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First, a correction: In my debate Impromptus today, I cite RMN, whose habitual preface to a statement was “Let me be perfectly clear.” Often, politicians, and other people, have such a preface — a sentence or phrase that allows them to gather their thoughts. In my column, I say, “Another great one was, ‘Let me say this about that.’ I think that was Nixon, too.”

Several readers have written me to say, “Yo, Jay, that was JFK!” Quite right.

I make many points, in these Impromptus, but not as many as I could, because I had a little DVR malfunction — leaving me with my own 18-and-a-half-minute gap (speaking of Nixon). Actually, more like an hour’s gap.

I have since watched some videos, of what took place during that gap, and have a few more points to make. Gluttons for punishment can have them, after the “jump” . . .

#more#Did Romney really imply that George Stephanopoulos was kind of in cahoots with President Obama on the matter of birth control and religious institutions? What the . . . (Check the transcript, to see if you can figure it out.)

Santorum clobbered — absolutely clobbered — Romney when it came to balanced budgets in Massachusetts. Yes, Romney balanced his budget all four years. But the Massachusetts constitution requires that. Mike Dukakis balanced his for ten. Does that make him Calvin Coolidge?

(In fairness, Romney is anti-tax hike, and some called Dukakis “Tax Hike Mike.”)

The candidates were asked — told, rather — “Define yourself using one word, gentlemen, and one word only.”

I would have said, “Incapable of defining myself in one word — or many words, probably.”

Ron Paul said, “Consistent.” Well, consistency is good. But, all together now: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of . . .”

Rick Santorum used a noun — his first mistake. He said, “Courage.” He says this rather a lot: “I had the courage to do this, I had the courage to do that.” Normally, courageous people don’t call attention to their own courage. It just flows naturally from them. But campaigning, it is true, is a shabby boastful business.

Romney did a little better: “Resolute,” he said. I think they once named a ship that.

Newt said, “Cheerful”! I think that was his way of showing contempt for the question (a contempt I share). I also think that cheerfulness was his watchword of the night: “Don’t forget to be cheerful, big fella!”

Candidates should say what they believe and what they intend to do — and leave the defining to others, I think, if defining there is to be.

But I’ve never been elected dog-catcher, and prospects ain’t good!



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