They say that you can’t win a debate, but you sure can lose one. Tonight, despite walking in at the front of the pack, Perry sure did his best to prove that true. He’ll stay on top of the polls, for now, but he didn’t do himself any favors tonight. Like any front-runner, he took a beating for his record, and he managed, semi-successfully, to avoid saying anything too damning.
That said, he didn’t sound too articulate, either.
And that’s all I’ll say about that.
Now on to the rest of the pack. Left to right:
1. Huntsman: For a guy who started his campaign calling for civility, he sure has come a long ways. I wonder if it has anything to do with his lead consultant, one John Weaver.
2. Cain: Tonight was his best debate, yet, but I don’t think it will move him much. He still brings a breath of fresh air to the campaign, though, and I like that.
3. Bachmann: She’s an insurgent by nature, and she does best on the attack, which she did, taking on Perry on his 2007 executive order by-passing the Texas legislature to inoculate 12-year old girls against human papillomavirus. She’d make a better VP than a President.
4. Romney: After a sharp back and forth on Perry’s social security comments comparing it to a Ponzi scheme, Romney found a chance to lay out his seven point plan to rebuild the economy. He’ll stay in second place, but he took a few blows. He’s no Tea Party darling.
5. Perry: See above.
6. Paul: With Blitzer in control, Paul was noticeably less vocal than usual. And while he may understand motives for anti-Americanism abroad, he struck the wrong cord with his audience when Rick Santorum took him to task.
7. Gingrich: If a debate could be won, then the trophy would go to Gingrich. Deftly dodging Blitzer’s bait, he took Obama to task, focused on the economy, and slipped in critiques of czars and subsidies to GE. Kudos to Newt.
8. Santorum: Good showing tonight, even if I wish he’d go home. Strong at points, petulant at others.
I’ve been told that debates were not a good indication of who would be a good president. That may be, but they sure show a lot about who shouldn’t sit in that seat.
If nothing else, they are great political theater.