My Debate Analysis

Last night’s primetime GOP presidential debate was energetic and revelatory, in my view. I promised yesterday I would try to assess it today, so here’s my attempt. The most efficient approach, I think, is to break it down candidate by candidate. I will not refrain from giving my opinion on each one’s performance, beliefs, and prospects. Consequently, probably no one reading this will agree with me completely, but I’ll stake out my ground anyway.

August 2015 Debate

I’ll cover them in reverse order, from lowest in the polls to highest, as they were placed on the stage.

John Kasich

He got the loudest ovation at the beginning because the forum was being held in his home state, and he apparently got a perk from the RNC to pack as many of his supporters in as possible.

Kasich bothers me. I’ve been put off by his arrogance in the past and by his superficial use of Scripture to promote government assistance. He lost me completely last night when he seemed to rejoice in having gone to a same-sex wedding. Sorry, governor, but that answer only confirmed my view of you. You are not a fighter for Biblical truth. You do not have my support.

Chris Christie

Christie is someone I wish hadn’t thrown his hat into the ring. I’ve never seen him as the torchbearer for the party or for the principles for which I stand. His heated argument with Rand Paul over the NSA was certainly gripping, and, frankly, he made good points whenever Paul didn’t talk over him. Overall, he did better than I expected, but nothing he said moved me in his direction.

Rand Paul

I believe he was one of the big losers of the debate. His argument with Christie did not showcase his temperament well as he had to be pulled back by the moderators to allow Christie to have his say. He claims to be a different kind of Republican. That’s true. But it’s not the kind I can enthusiastically endorse. While I can appreciate his concerns for privacy and government overreach (after all, I’m a small-government type myself), I have no confidence that he really understands what needs to be done for national security. That’s the first job of a president; if you don’t grasp that, you should stay in the Senate instead.

Marco Rubio

Most commentators think that Rubio did himself a lot of good in this debate. I concur. He came across as savvy, well-informed, and appropriately humorous. My only major disagreement with Rubio ever since he won election to the Senate was his participation in the Gang of 8 immigration effort. Yet I still like him. He is winsome, thoughtful, and optimistic about the future of the country. If he is the nominee, I will have no problem giving him my support, but I continue to wish he had waited a few years before attempting this political leap. I would rather have him in the Senate longer to get more seasoning. Now that he will no longer be in the Senate, if he doesn’t win the nomination, I hope he will return to Florida and run for governor. He will have my vote.

Ted Cruz

I love Cruz . . . and I don’t love him. I know that sounds weird. He believes pretty much everything I believe and can articulate those beliefs well. His Christian faith appears to be genuine, and he has a deep concern for abiding by the Constitution. So what is my problem? I’ve listened to a number of his speeches and always come away with at least some distaste for his manner of speaking—a little canned, perhaps, too calculated to get applause lines. I’m also not convinced he can convince a large segment of the electorate to vote for him. He answered all the questions very well last night, and many have pointed to him as one who gained by his participation in the debate. I won’t argue with that. I wish him all the best. My final judgment is suspended, but if he wins the nomination, I’m on his side.

Ben Carson

The moderators lost him for a while, and he had a wonderful comeback about that. In fact, his good humor and thoughtfulness last night was refreshing. His comment about how being a brain surgeon has made him look at what really makes people valuable—what’s on the inside, not the color of one’s skin—was superb. And everyone is commenting on his hilarious closing statement about how he once took out half a brain, but that someone must have beaten him to it in Washington. He is a good man. I like him a lot. Yet I don’t think someone normally should jump from no political involvement at all to being president. Despite the current theme that there are too many career politicians (with which I agree), some experience is essential before taking on the rigors of that top spot.

Mike Huckabee

I have considered Huckabee’s campaign this year to be a well-intentioned but doomed enterprise. I thought he had a better shot in 2012 when he declined to run. That assessment may be true, but last night showed the classic Huckabee ability to speak with conviction and humor. As the Frank Luntz focus group revealed after the debate, Huckabee was the biggest surprise to them, and he won over a number of them who had considered him not in the running. His strong Christian convictions, especially on abortion and the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, were extraordinary. He has a folksy manner of speaking that can touch the heart and make one rethink a position. He should not be counted out.

