There were two debates for the GOP presidential candidates last night in Nevada: one out loud and visible, and the other silent and invisible.
Mitt Romney, in my personal opinion, won the debate you could see and hear. Contrary to popular opinion, that debate was not about tax plans, or health care, or immigration, or any other policy question. It was about which, if any, of the three candidates now generally recognized as leading the pack — Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry — was the best at taking a punch. This is no game. Voters need to know who performs the best, thinks the clearest, and rebounds most effectively when under stress, because one of these folks may just end up sitting across a table from Vladimir Putin. As I see it, Romney, who was under assault all night long, was easily the most resilient and the most presidential when it came to deflecting attacks. See this clip as an example of what I’m talking about.
The other debate, the one you couldn’t see or hear, was one the Republican Party is now having with itself about whether someone who is a Mormon should be President of the United States. Lots of Republicans pretend that this debate isn’t taking place (which is a sign that they know the whole discussion is bullshit). I am here to tell you, though, that this second debate is in fact happening, sometimes through various carefully chosen code words and distractions, and sometimes through more obvious means.
The very same day I posted this blog about religious bias in the 2012 campaign, a fundamentalist Christian pastor urged his followers not to vote for Romney because of Romney’s religious beliefs. Rick Perry, for one, has not managed to condemn this blatant bigotry clearly. That sucks, but it is part of the silent debate the party, and the country, seems to be caught up in at the moment: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution say religion doesn’t and can’t matter as a condition for high office in this country. About a third of the Republican party disagrees, but refuses to say so out loud.
The visible and audible debates about which candidate is best prepared to sit across the table from Putin, should and will continue … because voters have a right to know who is most qualified for the job. The invisible debate needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.
Huffington Post: Romney In A ‘Cult,’ Don’t Vote For Him, Pastor Says
YouTube: Romney, Perry spar over immigration; Perry booed
You Sleep When You Die: Gut-Check For the GOP: Romney and the Religious Right