The Corner

A Quick Take on the Debate

Last week I thought Perry’s affect — confident and loose — trumped his weakness on a couple of answers. Tonight, I thought it was the other way around. He was good sparring with Romney on Social Security and jobs in Texas, although this is ground where he naturally has an advantage. He can be cutting and amusing. He shot back at Romney that he was the one scaring seniors. And he had a snappy comeback when Romney said he was dealt four aces on the Texas economy: “Mitt, you were doing pretty well until you started talking poker.” But it was downhill after that.

It’s amazing that he’s still defending the idea that Bernanke could be guilty of near-treason. Bachmann and Santorum tag-teamed him on Gardasil. I think they went too far — they made it sound like the Tuskegee experiment or something. But it’s a vulnerability for Perry, and Bachmann bringing up the donation connection is a sign of cronyism attacks to come. He also took on water on immigration, where he got some boos. Near the end he had an answer on Afghanistan that was nearly incoherent, but he seemed to be saying that we should pull out of Afghanistan carefully and responsibly (I think).

Bachmann was much shrewder than Romney. She attacked Perry where he can be out-flanked on the right, whereas Romney took issue with a Perry characterization of Social Security — the famous Ponzi scheme — that most conservatives will agree with. Romney seemed very briefly wrong-footed when Wolf Blitzer asked him to praise Perry’s jobs record. Otherwise, he was as smooth and unflappable as ever. Bachmann was better than last time and showed she’s not going to quietly fade away. I liked both Santorum and Gingrich and wonder if either of them can still catch a little gust in Iowa. Huntsman is becoming more confident on the stage, which means even more annoying. He’s a smart ass who isn’t funny.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

It’s a Set-up

In my column yesterday, I contended that the unverifiable sexual-assault allegation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh bore “all the hallmarks of a set-up.” I based that assessment on the patently flimsy evidence, coupled with Senate Democrats’ duplicitous abuse of the confirmation-hearing process. To repeat ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Censure Dianne Feinstein

Regardless of the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, the Senate should censure the ranking Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein. Her deception and maneuvering, condemned across the political spectrum, seriously interfered with the Senate’s performance of its constitutional duty to ... Read More
U.S.

Are We on the Verge of Civil War?

Americans keep dividing into two hostile camps. It seems the country is back to 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, rather than in 2018, during the greatest age of affluence, leisure, and freedom in the history of civilization. The ancient historian Thucydides called the civil discord that tore apart the ... Read More