I tried. I started to watch, but as soon as it was apparent that Texas governor Rick Perry (the frontrunner?) wasn't addressing Brian Williams' points about Texas' poor performance in educating its citizens, its number of people living in poverty, etc., I turned it off.
But in his opening remarks, Williams mentioned an NBC/WSJ poll that indicated that most people believe that President Obama is dealing with an inherited economic crisis. I believe he may have been referring to the response to question twenty-six, on page twenty-three of the poll: On August 11th, fifty-six percent believe it's an inherited problem, thirty-three percent believe it's Obama's problem, nine percent believe it's partly inherited and partly Obama's fault, and 2 percent are unsure. The same question was asked on June 11th, when 62 percent believed it was an inherited problem, while twenty-five percent believed it was Obama's problem. On August 11th, only half the poll's respondents were asked that question.
The poll asks many questions and indicates that people are distressed about the economy. While a majority doesn't believe that President Obama caused our economic problems, it's clear that they are unhappy with Washington's reaction to it. For example, question thirty-one indicates that seventy-one percent of the respondents have an unfavorable view of how the debt ceiling negotiation was handled. Question thirty-two indicates that thirteen percent consider President Obama most to blame for the downgrade of U.S. long-term debt, while thirty percent and fifteen percent blame congressional republicans and democrats, respectively, for the downgrade.
It surprised me that Sarah Palin announced a "full-throated defense" of the tea party after congressional tea partiers were compared to hijackers, terrorists and even "hobbits" by none other than Senator McCain. Why would she defend them after they had become despised for their role in the debt ceiling fiasco? That "full-throated defense" was supposed to have happened in Indianola, last Saturday; it didn't go over very well. The tea partier congressional seats may be up for grabs in 2012 -- someone, anyone, even a democrat in republican clothes, might successfully primary those members of congress.
Another finding of the poll is that there is not a lot of confidence in President Obama at this point in time. This morning "Dick Cheney to Hillary Clinton: Run!" appeared. Cheney hoped that Hillary Clinton would be the nominee in 2008. President Obama has said that he wouldn't mind if he were a one-term president. Will he decide not to run? Will he announce his decision tonight, when he speaks to a joint session of congress? An announcement that he won't run could free him up to play political hardball with the know-nothings. Will he be primaried? Could Hillary Clinton solve our economic problems? Could any of the republicans? I think a solution is going to hinge on confidence, a feeling by most people that things are going to get better, more than anything else. But economic policy does matter: it would be better to stimulate the economy than shut-off recovery with republicans' do-nothing policies.
Another interesting question, question twelve, indicates that 86% of respondents do not think that "the two-party system works fairly well," although most of those respondents believe that the two-party could still work well if some improvements were made; however, there doesn't appear to be any indication of what those "improvements" might be. It might have been better if the founders had created a parliamentary form of government. A third, even fourth and fifth parties might have thrived. Other advantages would have been that the roles of head-of-state and head-of-government could have been separated, and the goverment could be forced to face the voters with a simple vote of no-confidence. It's probably too late for that, now, because a constitutional convention would be required, and that would bring every know-nothing in the country out of the woodwork, attempting to stuff the constitution with bad ideas.
The complete NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey is available in .PDF format, here. Cut-and-paste from .PDF to .HTML doesn't work very well, so let me know if I've botched anything in my parapharases of some the results, above.
No doubt that there was a lot said at last night's debate that may serve as "ammunition" against whomever the nominee may be, so here it is for reference:
Factcheck.org has "FactChecking the Reagan Debate."