Scott Walker

I have a strong preference for Walker. He is one of the most battle-tested politicians in the nation, having had to fight the public-sector unions in Wisconsin continually since his election as governor. He survived a recall election, and won reelection, despite the entire national Democrat party’s attempt to unseat him. Further, he has succeeded in turning Wisconsin around, showing that a Republican can win in a blue state without sacrificing principle. His calm demeanor makes people think he is not exciting enough, but I agree with one commenter afterwards who said that if we make “exciting” our goal, we will miss out on Walker’s amazing talents. Last night, he was solid on every answer he gave, and handled the “gotcha” abortion question very well. I was impressed with the substance of his answers, yet he did not get the audience’s enthusiastic responses the way some others did. He is still my preferred candidate because I look at principle and effectiveness, not superficial excitement. All that said, he would benefit by showing more emotion and having a few more comments like the one when he said that Russia and China probably know more about Hillary’s e-mails than we do. I hope others will look past the external and see the solidity within.

Jeb Bush

If we are to judge a candidate simply for how well he does on a stage and whether he looks presidential, Bush is fine. However, there are issues that come to the forefront that keep me from wanting him as the nominee. He tried to explain his approach to education, saying that his Common Core support is not the same as wanting the federal government to take over. I believe he is mistaken; as Rubio effectively commented later, there is a natural tendency for the federal government to insist on its way in education matters. If Bush doesn’t think that will happen, he is naive.

The worst answer, though, was his attempt to explain why he sat on the board of the Bloomberg Foundation as it poured millions of dollars into Planned Parenthood. He claimed not to know about that, and touted his pro-life credentials when he was governor of Florida. As true as that last part is, I find it incredible that he would then ally with Bloomberg’s agenda. If he is telling the truth about not knowing the agenda, then that’s a further reason for doubting his ability to discern good and evil. For these reasons, I cannot support his candidacy.

Donald Trump

Walker-Trump-BushHe may not lose his staunchest supporters after this performance, but I don’t see him picking up others in their right minds. Trump lost it right from the start, in my opinion, when he was the only one on the stage who refused to pledge to support the eventual nominee and not make a third-party run. The groans from the audience were palpable. In essence, he said that unless he is the nominee, there is no one else he respects enough to support.

He then showed a lot of pettiness over the questions being asked of him (which he repeated after the debate, calling them “unfair”). Excuse me, sir, but everyone on that stage was put on the spot for former comments, views, etc. If you were upset by having some of your comments highlighted, you need to ask why there were so many to be highlighted. He was bombastic, insulting, and distinctly non-presidential. In other words, he showed up as himself.

The Luntz focus group afterward savaged him, and the majority began the evening on his side. It was an astounding turnaround. If his poll numbers rise after this debate, it might signal the end of the Republic.

I haven’t said anything about the pre-debate debate, the one showcasing those who didn’t make it into the top ten. The overwhelming consensus is that Carly Fiorina came out of that one in sterling fashion, making the case that she should be in the top tier. I was able to watch the first two-thirds of that debate, and from what I saw, I can say I was impressed with her also. Yes, she deserves more attention. She is knowledgeable, an effective communicator, and strong on principle. I welcome her rise and hope to see it reflected in the polls.

Overall, this debate was illuminating. As I said at the start of this rather long analysis, I don’t expect everyone to like what I’ve said about some of the candidates, but I hope I’ve given some ground for rethinking the viability of the men (and woman) who are telling us they should be the Republican nominee.

A Debate, Not a Circus, Please

Tonight is the night: two Republican debates because there are so many candidates running for the presidential nomination that it would be too unwieldy to have them all on the stage at the same time. It’s rather unprecedented.

Wide Shot

One hopes there will be a robust discussion of vital issues and the audience will get a better feel for who has the character, the right principles, and the experience to take on the progressive agenda and win. Then there’s the other possibility:

Out of Time

There’s also the circus surrounding one of the candidates:

Parking Space

May this, instead, be a valuable time for Republican voters to assess the credentials of all seventeen of the candidates. Let’s leave the circus atmosphere behind.

