Posts Tagged ‘debate’
York: “In light of [all the empirical evidence to the contrary], it is hard to see how Romney was being straight when he said he didn’t ‘describe [McCain’s] plan as amnesty’—After the debate, Romney’s spokesman, Kevin Madden, choosing his words carefully, said McCain favored ‘an amnesty-like approach'”
“Manchester, N.H.— If you think things got a bit testy between John McCain and Mitt Romney during the ABC News debate here at St. Anselm College Saturday night, you didn’t see the half of it,” writes Byron York in a surprisingly objective article posted to our least favorite blog-for-Mitt, the National Review, titled The Feud Behind the Feud at the GOP Debate; Do you think these guys don’t like each other?
After the debate, when top campaign aides and surrogates came to the Spin Room to tout their candidates’ performances, members of the Romney and McCain camps said the things their bosses might have been thinking but did not dare utter onstage.
McCain delivered “cheap shots,” said one Romney adviser. Another called McCain’s criticisms of Romney “snide remarks” and “name calling.” Yet another said they were “unbecoming.” All of which caused Mark Salter, McCain’s closest aide, to go off.
“Come on, Mitt, tighten up your chin strap,” Salter, standing just a few feet away from the Romney team, told reporters. “Of all the ludicrous suggestions – Mitt Romney whining about being attacked, when he has predicated an entire campaign plan on whoever serially looks like the biggest challenger gets, whatever, $20 million dropped on his head and gets his positions distorted. Give me a break. It’s nothing more than a guy who dishes it out from 30,000 feet altitude and then gets down in the arena and somebody says, O.K. Mitt, gives him a little pop back, and he starts whining. That’s unbecoming.”
What had McCain aides particularly heated was Romney’s exchange with McCain on the issue of McCain’s immigration proposals and the question of amnesty. “The fact is, it’s not amnesty,” McCain said during the debate. “And for you to describe it as you do in the attack ads, my friend, you can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads, but it still won’t be true.”
“I don’t describe your plan as amnesty in my ad,” Romney answered. “I don’t call it amnesty.”
With that, the issue became not whether McCain’s plan was or was not amnesty but whether Romney had or had not called it amnesty. And jaws dropped at McCain headquarters.
“What got us all going was when Governor Romney said, ‘We never called what you did amnesty,’“ said McCain confidante Sen. Lindsey Graham said. “Look on TV. Look in your mailbox in New Hampshire. John’s been pounded by Governor Romney with that charge. I was just dumbstruck.”
Indeed, after the debate, McCain aides produced a Romney mailing which said “John McCain: Supports Amnesty.” An e-mail from the Romney campaign earlier in the day referred to McCain’s “amnesty plan.” And a new Romney TV ad featured Romney supporters saying McCain “supported amnesty for illegal immigrants” and “wrote the amnesty bill.” In light of that, it is hard to see how Romney was being straight when he said he didn’t “describe [McCain’s] plan as amnesty.” After the debate, Romney’s spokesman, Kevin Madden, choosing his words carefully, said McCain favored “an amnesty-like approach” [...]
Once again Romney elects to dispute not with his rival but with the universe itself. He wants the privilege to call white black, and darkness light, and have it be so. The lesson Romney has yet to learn is that when you deny a publicly available fact the issue becomes not the point at dispute, but you.
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — For months, there has been an open secret among insiders working in or covering the 2008 Republican campaign: The rival candidates despise Mitt Romney,” writes Jonathan Martin in a Politico.com article titled Rivals pile on Romney
After Saturday night in New Hampshire, it’s no longer a secret. The contempt was obvious, and relentless. And it was harnessed for clear strategic purposes at the debate. Everyone — even candidates who don’t seem to be in the center of the New Hampshire action — felt it was in their interest to pile on the former Massachusetts governor.
Romney may have been knocked from front-runner status in Iowa, but this night he was at the center — of a rhetorical firing squad. Four of Romney’s Republican opponents joined together to put him through a grueling evening, taking turns offering derisive quips and questions about his authenticity and throwing him on the defensive at a critical moment for his campaign [...]
[...] Combined it was a brutal gang attack, the likes of which have been unseen in any previous debate.
