Mitt’s answer on Romneycare was less than stellar. Everything else about his performance was impressive, though. I worry about Romney, and not just because of Romneycare. Of necessity, Mitt mastered a politics of accommodation in Massachusetts. You can see the pattern in Scott Brown, who learned it from Mitt. Still, Romney’s business background makes him a wide-ocean better than Obama. I could support him with enthusiasm as the nominee.
I’m still looking for a credible not-Romney, but what I’m seeing instead is Mitt cleaning Obama’s clock in debates and waltzing into the Oval Office. At this rate a quick resolution is at least on the table. Mitt could take Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, and it could all be over in a flash.
— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the author of Radical-in-Chief.SETH LEIBSOHN
First, to the debate organizers: As Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum continually prove by skillfully interjecting and weaving other issues into the debates about the economy, we don’t need another debate that is focused exclusively on the economy and the candidates’ plans regarding it. There are, indeed, a lot of other issues out there that have received short shrift in the debates and it would surprise me if there are more than ten likely Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, combined, who — at this point — cannot tell us the economic plans of the Republican candidates. Second, if the media want to now embrace Ronald Reagan with snippets of his speeches to prove or score a point, give the whole context — the one tonight was over a policy that did not represent Reaganomics but was aberrant to it, something Ed Meese called “the greatest domestic error of the Reagan administration.”
My continual thought when watching these debates is which candidate will best stand up to Barack Obama and the MSM come 2012. Mitt Romney has proven, especially in the past two debates, a skill that I have not seen in a very long time — an ability to take the strongest of direct criticisms with the best of cheer and zero guile and turn the point around to what he wants to say, looking his accuser in the eye the whole time. This is to say nothing of content, but as an ability for the long and tiring haul, it’s very commendable, very unusual at the level he displays it, and worth considering.
Gingrich and Santorum continue to prove their depth and breadth and deserve more time. Rick Perry was at his strongest in his first debate, but stopped the bleeding. He didn’t forfeit any ground tonight but neither did he advance very much — one wants his answers to be as strong as his image and reputation, and they still seem lacking by a few degrees of confidence. Herman Cain will continue to do just fine after tonight, but still leaves concern about how 9-9-9 can get implemented or work (especially at the consumption level). Bachmann was her usual articulate and cheerful self and gave her supporters cause to stick with her but probably didn’t add to her support (one senses it’s pretty close to its maximum about now). Paul was at his best, it’s the other issues alluded to above that will (and should) do his candidacy in. Huntsman needs to know his little jokes are simply not funny. They just aren’t.
In all, until we get to those other issues, we’re still left shrugging a bit. We all want more. The team is fine (mostly), we just want to see them play the whole game.
— Seth Leibsohn is a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute.