Friday, January 20, 2012

SC Debate 2.0

The two big moments of the debate belonged to Newt Gingrich. For a second time in two debates, Newt got a standing O. Tonight's was in response to the first question of the night, when the CNN moderator John King asked Newt to respond to his ex-wife's allegations that 14 years ago, he asked her to engage in an open marriage. It has got to be a candidate for the ultimate debate smackdown - perhaps now as pithy as "I knew Jack Kennedy, and you, sir, are no Jack Kennedy or as brilliantly humorous as "I will not hold my opponents youth and inexperience against him" - but equally as devastating.

The second big moment for Newt - probably in my eyes but few others' - was proof that he actually may know when to shut up. I don't have the video, but will post it when I can find it. The moderator asked Gingrich in essence to justify the charges in a recent mailing regarding Romney's weak kneed history on abortion. Gingrich did so, pointing out things that Romney had done that favored abortion after Romney's Paul of Tarsus moment on the issue. Romney responded in a huff, at which point the moderator went back to Gingrich for a counter rebuttal. Gingrich's response: "I cede my time to Governor Santorum." Heh. It was a pitch perfect moment, allowing Santorum to do all of the dirty work of really attacking Romney on the issue.

The candidates traded barbs all night, none of which I thought were too devestating. That said, the low point of the evening was yet another self inflicted wound by Romney, when he was heckled for trying to tap dance around why he didn't release his tax records in advance of the SC primary vote.

From Hot Air: "Exit quotation from Jonah Goldberg: “Romney can’t answer questions about his tax returns at all… He’s terrible at it and he needs to get better, quickly.”

The general feeling of the few sites I looked at was that Gingrich won the debate (here, here, here). We will see if SC agrees on Saturday.

I will say in conclusion that Newt was just ever so slightly off his game tonight, at least after the first question. In particular, he missed some real opportunities to make his case more forcefully. The one that struck me most was when Santorum accused Newt of grandiosity, implying that Newt would be too impractical to be President. Gingrich fended it off, but what he should have pointed out are that the problems facing the U.S. are themselves grand in stature today. Our regulatory bureaucracy - built up over 100 years - has become an anti-democratic nightmare that threatens the whole economy.  It needs to be reformed completely.  Our debt is about to choke us and the welfare state is going to bankrupt our country in the foreseeable future. Obamacare, Obama's war on energy, and the fact that the left has the keys to the courthouse on all environmental issues threaten the very foundation of our nation. The Arab Spring is turning into a nightmare throughout the Middle East, and there is Iran, playing the role of Germany circa 1937. Small solutions that move the bar just a bit are not going to solve these problems. But alas, Gingrich only alluded to that. It was one of several missed opportunities.

1 comment:

OBloodyHell said...

I agree with you on the principle, but suspect that, when you come out swinging with major changes afloat -- at least as a member of the GOP -- you are sinking yourself.

It's more of a "trust him" kinda thing, and that's one of Newt's problems, he does seem to back things that aren't as conservative as one would expect were he all that conservative.