The Corner

An Episode of Friends

Who won? Nobody!

Who lost? Nobody!

That shouldn’t be surprising. Debates are often about who loses, not who wins. Without a major gaffe — and there wasn’t one — no one really lost, which means no one really won.

A few observations:

  • It had been rumored that Rep. Michele Bachmann would announce her candidacy during the debate, as opposed to a more conventional announcement (whatever that means). She sure did (and she did well tonight, too).

  • Republican candidates can expect upcoming debates, like this one, to focus on social issues. Rightly or wrongly, the media loves having GOP candidates talk about social issues to the exclusion of other issues.

  • Think that didn’t happen? How long did it take to hear the words “Iraq” or “Afghanistan?”

  • While it is nice to learn the candidates’ positions on iPhones, Elvis, deep-dish pizza, and American Idol, how many times did we see debate on issues that matter being cut off for trivial issues? (Boxers or briefs, anyone?)

  • Having the candidates look over at large screens showing citizens chosen to ask questions came off as awkward (though perhaps it worked in the auditorium, or for the questioner). The format of debates has changed as technologies change.

  • Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty never threw the gloves down, as many expected or hoped. But that shouldn’t be surprising. With so many candidates on the dais — even with Gov. Jon Huntsman not yet included — this was the first round of a 15-round match. Candidates are feeling each other out, rather than going for the K.O.

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