Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, October 07, 2011

Elocution Election: Substance Doesn't Count

The contest for the GOP presidential nomination is like one of those grade-school elocution contests, in which the winner was always the kid who declaimed the best, without the least idea of what he or she was talking about.

Herman Cain is spouting nonsense, but he does it with enough verbal dexterity to keep pundits busy pointing out that none of it makes sense while Tea Party voters lap it up.

Rick Perry, on the other hand, has dived in the polls, less for his policy positions than hoof-in-mouth delivery of staff-written sound bites. Cable keeps showing his mangle of a perfectly reasonable line about Romney’s flip-flopping, reminiscent of George W. Bush’s inability to keep straight the “Fool me once, shame on you” chestnut.

Ron Paul has honed his Libertarian certainty combining some sense with outer-space weirdness to the extent that he now gets applauded equally for anti-war sentiments as the notion that uninsured young people without health insurance have a choice of charitable help or dying.

After hours of more-anti-Obama-than-thou declaiming, the debaters will turn to foreign policy next week, in which up to now their pronouncements are characterized as “vague, sometimes surprising and occasionally confused.”

The notion of a glassy-eyed Michele Bachmann with her finger on the nuclear button hasn’t sunk in yet, and there isn’t much chance that her opponents will be pushed any closer to coherence on foreign policy, although Jon Huntsman will give it a try.

But if one of the others can come up with a new anti-Obama one-liner without flubbing it, the former Ambassador doesn’t stand much chance of scoring by making sense.

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