@font-face {
font-family: “Arial”;
}@font-face {
font-family: “Cambria”;
}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }
Anna offered some good thoughts on the CNN Republican Presidential Debate last night; but I took something a little different away from the evening. 

Unlike Anna, I actually thought it was a serious problem that the candidates focused their criticism entirely on President Obama and refused to turn on one another.

In terms of television, it was boring. In terms of moving us closer to finding a qualified GOP candidate, it was largely useless. 

One of the problems this election cycle has been the “enthusiasm gap” among likely Republican voters.  And too often primaries turn into beauty pageants with a slate of contenders who all look roughly the same.  With such a broad field – and with several figures like Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and even Rep. Paul Ryan still considering throwing their hats into the race – the GOP has an opportunity to engage in a real competition of ideas. 

Rather than simply criticizing the Obama administration (a la Obama’s incessant criticism of the Bush years), Republican presidential candidates need to put forth some solid ideas of their own. To his credit, Gov. Pawlenty has stepped out of the pack by condemning ethanol while in Iowa and calling for an overhaul of Medicare while in Florida. What’s more, his tax policy, which has been endorsed by Hoover economist John Taylor, at least gets the conversation rolling.

What’s more, there’s no reason that primary contenders should not openly and aggressively criticize Romney’s Massachusetts health care policy, which he still refuses to back down from.

The fact is the stakes are too high to have a beauty pageant. The GOP needs a candidate with the intellectual muscle to defeat President Obama and rein in the progressive state. But doing that won’t be easy – it’s going to take a lot more than platitudes about “big government.”