My thoughts on the debate, I think the strategic move for Romney people in crowd to be nice to Newt was cute. Newt proved that when he is not attacked he makes good points. Paul remains the same and I think gains in every debate because of the way he portrays himself, I think Santourm didn’t have good visuals but gave complete answers. He does better on substance than Style. Romney was crisp and remains so. The question remains if people actually believe him.

10:00 p.m. Am I the only guy who noticed the weird (How to identify a Mason via Monty Python) handshake. between Paul and Santorum?

9:51 p.m. I like the last question.

9:37 p.m. “As long as your an enemy of the US you are safe” Gingrich nails it.

9:34 p.m. Santorum states Syria is a puppet state of Iran, it’s absolutely true. Strangely enough Paul was right about the declaration of war bit, not about Iran in general

9:30 p.m. “Find the Biden position and do the opposite and you’ll be right 100% of the time.” Santorum mentions the green revolution.

9:22 p.m. I never thought I’d hear Ron Paul quote the “just war” theory of the church.

9:05 p.m. I must admit that Santorum’s answer on Arlen is something that never occurred to me. A much better answer than I had.

8:55 p.m. Government control of services lead to tyranny. Next having a good night.

8:50 p.m. The GOP candidates are hitting the “contraception” question out of the park, Newt and Mitt on Religious Freedom, Paul on immorality, and Rick on the ills of pre-marital sex.

8:45 p.m. Coming up faith and immigration, they’ll get to fast and furious sometime after a discussion of subsidies for Unicorn breeding.

8:41 p.m. Paul having a good debate.

8:39 p.m. good exchange on bailouts, Gingrich has better debates when Romney isn’t targeting him.

8:34 p.m. good question on auto bailout

8:31 p.m. Santorum refuses to pander on earmarks

8:22 p.m. The Catholic church is pulled out of adoption in Massachusetts, is Mitt really claiming social conservatism in Massachusetts? Please.

8:16 p.m. Gotta love Paul’s answer to the “fake” question.

8:09 p.m. Opening question on debt, good!

8:07 p.m. Good opening by Romney best of the 4

That means I’m putting in entries when the mood strikes me.

I’ve seen a lot of commentary about the number of GOP debates there have been and how more debates add nothing to the pool of knowledge.

To many of our media friends and to some of my fellow bloggers today’s debate will be a matter or obligation rather than interest. They have heard point after point before and are simply looking for a moment that might entertain to break up the monotony of the day. Only the (strange to me) controversy about Santorum’s speech at Ave Maria College on good and evil has any potential for them to get anything out of it at all.

To me this is not only short-sighted but missing the entire point(s):

1. Eyes on the prize:

The idea of these debates is to inform the voting public, not to entertain journalists or to give an excuse for a drinking party. The deal is the candidates will answer questions and the people voting will have a better idea of who they should consider going with.

2. Who’s watching:

A lot of people forget the vast majority of the debates took place before Iowa and New Hampshire. For the voter in Arizona, months away from a decision (and told constantly that the race would be over by the time it’s their turn to vote) the early debates were an oddity at best and a waste of time at worst. After all why spend 2 hours listening to 10 candidates when half or all of them will be eliminated by the time you get a say?

Now however things are different. Not only do the people of Arizona and Michigan have a huge stake in the outcome of the race at this point, but no matter what the results it is unlikely that the field will be trimmed further before Super Tuesday so voters from multiple states have both an incentive to watch and their best chance to see the prospective candidates before they vote.

3. Filter filter who’s got da Filter:

As anyone who pays any attention to the MSM knows, the presentation of the candidates is presented through the filter of their own biases, with trims and cuts to play the points the various hosts and guests want to emphasis. Likewise the Super Pac ads the internet ads and the paid advertising of the candidates naturally produce a spin to favor the message of the desired candidate or oppose the message of the foe.

While said bias does exist in the selection of the questioners, such a setting gives a voter the best chance to see a candidate answer in his own words, unfiltered and untrimmed questions put to them. As not everyone can attend a political event, nor do people get to see Q & A sessions the importance of seeing direct and complete answers from a candidate can’t be overstated.

(Incidentally this is why I tend to video Q & A at events and break it up into the individual questions. Those answers to the questions of the voters say give the most complete picture of all).

4. The media unmasked:

For those who are bored by debates proper the various panels on the Cable networks talking about it is the most entertaining part, but it’s also the most revealing for the casual viewer. If you watch a debate itself you know what you saw and what you think of it. When you watch the media directly after a debate making points totally contrary to what you’ve seen with your own eyes, it’s a revelation.

Remember all during the debates the network’s producers are deciding which sound bites matter, which will make a good 15 second clip and what will be the focus of the post-debate show. Those decision and conclusions might be diametrically opposite to your own. When you’ve seen the debates yourself and you see a media person obsessing on a piece of minutia instead of an answer on say jobs or gas prices, you get a crash course in the media spin that happens daily. That increases the chances of you picking up on MSM pushing a desired meme in the future. Seeing for yourself is the best source of education for the public on how the “unbiased” press actually works.

Bottom line, if you want to moan and groan about debates, fine do so, but I see them as the best tool in the deck to create an informed and undeceived electorate, and I have faith that an electorate, well-informed will make the right decisions.

Back in the days of New Hampshire when the race was very different I talked to Tom Mountain about the prospect of another Kennedy running for office. Now that it’s official it’s a great time to promote that video that I somehow missed back then:

Now I think that Bielat will do very well against Kennedy.

There is a very interesting quote that is even more timely. As a rule when I interviewed folks in NH who supported a different candidate I asked them to make the case for me changing my vote. Tom said this about Rick Santorum:

“Because the media is going to come after Santorum like you wouldn’t believe…they’re going to rip him apart.”

I disagree with him on Santorum’s ability to take it relative to Romney but when it comes to the media doing their best to rip him apart, he’s spot on.

Update: And apparently in some locations the party apparatus has taken sides