You can expect a lot less from me today (perhaps nothing more), if only because I have an abnormal number of lectures followed by a trip to London to see Steamboat Bill, but whilst I didn’t watch the debate last night I thought I’d check in with a round-up.
If this clip is representative and the epitome of the themes that played out all night long, as it seems to be, then it must have been even more excruciating than normal.
It looks like the whole night was dominated by Paul having a bad and quiet night (albeit largely because of Fox, who instead treated Perry like he was polling in the double-digits), Romney bullet-dodging even more than normal, Santorum gaining minor scores and Gingrich unequivocally stealing the show with inflamed, Southern pandering to prejudice and right-wing dogma.
Kornacki on that clip:
Gingrich had brought the house down by claiming that Barack Obama doesn’t believe that work is good and by railing against “unconditional efforts by the best food stamp president in American history to maximize dependency is terrible for the future of this country.” It was all a reminder of Gingrich’s unparalleled ability to serve up pure red meat to a party base that has spent the past three years being sold a caricature of Obama as radical redistributionist… When it comes to massaging the resentments of the party base, no Republican candidate has had a finer five-minute stretch than this during the entire campaign. It’s the kind of performance that fueled Gingrich’s unlikely polling surge this fall, and it’s very possible that it will do the same now in the South Carolina home stretch.
He also quotes Romney on the issue of released felons and elections:
“I don’t think people who commit violent crimes should be allowed to vote again.”
But Spiliakos notes:
Romney froze and tried to change the subject since apparently Romney didn’t know what he was supposed to pretend to believe.
I still have some strange feeling that Romney is in trouble in this state. I’d be a fool to analyze this debate or its impact in South Carolina. But Newt’s solid racial dog whistles and constant support for violence and hatred of “elites” may well help him a lot.
And on the Food Stamp exchange:
Gingrich says that president Obama has put more people on food stamps than any president in history – because that’s what “elites” like to do. Notice the way in which Gingrich cannot make a point without personalizing it against the president. But with this crowd, against a black media man, he wins the crowd overwhelmingly.
It wasn’t Obama that did it, Gingrich, it was the depression recession. This is food we’re talking about. This is people struggling to feed their families in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And Gingrich is playing racial and cultural politics with it.
Carpenter on Romney’s invisibility:
Mitt Romney is grinning his way through this desperate crucible like a guilty suspect with a flawless alibi and no real material evidence against him. Unlike some of his earlier appearances in previous grillings and third-degrees, his demeanor is utterly imperturbable; there stands a man who knows he’s getting away with a magnificent fraud — himself.
“Rich white people don’t get the death penalty very often.”
Finally, Sullivan makes the case for an Obama landslide to finally reform the right:
Only after getting defeated – soundly – will they begin to reconsider their lurch to the most extreme positions in my adult lifetime.