The Corner

A Clear Winner

I was deeply engaged by the Kennedy–Nixon debates back in 1960, and I’ve tracked presidential debates since that time; but my sense is that, in that first hour at least, and on balance, Romney gave the best performance in a debate since Kennedy. And he might have exceeded even Kennedy in the burden he had to carry and the work he had to do.

Yes, there were moments when I wish he could have been just a bit sharper. And I most wince at his passing up the chance to point out that the financial crisis of 2008 was brought about by the policies of encouraging the real-estate boom by remarkably loose standards for loans; that the boom was fueled and stirred on by Fannie and Freddie; that the Bush administration had sought to bring them under control, but that those efforts were beaten back by the Democrats, aided by the new Senator Obama from Illinois. I wish that Romney could steal a line from the late British Tory politician Ian MacLeod and adapt it in this way: that talking about the financial crisis of 2008 without mention of the role played by Barack Obama and his friends is rather like . . . playing Hamlet without the gravediggers.

Romney was on his game — he was not to be pushed by Jim Lehrer; he was aggressive, sharp, and in command: One had the sense that, no matter what the subject, he could come back at Obama with figures that would be devastating. With the momentum that Romney gets from this performance, he has the drive now to fill in those gaps, to build on that performance with one even better. We have now, I think, a winner.

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus at Amherst College, the founder of the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights & the American Founding, and the architect of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Acts.

Most Popular

White House

Another Warning Sign

The Mueller report is of course about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about the White House's interference in the resulting investigation. But I couldn’t help also reading the report as a window into the manner of administration that characterizes the Trump era, and therefore as another warning ... Read More

What’s So Great about Western Civilization

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter), One of the things I tell new parents is something that was told to me when my daughter still had that ... Read More
Film & TV

Jesus Is Not the Joker

Actors love to think they can play anything, but the job of any half-decent filmmaker is to tell them when they’re not right for a part. If the Rock wants to play Kurt Cobain, try to talk him out of it. Adam Sandler as King Lear is not a great match. And then there’s Joaquin Phoenix. He’s playing Jesus ... Read More
White House

The Mueller Report Should Shock Our Conscience

I've finished reading the entire Mueller report, and I must confess that even as a longtime, quite open critic of Donald Trump, I was surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and brazenness of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections detailed by the Special Counsel's Office. We've become accustomed to Trump making up ... Read More

Supreme Court Mulls Citizenship Question for Census

Washington -- The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday will be more decorous than the gusts of judicial testiness that blew the case up to the nation’s highest tribunal. The case, which raises arcane questions of administrative law but could have widely radiating political and policy ... Read More