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Dartmouth Republican Presidential Debate Pre-Show, Moderated by Morton Kondracke, to Stream LIVE on Big Think at 5pm EST, with LIVE-Blogging by Peter Lawler

Tonight’s Republican Presidential Debate at Dartmouth College will feature a pre-debate panel discussion, exclusively co-sponsored by Big Think and Dartmouth College. This discussion will stream LIVE right here at 5pm EST tonight.

The panel, entitled “Leading Voices: What’s at Stake in the Republican Debate,” is moderated by veteran journalist and Dartmouth alum Morton Kondracke. Two Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Executive Editor David Shribman ’76 and Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member Joseph Rago ’05, are the journalist panel members. Dartmouth faculty panelists are Linda Fowler, professor of government and holder of the Frank J. Reagan Chair in Policy Studies, and Matthew J. Slaughter, associate dean for the MBA Program and the Signal Companies’ Professor of Management at theTuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Kondracke will question the panelists, and then take questions from the audience.


2:06PM EST:  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may not be running, but he is still hoping to have an impact on the GOP Presidential Race.  He plans to endorse Mitt Romney several hours before tonight’s debate.

5:07  Are the Republicans settling for Romney or only the Establishment?

5:09  How many Tea Partiers have been to that Republican fraternal lodge?

5:09  If Christie ain’t going to run, he should endorse??  Nobody better than Romney at this point.

5:11  Christie ain’t Establishment.   But he ain’t southern either.  Romney the non-southern candidate?

5:12  Preacher hurts Perry by calling attention to Evangelical-Mormon animosity.  He’s TOO Evangelical?  But he didn’t say what the preacher did.

5:14  True enough that Republicans need to talk growth.  True that Romney does.  But Cain does too.  Growth vs. Obama is the referendum?

5:15  Romney’s not as optimistic as Reagan!?  Too technocratic, not inspirational.  True.  But don’t we need competence more than inspiration now?  The turn-around artist!  The dissing of Romney doesn’t ring true.

5:16  Nobody’s passionate for Romney. (Dumb joke: Maybe his wife—he does have lots of kids, after all.)  Nobody’s a Romney person.  True enough.

5:21  Panels apologizing for Obama.  This crisis tougher than others.  Not addressing the perception of Obama’s cluelessness.  Obama victim of forces beyond his control!? 

5:22  Economy not Newtonian—doesn’t respond cause/effect…

5:22  Democrats allegedly bad at pumping economy up before elections.  That’s why they lose (sometimes)?  But Bush the elder was too. 

5:22  Obama’s problem with the myopia of the voters.  Really Bush’s fault.  They need to remember.  True enough that Bush began the bailout cycle.

5:23  But isn’t Obama’s problem that he does seem to OWN the economy, but doesn’t know what to do with it?

5:24  Democratic strategy—bring back Bush bashing.  But he ain’t running.

5:24  Obama’s Truman thing isn’t authentic because it’s too obviously a Truman thing.  Linda Fowler says the analogy is forceful nonetheless.

5:25  Election will be close, even Democrats admit.  Republicans only given an opportunity, they could blow it.

5:25  Panelists’ jokes remain unfunny.

5:26  Vicious campaign—implication mainly by Republicans—to come.

5:27  Obama is a demographic original.  But he’s not really an original.  He’s no Reagan, who was comfortable being Reagan.  Who’s the real Obama? 

5:28   A Jimmy Carter aura?  Class warfare thing looks like desperation.  So maybe it will be a last-minute landslide for the right Republican.

5:30  Americans are pessimistic about future generations.  Opportunity to speak to that?  How? 

5:30  Americans pessimistic because they know no one can restore industrial/manufacturing jobs?  Big govt. can’t!

5:31  Huntsman mentioned next with his economic plan.  A Republican Democrats and the WSJ can love, but? 

5:32  Mocking Perry on Texas model.

5:34  Cain’s 9-9-9 plan destructive, unrealistic, will make people pay taxes who don’t pay them now, regressive.  Good points, actually.

5:35   Why do Republicans need a larger narrative about cause of presentation situation?  Democrats want them to blame themselves and discount Obama’s cluelessness.

5:36  They do need a better narrative about what they would do.

5:37  Clear that Democratic view is not that Obama has done well, but that Republicans are just as incompetent, if not more.

5:39  Can military be more cost effective?  Get rid of wars?  Romney hawkish.  Obama, the problem is, not as unhawkish as Fowler.

5:40  Wouldn’t blaming Fannie Mae help the Republicans?  Even the big banks? 

5:41  Isn’t monetary policy too boring and technical for a campaign?  GOLD STANDARD sexy, but everyone who’s RESPONSIBLE thinks we’re not going back.

5:42  Sophisticated shot at Republicans for not being for evolution.  Followed by admission that Republican candidates are more economically sophisticated than Kennedy or Truman!  Can’t eat evolution or lack thereof.

5:43  David Shribman makes great point:  Political scientists used to whine that parties aren’t ideological or responsible.  Now parties are ideological and they’re still whining. 

5:45 Zero Republicans voting for health care plan of Obama.  Vs. bipartisan great bills of the past.  Republicans aren’t praised for their discipline.

5:46  Is polarization caused by elites?  Or are voters themselves more polarized?  Why?  Republicans SEE economy as worse than it really is.  Their FACTS are distorted by partisanship.  Not Democrats? 

5:48  Truth is that people live more in different, parallel worlds.  Niche media the cause?

5:49  Can there be a moderate alternative?   Moderate third party doesn’t have a prayer, they agree.

5:51  Is it possible to make business owners—esp small business owners—feel more uncertain about tax rates etc etc?  American uncertainty vs. certainty in other countries today—they have better or more consistent policies. 

5:52  Issue of delegation, adm discretion—tried-and-true pol. science observation.  Too much discretion cause of uncertainty—boon for lobbyists and consultants.  So it would be better if policy was more legislative and ideological? 

5:53  Gridlock and polarization, again.  Gridlock is part of our constitutional system that could be lessened by a big Republican victory.

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5:54  Really sticking with uncertainty.  A fact of life?  Finally making the point that all-Republican gov’t—unified control under Romney—might produce more certainty and competence. 

5:55  Biggest constraint today is skills: young folks unfit for knowledge, intensive society.

5:58  But great point made that we need to sustain the distinction between EDUCATION and TRAINING.  But training, the rejoinder is, includes reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.

5:59  Problem is that kids today can’t connect education with future (lower class kids).  Keep those kids connected.

6:00  Panelists are very comfortable talking about education.

6:00  Need for education reform, shouldn’t demolish dept. of education!  Republicans would do it.  (But they would do it because our educational system stinks right now, as the panelists say.)

6:01  Tonight they go after Romney.  He’s been given a pass because Perry’s been perceived as the front runner.

6:02  Perry seemed mentally challenged in previous debates.  Pouring on the Texas ignorance point.  “What’s that all about,” people say.  Perry fried because can’t absorb enough new stuff fast enough.

6:02  Very civilized presentation.  Little real talk about the candidates.  Nothing serious said about the virtues of Perry or Cain.  No real criticisms of the president, except for the “being himself” issue.  If they were the voters, the president would win easily.  Basically pretty condescending about the Republican voter.  But no TEA PARTY trashing, at least.


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