And it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Romney. With two new New Hampshire polls out showing him now down 6 points in this critical state, he needed to set himself apart tonight.
He had hoped to sound his outsider message and discuss his private sector credentials.
Instead he looked rattled at times, unprepared for the waves of attacks.
After McCain’s final salvo, he seemed to plead for mercy: “The continued personal barbs are interesting but unnecessary” [...]
Romney is the establishment candidate. He bought and paid for that singular distinction.
So: What do you call it when all of your other candidates rebel against—and concert their arguments against—your party establishment in the person of the establishment candidate?
These are not good times for the conservative institutions—talk radio, new media, The National Review etc.—who joined their fortunes to those of Willard Milton Romney.
abcnews.com’s Rick Klein concurs with Martin:
[...] But I saw that as a pretty bad night for Mitt Romney. I think he was outflanked on immigration by McCain and Giuliani — that’s not easy to do. And you can tell that nobody on that stage likes him. He’s a frontrunner here, so he can expect the heat, but so is John McCain, and yet everyone rushed to defend McCain and attack Romney. Why would Romney say he likes mandates? How could he have let Fred Thompson best him on a debate over healthcare? Just a few of the many questions he’s going to have to sort out, against the backdrop of some McCain momentum in New Hampshire? [...]
Team Romney concurs too, as eye of eyon08.com argues:
[...] only two surrogates were in the spin room: Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan. None of the national surrogates in town. No Senator Judd Gregg, Romney New Hampshire campaign chairman. Where was Judd?
That leads me to my second fact. Judd Gregg was the first person to leave the debate. [...]
We long ago predicted that the other campaigns would concert their efforts to defeat Romney. Events continue to confirm our surmise:
“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney absorbed repeated attacks from his rivals tonight, as competitors joined in common cause to take down the one-time New Hampshire frontrunner,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in an online.wsj.com article titled McCain Leads Attack on Romney in New Hampshire Debate
The harshest blows during the ABC News/Facebook debate came from Arizona Sen. John McCain, Mr. Romney’s fiercest opponent in this first-in-the-nation primary state. Mr. Romney, who was badly beat in Iowa Thursday, has been campaigning ever since as a “change agent” able to fix Washington.
But Mr. McCain turned his words on him, derisively referenced his changing positions on social issues, calling him the “candidate of change.” Later, during a discussion of immigration, Mr. Romney complained about being misquoted. Mr. McCain responded: “When you change…positions on issue from time to time, you will get misquoted.”
The attack on Mr. Romney continued throughout the evening in the only Republican debate to fall between Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s contests. The assault came not just from Mr. McCain but from other Republicans in the hunt as well: Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.
Although each is fighting his own battle, the quartet appeared united in trying to eliminate Mr. Romney from the race sooner rather than later [...]
Romney for his part would be well advised to suck-it-up. For Team Romney it may be useful to study Sen. Clinton’s attempts to play victim after a similar debate debacle.
Her complaints were counterproductive.
“The Iowa Republican Party announced today that the debate they had planned in concert with Fox is now off. It was to be December 4th,” writes Jonathan Martin in a Politico post titled Fox/Iowa GOP debate off, Romney blamed
(In the language of manic depression, Team Romney is a rapid cycler. They spiral up and then suddenly collapse in a cascade of failures. This is Team Romney collapsing.)
The press release issued by the party said it had been cancelled due to unspecified “candidate scheduling conflicts.”
But in a statement at the bottom of the release, Iowa GOP executive director Chuck Laudner appears to pin the blame on just one.
“It is too bad that a candidate wouldn’t want to take advantage of this kind of debate with representation from all 99 Iowa counties in the audience, let alone the fact FOX News Channel has had the most viewers of any debate,” Laudner said.
Per some unhappy Iowa Republican sources, that candidate is Mitt Romney …
Romney may be learning from his mistakes—finally! Doubtless Romney weighed the fall-out from offending a party establishment that he has already bought and paid for against the huge risk of another disastrous debate performance. Our evaluation: Romney decided wisely on prudential grounds alone—he should be commended for this brief moment of lucidity—and we do, that is, commend him. Would that he always acted with such prudence or foresight. He would be a far more effective candidate.
