Friday, January 20, 2012

Last night's debate

A lot of observers were commenting on Twitter and elsewhere last night that Gingrich won the debate last night in the first five minutes by blasting John King for asking about the ABC interview with his ex-wife. Sure, a candidate can always win applause from Republicans by bashing the media. But fiercely attacking the media is not a qualification for the presidency. Whatever anyone thinks about the Marianne Gingrich interview and the timing of the story, I suspect that people will be a bit queasy about voting for a candidate who cheated on his wife, wanted an open marriage, and asked for a divorce right after she'd been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Overall, I think that Santorum was the clear winner of last night's debate. He summed up the problem with Gingrich in one sentence,
“Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich, he handles it very well.”
Gingrich responded that this was a grandiose country. Nope. We're a grand country, but not grandiose. For one who prides himself on his rhetoric, Gingrich should know what the word means.
characterized by affectation of grandeur or splendor or by absurd exaggeration
Yup, that's Newt. And Santorum knew whereof he spoke.
“I served with him. I was there,” he said. “It was an idea a minute. No discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together.”
Santorum was strong in attacking the three other candidates. Romney did as well as he usually does, but the story will be his waffling about releasing his tax returns. It's still surprising that he was not ready with a better answer. All he's doing is building the story up. Any benefit that goes to Santorum will probably come from Newt's support and that helps Romney.

Gingrich has been improving in the polls and the movement seems in his favor. He could well win tomorrow in South Carolina. He is doing better now that debates are back on the agenda. But anger at the media will not be enough to carry him through the rest of the states. Don't Republicans want more from their potential nominee? And that anger was totally manufactured as was clear by the end of the debate when Newt was praising John King for his handling of the debate.

If Gingrich is the candidate, the entire campaign would be about him. The GOP needs a candidate who can keep the focus on Obama, not his own grandiosity.