Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Jon Lovitz Moment

In watching the third and final Casey-Santorum debate last night on TV, I couldn't help thinking of a line fed to me by a commenter after their first face-to-face in Pittsburgh the other week.
He said it reminded him of the old Saturday Night Live skit where Jon Lovitz plays Michael Dukakis in a debate.
At one point, Lovitz stares into the camera and says: "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!"
Anyone who saw Rick Santorum's face during the debate realizes he was having a Jon Lovitz moment.
The incumbent admits to being "exasperated" by what he says is the Democrats refusal to give detailed answers. But it's clear Santorum's exasperation is more cosmic. He is losing this race. He knows it. The tectonics in the final weeks are moving against Republicans. He keeps trying to get his hooks into Casey. He cannot. To use another word (see post below), he is flustrated. And it shows.
Here is a sampling of debate coverage in The Inquirer, in the Post-Gazette and in the Daily News.
The concensus appears to be: Casey did well by not doing poorly. He is no match to Santorum on the facts (as the Republican keeps pointing out), but is able to get his points across. In fact, last night's debate -- as opposed to the rock 'em-sock 'em one in Pittsburgh -- was more about laying out their respective talking points which, to boil down to their essence, are as follows:
Santorum: Bob Casey an empty suit born on third base who is not up to the job of being U.S. Senator.
Casey: Santorum is a Bush lap dog who holds extremist views and who doesn't deserve re-election as U.S. Senator.


Anonymous rms said...

I think, elsewhere, you asked us to comment on the debate from a nonpartisan point of view. But, as with Santorum's or Jon Lovitz's exasperation, the quality of debate may not be the point.

Since my adult children will also be voting, I urged them to join their dad and me in watching the debate. They stayed for a little while, but, as my son said, "Why? No one in this family would vote for Santorum under any circumstances."

And, conversely, Bob Casey would have had to have done something really awful before any of us would have considered sitting it out.

Which he nearly did.

It may be clever of the state Dems to have selected a Democrat whose politics are mostly moderate to conservative Republican to run against Rick Santorum. But it doesn't do much to fire up the Democratic base, and a number of things he said - "Send trained units into other countries to kill people? Really?" "He's against gun control?"- would, I think, have had at least some members of this family sitting home if he had been running against anyone but Rick Santorum.

Anyway, Santorum seemed bright and up on things, and Casey seemed barely conscious. But Santorum is a well-known factor, and Casey is not Santorum, and, for this election, it's probably enough.

One question: does Santorum wear a toupee? If not, he seems to have the worst natural hair any of us have ever seen.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santorum sounded much more informed on the issues and provided some pretty concrete ideas, which people may or may not agree with, but at least he clearly articulated what he plans to do. Casey faltered a good bit in his responses and, on a couple occasions, spent entire answer periods accusing badmouthing Santorum rather than telling us what he would do if elected (I thought it was pretty funny when Santorum gave up his response time so that Casey could answer to question on how he would reduce government spending to ease the dificit). He did appear to catch Santorum off-guard a couple times, though.

Casey's biggest gaffe was probably his statement that there are over 5,000 gun shops in Philadelphia and that the ATF polices them. A quick google search appears to back up Santorum's response (although Santorum said 22 and not 19 -- maybe there are more now?):

"Diane Edbril, executive director of CeaseFire PA, told the senators that only 19 of 2,873 licensed gun shops are in Philadelphia, while more than 300 are in the adjacent suburban counties."

As far as the dabte itself and the issues covered in it, I'd say Santorum won.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous stackhouse said...

I don't think that there is anyone in the world who thought that in terms of a debate Santorum has had the better of it.

The problem is that who is a better debater or can articulate his ideas better is not an issue here.

What continues to hurt Santorum is his reputation and the strong dislike of him and his wing of the Republican party.

Will Casey be better than Santorum in articulating his views and being an effective Senator. NO.

But do I belive that they will be more mainstream views. YES.

That is the real issue. Santorum lost before he began by being who he is.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Casey is an insult to Pennsylvania voters. I would be embarrassed to admit that I was voting for him. I cannot believe that this pinhead is going to be my Senator for the next six years.

A Democrat operative a while back said that a trained monkey could beat Rick Santorum. I guess Democrats decided to see if that is really true. Except Casey isn't even trained.

Admit it Tom, if this guy's name wasn't Casey and his opponent was not named Santorum, you would be trashing him every day.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting how odd Santorum's response was to Casey's challenge to make his tax returns public. Is this a ticking time bomb?

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Martin said...

Only 100 Americans can belong to the U.S. Senate. It is supposed to be the greatest deliberative body in the world. Based on his performance in the debates, does the junior Senator from Pennsylvania appear to belong there?

1:22 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

Neither of these candidates appears particularly Senatorial to me, but Santorum's track record in the Senate, his philosophy, and some of the statements in his book, should give pause to anybody, Republican or Democrat, about returning him to office. Anyway, they give plenty of pause to me, even when he's running against very flawed opponent.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous stackhouse said...

Anonymous 11:12. Get used to it. I have been embarassed for the last 12 years. Time to share.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I know Bob Casey and he is bright, honest and kind, and has been genuinely committed to public service since his days as a Jesuit volunteer in North Philadelphia. Here is the biggest difference between him and Santorum: he's not a right wing nutcase warmonger cozying up to the oil companies and other Bush-friendly commercial interests. Plus he's sufficiently self confident that he can deal with a receding hairline without a Santorum type wig glued on his head.

6:05 PM  
Blogger orshouldI said...

You hit the nail on the head, Tom. Did anyone note that somewhat subtle jab near the end of the debate by Casey, in regards to having run for Governor before, that he lost that race and that's something Santorum could learn from. The senator popped his head up for a moment with quite a glare on his face, but quickly regained his composure.

Honestly, the debates were awful. Santorum certainly is desperate, and Casey knows full well that he doesn't have to try very hard. So all you find are talking points and trash talking. It was ridiculous that neither candidate could take the higher road, and the voters lose out as a result.

8:59 PM  
Blogger BradyDale said...

I can't stand Santorum. Let's be clear on that. I think he's a terrible, terrible person.
That said, he's an amazing senator (not "amazing" as in "good for Pennsylvania or anyone" but "amazing" in "getting what the hell he wants.")
He's one of the best Senators we've ever seen. he's against all odds king.
It sucks he uses all that talent for evil, but he's a freaking force of nature.
Casey is not. At all. Any of these things. And never will be. So even though I can't stand Santorum I can't help but feel the lesser may be the winner here.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like bradydale disagrees with all of Santorum's ideas. Everything Santorum's ever done is evil? Oh well, I guess I'll have to make sure I vote for whatever other candidate's out there.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would like someone to explain to me why the democrats can govern better than the republicans-what is your plan, what would you do-in iraq, economy, trial lawyers, gambling, on line porn,crime, health insurance, curruption in our cities-where dems are strongest-tell me please?

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Wildlife Action said...

Santorum ducking the issues:

also at http://www.nwa.org

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reducing America's dependence on fossil fuels was one of the areas where I wasn't satisfied with either candidate's response. Wouldn't been interesting to see Chuck Pennacchio nominated to see what he had to say on some of these issues.

2:31 PM  
Blogger HipsterVacuum said...

Well I guess these people have the day, that is those whose insight consists of:
"he's not a right wing nutcase warmonger cozying up to the oil companies and other Bush-friendly commercial interests. Plus he's sufficiently self confident that he can deal with a receding hairline without a Santorum type wig glued on his head."
Wow what an informed intellectual voter. Sadly this mentality will launch the senatorial career of one of the biggest morons on the planet.

11:13 PM  

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