- eyeon08.com: McCain wins debate; bad night for Romney; Poulos: “Romney is the only guy who won’t show up on a national ticket”; AmSpec’s Rubin: “not [Romney’s] best outing and the side by side comparison to his opponents hurts him”
- debate performance: Romney flip-flops on Iran—again!—how many positions can one man have on the issue of Iran?
- the Romneys and their chattering flak-claque spin the debate—results: hysterically funny
“The Romney campaign has sent a letter to Fox News saying that they will defy the network’s request that all the GOP campaigns ‘cease and desist’ from using Fox debate footage in ads or on their web sites, I’ve just learned,” reports a breathless Greg Sargent in a TPM ElectionCentral post titled Romney Defies Fox News’ Ban On Use Of Its Debate Footage
Today the Romney camp went up with a new ad bashing Hillary. As Eric Kleefeld noted below, the ad contains a smattering of that debate footage — despite the fact that Fox’s lawyers sent a letter to the GOP campaigns last week demanding that they refrain from using it.
So we checked in with the Romney campaign to see what was up. And Romney spokesman Kevin Madden confirmed that the campaign has informed Fox that they were defying the request.
Say, what? Kevin Madden gave a straight answer!? Is Sargent absolutely certain that he spoke to Madden himself?
Here is the problem for Romney: Sen. Clinton is not the only candidate who can perform horribly at a debate. See:
“Despite spending gobs of money, despite eclipsing Fred Thompson in the invisible primary, [Romney] still can’t quite connect with conservatives,” writes Patrick Ruffini in a post titled Where’s Romney’s Bio.
Contra Ruffini, in a Romney-in-2008 post titled Rebutting Ruffini’s “Where’s the Bio,” the estimable Ann Marie Curling argues point-for-point:
- “I disagree with [claim that Romney emphasizes issues over Romney's biography]. Romney’s campaign from the very beginning has promoted his experience as a businessman, at the Olympics, and as Governor while also putting forth great ideas of ways to manage our country better. First, lets go to the bio question” … Curling provides a number of Romney bio-vids of variable quality and substance to shore up her claim
- “What a mischaracterization [Ruffini] has going on here [about e.g. the value voters summit] … If you’ll read this post from Evangelicals for Mitt it explains how the poll turned out and why. I don’t know why Patrick has decided to keep this mischaracterization going even after this was already explained now at least two or three days ago” … and yet the perception remains!—why is that?
- “This [Ruffini's] claim that Romney cannot out-conservative other candidates] makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, lets take some of the conservative issues. If you go to this link, it spells out in depth Governor Romney’s agenda. Lets list them (be patient these are PDF documents)”—here Curling laughably, and without a trace of irony, demonstrates precisely the behavior that Ruffini claims is so problematic, i.e. enumerating policy positions like you’re reading bullet points.
- Curling concludes with examples of Romney’s bio-vids “high-lighting” Romney’s “accomplishments.
Curling completely misses the point of Ruffini’s analysis. Please understand: it no longer matters how many policy initiatives that Romney can rattle off—no one believes him!—in fact, the gesture itself only further undermines Romney’s credibility as it underscores the perception that Romney will say anything to get elected—that’s the point!—that’s the whole issue! Back to Ruffini:
Romney’s speeches are built on the assumption that he can out-conservative Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee by out-talking them. His words are a litany of conservative talking points.
Earlier this year, when his conservative credentials were genuinely in question, the issues-talk might have helped. But now his problem has morphed into something far worse: an authenticity problem centered around flip-flopping. And arguably, each time he opens his mouth and spouts platitudes, he only makes it worse.
Romney has done to himself what the Bush campaign did to John Kerry. The Bush team made it so that every time Kerry opened his mouth, he hurt himself, thanks to the perception that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth. Kerry couldn’t help himself by saying the right things because nobody believed what he was saying.
Romney’s situation is further complicated by the fact that issues are actually friendly terrain for Rudy Giuliani. Huh? That’s right — because people assume Rudy’s positions are liberal, when he talks conservative, that’s reassuring. When Romney talks issues, people assume he’s pandering … etc., etc.
