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Guest Thinkers

Where Does Dartmouth Debate Leave GOP?

While the Obama Administration was busy foiling yet another terror plot yesterday, the GOP presidential candidates at the debate sponsored by Bloomberg TV and the Washington Post looked like they were auditioning for Jon Stewart’s job on Comedy Central. The ill prepared moderators didn’t help any, making almost no effort to counter some of the candidates more absurd assertions with the kind of challenging follow up questions you would expect from seasoned journalists.

Women often face the glass ceiling as they rise up the ranks of corporate America. Mitt Romney is still facing the plastic persona ceiling as a presidential nominee, although he has been loosening up with each outing. If he began talking about himself in the third person, maybe he could actually convince us that Rich Guy Mitt Romney Who Should Pay More Taxes is different than Rich Guy Mitt Romney Who Is Running For President.

I don’t want to call Rick Perry stupid…well, actually, I do…but how the hell does Governor All Hat No Stage Presence insist that we can drill our way to energy independence when we only produce 50% of the oil we need domestically right now? Reducing regulations simply isn’t going to make enough of a difference in bridging the 9.7 million barrel per day gap we would have to fill if we quit importing oil from overseas.

Herman Cain looked more like a former college yell leader than Perry, cueing the crowd whenever he was about to utter the now ubiquitous catchphrase “9-9-9”. The mark of Cain’s simple economic philosophy is likely to last a lot longer than the memories of his campaign. Michelle Bachmann sounded like she stepped out of a talk radio time machine, bleating shopworn canards about the evils of the Community Reinvestment Act and the major role this tiny number of loans played in the mortgage market meltdown. In my own experience as a loan officer in one of the biggest retail mortgage markets in the country, nobody in the subprime game wasted time doing CRA loans when NINA’s and SISA’s were so easy to close.

I understood Jon Huntsman’s point perfectly. When someone asks you who has been the biggest leadership influence on your life, go with the billionaire you know the best. But Americans, for all our love of wealth, seem to have an aversion to electing people president who look too rich.

Where does all this leave the GOP?

Rick Perry’s candidacy for the nominee is probably not in as bad a shape as the pundits make it out to be, mostly because the people behind him could care less whether he can deliver a sound bite with polish and panache. It’s the same reason why Romney, who is still looked upon in many Republican quarters as President Obama’s political alter ego, probably isn’t as inevitable a nominee as the same pundits say he is. Despite all of the debates, the Republican Party presidential nominee is still a toss up between Romney and Perry.

The rest of the field needs to enjoy the free donuts in the green room while this lasts.


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