Friday, January 20, 2012

Aye of Newt, and Dead-Blogging the Live Bloggers

Okay, Circus Boy is officially my GOPer campaign coverage persona.  For one thing, everything Circus Boy warned you about on Wednesday rocked the GOPer world on Thursday:

Iowa announced (sort of) that Senator Sanctimonious won Iowa (sort of)-- not Romney.

Gingrich's second wife made headlines with her interview hours before it actually aired.

After all the public promptings, Cowboy Rick quit the race (Adios, MoFos) and endorsed Gingrich. 

Gingrich continued to climb in the polls.  And now the rumor about those Tea Party leaders is that they will endorse Gingrich, perhaps on Friday.  One day before South Carolina votes.

All that was just Thursday's early show!  The big show under the big tent--in the center ring!--the last GOPer candidate debate before the voting on Saturday! 

Rather than watch the debate, I watched the Live Bloggers on my Internet machine.  Much more entertaining!  And I bring you some of their greatest tricks!

Let's start with the Guardian bloggers because their "yes, but" judgment that Gingrich won the debate in the first five minutes--and their caveats--were echoed by other bloggers:

First question is to Newt Gingrich, asked about Marianne Gingrich's comments that Newt asked her for an "open marriage". "Would you like to discuss that, Mr Speaker," asks John King. "No, but I will," replies Newt. "It is as close as despicable as anything I can imagine. I'm frankly astounded than CNN would take trash like that and se it to open a presidential debate."
He's won this already.

But maybe he made too much of it, going on just a bit too long. Many millions watching would have been unaware of the Marianne Gingrich interview: the former House speaker has just provide great advertising for the ABC interview. He has just ensured many of them will be tuning in to hear it.

This also was a common judgment:

Meanwhile, up on stage, Romney is having his worst debate performance of the entire campaign. Just now he got dragged into a spat with Santorum, with Santorum talking over him. He looks and sounds tired. It may not matter in the long run but this is the precise low point of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Jed at Kos:
So the crowd in this debate ... cheered adultery, lustily ... but that was an improvement, over cheering the death of the uninsured.

6:55 PM PT: Newt says Obama is the "most dangerous" president he has every seen. "Truly frightening," he says. White conservative men across South Carolina are getting that sturburst feeling right about now.

(I googled "sturburst" and it seems to mean something but I don't know what. Most of the hits were of this very statement.)

Though Jed concluded The debate is over. Not much to analyze: Newt killed the field. Big win for him, he was funniest about Sanctimonious:

Rick Santorum really needs to stop saying "bottom up."

Rick Santorum says his concern about Newt Gingrich is that he's always worried "something is going to pop."

Rick Santorum says he's a the grandson of immigrants, and that we don't need any more of them.

Josh Marshall at TPM:

9:05 PM: I feel like I need to read the transcript of what Mitt just said about his taxes but I think I'm going to need to get stoned first.

9:27 PM: I'm sort of amazed how on Gingrich has been in this debate. He's made Romney look like a bystander. Except in the portion where Romney dominated the stage with his epic tax return release meltdown.

His conclusion:
I think Newt Gingrich did very well tonight. I think he knows it. He's right. I've heard a number of people say that Rick Santorum had a really strong debate too and even that he 'won' the debate. Santorum was basically more on his game than I think I've ever heard him. He had a really good debate. I think Newt did better. But here's the key: Gingrich is in a position to capitalize in a big way on a strong debate performance. I don't think Santorum is. So it all comes down to a very strong performance by Newt -- one I think will likely clinch a win for him on Saturday night, notwithstanding the tell-all interview coming later tonight.

Andrew Sullivan:

8.48 pm. Buzzfeed says that Newt won the debate in the first five minutes. Theres still some time to go but that's my impression as well. Romney is being flattened tonight. Santorum's brutal, relentless attacks, Newt's ccontempt, Paul's jocular indifference ... they all contrast with classic, mindless robo-speak from Mr Plastic. Now Gingrich has ambushed him on his tax returns

8.44 pm. A classic Gingrich phrase: "Mildly amazing." Classic passive aggression from the "shy boy" who's now so angry he explodes spontaneously. Then Newt tickles the Southern g-spot, by saying that his debating Obama will be a battle between "knowledge" and a "TelePrompTer." I don't think Newt realizes how his contempt and condescension toward Obama is riddled with racism.

Contempt and condescenion yes, but as a Georgia boy and as his Newtness, he realizes it.

His conclusion:
10.01 pm. A Gingrich triumph. His only concern must be how well Santorum did tonight. Paul performed well, but remains peripheral to the struggle for the orthodox "conservative" candidate. I think Romney is in serious trouble now, and the bottom fell out tonight. He died with that glib response - "maybe" - to the question of whether he'd follow his father's example.

I may be crazy but I think Romney loses South Carolina after tonight. And that means this thing blows wide open again.

Not everyone thought Rick S. did so well--and I never thought I'd be quoting uberconservative Michael Medved: The big loser: Rick Santorum, whose insufferably sanctimonious demeanor answered all questions about why social conservatives have begun to coalesce around Newt Gingrich rather than the former Pennsylvania senator. His decision to issue smug, full-bore attacks on every one of his rivals backfired badly.

Medved is pretty sanctimonious himself, and maybe I'm likewise seeing in Rick S. a tendency in myself.

But I leave the best for last, the Economist quartet:

If Newt's pomposity could be monetized, he'd be a rich man. But would it be taxed at 15% or 35%? Discuss

"How do you revive 'Made in America'?" Rename China?

Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich." Great line from Santorum.

· Rick Santorum was tonight's stand-out performer. Apparently emboldened by his belated Iowa victory, he came out swinging and I think did some real damage, especially to Gingrich and his grandiose dilettantism. Newt's desperate opening attack on the media for daring to listen to what his ex-wife has to say about him was enthusiastically received by the crowd, but I thought made him look like a snarling, cornered dog. Ron Paul was a comforting Ron Paul-like presence. Romney was on and off, and I don't think his performance made a difference to his prospects in South Carolina. Actually, insofar as Santorum's effective barbs hurt Newt more than Mitt, Romney may have come out of the evening ahead.
by W.W. 7:08 PM
 Nothing that happened tonight will change the fact that Mitt Romney is your Republican nominee. But Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are moving in opposite directions: Santorum becoming more endearing, Gingrich more repulsive.

It was a strange debate. Newt started strong out of the box, but Santorum went after him effectively, and he ended up looking too pompous by half. Romney was clearly the loser: he stuttered, smirked, dodged and look insufferably smug. He wins the nomination in the end, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him lose SC.

So there are two theories: 1. Newt is headed for victory in S.C., Romney is really wounded.  If Newt wins it may become a real race.  2. Rick S. had a good debate, the second Mrs. G. interview is going to add to doubts, and Rick and Gingrich are going to again split the anti-Rs, and Romney squeaks out a S.C. victory.  And if both Rick and Ging do well, neither will drop out, which also helps Romney.

Maybe the most intriguing bit of information I heard is that polling data suggests a gender split in the Tevangelical vote: men like Gingrich, women like Sanctimonious (and are definitely anti-Ging over the wives stuff.  The revelation that Ging and Calista had sex in Ging and wife.2's  marriage bed  could put them over the top on that issue.)

So Gingrich had his best day and his "best" (angriest, most racist) debate, and Romney had his worst and his worst.  Will Romney's free market utopian fantasy-mongering prove stronger than Gingrich's ability to amplify the blind rage of white SC GOPer voters?  Will it matter?  Who cares?  The circus ain't leaving town anytime soon!

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