Tomorrow, I’ll do my best to offer an evaluation of what transpired.

Trump? We Should Know Better

I will attempt today not to vent my frustration but to have a calm, rational post about Donald Trump. For the past six-plus years, I’ve been distressed with the foolishness of the American voter overall for putting Barack Obama in the White House. That distress is almost equaled by the possibility of Hillary Clinton returning to that address. Yet almost as frustrating is the boomlet for Trump among potential Republican primary voters.

You all should know better.

Trump’s meteoric rise in the polls is astounding, to be sure. When asked why they support him, many are saying it has nothing to do with the issues but merely admiration for someone who speaks his mind so boldly.

Nothing to do with the issues? Is that how Republicans display their political/governmental knowledge?

Supporting a candidate should be based on two things: where he/she stands on the issues; the character of the individual.

Trump is a new convert to all the “right” side of the issues for voters angry with the path this nation is on under Obama. As I noted in a previous post, he historically has been pro-abortion, in favor of a government-imposed healthcare, soft on illegal immigration, etc., etc.

On the character side of the ledger, his many divorces, his superficial Christianity (which is the same as a non-existent Christianity), his tendency to say whatever just happens to enter his brain, and his incessant boasting about his wealth and his intelligence should send warning signals to all. He reminds me of the central character in this old tale:


When the fall comes, it will be disastrous.

I’m particularly distressed over evangelical Christians rushing to Trump’s side. Where is the discernment that is sorely needed for this upcoming historic election? Bruce Jenner (yes, I’m still using his real name because he is still a man regardless of his protestations to the contrary) says he is a Republican. Does that mean those of us who take Scripture seriously should look the other way because that puts him “on our side”?

Dream Ticket

A dream? No, more like a nightmare.

Then there’s Trump’s not-so-subtle insinuation that he had better get this nomination or else:

Be Nice to Me

If that should happen, we will have to endure another four to eight years of radicalism in the White House.

I sincerely hope the Republican electorate awakes from its stupor and begins to see more clearly. The outrage over the Obama years and the weak Republican leadership in Congress should not drive us to commit intellectual suicide. Voting primarily on emotion will be our downfall.

The Senate & Planned Parenthood

The Senate’s vote on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood went the way most people expected. Fifty-three senators, mostly Republicans, voted to end the debate and move to a straight up-and-down vote on the funding. That’s a majority. But, according to Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to get past the debate stage. A grand total of two Democrats voted to go on to the vote.


Senate Chamber

Now, some of my conservative friends will spend all their time critiquing the Republicans for this. Please know that I’m aware of how the politics of this works. Not all of those Republicans who voted in favor of taking the vote are really on board in their hearts. They knew this strategy wouldn’t work, but they are now free to tell their constituents they voted in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. It helps keep them in office.

Same for those two Democrats who come from more conservative states—Indiana and West Virginia. They can now boast of their conservative credentials and win reelection.

I also know that Mitch McConnell, supposed leader of Senate Republicans, denied having the defunding effort attached to another bill, which would have made it far easier to pass. Did you know that his wife, Elaine Chao, is on the board of the Bloomberg Foundation, which is stridently pro-abortion and sends millions to Planned Parenthood? (By the way, Jeb Bush was on the board of that same organization until he started his run for the presidency—more on that in a later post).

Yes, I know all of this. Yet there still is a significant difference between Republicans and Democrats on issues like this. And this vote is better than the one held in 2011, when the Democrats controlled the Senate and only 42 senators voted for defunding.

Why all the ire toward Republicans when only two Democrats, for political reasons, voted against Planned Parenthood? Put the onus for this failure squarely where it belongs.

Besides their worldview ideology, some Democrats don’t want the campaign financing they get from Planned Parenthood to end. I have no problem saying at this point that the Democrat Party is in bed with pure evil.

All the Services

By the way, the bill wouldn’t have cut a single dime from what is sometimes euphemistically called “women’s health.” All it would have done is shift the money to other organizations that don’t perform abortions. So the real reason here for opposing the bill is not “women’s health” but false ideology and financial ties to Planned Parenthood.

