Maggie Gallagher Scores the Iowa Debate on Social Issues


First published as part of a National Review Online symposium this morning, reacting to last night's GOP Presidential debate in Iowa:

Others are going to focus on the core economic issues (Newt Gingrich did have a great night). Here’s the Maggie awards from a socially conservative perspective. Note: All quotes below are approximations.

... Co-winners of the Marriage Debate: Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Mitt Romney looked as he always looks — polished, confident, and intelligent — in explaining why he is not fine with gay marriage in New York.

“I believe the issue of marriage should be resolved at the federal level. Why? People move from state to state . . . marriage is a status [not just something that takes place within a state] . . . I support a federal marriage amendment as a man and a woman because the ideal place to raise a child is in a home with a mom and dad.”

Weirdest answer came from Governor Huntsman. Asked why he is right and voters are wrong on civil unions, he incoherently declined to explain. “Everyone can come to this with their personal beliefs,” he said. “We haven’t done enough for equality, that’s just my personal belief, I’m personally in favor of civil unions.”

Rick Santorum went into this debate with nothing to lose, and on the social issues, he distinguished himself from the pack. He can explain why marriage, as a status, being different in all 50 states really won’t work, and how the “pick off a state” strategy on marriage will lead, as it did on abortion, to an engraved invitation to the courts to impose gay marriage — as the court did in Iowa.

Rick Santorum also scored big points when he said he was the only candidate on the stage last night who came to Iowa and helped un-elect those activist judges who imposed gay marriage on Iowans.

On marriage in this debate, Bachmann was far weaker — not only weaker than Santorum but weaker than Romney as well. She stated her position clearly but did not make an argument for it: “I support the federal marriage amendment; as president, I will not nominate activist judges who legislate from the bench. In Minnesota, I was the chief author of the constitutional amendment. I have an unblemished record when it comes to this issue of man-woman marriage.”

Unblemished, maybe, but also unexplained. [Continue reading...]