But here is where Curling is right and Ruffini may be wrong: yes, granted, contra Ruffini, the Romneys have done their level best to promote Romney’s bio. The problem: no one cares. Further problem: those few who do care—e.g. us—discover lots of evidence to never vote for Romney in his bio.
Your resume can prevent you from getting elected. But no one ever got elected because of their resume.
The debate reviews are in. Romney avoided a major gaff but otherwise tanked.
… “I think it was a bad night for Romney,” writes eye of eyeon08.com. “Mitt can outtalk Fred,” observes James G. Poulos, “but not Mike Huckabee.” “All I can conclude for now is that Mitt Romney is the only guy who won’t show up on a national ticket with any one of the other guys” … etc., etc. … “Romney?”—asks AmSpec’s Jennifer Rubin rhetorically: “No ‘ask the lawyers’ moment but not his best outing and the side by side comparison to his opponents hurts him” …
“‘That’s a phony issue,’ Romney told reporters,” as reported by an anonymous retailer of facts and sparkling wit for abcnews.com’s blog Political Radar in a post titled More Rudy-Romney back and forth
Romney continues: “I’d make a decision based on the safety of the American people. But of course we’d also check to make sure what our legal and constitutional responsibilities are, that’s why we swear an oath of office.”
“But if there’s anybody with a propensity to go to lawsuits . . . it’s the mayor,” Romney continued. “The Mayor’s the one who sued Governor Pataki to keep the commuter tax in place. It’s the mayor who sued the government of the United States over the line item veto. The mayor’s the one who shows the propensity to want to put in place a legal tax. . . . He’s been the one suing. Suing on the line item veto, suing on the commuter tax. . . . I think he also brought a suit to try and keep the federal welfare law from applying to the city of New York.”
Summed up Romney: “he gets first place when it comes to suing and lawyering.”
In response, Giuliani campaign communications director Katie Levinson, issued a statement saying, “hopefully, Mitt Romney isn’t going to check with the same group of lawyers who told him the Bill Clinton line item veto was constitutional” … more
Observation: Romney has gone negative—and he’s angry—well, he’s always angry. He’s also gotten himself wrangled in a tit-for-tat contest of attrition with a more intelligent, more agile player. The problem for Romney: his negatives are way, way higher than Giuliani’s. We explore that issue here:
Even Romney’s own supporters realize the campaign-killing insanity of attacking Giuliani. Example: A tedious and tired David French issues a veiled warning to the Romneys in an Evangelicals for Mitt post titled third party?
… Here at EFM we have long considered Rudy to be far more of a threat to capture the nomination than John McCain or Fred Thompson. He’s a great campaigner. He shines in the debates, he has all the right enemies (the New York left just hates the guy), since 9/11 he’s cornered the market on public perceptions of effective leadership in the face of horrific terror, and there’s a deep reservoir of affection for him. Cold-blooded political consultants have long discounted the power of the visceral bond he formed with much of America on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. And those kinds of bonds matter in politics.
The challenge for Governor Romney is to persuade the ordinary American voter that they can love and respect Rudy for all that he did . . . and still vote for someone else. You don’t beat Rudy by trashing him. You beat him by presenting a better alternative … more [Emphasis ours]
Events have proven that Romney was not equal to this challenge either—the simple challenge of not self-immolating. Question: Has there been a challenge yet that Romney could meet on its own terms? We mean, a challenge that could not be met with a personal check drawn on Romney’s personal funds?
Some are trying to spin the dispute as a Rudy-Romney passion play, i.e. as dispute in which the parties enjoy a certain moral equivalence, e.g. Justin Hart’s race42008.com post strangely titled The Rudy-Romney Shadow, in which Hart, a Romney partisan, quotes approvingly the Thompson campaign:
Yesterday, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani continued their partisan bickering, this time over things like the constitutionality of the line item veto. While they played politics, Fred Thompson rose above it and took his conservative, small government, tax cutting message straight to the American people … more
This argument allows Romney supporters to claim that Romney stands at the same level as the former mayor. Only he doesn’t—the two parties are not equal, and they will not be perceived as equal. To demonstrate, let us ask the same question in different terms: When people hear the name Giuliani they think of the courage and heroism of New York and New Yorkers on 9.11 and in its aftermath—or they think of how NYC became livable during his tenure as NYC’s mayor. When people hear the name Romney—if they have ever heard of him at all—they think of gay marriage. Question: So who do you think is going to win this dispute?—or, more to the point: who does Romney or his crack staff of hirelings and hangers-on think is going to win this dispute? Conclusion: Team Romney desperately needs some adult supervision.
