue talking points". Yes, it's dry and boring, but that's what voters need in order to understand the candidates' positions and to make intelligent decisions.

We all know that McCain was a POW. His reference to it in the debate adds nothing to the discussion, and your focusing on it is a waste of your time and ours.

Posted by: dgloo | October 22, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I thought they gave Huckabee a decent amount of speaking time. More so than the other 2nd tier candidates. I didn't count the minutes, but It definatly seemed like Giuliani and Rommney got the majority of attention, with Thompson, McCain, and Huckabee next in line.

Giuliani can't keep relying on humor to deflect criticism (although it worked ok this time when he deflected Thompson's criticism on abortion to Thompsons' own problems blocking tort reform. Personally, I think Giuliani is better off standing behind his positions on abortion(to avoid appearing deceptive) and point to his plans to appoint strict constructionists like Roberts and Alito.

He also appeared to surprise some people when talking about certain scenarios where he could support a constitutional ammendment. Probably not going to do much in the primarys, but it was a great general election move. It might just give the religious right enough to get them on his side which would be huge in the general election, and may make him a winner, despite this initial perception that he was just average.

I also like Ron Paul more ond more--even though I think he would make a terrible president. The guy has some good ideas, and makes a good points when it comes to spending. I can't help but feel that the major candidates could be well served to agree with him on some things rather than always singling him out. The republican party could benefit from a return to some of the things he is advocating.

Posted by: HokiePaul | October 22, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I suppose McCain did win since none of the other bozos made any impression whatsoever, but I also take issue with the idea that his "tied up" comment was subtle. It was a bad stand-up line delivered poorly. The audience slowly caught on because McCain had to wait in smirky silence until they got it.

Also, and more importantly, it was cheap rhetoric. So we're supposed to vote for him because he wasn't a dirty hippie but instead was in a POW camp? Makes no sense. How about some policy instead of juvenile, divisive, schoolyard taunts and bad one-liners?

Posted by: wsgorham | October 22, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me this is about the 100th straight "big event" covered and analyzed by the media that McCain won. Why isn't he doing well in the polls then?

Posted by: steveboyington | October 22, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"McCain won the debate with a single line"

Eh, it worked with this red-meat audience but does it have legs enough to carry his candidacy forward to any measurable degree? No.

"...seemed more car salesman than presidential candidate at times."

Romney seems that way all the time to me, CC. Starting with that hair.

"Huckabee made the most of the time he had, but the brutal reality of not being in the lead pack hurt him more tonight than it had in other debates."

Huckabee did very well but the reality that debates can sometimes only hurt a minor candidate rather than help them includes both him AND McCain.

Interesting that you didn't list Rudy as either a winner or a loser. I thought Thompson clearly landed a zinger on him (must've been when you were checking the Tribe-BoSox score) that pushed him into the loser's bracket although not enough to matter given the net unimportance of these debates.

"...the more that Clinton is cast as the inevitable nominee in national forums like the Fox debate, the more likely it is that she will become that nominee."

Only if D primary voters are watching either Fox or these debates. They aren't; I'd retire this conclusion if I were you.

Duty calls; gotta go.

Posted by: judgeccrater | October 22, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

McCain won the debate because he made a joke about being a POW, while discussing a meaningless non-issue. (And attacking Hillary, of course.) I don't see why that should convince anyone to vote for him. Then again, voters tend to make decisions based on all kinds of stupid criteria, so maybe it will help.

Posted by: Blarg | October 22, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

NBC/MSNBC is excluding Mike Gravel from its debate later this month presumably because of a lack of viability. When will Fox do the same for Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo?

I'm not quite ready to put Ron Paul in the same category yet because at least he has a credible campaign operation and is raising a considerable amount of money.

Posted by: theseventen | October 22, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I also thought McCain did very well and unlike the first poster, I will NOT have any problem voting for him. The only question for me is why anyone would vote for any of the other candidates on the stage.

Posted by: venicejazz | October 22, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Just read that article, uckeleg-- wow. Crist makes Craig look tame.
No wonder the R party is so homophobic. I fear they 'doth protest too much...'

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Crist's endorsement may be coveted now, but he'll be thrown under the bus by whomever he endorses when he is outed, a la Craig and Foley. And like Foley, he likes em young:

Here's hoping the Reps are dumb enough to put him on the national ticket. A Giuliani-Crist ticket would make Bill look pure, and Hillary will get 350+ electoral votes.

Posted by: uckeleg | October 22, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

'McCain said: "I was tied up at the time." Wow. A subtle reference to his time as a POW in the "Hanoi Hilton"

Well, I wouldn't call it 'subtle' CC, sometimes you're kinda sophomoric, kid, but I thought it kinda funny, tho generally I don't find torture very amusing.

But I do appreciate that McCain, out of all of them, has a little class and a little substance. The rest of them seem unable to do much else but attack Hillary Clinton like junkyard dogs.

Posted by: drindl | October 22, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

My $.02:

McCain knocked the cover off the ball, he went yard. I'm still going to have a hard time voting for him because of his incomprehensible positions on immigration and CFR, but got to give him his due.


Posted by: JD | October 22, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

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