Here are my impressions:
Fox News showed MSNBC and Politico how to do a real debate. There weren't those screwy questions from Chris Matthews that just set your teeth on edge.
This is why it's way too early to hold these debates. This is the period that I refer to in class as the "Spiral of political death." A candidate isn't well known and appears low in the polls. So they don't get media attention or campaign donations. Which means that they'll be even lower in the polls. Rinse and repeat. Some of these candidates who got into the race either to push a certain message like Tom Tancredo or Ron Paul have had their chance and they're not getting traction. Others just listened to the voices in their heads and their aides who tell them that they have what it takes to be president. But no one else seems to have heard those voices. For example, how many people even remembered that Jim Gilmore was in this race? Every time they came back to him, I thought - Oh, I forgot about that guy. And as soon as he was finished, I promptly forgot about him again. If we are going to have debates now, it seems quite presumptuous to tell these wannabes that they're going nowhere now nine months before anyone starts voting, but if we're going to have debates at this point, ten is too much. It's time to narrow down this field.
Huckabee is also one of these wannabes for whom there is no logic as to why they should be in this race. But he deserves to stay in just for his line that we had a Congress that spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop.
Did Rudy Giuliani pay off Ron Paul to set him up with that great opportunity to crack down on Paul's ideas that we brought 9/11 on ourselves by being over in Saudia Arabia. It gave Rudy a chance to show people why they liked him in the first place and to remember his moments of national admiration on 9/11.
John McCain has to come up with some new lines. Anyone who has followed politics at all (and face it, who else would be watching a debate in May, 2007) has heard his drunken soldier line. It just made him seem old to repeat the same jokes he's been making for years.
Mitt Romney was fine, but I realized how much it helped him last time for Chris Matthews go to him first for almost every question in the last debate.
One topic I don't need to hear any more about: the Confederate flag. Why South Carolina's choice about where to put flags belongs in a presidential debate is beyond me. A president can't do anything about a state's flag. It's just an opportunity for easy demagoguery that the media think will drive a wedge between Republicans and the rest of the country. But South Carolina has come up with their own compromise by putting the flag by a Confederate memorial and taking it down from their state capitol. Asking about it is so day-before-yesterday. Can we just move on now?
For more commentary, check out the NRO symposium on the debate.