Random Thoughts on the GOP Debate in Iowa

Well, semi-random? Nothing profound. No comprehensive analysis. Just a few miscellaneous comments.

1) When Pawlenty was challenging Bachmann’s record, I thought she did an OK job of defending herself, stressing her consistency on the issues and being the “tip of the spear”, etc. But, I can’t help thinking that she could have reminded him of the difference between being one of many in the legislature (as she is) and being chief executive (as Pawlenty was as Governor of Minnesota). Of course, success in passing any legislation depends on who is in the majority and both parties’ respective willingness to compromise on particular points. And, Bachmann’s stubbornness on some issues may be why she wasn’t more “successful”. Still, I thought Pawlenty was being a little unfair to Bachmann on this issue. (He may be straining to find something negative to say about her, since they agree on a lot.) On the other hand, Pawlenty does have a darn good gubernatorial record, including working with a Democrat-controlled state senate. (Some problems his last couple years, but overall pretty good.)

candidates at Iowa Republican debate2) The Paulites can’t complain too much, this time. Not only was Paul included, he answered a lot of questions and had the opportunity to make his positions known. (Sure, his answers got cut off a couple times, but that was true of everyone.) I like a lot of what he has to say, but I think he is unrealistic or naive on some things (e.g., re foreign policy, same-sex marriage).

3) While I generally like Bachmann a lot, I’m getting tired of her “Make Obama a one-term president!” mantra. I agree with it; it’s just buggin’ me.

4) Re Bachmann’s response to the “submissiveness” question, what she said made some sense, sure, and I guess it did away with any concerns about whether she would be submissive to her husband if she was President. But, merely being respectful of her husband doesn’t explain why she decided to pursue a tax law degree when she didn’t really want to. Maybe I disagree with her understanding of the Bible on marital submissiveness; maybe hers is a little more egalitarian. Still, if the Bible meant “mutual respect”, wouldn’t it have told husbands to “submit” to their wives, too?

I would have liked Bachmann to say that while the Bible stresses equality — no male or female, no Jew or Gentile, no slave or free –, there are different roles to be played, and that sometimes includes a hierarchy. Some might point out that even Jesus (i.e., “the Son”) is submissive/subject to the will of the Father, although they are both fully & equally God. The wife being “submissive” to the husband is, according to Scripture, supposed to be representative of or analogous to the Church (i.e., the body of true followers of Jesus throughout history) being “submissive” to Jesus Christ. While Bachmann’s husband should have the final say on family matters (i.e., re disciplining kids, finances, etc.), he would not have any such authority regarding Michele’s job in the Oval Office (or anywhere else). He could, of course, provide private counsel, as I’m sure all First Ladies have done.

5) Gingrich was feisty, and I like that. He made some great points, both about the issues (e.g., “Super Committee” is a dumb idea; secretiveness of Federal Reserve is a “scandal”) and about “gotcha” questions. Not only does he seem to have a firm grasp of the issues, his command of the facts & figures never ceases to impress me. (I guess history professors need a good memory for such things.)

6) Huntsman always looks like he’s just bit down on something distasteful.

7) I totally agree with what Huntsman and Cain said about moving public schooling from federal oversight to the state/local level and giving parents/kids more choices. Wasn’t sure the issue would come up in this debate but glad it did, however briefly.

8) I like Cain’s approach on problem-solving, making sure you’ve identified the core problem, use performance metrics to see what is working or has worked in the past, etc. I also like “So what? It’s their money!”, regarding repatriated profits going towards paying shareholder dividends.

9) As usual with these debates, I was frustrated that every candidate was not able to answer every question.

10) I felt badly for Santorum not getting to say much in the first half, but at least he got more chances later. I appreciated his point about showmanship vs. leadership. I like Santorum a lot, but I think he’s gonna have a tough time getting his standing anywhere near Romney/Bachmann levels.

11) I liked what most everyone (who got to) had to say on the pro-life issue. Most of what I heard about fixing the economy — the need to increase certainty for businesses and facilitate growth, etc. — was good, too, though nothing new.

12) I wish Rick Perry had been there, ‘cuz I’d really like to know how he would answer those questions, too.

13) Didn’t care for Bachmann’s suit. As always, Romney had the best hair.

14) The candidates were asked to avoid the typical “talking points”, and I think they pretty much did. There were a few instances of talking around an issue or giving a vague answer, but I think the candidates mostly gave genuine answers with a minimum of political rhetoric.

15) Well done, Bret Baier.

No winners or losers. That’s all.

UPDATE:  Here are a couple links for more commentary on the debate: Townhall.com articles by Rich Galen and Michael Barone.

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