Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Sanctimonium Shadow Show!

The 20th--yes, friends, count'em off, the 20th, and maybe, could it be, the last?--GOPer debate was held in Arizona Wednesday evening,  Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the day after Mardi Gras.  Yeah, the party's over--but for who?

The cable pundits on MSNBC and CNN were pretty unanimous that Sanctimonious didn't have a good debate, and so may well have clobbered his own momentum.  But the online punditry was less certain--it was a dull draw which favors Richney, and there was even opinion that Sanctimonious won it (HuffPo was particularly outspoken on this.)  Everybody admitted that the audience was stacked with Richney supporters, which made the live debate seem like Richney won.   Jonathan Bernstein cautions  that in a debate with no obvious winner, its effect on the upcoming primaries will depend on how the Rabid Right media spins it, and what excerpts they show. 

Just about everybody agreed on one thing: it was an awful, dismal debate, even "one of the worst."  Several came out and said that the debate winner was President Obama. 

As usual, the Economist crew were the most entertaining live-bloggers.  Two choice tidbits:

Obama's bowing again, this time to the mullahs, according to Romney. Does that man never stand up straight?

I have a theory that Paul would be less popular were he more coherent.

The Economist concluded:

It's strange to think this may be the last debate. We've come so little distance despite the crowded debate schedule. The candidates seem no more polished, poised or assertive than they did at the beginning. It's amazing how bad at debating they've been. I'm sure it's not easy, but it hardly inspires confidence.

To which the American among them added:

I am ashamed of and afraid for my country.

But as far as the clown show goes, the spin on the debate will matter only if it supports the outcome in Michigan.  The polls indeed are showing that Richney is inching up and even ahead, though whether the people polled are representative enough of the people who will actually vote (crossovers are permitted) is open to question.  However, there are some early votes counted, and Richney has a strong lead in those.  (His big lead in Arizona early voting, and the proportion of early voters there to the total, pretty much ensure a victory in that state.)   So at this point it looks like--once again--yes, it's believable, it's incredible, but it could be true--Mr. Inevitable will return!

But if the punditry reaches that conclusion by the weekend, and Sanctimonious actually wins Michigan, then Richney may really be in trouble.  But...Sanctimonious (or him plus Gingles) will have to pile up a lot of Southern wins on Super Tuesday to really derail him.  All Richney has to do is win Super Tuesday and it's over, and he's ....well, you know. Mr.....

Meanwhile, Chuck Todd of NBC is saying that the emphasis on birth control over the past week is really hurting the GOP in national and battleground state polls for the general election.  The proposed Virginia law to force mandatory invasive ultrasound (now perhaps downgraded to semi-invasive) for women seeking abortions has consequently gotten national attention.  But other states have done it and are contemplating it, something that Rachel Maddow and almost noone else has been covering.  Now maybe voters will be paying more and closer attention.   

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