In yesterday’s Fox News debate, Newt Gingrich probably arrested the slide he has experienced over the past few days as attacks on his electability accumulate. With a brilliant debate performance, the former Speaker reminded us what a great speaker – and debater – he is. Wisely, he rebutted charges that he can’t win by emphasizing that he can destroy Obama in debates – his universally acknowledged forte.
Newt’s answers on defense, judicial activism, and social conservatism were splendid, eloquent and, even profound.
Romney was Romney. Never rising to Newt’s heights, he was always steady, reliable, constant, unflappable, strong, presidential, and controlled. If Newt is like a male tennis ace, making serves that are impossible to return, but sometimes missing entirely, Mitt is like a woman’s tennis star – a steady volleyer who always returns the ball. Romney did not hurt himself, but Newt really helped himself.
The loser was Ron Paul. After a series of economic and domestic policy debates, Paul reminded us what a disaster he is on foreign policy. Channeling Neville Chamberlin, he advocated appeasement, claimed that Iran only hated us because we mess with them, and supported disarming ourselves in the war on terror. In the late 30s, he would have been an America-firster, opposing involvement in the “foreign war” to stop Hitler. Today, he makes it evident that he could care less what happens to Israel and is prepared to use “diplomacy” to talk our way out of trouble. Bismarck once said “diplomacy without the threat of force behind it is like music without instruments.”
The runner up was Michele Bachmann. She is, obviously, the truest of the conservatives. She always makes the right choice on issues and stands by her principles. She is articulate, forceful, factual, well informed, cerebral, and able. She deserves more than a fifth place finish in Iowa. She’s right on the debt limit. She was right on TARP. She was right on health care. She’s a solid reliable social conservative. And she’s the only candidate up there about whom all that can be said (except perhaps for Santorum).
So look for Newt to move up. Michele to gain. Paul to crash. And Romney to stay steady as a result of the best debate so far.