What happens when Gingrich gets his mojo on? The CNN/Tea Party Debate.

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.

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2 responses to “What happens when Gingrich gets his mojo on? The CNN/Tea Party Debate.

  1. I thought it was the best moderated debate thus far this year. Even though it’s a two-person race, I find myself not as annoyed with the others on stage as I was in 2000 when Forbes and Keyes and Bauer and Hatch refused to accept the inevitable.

  2. I’m really starting to dislike these debates–yet at the same time, I can’t turn away. So here is my looooong explanation of “my take” on these debates:

    They are seeming far more designed to bait the candidates into awkward moments than they are to actually find out what the issues are–reminding me of a reality TV show… Then again, this particular one was a “Tea Party” debate hosted by CNN, so what did I expect?

    They also have certain elements that remind me a lot of job interviews, which are a frustrating exercise to try to wade through all the fluff and forced formality in order to try to determine how the person will work out in the job setting. I mean, how often are you going to be asking your new employee their strengths and weaknesses, and how often are you going to be giving them a one-time only chance to answer questions or give ideas?

    Just like job interviews, these debates create an unrealistic setting in order to make a decision on who you would choose for a candidate, but the setting isn’t an environment conducive to seeing how they would act as President.

    For example, Perry comes across extremely smug during his back and forth–whereas, if he’s not on stage, maybe he makes a fine leader. Santorum seems incredibly desperate and whiny, but maybe, and especially if we believe what he is first to tell us, he could exemplify pure leadership. Huntsman seems like he’s trying too hard to be the “cool candidate” (a Kurt Cobain reference? Really?) Bachman seems like if it weren’t in a debate setting, she’d be clawing Perry’s eyes out with her freshly manicured nails. And Mitt seems almost too nice-guy-ish, which, coupled with the aggression, smugness, etc, can seem a little wimpy. Ron Paul, when he isn’t allowed to explain what he is saying in the initial 30-60 seconds, can come across a bit weird. (the gas for a dime episode from last debate is a more poignant example than anything I can think of from this debate) As for Cain and Newt, they actually really excel in a debate setting, BECAUSE they have the best responses to the back and forth, and the best 30-60 second responses–which, again, says nothing about their ability to lead…

    So that’s how I see these debates. They are the pageantry and drama of a reality TV show, coupled with the awkward and forced formality of a job interview.

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