Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Debate Wrap Extra and a bit of Housekeeping

Just a couple of quick links to where else I've been writing today: my debate wrap for Plum Line, in which I made Anderson Cooper the big loser for messing up the 47% statistic, and a new column at TNR about why the GOP field wound up the way it did. I figured I'd also put up this post if anyone has any comments on the GOP debate.

I haven't done the question count yet, but the usual CNN themes were there: a long, annoying introduction; an unusually large number of basic issue questions, and few if any gotcha questions; and a noisy audience. Other than the question I complained about on substantive grounds, the other question I hated was a political question at the end from Cooper about which of them would be best to take on Barack Obama. I hate that stuff. On the other hand, I miss the silly personal questions. I guess they dropped them after all the mocking, and you sort of have to mock them, but I didn't mind them very much.

While I'm here later at night than usual, I'll mention that anyone who read my criticism of Alec MacGillis's piece yesterday should read his response today. Also, a piece of housekeeping...I've been meaning to get this on the record at some point: thanks to everyone who sends me notice of my (many) typos, either in comments or via email. My policy is that pure typo corrections I make cleanly (without, that is, noting that I've corrected it), while if there's any substantive correction to make I'll indicate the correction clearly; if it's a very significant correction, I'll not only note it clearly in the original post but also write a new post to point it out. While I'm at it -- I try to remember anything that I say that's phrased as a prediction, so that I can 'fess up if I get it wrong, but I don't do it systematically.

And with that, I'm off to thank whoever is in charge of these things for sparing us any more GOP debates for a few weeks. Also, happy Hoshanah Rabah to all.


  1. I disagree about Perry; he looked peevish and impatient; starting from his introduction (an authentic conservative, when he used to be a Democrat) to his interruptions; he looked petty. Petty Perry.

    And I think Ron Paul did much better then anyone's giving him credit for doing; he was consistent, and while I don't agree with his answers, did a much better job of informing the public on real problems then the other candidates did -- particularly when it comes to defense spending, why folks are occupying Wall St, and individual rights. He spoke a truth that nobody else on the stage would speak -- both parties are responsible, including Republicans.

    Romney, though, seemed like the nominee.

    And if Newt would just go home and share his ideas with his wife and friends, I'd be very happy.

  2. Further to what zic said above, if I were a big-money kingmaker in the invisible Republican primary, I would have evaluated Perry last night by a metric like the following:

    Actual perfomance - adjustment factor (bound to improve with practive) - adjustment factor (bound to improve with handler panic) - adjustment factor (bound to look better with low expectations) - adjustment factor (bound to look good with pre-fab shots like Romney's illegal house staff).

    On a non-adjusted basis, Perry almost certainly looked better. But his viability is surely dependent on some variant of the adjustment methodology above. Did he still look better after the adjustments? That's a moot point, but I think I'm with zic, not really.

  3. I disagree on the political questions, both this one and on the concept in general (though I certainly object to many of the questions in practice).

    I think the "who's better equipped to beat the other team" question is a fair and valuable one, because voters are going to be choosing their nominee factoring that in. We might wish, for democratic principles, that they didn't, but since we know they will factor that in, I'd prefer that they had information on that. I also think that one question in a debate is about the limit on that. It's not crucial information, but it is somewhat useful.

    In general, I also favor certain types of political questions, namely process reform questions. You wouldn't put campaign finance in here, because that's public policy. But you would put party reform questions. If this guy/gal wins the big job, they are going to get to appoint THEIR guy to run the R/DNC. Their opinions on internal party affairs will carry a lot of weight. Yes, I can participate in party activities to get my voice heard in the party, but that's a really high work hurdle to clear compared to voting. Since parties are so crucial to the process, I think that we should be encouraging people to factor how they want their party run into their votes, because you're voting for both a party leader and a president. So, I wish someone would ask about frontloading, about superdelegates, about primaries vs caucuses, and about winner-take-all vs proportional. I'm not sure the answers would elucidate much, but they'll probably elucidate just as much as 80% of the other questions, most of which go over ground already covered ad nauseum in other debates.

  4. I think Ron Paul did much better then anyone's giving him credit for doing; he was consistent, and while I don't agree with his answers, did a much better job of informing the public on real problems then the other candidates did.


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