Just remember what this organization really does:

Good Price

On Second Thought

Of course, it’s not the politicians only who are downplaying the ghastly, grisly, and ghoulish practices revealed in the latest videos. They have their helpers:

Nothing to See

So this current attempt to move our society a step closer to sanity has failed. But I am not in despair. I think the cause has been aided by all the attention brought to it, despite the efforts of evil men and women to distort, falsify, and deceive the public. Now is not the time to fold our tents and go away. Now is the time to push forward with even greater boldness.

Obama: Everything’s So Much Better Now

President Obama made some astounding statements in a speech yesterday, claiming that he has rescued the economy and that the United States is now the most respected nation in the world because of his foreign policy.

Well, that kind of covers the whole ground, doesn’t it?

It’s also ludicrous.

Yes, the stock market is booming, but keen analysts worry it’s another one of those artificial bubbles. When they break, things go sour quickly. And the GDP this last quarter actually contracted, meaning negative growth. Well, that had to be the weather that caused it. The Soviet Union used that excuse for seventy years.

Yes, the unemployment rate is now at its lowest point in the Obama years, but that doesn’t take into account the unprecedented number of people who have dropped out of the workforce (which naturally lowers the percentage of unemployed) because they can’t find the jobs they want. No worry, the government has taken measures to ensure they will be taken care of.

Obamacare is an ongoing disaster, hopefully to be put to rest by the Supreme Court very soon.

Then there’s that little matter of doubling the national debt in a mere six years, an achievement no other president has ever been able to accomplish. The fact that we have any economic growth at all is due to entrepreneurs marching forward in spite of this administration’s attempts to drown us in red ink.


We’re no longer involved in wars? Fantasyland again. One can pull out troops and declare a war is over, but that doesn’t stop the other side from continuing the war. Iraq is ready to crumble; Afghanistan is heading the same direction; the entire Middle East is ablaze while our president does virtually nothing.

What is he bequeathing to his successor?

Laying the Foundation

By all rational standards of measure—which is not how Obama measures things—we are in far worse shape on his watch than we have ever been, both in domestic policy and foreign affairs. His stature in the world is not what it was when he began, when the whole world seemed awash in his “hope and change” rhetoric.


Another indicator that things are not as he believes is the rush on the Republican side to replace him. Republicans know most of the country now sees through his spin.

Presidential Derby

The choice to be made by Republicans for their presidential nominee is one of the most crucial in my lifetime. May wisdom prevail.

The Deeply Flawed Candidate

The Hillary Clinton coronation is off and running. In her recent swing through Iowa in her campaign van, she kept talking (whenever she would deign to speak to anyone) about how she is the champion of the average American. She demonstrated this by stopping at a Chipotle in Ohio on her way to Iowa, where she spoke to no one—she wasn’t even recognized by the employees.

When she arrived in Iowa, her van parked in a handicapped spot, as if she had no need to follow the rules. But, of course, she is a Clinton; those rules don’t apply to her. There is a great discrepancy between the image she is trying to promote and the reality of who she is:


Wherever she went, she castigated those who make too much money—you know, all those CEOs who are taking advantage of you. Never mind that she makes more than most of those CEOs. You’re not supposed to pay attention to that:

Speech a Week

She avoided the media, yet those in the mainstream media don’t seem to care. They have already made their choice for 2016, and it’s quite obvious:

Match Hasn't Started

If the media were to be truly honest about her, this is the kind of report you would see:

Campaign 2016

Her views on CEOs are not the only views that are extreme. Speaking out in support of Common Core, she actually said that education is “the most important, non-family [emphasis mine] enterprise” in the country. Education is a “non-family” enterprise? No, Mrs. Clinton, it is the most family-centered enterprise that exists. Parents are the ones responsible for the education of their children, not the state. But, you know, it takes a village. I’m trying to remember—who said that once and wrote a book about it?

