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

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