Saturday, May 24, 2008
Steve Kubby wins Libertarian Presidential debate!
You should know that I still support Dr George Phillies for the nomination, and that I think he did a credible job tonight, but hands down the biggest winner in this debate was Steve Kubby.
I have to call them the way I see them.
Why? I'll give you three reasons.
1) Style: Kubby looked and sounded passionate, came across as witty but on point, and appeared in command of virtually every question.
2) Substance: Kubby did not waffle; on gay marriage he asked who had empowered the government to look up people's dresses and pants to decide who got to get married. In two hours he shed the single dimensionality of a marijuana-only-single-issue campaigner and established himself as a man with credible answers to the questions people care about.
3) Class: At the end of the debate C-SPAN's cameras caught Kubby walking over to shake hands with Bob Barr a second time. He said (paraphrasing as closely as possible): Thank you for your answers tonight. I had some doubts coming in here as to whether you had really become a Libertarian and you addressed them all. He did not know he was on camera.
That having been said, here's my rundown of the other candidate performances tonight. I was joined by my twelve-year-old political junkie daughter (who did not fall asleep until 10:45). Hers are the comments in bold.
Bob Barr: Looks like the actor who plays Barty Crouch in the Harry Potter movies. He should shave that mustache. Sorry, Daddy, yours looks OK. Contrary to Kubby's response, I thought Barr spent most of the night ducking questions. Like a good mainstream politician he ducked specific answers to the question of repealing Federal gun laws, to the question of ending the war on drugs, to the question of gay marriage, and to the question American military intervention. His speaking style gives wooden a bad name.
Mike Gravel: How old is this guy, anyway? Will he make it to November? Isn't John McCain that old, too? Does he ever say anything? Gravel is good on foreign policy, and likes to chant, "Freedom, freedom, freedom!" But he couldn't quite paper over his support for universal health care, the Fair Tax, or mandating little if any change on public education--all sensitive topics with most Libertarians.
George Phillies: He reminds me of my social studies teacher. I think he's probably smarter than anyone else in the room, but who is he going to get to listen to him? Dr Phillies nailed some questions (such as gay marriage, selecting Libertarian judges and ending American interventionism), but lost his audience with the details in others. His job tonight was to position himself as the compromise candidate (which he frankly admitted), and I thought he accomplished some of that. But if he was looking for a breakthrough to bring him up beyond about 10-15% on the first ballot, I don't think he achieved it.
Mike Jingozian: What's up with his eyes? At least he admitted when he didn't know the answer. I kind of like him. I thought his performance as solid, but--as Simon too often says on American Idol--forgettable. I don't think anybody will remember a single answer beyond midnight (it's 11:29 as I write this, and they are already tough to recall).
Mary Ruwart: What's she want to be? Hillary Clinton? She keeps saying she should get it because she's a woman. She needs to get over it. If Kubby was the big winner, Ruwart was probably the big loser. Ruwart's big claim is that she has the expertise and the experience to explain liberty and Libertarian concepts to the general public. If that's true, it wasn't in evidence tonight. Her answers were stumbling, rambling, almost incoherent at times. Unless it all sounded different in the hall, I'd expect some movement among the radical ranks from Ruwart to Kubby after this.
Wayne Allyn Root: Either his tie is too big or his head's too small. If he home schools his children I feel sorry for them. Actually, I thought Root ran a distant second to Kubby tonight. He was a bit too over-the-top in his unrelenting enthusiasm, but his answers were good, and he dispelled a lot of the one dimensionality previously attributed to him. If he and Barr are the two wrestling for the so-called neo-con wing of the Libertarian Party, I came away with the feeling I could live with him a lot better than I could live with Barr.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
We'll see what tomorrow brings.