Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One Republican to Rule Them All

Last Thursday’s Southern Republican debate was an interesting one.  It separated the men from the boys, the winners from the losers, the strong from the weak.  The obvious front-runners were Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts.  Though, Romney didn’t come anywhere close to Gingrich, in my opinion.

In the meantime, Ron Paul, current Congressman for Texas’s 14th District and former dilation measurer, and Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania Senator, spoke their minds, sure, but they just weren’t as strong or well-liked.

This debate demonstrated that pandering to your audience is key.  Gingrich was spouting out details specifically related to South Carolina, as well as sporting his oft covered-up Georgia accent, like all he was focused on during this campaign was South Carolina.  He mentioned specifically their potential for oil-drilling as well as the utilization of their various ports.

He was prepared with background information on all of the others, including Romney’s stance on abortion and Paul’s military service.  The man had done his research.  He obviously practiced his answers thoroughly.  His team has got to be impressive, considering the fact that his life is riddled in affair-related scandal, yet those most religious are leaning toward him.  This is in spite of Santorum’s decidedly more conservative views on issues such as contraception.  But then, civil rights are not really the focus of this campaign season.

Gingrich’s dodge of the question of his alleged affair and then request for an open-marriage with his second wife made a powerful statement.  It showed that he is confident enough to at least give the image he can rise above such absurdity.  The audience agreed, as well.  The majority of people seemed to be on his side and he really was right in stating questioning of that subject to start off a political debate on a supposedly reputable and serious new station such as CNN was disappointing.  It seemed as if the moderator was trying to pull some kind of a shock-value stunt to make himself look like he asks the hard questions or something, but it completely backfired on him.

The tax discussion was interesting.  Their views on taxation didn’t stick out to me much, but their views on releasing their records definitely resonated with all watching.  Gingrich was the only one who didn’t avoid the question or make an excuse. Not only that, but he was the only one willing to release his tax records and in fact had earlier that day.  The discussion around this made it sound suspicious of the other candidates to withhold this information.  Even Paul—who had the most legitimate reason not to publicize his taxes—claimed he didn’t want to look bad compared to the other guys because he doesn’t make as much, just appeared to be making a lame excuse.  Romney said he’ll release them when this tax season is over, which made him appear to have something to hide, especially since the nomination could be won by then.  Santorum’s “my computer is home” argument was by far the most ridiculous.  It’s not 1980.  People can access their computers from other places.  Plus, there are other ways to obtain these records.  His excuse was an obvious dodge.

Overall, this debate was an effective one.  A lot of good information was provided, character was tested, and in the end, Paul, Romney and Paul were left to walk home with their tails between their legs.  Gingrich, on the other hand, was triumphant and I believed offered up much to be admired in a candidate.  Even if the majority of his views are not congruent with my views and values, he made it clear he has a plan, he has conviction and he isn’t taking anything from anyone.

Cathryn Frear
Communication Studies 
Wilkes 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 South Carolina Debate: Obamacare = Romneycare

Barack Obama was made out to be a villain, a devil and someone to immediately get rid of during the debate Thursday in South Carolina. Heated words did little if anything to help current presidential hopefuls, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.

All four wannabe presidents slated blows against Obama and his current
administration, which could easily be detoured with common sense.  The debate started off with a bang, when Gingrich responded to a question by John King about his ex wife.

Gingrich said to King, "To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.” This self-pronounced hate for the media is not necessarily a good thing being that most of our country bases their perception through the media. What would this heated anger to do for our country? Gingrich might have merited respect of voters in South Carolina, but do we want an easily irritated president; a president that can’t manage to maintain his composure? It seems that Gingrich has consistently shown this irritability throughout the primaries thus far. His inability to control himself will inevitably hurt him down the road.

Gingrich spoke out against Obamacare and spoke of his experience in that aspect leading the charge against “Hilarycare” in the house.  Then made a jab at Obama by saying, “I'd love to do a three-hour Lincoln-Douglas debate with Obama,” “He can use the teleprompter. I'll just rely on my knowledge." Even though reading a teleprompter speech versus a memorized speech has little to do with anything.

Much of Rick Santorum’s attacks focused on a person from his own party, Mitt Romney. Santorum grilled Romney about his Massachusetts health care legislation bill, calling it “Romneycare.” “When he was governor of Massachusetts, he put forth "Romneycare," which was not a bottom-up, free-market system. It was a government-run health care system that was the basis of "Obamacare." And it has been an abject failure, and he has stood by it,” said Santorum. This nit picky fighting between parties will inevitably divide Republicans and the rest of our nation when it comes to a Republican nomination. It is easy to see that Santorum is just trying to claw back into the race with low blows. This constant fighting between candidates leaves an easy weakness, their lack of loyalty to their party.

Mitt Romney repeatedly used his all too familiar go-to strategy of focusing everything back on Obama. Romney said things like “I know we're going to hit it hard from President Obama, but we're going to stuff it down his throat and point out it is capitalism and freedom that makes America strong.” When asked if there was anything he would have done differently in his campaign he said,  "I wish I took all the time I spent talking about one of these guys on stage and spent it talking about Obama." Romney looked a bit off when trying to relate to American people, he said, "I've lived in the real streets of America." This statement is a bit off-putting because Romney is a multi-millionaire, multi-millionaires don’t live on the real streets of America.

Ron Paul barely had a voice during this debate. At one point the crowd started screaming when John King skipped him on an abortion question. Paul was allowed little say in this debate but when he was given a chance, he shouted out to his military donors.

Overall, the winner of this debate was definitely Newt Gingrich led solely on Gingrich’s ability to react very hostilely toward John King at the very beginning thus creating momentum throughout the debate. Romney was overshadowed by Gingrich’s aggressive behavior and attacks at his own expense regarding similarities between Romney’s “Romneycare” bill and Obama’s “Obamacare” bill.

Bryan Calabro
Communication Studies/Integrated Media
Wilkes 2013