The maddeningly inarticulate Kevin Madden—Romney’s chief helper-monkey in times of distress—had better immediately issue lots of conciliatory noise about the former mayer of NYC and about how much the Romneys respect his years of public service etc., etc.—and he had better do so before the next news-cycle.
“Does Mike Huckabee think that the financial services industry is today’s robber barrons? Is he right? Certainly in a post-industrial economy, there’s an analogy between railroads and financial services, even if it is somewhat strained,” asks the eye of the influential and precise eyeon2008.com in a post titled Huckabee against the robber barrons?
I contrast this with John Edwards. He targets the rich. Huckabee may be targeting Wall Street. That’s a difference. Perhaps an important one. What would Huckabee have to say about the housing crisis? … more
An interesting question to be sure—some sort of redacted, reconstructed populism seems to be forming itself on the margins of the center-right. BUT: Here is a question that interests us more: who among the GOP candidates springs super-rich from the financial services industry like a venus on the half-shell?—like Athena, fully formed, from the forehead of Zeus, not because of hard work or native genius, but because of an opportunity offered him by a mentor?—answer: Willard Milton Romney formerly of Bain Capital. We have harped upon this string for weeks. See:
Is it possible—we ask, just possible—that Huckabee is sending a signal to Team Romney and his equity sector and banking industry constituencies?—if so, Huckabee needs to be clearer, plainer, and probably a lot more direct. Team Romney is not known for its subtlety or intellectual rigour.
P.S. Not since the temple-based, central-storage economies of absolute antiquity—urban concentrations like Sumer, Akkad etc.—has there existed a social and material order the primary basis of which was not production, consumption, and trade, but hoarding and redistribution from a central site or sites. Post-capitalism—with its gigantic pension funds and other vast pools of spare money—seems to be taking us back to the future.
Does anyone remember the story of Joseph and the power that accrued to Pharaoh as he appropriated all the productive instruments of land and labour in exchange for the contents of his granaries?
Our laws and institutions have yet to adapt to the new regime of non-capital and its non-capitalists. It is from this new regime that Romney springs; see: Romney and private equity: the new ruling class. The first historical test of the new regime, already unfolding all around us—as eyeon2008.com intuits—is the so-called housing crisis, which is but the surface irritation of a global crisis of liquidity. See:
“‘Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make,’ said Adm. Robert J. Natter, former commander in chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and an adviser to Giuliani. ‘Lawyers should not debate while our national security is on the line. In these momentous decisions, we need leadership, not litigation,'” as quoted by the estimable Jake Tapper in an ABCnews.go.com transmission titled
Giuliani Camp Slams Romney Over ‘Lawyers Test'; New York Mayor Takes Aim at Iowa, New Hampshire Front-Runner
Thompson, Paul Get In on the Act
Aides to former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson also challenged the Romney response, telling the National Review’s Byron York after the debate, “When it comes to our nation’s security, it will be our generals that Fred Thompson sits down with first, not our attorneys” … more
Geraghty of NRO—probably still smarting over the hilariously mis-executed pasting he took from an angry and inarticulate “friend of Mitt”—reproduces the entire Giuliani press release in a Campaign Spot post titled Giuliani Sees an Echo of Kerry in Romney’s Lawyer Answer
It’s a Republican pile-on, with Romney at the bottom. Or is it?—well, it could be. Question: Will the Romneys take the bait and respond in kind? We predict they will. And if they do, they will pay for their mistake most dearly. For Romney to be seen attacking—yes, attacking—e.g. America’s mayor or 9.11 fame would be damaging in itself. But here is the real problem for the Romneys: Romney’s negatives are too high to go negative without self-destructing.
- Romney has the most negative image at this point of any of the major candidates for president, claims Newport of USA Today’s GallupGuru; the Romney campaign’s death-by-internal-memo part (ii)
- Romney’s negative attacks on others and his negatives in the polls–what is the link?
