Thursday, November 29, 2007

Politics

I generally find politics wearying, but important. Like most people, I have strong opinions about where I think this country ought to be going, and what issues are important. A few days ago a friend of mine sent me a link to a website that is extraordinarily helpful. It's called glassbooth, and it allows you to choose how important various issues are to you (no matter which side of the issue you are on) and then answer questions about those issues. After the survey, the site matches up your political views with the candidates (all of them) and you can see specifically how your views and those candidates line up. It is brilliant! Give it a try.

Last night was the CNN/YouTube Republican debates. Before the debates I liked Ron Paul's focus on reducing the size of the federal government and giving freedom back to the people, but glassbooth told me that I line up best with Hunter, Thompson and Huckabee. After the debate, I find that Huckabee is my man. He is very sharp, he is charming, witty, and he stands by his principles and isn't afraid to say that God isn't just a political position in his life. I found myself cheering at several of his answers last night.

Ron Paul reminds me of Ross Perot. He says great things one moment, and random scary things the next. As much as I like his focus on freedom and reducing federal government, I think he would be a foreign policy disaster, sending the US back to policies of isolationism.

Fred Thompson was my favorite before the debates simply because he seemed conservative and the glassbooth survey confirmed that. After the debate I think he should drop out (along with Tancredo & Hunter) of the race. He will only serve to distract money from other conservative candidates. He really looked like he needed cue cards and he didn't seem to be able to think quickly on his feet. His campaign ad was the worst of the night, and landed like a lead balloon.

Tancredo & Hunter really needed to differentiate themselves from the bunch, and instead came across looking like one issue candidates who want to build a fence between us and mexico.

Giuliani was far more impressive than I expected. He did a very good job of pointing to his experience in New York as well as at other levels, and came across as a man who could govern this nation. I don't line up with him nearly as much ideologically, but I was impressed by his performance. His YouTube ad was the best of the bunch as it was done in the style of YouTube. It mixed facts with humor, juxtaposing his record on crime with Rudy cutting snowfall in new york and taking a stand against king kong...

Mitt Romney stumbled a bit, and came across very defensive. He seems like a guy with too many skeletons in his closet for some reason. On the whole I think he's a strong candidate, but I wasn't impressed by him last night.

John McCain came across as the most competent, but with views that were clearly unpopular to the crowd. His stance on Iraq in particular did not sell with the crowd, and his poll ratings reflect that.

You can see the debate (including my friend Chris' song that opened up the whole thing!) on YouTube.

I was very surprised that I genuinely enjoyed watching the debates last night. The CNN/YouTube format worked for me. I realize there were flaws and complaints (A lot of people were upset by the questions CNN chose, the seemingly anti-republican bias etc. Hey, that's going to happen after the nomination, might as well learn how to answer the questions now...), but on the whole I liked what they did, attempting to bring debates into the internet age that we live in.

Joel

2 comments:

Carl said...

The glassbooth site is interesting, but as one who follows this stuff WAY too closely I found it grossly oversimplified, and when I probed the rankings further seemed pretty goofy. For example, I was neutral or close to neutral to their stated question on some of my most important FEDERAL issues -- so it's hard to have a forced ranking in that area. That's probably why on my scale Kucinich was between Fred Thompson and Hillary Clinton (?!), and much closer to equidistant than you would expect.

These types of rational applications to the political process are great, but most of the cutting edge research shows that political judgment is one of the least rational parts of the brain.

"charming ... witty ... stands by his principles ... cheering" -- see what I mean? (Of course, a youtube debate is not really designed for rational discourse). :-)

renewingmind said...

Did you watch the debate? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. I was thinking about another entry on spin, but I'm not up for it. I find it astounding that online I read things like "it was a bad day for Fred Thompson" (I agree, he could be much better than that) and then I see some chucklehead on FoxNews (I never watch the news but patty taped it as she was interested in debate coverage) claiming that Thompson won the debate. What??? I went into the debate undecided but with Thompson as my first choice, and after the debate I thought he should drop out. This is winning?

Joel