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January 26, 2012

One Thing To Keep In Mind With Newt's Debating Skills...

Before I get to my blab-blab, here's Jonah Goldberg on the Unconquerable Newtzilla, and Politico on the Drudge/Coulter/"Establishment" efforts to stop him.

("Establishment" is in quotes there because I do not subscribe to the Foundational Myth of the Newt campaign that anyone who opposes him is establishment, and we oppose him because we're afraid he'll "shake up Washington."

My fear -- and most people's fears -- is that he won't shake up Washington, because Obama's reign of terror will continue into 2017.

I'm not super-afraid of Newt's policies -- though I'm not crazy about Draft Boards for Immigrants or some of the other policy widgets -- I'm afraid of his inability to get into a position to actually implement them.)

Anyway, on debating skill:

Who did you think won the 2008 debates?

I don't know if I'm hopelessly in the tank or what, but I thought Palin beat Biden, and I thought McCain beat Obama in their debates.

Before you say "McCain didn't take it to Obama" or "McCain failed to make an issue of Fannie/Freddie" -- I agree. I'm not saying he deployed every weapon available to him. I'm not saying he showed much backbone or fight.

He was bad.

And yet, I think, he won.

And so did Palin.

I think.

Most of the commenters here at the time seemed to agree.

I thought so at the time and said so. I was mystified that snap polls always showed Obama and Biden winning.

People are too dumb, mostly, to parse. For example, when Obama was winning in the polls, do you know what they also claimed?

The polls said that not only was Obama winning, but that people thought he would be:

-- Better on reducing the deficit

-- Better on protecting America from Al Qaeda

-- Better at having voluntarily spent 6 extra years in a hellish Vietnamese prisoner of war camp so that his comrades could go home first

I made up that last one, obviously, but the point is that when people said "I like Obama more" they did not actually parse between this attribute and that one. They did not say "Well McCain would be better on defense policy, but Obama's better on giving me goodies."

They just said that Obama was better at everything.

And this included the debates. The public favored Obama/Biden, and felt that Palin was dumb and McCain was Bush, and even in debates where they actually had (I thought) prevailed over their stutterin' prick opponents, they just said "Obama won."

Any serious car fan debating, I don't know, the Corvette vs. the Mustang, is going to probably parse out things like "Well, the Corvette has a better growl and better tires, but the Mustang is better from zero." Or whatever. You know what I mean. They care sufficiently about the question to think hard about the advantages of one and the advantages of the other.

On the other hand, if you're a dope, as I submit most people are as regards politics, you know, the people who "start paying attention" two weeks before a presidential election, you're not interested in the question enough to bother thinking about it like this.

You just pick one. Let's say the Corvette. Which is better at cornering? The Corvette. Which is faster? Corvette. Which is cheaper? Uh, I don't know, must be the Corvette.

In fact, I know a lot of that must be going on with me, and I watch this stuff a lot. I don't favor Newt, so the debate performances that impress so many other people leave me cold. All I see is Think Outside the Box question evasions ("My plan for health care? I want to cure polio, not treat it") and Coulter-esque media-bashing, which is fine and all, but I don't favor Coulter for president (or any position of responsibility, actually) either.

Based on my fellow conservatives' positive reaction to Gingrich's debate performances, it must be that he's actually winning these.

But if you hooked me up to a lie detector, I'd say "I'm not impressed" and I'd pass the test. Because I'm not lying. I just don't think he's doing that great.

In other words, my underlying, overarching impression of Gingrich colors, unavoidably, my evaluation of his debate performances, such that I wind up not parsing between the two.

Rather than parsing between my evaluation of Gingrich as a candidate and as a debater -- two different things, which I could find tend towards opposite conclusions -- it winds up that they both point the same way for me.

The same way those dumb moderates who pay attention three weeks outside an election found that every question and every debate favored the guy they had decided to support.

Just something to keep in mind. In all likelihood, who the public thinks "won" a debate is pretty much going to track with who they've decided they're supporting, no matter what happens in the actual debate.

By the Way: Since I posted this, whoo doggie, has Drudge gone anti-Newt. It's now officially ridiculous.

I have a theory about the Drudge/Coulter hate, by the way.

My theory is that Drudge and Coulter were seriously emotionally invested in the Clinton Impeachment thing more than most partisans. As invested in it as we all were (and I was seriously invested myself), they were even more invested in it.

It wasn't just politics to them. It was personal -- this was Their Thing.

Now, Newt's affair complicated the narrative for them on this.

It could be that they are so angry about that, blaming Newt for letting Clinton escape (which is a silly notion; he was getting away anyway), that they are especially hostile to Newt, for destroying their Big Project.

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posted by Ace at 01:22 PM

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