Here is what we concluded then, and what we still hold to now:
Allow us to articulate our argument in more familiar terms. It is common wisdom that a candidate whose negatives are high should not go negative. The negative campaigner may bring down her rival or rivals, but not without bringing herself down as well. Does any remember Dick Gephardt’s bitter attacks on Howard Dean and how they backfired on him? Neither do we. But the same was once said about Gephardt as is now said about Romney by Geraghty and others. Gephardt, however, was at least limited by the poverty of his campaign and Gephardt’s own loyalty to the interests of his party.
Romney has high negatives and has clearly gone negative. He has a far smaller-narrower base of support but far, far more resources than Gephardt ever had. And: Romney has far less of a commitment to the success of the GOP than Gephardt, a loyal soldier to the end, had to the DNC.
So: Imagine a Republican Dick Gephardt, on steroids, angry, alienated, estranged, adrift, and with no larger sense of party loyalty to restrain him, a man surrounded by hirelings, contractors, and highly-paid specialists, as opposed to the usual politicos, interest group players, and party insiders that surround other candidates, i.e. people with larger and longer term interests at stake. Now imagine that this hypothetical Republican Gephardt with nothing to lose but everything to gain has both the will and the resources necessary to slime and vilify whatever candidate or candidates he chooses.
This is Willard Milton Romney.
And this is where we are at this historical moment.
These are interesting times for the GOP … more
“Jim, Mitt Romney was asked if he thought the president would need congressional approval before striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, and Romney’s exact words were “let the lawyers sort that out.” Then he repeated that phrase when Matthews asked him AGAIN. Each time he said it very fast and jumped the subject to something more palatable to the audience. He’s a curdled skank,” writes the eloquent Karen DeCoster for LRC Blog’s BREAKING NEWS in a post titled “let the lawyers sort that out”
race42008.com provides a transcript and notes on context in a Justin Hart post titled Romney on Iran Hypothetical—we have no idea what that strange title is supposed to mean. This is Byron York’s transcript of Romney’s “gotta-check-with-the-lawyers answer on Iran,” available in an NRO The Corner post titled Romney and the Lawyers:
MATTHEWS: Governor Romney…if you were president of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities?
ROMNEY: You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what’s in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat. The president did that as he was planning on moving into Iraq and received the authorization of Congress…
MATTHEWS: Did he need it?
ROMNEY: You know, we’re going to let the lawyers sort out what he needed to do and what he didn’t need to do. But, certainly, what you want to do is to have the agreement of all the people — leadership of our government as well as our friends around the world where those circumstances are available … more
Mark Hemingway glosses York’s transcript in an NRO The Corner post titled The Wrap-Up:
—Upon reflection, Byron’s transcript helped put Romney’s “First, kill all the terrorists and let the lawyers sort ‘em out” answer about where to derive National Security authority in a better light. But it’s still mindbogglingly awful … more [emphasis ours]
We concur. But what interests us is Romney’s personal evolution on the issue of Iran.
First, Romney issues this scarily confused policy formula:
” … there’s no question, says Romney, that people understand that the reason that we have the thousands upon thousands of nuclear warheads we have is that we intend to protect ourselves. And I would never shrink from protecting the American nation, the American people, nor shrink from retaliation if somebody used something as awful as a nuclear device. We will be safe.”
We interrogate the Romney Doctrine in a post titled Romney dangerously confused on issues of deterrence and defense
Second, Romney experiences a rare moment of lucidity, retreats from the Romney Doctrine, and issues a redaction of the Bush doctrine. See: Romney retreats from the Romney doctrine; now recapitulates the Bush doctrine
Third, Romney issues his 5 bullet point powerpoint slide plan, his favoured means of expression. See: Mulhern: Romney’s “5 point plan” for Iran is “drivel.” He also continues to grandstand: the reviews are in: Romney’s “grandstanding” about Ahmadinejad ineffective, counterproductive
Now, Romney retreats yet further. He wants to call his lawyer. What leadership. What stern resolve. What presence of mind. What moral courage. Translation: What a mess!
Dear, dear precious little Willard Milton Romney. Please take a stand, will you?—i.e. please develop in advance a position that you can defend with consistency, or at least with a straight face.