Just got done watching it, and I have to say it was one of the most poorly moderated debates I’ve ever seen.
Wolf Blitzer was a big part of the problem. Ten seconds into every response he cut in with something like “thank you…thank you senator…” regardless of whether they were answering the question. He interrupted some very intelligent, reasonably brief and quite coherent responses.
Usually the GOP folks talked over him, so he managed to distract and annoy the audience without moving the debate along. (Why not use a timer, and cut the microphone off shortly after time runs out? That would solve all these problems. But given the technical difficulties already present with CNN — the sound dropped out numerous times in the first half of the debate — maybe that’s too much to handle.)
One thing he did right was to ask the same question multiple times when the candidates evaded him…except that, well, he couldn’t do that right, either.
I just about blew a gasket when he asked Huckabee if he believed in the Biblical version of creation. Huckabee responded that God created the universe, but he wasn’t sure how; he specifically mentioned that he didn’t know how long it took.
Blitzer (loosely paraphrased): But the question was, do you think the Bible is literally right? Did God create the universe in six days?
The panel of additional questioners was no better. One of the morons stated as a fact that immigrants are doing jobs Americans won’t. Well, as economists have explained time and again, there’s no such thing as a job Americans won’t do, just a price they won’t do it at.
As the candidate (forget which one) responded, when the government cracks down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants, the businesses hire Americans at higher wages. This makes products more expensive, but it’s a blatant fallacy that lazy Americans just won’t do the work. In fact, in most of the “jobs Americans won’t do,” a significant proportion of the employees are Americans.
Finally, I’d like to take a quick snipe at Ron Paul. I agree with the guy on a lot — foreign intervention provokes terrorists, we need to cut back on immigration, we need less government, abortion is wrong, etc. But (and I hope I don’t give away the ending here) he is not going to win the nomination. Therefore, his goal should be to gain as many supporters as he can, so that the other candidates have a reason to endorse his positions — they can get those supporters when Paul drops out.
But it seems he has no desire to attract voters, and if anything, the other candidates gain points from distancing themselves from him. At the first debate, the moderator asked what tax he’d cut, and he said “the inflation tax” and went on some tangent about monetary policy few Americans could understand. Debate two, he played up his belief that intervention spurs terrorism, prompting Giuliani to insinuate that Paul believed we caused or deserved 9/11.
This time, when the candidates were introducing themselves, most said something like “I want to keep jobs in America” or “I want to make sure you don’t die.” Not Ron Paul! He said something along the lines of “I’m the candidate for the Constitution.” There’s a direct appeal to people’s interests.
Blog: Robert VerBruggen