Saturday, October 13, 2007
Katherine Jean Lopez commented on National Review Online that had Fred Thompson been unable to name the Prime Minister of Canada, it would have hardly caused a blip on the radar screen outside of the beltway. After all, the debate was held at four in the afternoon, and a Republican debate on economics is far from what I would call high octane action. The debate was about as exhilarating as listening to Al Gore drone on about polar ice caps, and listening to Ralph Nader extolling the virtues of air bags could conceivably be the only other possible scenario that could have created such intellectual sedation. Mitt Romney's CEO of America shtick was an almost insurmountable obstacle in the belly of a union card carrying Democratic enclave such as Michigan. His performance was passable, if somewhat over scripted, and he can thank his lucky Mormon stars that the other candidates did not verbally cannibalize him for uttering the sand-poundingly stupid remark that he would consult with lawyers prior to exercising his executive privilege under the War Powers Act. The other camps tried to play catch up on Romney's flub the next day in a flurry of press releases, but it was too late to capitalize on the momentum.
Thompson's trepidatious toe-dipping in his first presidential debate proved that, thus far, he is not living up to the conservative media's hype that he is the second coming of Reagan. Perhaps it is to his advantage that the debate provoked little interest, so he could have the opportunity to stretch his political sea legs outside of the glare of a larger and more engaged audience that surely will follow in a debate with a broader forum broadcast on CNN or Fox.
Though many pundits opined that Thompson had won the debate on substance, Giuliani once again won on style and sheer presence. Giuliani exudes the ease and confidence of a winner and a veteran of the ruthless New York press core, though some of this can be attributed to Chris Matthews' almost sycophantic adoration of Rudy that was - at best - unprofessional, and - at worst - blatant favoritism. At times it seemed that he and Giuliani were discussing the value of baseball cards over beers at the local pub.
McCain seemed grumpy, and at times almost annoyed. The acoustics in the building were so unfavorable that several questions had to be repeated, though he partially redeemed himself from seeming old and senile by being self-deprecating and managing to squeak out some of the few laughs of the night.
As for the rest of the field, they are slowly but surely being pushed further to the back of the pecking order, and even the folksy and engaging Mike Huckabee seems to be realizing that his admirable and well fought grassroots campaign is running out of steam.
The only standout amongst the Last of the Republican Mohican's were the incoherent and bizarre ramblings of Dr Ron Paul. Paul came off like a crazed mental patient who had escaped from a seniors day trip to the bowling alley and had somehow stumbled onstage. At times he appeared so agitated that he stuttered like Porky Pig after spending the night in a crack house. Judging by his quasi-populist left-leaning rhetoric, he will no doubt soon be begging about the current crop of Democratic contenders looking for a VP spot as a token Republican on a Democratic presidential ticket.
All in all, after an hour and twenty minutes of, at times, nauseating pandering to union Democrats, I think little was gained for any of the front-runners, except for the fact that they did themselves no harm. And in politics, sometimes that's more than enough to pay the bills.
Posted by Joe Leger at 11:35 PM