January 05, 2008

The cool kids

A few thoughts on last night's ABC GOP debate.

How is it that someone like McCain attacks Mitt Romney for changing his position on abortion over the years while McCain himself changed his position on illegal immigration during the campaign? McCain has drastically changed his position on one of the most pressing issues of the day within the last few months. McCain is a candidate who will prevail only if adequate scrutiny is not paid to his record as a senator. The McCain-Kennedy bill and the McCain-Feingold bill are not exactly hardcore conservative credentials.

And when has Romney ever changed his position on the war in Iraq? Huckabee supposedly scored a hit when accusing Romney of changing his position on the war? This is the same man who accused Bush of having bunker mentality? How Huckabee has any running room criticizing some one else's foreign policy ideas is beyond me. In last night's debate Huckabee again proved himself to be an utter hack, representing the worst kind of opportunistic and substance-free politician.

Then we have what I call the 'cool kids' factor. The piling on of personal insults and marginal policy critiques by every candidate upon Romney. First of all, the fact that no one piled on say, Fred Thompson is revealing enough. You don't pile on a non-factor. But beyond that, what we saw last night was reminiscent of high school cafeteria table where the cool kids gang up on the smart kid. (Often times in 7th and 8th grade I was with the cool kids, I'm not proud to say.) We've all seen versions of this phenomena countless times in life, some people are threatened by smart, capable individuals. It's just easier to team up and pile on than it is to compete on a legitimate basis. In the case of last night's debate, it was easier to rely on personal attacks, one-liners, and quips in an attempt to hide mediocrity.

During the debate, John McCain snickered at his own supposed jokes and sat back in his chair with an over-confident smirk after delivering insults. As Romney's press secretary suggested, McCain "Looked like the guy who had just pushed someone down a stairwell." He's right, McCain looked childish, the ringleader of the brats who are tired of having their not-so-conservative record being pointed out.

If Romney were to drop out of the race, all other candidates would look much better. Guiliani would look like a genius. McCain would look like a wise elder statesmen and not a petty, sinister, grumpy old man. Fred Thompson would look like the only legitimate conservative choice. Huckabee would be the sole 'family values' candidate. Ron Paul would be... well he'd still be Ron Paul, the natural foil to any Patriotic American who believes that the Islamo-fascists are the enemy, not our own foreign policy.

The more the Republican candidates pile on Romney exactly because he is a worthwhile candidate, the worse they look. Romney wanted to have an honest policy discussion last night and largely succeeded. But by teaming up on the smartest guy in the room and playing the role of the cool kids, the other major candidates (aside from maybe Fred Thompson) merely succeeded in looking petty, vindictive and loser-ish. These are not the qualities I would want in a president.

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