Jawing for the Presidency


I have some scribbles for you on the latest GOP presidential debate, held in Sioux City, Iowa. Nothing major, nothing all-encompassing — just a few scribbles.

When Rick Perry is introduced, he gives the crowd a thumbs-up. Cheesy. But kind of likable.

Ron Paul’s supporters give him a huge cheer of welcome. Virtually a roar. He makes an unlikely gladiator, doesn’t he?

Newt Gingrich says “Merry Christmas.” And he says “Christmas” again! He is a radical, just as people say.

Is “Merry Christmas” legal in Sioux City? Must be.

His comparison of himself to Reagan in 1980 — too risky, not electable — is very canny. Brilliant, actually.

Um, President Obama will not agree to seven three-hour debates. He is not a moron.

When Gingrich ticks off his record as a conservative, you think, “Yup — that’s a pretty impressive conservative record.” Newt always says he “created” the Republican majority that emerged in 1994. He did not create it. He helped it along, big-time.

Holy moly, is Megyn Kelly pretty. I guess people don’t watch Fox News for nothing.

Sorry if I seem surprised. I’m a little behind in my TV watching. When I was a TV-watcher, Deborah Norville was the Megyn Kelly. Deborah Norville was — amazing.

Don’t think I’ve ever seen Megyn — Megan, Meghan — spelled that way.

Ron Paul says that “probably anybody up here can beat Obama.” So not true.

Paul describes his foreign policy as “pro-American.” Oh, is that what it is? Then Ronald Reagan’s, which was the antithesis of Paul’s, must have been anti-American.

Santorum says, if I have heard him correctly, that we need a nominee who is “strong in his political life and in his personal life.” Shot at Newt?

Romney is funny when he says he missed his chance at investing in JetBlue. This is the airline founded by David Neeleman, an excellent and, as far as I know, highly admirable Mormon businessman.

Michele Bachmann, as I have said before, is a swell-looking Scandinavian, a belle of the Upper Midwest. But her makeup is unflattering on this night — Tammy Faye-ish.

Remember, I’m an opinion journalist, scribbling on the Internet. I’m not Walter Cronkite, circa 1971. I can talk like this.

Bachmann says she’s “the first Republican woman out of the state of Minnesota.” Well, that’s cutting it awfully fine, isn’t it?

Do you know what I mean? You’re not gonna make me stop and elaborate in Impromptus, are you?

I like that she states, forthrightly, “I’m 55 years old.” Confidence.

Perry makes me smile when he says that he has come to enjoy the debates. He’s all eager about them. And he looks forward to debating Obama in the fall. “I’ll get there early”!

Not unshrewdly, he hitches his wagon to Tim Tebow’s star. He wants to be the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucus.

Goofy but nice.

He has a certain joy in politics, which not everybody does. (Remember the Hump and the “politics of joy”?)

Huntsman, it seems, is positioning himself as the serious candidate: no BS, no ingratiation, America is in a deep, horrible hole, and we have to climb our way out.

Did he really say “screwed,” as in what Americans are getting?

Santorum, I believe, talked about “free markets and free people.” Makes me think of the original Republican slogan, in 1856: “Free labor, free land, free men.”

Newt describes Obama as a “Saul Alinsky radical.” You don’t have to convince me, but what about the country at large? And do they know it’s a bad thing?

Paul talks about the welfare party and the warfare party, i.e., the Democrats and the Republicans. Neat little demagogue, Ron Paul.

Romney says that Obama hasn’t lived in the “real world” of the private sector. True, pretty much. And Romney is very good when he talks about job-creation and entrepreneurship.

But it might serve him, politically, to say something about a safety net (which was Reagan’s term). Capitalism scares the bejesus out of people. It really does, whether they admit it or not.

There’s a reason these socialists get elected over and over, you know.

Gingrich, when he talks about his record on housing, reminds me of Jack Kemp. Kemp talked incessantly about “realizing the dream of home ownership.”

Of course, when people buy houses they can’t afford . . .

Bachmann is crisp, very crisp.

When Michele or someone else says something bad about Newt, Newt gives the moderator a look and a grin that says, “Okay, my turn in a minute . . .”

What Newt says about forming a consensus, when going about a big change in American life? Makes perfect sense. That’s one reason many people resent ObamaCare: It was rammed through when the country was split.

Paul says that, if we’re going to have the big federal government we have, he’s going to look out for his district. Makes sense, to me. That was one of Bill Buckley’s responses when he was asked about Firing Line and PBS: If we’re going to have PBS, there might as well be one conservative voice on it, not a liberal monopoly.

When Paul talks about “policing their lifestyle,” not sure what he means. Sodomy laws? Abortion? Rules against baggy pants?

Neil Cavuto asks Perry a gotcha question about Texas — something to do with Perry’s record as ag commissioner.

You know, in my observation, you can’t really “get” Perry on Texas. He knows the subject better than the questioners, the would-be getters.

So, Perry thinks the U.S. Congress should meet as infrequently as the Texas legislature? Every other year? Come on, Rick.

I don’t believe he really thinks that. I think it just came out of his mouth.

Huntsman says that he invited dissidents to meet him at the American embassy in Beijing. That’s good. Unfortunately, a lot of dissidents aren’t available to come to the embassy.

Where’s Gao Zhisheng, for instance? He’s been “disappeared” for a long time. Dead? Does he wish he were?

One of the greatest men alive. Or dead.