Last month in Maine without my computer I noticed the incredible between what actually takes place and what the media reports. Last night due to a last minute migration to a TV less room and the distractions of a rather exciting session of Age of Mythology with my friends I had that feeling again getting only brief clips of the debate during the night and waking up to MSNBC and CNN analysis to go on top of the liveblog of Stacy, Smitty and Wombat and Vodka Pundit.
If MSNBC is to be believed the most qualified candidate was not on the stage (Jon Huntsman) and with the exception of Romney nobody belonged there, (Michael Steele cemented the wisdom of those wanting him out of the RNC chairmanship by not challenging that sentiment) Meanwhile on CNN Romney Cain and Gingrich were all targets.
So being sane and rational I checked on-line and found there was one clear winner in last night’s debate. Anderson Cooper
Politics aside, as far as putting on a compelling debate, Cooper succeeded there as well. The night moved quickly, a good spectrum of topics were covered, and Cooper managed to stay out of the way. This was the candidates’ show, and that’s the way it should be.
This was also the first debate in recent memory where the moderator didn’t single out a candidate for elimination. One of the most frustrating parts of these nights in the past has been watching the moderator act like a big game hunter looking for a trophy by zeroing in on a Romney, Perry or Cain for destruction. Cooper was right to throw a jump ball marked “9-9-9″ to open the show, but there was lot of blood on the floor tonight and it came from more than one person — which is how it’s supposed to be.
As for the debate itself I found excellent analysis at Legal Insurrection:
Perry the winner not because he was so much better than the others, but because he was so much better than he was previously. He may have revitalized his campaign tonight. Cain was damaged, but not fatally. Romney was okay, held his ground. Newt and Santorum both good, stood out. Bachmann pretty good also. Ron Paul an outlier.
Barbara Espinosa is a big Perry backer so I’d like to hear her opinion but that will have to wait for her to win her battle against the horrible Hotel Wi-Fi but I think Byron York found the single most important moment of the night: Perry’s Counterattack on Romney concerning illegal immigration:
“Rick, again, Rick, I’m speaking,” Romney said. “I’m speaking, I’m speaking, I’m speaking. You get 30 seconds. This is the way the rules work here…Anderson?”
By the time Romney appealed to CNN moderator Anderson Cooper for help, Romney seemed flustered, almost frantic. “Would you please wait?” he said to Perry. “Are you just going to keep talking?”
That was a moment of pure weakness. Let me explain something to the Governor; unlike Massachusetts where the left didn’t worry so much about a governor they could override at will, the boys in Washington will not play by any rules and nobody from the MSM will come to your aid.
Even worse for Mitt this made for TV moment for an attack ad:
“We went to the company, and we said, ‘Look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property,'” Romney said. “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.” It wasn’t clear whether Romney thought hiring illegals was bad in itself or whether he just thought it would look bad for a candidate pursuing the Republican nomination for president.
I can see the “independent” ads now: In Democrat neighborhoods it will be played as a “hide the wetbacks” moment to energize and anger the true believers, in the GOP areas it will be played as “I can’t let people see me doing this” and will be played to suppress turnout and pretending it will not happen will not do.
I think the debate helps Perry and Bachmann and tweaks Cain slightly but In the short-term like all the other debates the memories will fade after a day, so we will get more of the same, a media that considers Romney Obama’s best chance amplifying each gaffe a conservative makes in the race.
But be assured that the left knowing they have to run Barack Obama against whoever wins the nomination, should still be afraid, VERY afraid.
Ten weeks ago, when I followed Herman Cain around to campaign events during his bus tour of Iowa, there were rarely more than two or three local reporters covering him at each stop. When he arrived in the “spin room” in the basement of the Sands Expo Center last night, he was instantly swarmed by camera crews and reporters representing dozens of news agencies from around the world. The pundits must now recalculate their estimates of Cain, the contender.
I predict people will still be talking Cain when the next debate comes around. Exit Question: At what point does Rick Perry start spending money going after Cain.
Update 2: Do you want to smile concerning the debate? Read Sunshine State Sarah.