I second Stanley’s analysis. I also saw Michele in person for the first time at David Horowitz’s retreat, and I was amazed at her combination of command and charisma. She spoke at great length about a wide variety of topics and took questions from the very engaged audience — without notes, with clarity and depth, and with a nice mix of humor and charm. She’s got a good lawyer’s mind for getting from A to B to C without losing the big picture, and she has the rare ability to grasp wonky details without sounding like a wonk.
We ended up having a long chat afterwards. She wanted to talk about Gitmo, enemy combatants, and the relative merits of military commissions versus civilian trials. I was really impressed. This was not her area of the law (she was a tax lawyer in real life), but she clearly got it: Her questions were pointed, I got the sense that she really wanted to know why civilian trials were problematic (i.e., she wasn’t looking for a couple of soundbites that she could slide into the next speech), and she was a quick study — there was no need to revisit at the end of the conversation some esoteric point we’d covered at the beginning of the conversation.
Obviously, I was impressed. We ended up collaborating on an op-ed — which ran here on NRO and in the New York Post — on why, if the Obama administration did not reverse its decision to give KSM and the 9/11 jihadists a civilian trial, Congress should step in and force the president’s hand. Michele was a dynamo on this issue, and her forcefulness had a lot to do with the public and congressional pressure that ultimately induced the administration to back down.
It would be a huge mistake to underestimate her. I think she’s going to make a lot of her critics look awfully dumb by the time this is over. The Dems moved heaven and earth to try to unseat her in the last two elections because they know she’s a force to be reckoned with. Oh … and did I mention that she beat them handily?