Craig Steiner

In honor of the actual substance of Thursday's GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan library, nothing heavy here as far as observations are concerned. Just a few drive-by Muthings…

It’s a cliché to note that this was anything but a debate, but it really was anything but a debate. In reality it was a 10-person press conference. That being said, moderator Chris Mathews did a commendable job moving things along and keeping control of the conversation. The only real criticism was that he always started off asking Romney the question and then moving down the line. He coulda/shoulda started with a different candidate on different questions and then moved along in order. But that’s a minor critique. Overall, an “A” grade.

With only rare exceptions, the dialogue and answers were generally filled with generalities, platitudes and in some cases, outright obfuscations. Specificity was not the name of the game. And the gratuitous references to Ronald Reagan became very annoying very fast.

Speaking as a huge fan of Rep. Ron Paul, folks who love Ron Paul love Ron Paul because he opposes government not authorized by the Constitution, not because he opposes the war in Iraq. He separated himself from the field on this issue early. But his continual harping on the issue during the remainder of the “debate” did not help his cause or inspire his natural base of supporters.

On the question of what to do about Iraq - perhaps THE defining issue of the current campaign - Tommy Thompson gave the most specific response which surely resonated with a lot of people: The Iraqis should vote on whether or not they want the U.S. to stay, create “state”-like elections to the Iraqi government, and redistribute the oil revenues. Sounded reasonable and like a real plan...unlike what we have now.

Duncan Hunter actually admitted to being a “compassionate conservative” in the mold of George W. Bush in Ronald Reagan’s library where the Gipper is buried. The phrase “rolling over in his grave” comes to mind.

Ron Paul hit a solid note in stating he’d get rid of the IRS; however, he hit an even more solid point when he stated that the country needs to decide what the proper role of government is supposed to be first. THAT’S the Ron Paul that Ron Paul fans have come to know and love.

All the major media will be commenting on how Rudy Giuliani got tripped up on the abortion question, so I won’t dwell on it here. But he did.

Tommy Thompson seemed to present the best response on the abortion question by stating it should be decided by the states, not the feds.

Craig Steiner

Craig Steiner is a writer and political activist from Denver, Colorado.

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