Then there’s her consistent position on abortion, which she considers something that should never be limited. Rand Paul, one of the declared presidential candidates on the Republican side, recently challenged DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she, and the Democrat party as a whole, really believes it is right to abort a near-term child that could weigh as much as seven pounds. Her answer was, in short: yes. That is the mentality of the entire Democrat party leadership now, and fully reflects Hillary’s position.

Not Viable

The latest controversy (there are always controversies surrounding the Clintons, usually of their own making) is the donations given to the Clinton Foundation by foreign countries and corporations in exchange for preferential treatment when Hillary was secretary of state. A new book on that subject is being released in a couple of weeks. The New York Times got an advance copy and is already pointing out the problems. That’s the New York Times, mind you—a source that normally will give every benefit of the doubt to progressive politicians.

Republicans should not be afraid to challenge her. She is not royalty who will automatically be swept into the White House. She is a deeply flawed person and candidate. They should be chomping at the bit to take her on:

Ready for Hillary

Whoever the Republicans choose must be steadfast in principle and able to communicate those principles effectively. That kind of candidate will be far more appealing to the average voter than a scandal-plagued Hillary.

An Agenda at the Clinton Library

I conducted research at the Bill Clinton Library this week for my project on spiritual advisers to presidents. In the documents, I found what I expected to find, namely that some of those spiritual advisers were decidedly liberal in their theology and politics, thereby giving “cover,” so to speak, for the policies Clinton put forward, including his agenda for the acceptance of homosexuality in our society as normal.


The research room staff was professional and nice to work with. The cafe is absolutely superb; wonderful atmosphere and truly great food. The museum is also professionally arranged and is set up in such a way that you can easily go from one exhibit to another with some continuity.

The political agenda, though, is of different spirit than what I’ve seen at other presidential libraries. Naturally, any presidential library is going to showcase what the supporters believe are the strengths of that particular president. What makes the Clinton Library unique is the way it attacks his political adversaries. This showed up especially in the exhibit about the impeachment. Search though you may, you will not find one word about anything he may have done to lead to that impeachment. No, it was all a witch hunt.

I took some pictures to illustrate. Note how they even emphasize some words with highlighting. I didn’t do that; they want to draw attention to certain phrases. In this “explanation,” it is the Republicans who have an ideological agenda (which Clinton, of course, never had) and who refused to compromise, causing government shutdowns. I have a different interpretation of that period, but I’ll not inject it right now. What I want you to see is how the controversy is framed here.


Then there’s this one:


Now we learn that the “New Right” is responsible for an increase in personal attacks. Nothing, however, is said about Clinton’s personal behavior that might have led to what his partisans consider “personal attacks.” Notice that most of those attacks were merely based on “rumors and accusations” without foundation. Republicans are charged with trying to undermine Clinton’s popular policies by pushing the “politics of personal destruction.”

That phrase even gets its own heading:


Visitors to the museum now find out that Clinton’s motives, morals, and patriotism were unfairly questioned. Excuse me?  On the morals issue, I think there is some basis, is there not? By linking that with patriotism, though, it makes all the accusations appear ridiculous. Note the words highlighted in this one: “character assassination” and “new, aggressive tactics,” as if politics has always been of the highest integrity, but now the evil Republicans have changed all that.

The slant is so blatant, without any acknowledgement that there may have been some basis for investigations and possible impeachment, that it is historically unsound.

May I suggest a book that spells out the valid reasons for the impeachment proceedings? My book, Mission: Impeachable–The House Managers and the Historic Impeachment of President Clinton, while now out of print, is still available as a used book on Amazon. I interviewed all thirteen of the congressmen who argued for his impeachment, and you won’t find animosity in any of their stories. They felt they were simply doing their duty to remain faithful to the Constitution.

I also came across this interesting letter from Mother Teresa to Hillary Clinton. It is very nice and complimentary, primarily because that was her character. Yet they had a profound disagreement on abortion. Read these words, and when you get to the last line, I think you might be able to see something behind those words, if you know about this disagreement.


When she writes, “There is so much good you can do if you listen to God in the silence of your heart,” I think she is hoping God will reveal the truth to Hillary about the holocaust of innocent lives in the womb. Thus far, that plea has gone unheard. Listening to the Spirit’s promptings has not become part of her life.