Old Jack Swing

by Mark Steyn

Yes, Newt was on grand form last night. He was devastating in his rebuke to Ron Paul. If he hadn’t trumped himself with his comeback to Juan Williams, Gingrich’s contempt for Paul’s equivalence between Osama bin Laden and a Chinese dissident would have been the line of the night. He then capped it with this:

South Carolina in the Revolutionary War had a young 13-year-old named Andrew Jackson. He was sabred by a British officer and wore a scar his whole life. Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about America’s enemies: Kill them.

By the dismal standards of campaign debates, that’s a thing of beauty: lightly-worn knowledge, big-picture perspective, locally targeted, vivid and specific, crisply delivered. You can’t be “prepped” for lines like that – or for the “99 weeks* is an associate degree” one. You have to know a lot of stuff, be able to fish the right card out of the mental Rolodex, and then swat it down the other guy’s gullet with a bit of brio. Good for Newt. But how sad there’s only one fellow on stage capable of that.

[*corrected from "months"]

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