GOP Debate Reaction

The following rankings are based strictly on their performance last night, not their overall merit as candidates.

First Place: A tie between Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich. I was surprised to see Bachmann at all, simply because she hadn’t made her intentions to run official before last night, and I didn’t expect to be as impressed with her performance as I was (I’ve always liked her passion for conservatism, but she has had a few foot-in-mouth issues). Bachmann was clear, polished, passionate, and generally delivered a performance that stood in stark contrast to the Left’s caricature of her as an unserious nut. Gingrich, unsurprisingly, delivered a performance that showcased his unmatched command of the details and a no-nonsense attitude that I think would have taken him far if…well, if he wasn’t Newt Gingrich, weighed down by all the baggage that entails.

Second Place: Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Solid performances, but more or less interchangeable in my view. Romney may have been a little more polished, though he’s lucky nobody forced him to get too specific about health care. Speaking of which…

Third Place: Tim Pawlenty. He would have been in a tree-way tie for second with Santorum and Romney, were it not for chickening out when given a chance to back up his attacks on RomneyCare. Tim does realize that, if he wins the nomination, he’ll have to say uncomplimentary things about Obama to his face, right?

Fourth Place: Herman Cain. I never expected to be as disappointed as I’ve been in Cain. Despite being able to speak with great confidence and clarity on economics, it’s clear he hasn’t made any effort to improve his foreign policy credentials. He also stumbled badly when trying to explain his remarks on the loyalty of Muslims, and I was disappointed to learn he wouldn’t support the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Fifth Place: Ron Paul. His delivery is so terrible that I can’t fathom how this guy managed to develop a cult of personality around himself. He comes across as the crazy uncle you’re constantly praying won’t embarrass you in front of dinner guests.

New on NewsReal – John Avlon Trashes Minnesota to Paint Bachmann and Pawlenty as Wingnuts

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Not content to let Eric Alterman have all the fun of belittling Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Daily Beast writer John Avlon has joined the Bachmann bashing bandwagon, too.  The Beast’s resident “extremism” hand-wringer is taking a more roundabout approach, suggesting that Bachmann is symptomatic of a broader radicalization of Minnesota, for which she and Gov. Tim Pawlenty “are going to have to answer for”:

In recent weeks, the Republican-controlled state legislature has clashed with liberal Democratic Governor Mark Dayton. Among their headline grabbing and eyebrow-raising legislative efforts have included trying to ban all abortions in the state after 20 weeks and forbidding anyone on public assistance from withdrawing more than $20 cash per month.

The man Dayton narrowly defeated in an overwhelmingly Republican election year was conservative-populist-turned-lobbyist Tom Emmer, who backed a “Tenther” bill that would require a two-thirds state legislative vote to ratify any federal legislation and supported a state constitutional ban on gay marriage.

This isn’t the first time Avlon has had trouble grasping the fact that just because he disagrees with a particular position, it doesn’t automatically follow that the position is beyond the pale. It’s unreasonable to ban abortion well after unborn babies can feel pain? It’s extreme to do what thirty other states already do on marriage? As for the restriction on withdrawing money, Mark Meed debunked that canard on March 21, and while the idea of state supermajorities having to ratify all federal laws does strike me as both constitutionally and practically problematic, it hardly signifies a kook epidemic that a gubernatorial candidate would embrace a questionable solution to a real problem—federal overreach over states’ rights.

Avlon continues in a similar vein, listing examples of Minnesota Republicans either saying off-color things or appearing with others who have. The players in question deserve heat for some of it, while other scandals are almost certainly overblown; I’ll leave the final judgment to Minnesota politicos.

Read the rest at NewsRealBlog.

Around the Web

Tim Pawlenty is set to make his presidential bid official today. Yawn.

JB Van Hollen comes out against the lawless decision of Judge Maryann Sumi to block the budget repair bill, and Charlie Sykes has the scoop on Sumi’s conflict of interest regarding unions.

On federal spending and government shutdowns, Russ Vought makes the case for drawing a line in the sand.

Mark Levin has an excellent comparison of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush’s conservative credentials.

More union thuggery here and here.

And it turns out that Mitch Daniels is even worse than you (and I) thought.

Biden?

Seriously? He chose Biden?!

Joe Biden is recognized as having a fair amount of foreign policy experience, which was very probably the main reason Barack Obama picked him, but Bill Richardson has a more-than comparable resume (UN Ambassador, Energy Secretary, Governor), plus is Hispanic and, most importantly, doesn’t have a reputation for being a walking embarrassment dispenser.

I mean, good grief! Mere days after the announcement, and even the most casual scan of the blogosphere (most of these stories were found on
Hot Air alone) have provided a treasure trove of ready-made opposition research. Apparent conflicts of interest, lobbyist issues, a casual acquaintance with the truth, arrogance issues all his own (those should nicely complement Obama’s preexisting problems on that front, eh?), contempt for the concerns of gun owners, some, uh, interesting praise for his own running mate…oh, and did I mention his foreign policy credentials are vastly overrated? How ‘bout issues with speech worthy of the Left’s number-one boogeyman, George W. Bush? Or maybe apparent confusion about who he actually thinks would be the better president? And then, of course, we can’t forget the plagiarism thing

Just imagine what goodies we’ll discover once they start trying. Not to mention the brand-new blunders in store on the campaign trail.

Sure, Richardson is a fairly-unremarkable lefty, and I’m sure he’s got a skeleton or two in his closet, but I can’t imagine this much crap would have come out this soon. As a minority candidate, Obama probably doesn’t have to worry too much about the Hispanic vote, but Richardson’s race would have to have been worth at least a few points, and again, he’s arguably got a more impressive resume than Biden.

Tim Kaine and Evan Bayh probably wouldn’t have brought much to the ticket, but (assuming Team Obama doesn’t have the exclusive scoop on some juicy info) nor would they be constant sources of stress for the campaign. Kathleen Sebelius, as a female Democrat who isn’t Hillary Clinton, would have been asking for trouble. And Hillary? It’s a pretty safe bet she and Barack hate each other’s guts.

Obama’s been fumbling big-time lately, with a crappy performance at Saddleback, his
disgraceful support of infanticide returning to haunt him, and now this, coupled with John McCain’s surprisingly-excellent (even conservative!) Saddleback showing and a willingness to hit The One where it hurts, and I’m optimistic about this election for the first time since Mitt Romney dropped out.

Now it’s especially important that McCain not squander his momentum with a bad VP pick of his own (that means you, Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman—now is not the year of the pro-choicer). I find Tim Pawlenty unremarkable, but he’d be a fairly safe choice. Bobby Jindal can fire up the stump, but I still think he needs time to build experience (and atone for
this profile in courage).
My choice would either be Mitt Romney (surprise!) or Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Romney has framed himself firmly to McCain’s right, has abundant economic expertise, and has proven himself an aggressive campaigner and an excellent debater. It can be said that Palin should have more experience, sure, but she’s been a successful and conservative governor, and, of course, is a woman, which could make for a mighty interesting election, what with all these disgruntled Hillary supporters running around (granted, this may smack of identity politics, but there’s no reason not to see race or sex as a selling point, provided—and this is the key—that you’re not doing so at the expense of qualification or principles).

Come on, John. As much as I hate to say it, I’ve seen and accepted the need to support you. Don’t let us down.