Rich, an instant response to your response to the candidates and non-candidates:
I agree about Jeb, except for the bit about the q-and-a on immigration. I thought he put up a straw man, claiming that people were prejudiced because a first-generation immigrant might have a heavy accent. Nobody’s anti-accents – well, okay, some folks are; I get a few complaints about mine). But people are concerned about the language the accent is speaking. If that’s not an issue, how come (to take an example sitting on my desk) the Post Office prints Priority Mail envelopes in English and Spanish? Also he said illegal immigrants impose no extra costs except in health care and education. Well, those are two of the biggest items in most state and local tax bills. I’m very glad they’re not imposing any additional costs on, say, the US Geological Survey, but that’s not much consolation.
On Huckabee and Romney, I preferred Mitt’s closing anecdote (about the space shuttle), which seemed very genuine – he had tears in his eyes. On the other hand, Governor Huckabee’s closer about the teacher denying her class school desks all day until her pupils could tell her who made them and then having the US Marine Corps bring them in at the end of the day struck me (at least in his telling) as not so much canned as slightly nutty. I’m all for honoring the troops and understanding that the soldier is the man who enables every other profession – the teacher, the plumber, the narcissist movie star, the gay activist – but this anecdote rang slightly wacky to my ears.
By the way, that’s what Newt gets about these occasions. He understands that, as was said at the summit, “normal” people don’t sit in hotels on Saturday afternoons listening to policy presentations on tax reform and immigration. So he doesn’t just give the crowd the processed stump stuff but talks to ‘em like fellow pros. Smart move. Plus his John Edwards jokes are pretty good.