Keller @ Large: Lame Debate Better Than None

BOSTON (CBS) – Kudos to the folks at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire for doing an excellent job staging last night’s nationally-televised debate among seven candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

And a shout-out to CNN for going to the time, trouble and considerable expense of producing the debate.

I don’t believe there is any such thing as too many debates in an important election, even if this one had too many candidates in it and was a bit far out from NH primary day, more than seven months away.

I always learn something from debates, and last night was no exception.

I learned that even as the candidates competed for the title of “most conservative,” there were moments of what seemed like relative moderation, for instance, a reluctance to re-open divisive debates over gay marriage and gays serving openly in the military.

I learned that Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and her husband have taken 23 foster children into their home over the years.

And I learned that none of the candidates seems to have bright ideas about how to spur job growth beyond the GOP staples of lower taxes, less regulation, and freer trade.

I’m not sure what all that means, but it’s all useful info.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But there were some things I was curious about that I’m still curious about because the debate format did not allow for the most meaningful part of any debate, direct cross-talk among the candidates.

Watch Jon’s WBZ-TV report:

I did not learn if Mitt Romney is capable of defending his role in creating universal health care here under aggressive questioning because it wasn’t really allowed.

I did not learn whether Newt Gingrich is really serious about his campaign because no one challenged him on why he was off on a cruise while the campaign staff was bailing on him.

But I did learn that Ron Paul prefers Coke over Pepsi.

What am I supposed to do with that knowledge?

I don’t believe voters want all that fluff and extraneous formatting.

I believe they want to see the candidates, under pressure from each other, stand up for and explain their beliefs and track records.

Even a lame debate is better than none.

Better luck next time.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • tsal

    Great points, Jon. My concern is that none of these candidates have the answers you are looking for and perhaps the debate’s format was decided accordingly. And a lame debate is better than none because even a lame one gives you answers to what is important to them. No one stopped them from discussing what they would do yet they chose not to.

  • Stephen Stein

    Glenn Kessler takes a quick look at what passed for “facts” during the debate – his verdict: it wasn’t pretty.

    • tsal

      Thank you for the link Stephen Stein. It’s rather chilling, isn’t it?

      • Stephen Stein

        I think it’s the state of the world today. In debates like these, made-up “facts” will not be challenged. We’ll have 12 full months of this, until after the 2012 conventions.

  • Stephen Stein

    This just in – did Romney (now a California resident) commit voter fraud casting a ballot for Scott Brown in last year’s election? He lists his “residence” as the basement of his son’s house in Belmont, but does he actually live there?

  • jaygee

    It was quite apparent that the word was out not to attack any of your opponents. Funny how they all bash Obama on the economy, explain how they are going to cut services and yet they never complain about the 2 billion dollars, that’s two thousand million, spent per week in Afghainstan. I won’t even mention the 10 billion per month we spent in Iraq for 9 years or the newly discovered 6 billion in cash that just disappeared between here and Baghdad.
    How many of these flag wavers ever even served in the military?

  • mikey

    USA TODAY recently reported that in addition to a national debt of 14.3 trillion this country is facing future unfunded liabilities totaling 61.6 trillion. I’m not exicited at all with respect to the upcoming 2012 election as I believe this country is financially cooked. I see the outcome of the presidential election as being inconsequential.

  • tsal

    Mikey – I don’t believe it is inconsequential but I’m not certain if there is anyone willing to throw his hat in the race who sees what has to be done. I do not believe that any of us can survive in a country divided between two groups – a small number of people who get an increasingly larger share of the nation’s wealth and a far larger group who receives a declining share. There cannot be any economic growth as long as we continue to elect politicians who support this trend.

    • mikey

      As I posted on the former Keller blog quite long ago: what’s facing this country has everything to do with money – the lack of it.

      We are on an unsustainable path of being over-committed and borrowing money. I’ll vote for the candidate who promises to start paying down the national debt. Fat chance.

      I think we can both agree on the point that this country is in terrifying financial trouble which is about to be realized by all in the not too distant future. There are no more tomorrows, drastic cuts in spending must be made now. Do our politicians have the whatevers to do it ? That’s my question.

      • Tsal

        70% of economic stimulation comes from consumer spending. If consumers can’t spend it’s simple math to figure what the results will be

      • Tsal

        If you cut spending by taking from the middle class, poor and seniors the country dies. You can’t take more from those that have already given too much. If we get people to work, they will spend. If we increase taxes on high incomes and eliminate loopholes for them and corporations money goes to debt. The debt now is the same as it was at end of depression and that’s how it was paid down WHILE we fixed the mess left in other countries after the war

      • mikey

        mikey @ Tsal: Extinguishing three wars would be a great place to start with respect to cuts in spending along with major cuts in foreign aid. Our days of saving the world are over, it’s time to save ourselves. How about the elimination of pork-barrel spending? Many corporations have moved their headquarters overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, how about closing that loophole(good luck in this regard)? There are plenty of places to cut without continuing to nail the middle-class which I am a member of.

        Although, a lack of money now dictates cuts as there has not been a cost of living increase witnessed by Social Security recipients in the past two years. Cuts in Medicare benefits have also been witnessed. It’s unfortunate that those who can least afford it are usually the first ones to be cut.

        Job creation had better start taking place fast in this country as one can’t spend what they don’t have which translates to stagnant economic growth and tax revenue. Around and around we go. What a mess!

        In the past whenever I found myself being financially pinched spending came to a halt, no matter how much it hurt.

      • Dernell

        This makes everything so completely paniless.

    • Lavinia

      I was rellay confused, and this answered all my questions.

  • StanleyRamon

    I don’t think this could actually qualify as a debate. About 20 minutes into it I began to think it was a hoax.

  • massman

    That “debate” was one of the most entertaining things I’ve seen in a long time. I thought the most interesting question of the night was about how the candidates are going to cater to mainstream republicans and independents. They’re all trying to beat each other at who will be most conservative. We the people get it.
    They all want to repeal healthcare reform. I didn’t hear any of their solutions for our world ranked 37th healthcare system. But the lies about it being a job killer were all over the place.
    They all love the private sector, and hate the public sector. Last time I checked, my IRA was inching it’s way back from the financial meltdown thanks to the private sector. And Newt discredits NASA. The most successful space program of all time.
    They all want to extend tax cuts for the wealthy and lower corporate tax rates. Mikey states there’s a lack of money? Not according to wall street. Profits are at an all time high, and we aren’t seeing it. TSAL is absolutely right about the loopholes also.
    They all hate gays. It’s uncomfortable to watch openly elected officials being openly bigoted on national TV. And being proud of it. They all want a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and they all want to repeal DADT. Now that’s progress.
    They all don’t believe in science. Climate change and evolution are curse words to the GOP. So if we want to dumb down America, while destroying opur planet, then vote GOP. Let me tell you the great thing about science. You don’t have to believe it, for it to be true.
    I could go on, and I’m sure this circus show is far from over. I’m a little suprised at the lack of support for these bozos, considering this is teabagger central.

  • tsal

    Mikey – agreed and excellent points!!!!!! Massman – also agreed. It isn’t rocket science. The debate was an example of how low the priorities of the country are and how important the priorities of the GOP are which basically have nothing to do with the country as a whole. The question “how the candidates are going to cater to mainstream republicans and independents” speaks volumes. Aren’t the candidates from both sides working for the entire country?

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