Elefante in the Room:On WaPo's front page, Perry Bacon Jr. wonders why Republicans are gravitating toward Fred Thompson even though Thompson's "often sounded like" John McCain, whom "many of them seem ready to dismiss." Why, Thompson's taken "maverick" stands too! ... Hmmm. Is there one signature McCain crusade that Thompson has conspicuously not joined? Can't think of it! ... [The 'patients bill of rights'?--ed That's the issue Bacon cites. That's not it. ...] P.S.: Why have editors if they're not going to make a reporter confront the obvious bit of evidence that undermines his thesis? ... It's so much easier, I guess, just to cut any mention of i---------n from the story. ... 1:06 A.M.
Fred Thompson on the GOP Debate: "I didn't watch it. I was on a plane ..."** Thompson could have given a post-debate interview to any news organization in the country. He picked Breitbart.tv. ... Thompson teases at moving into the gaping, bi-partisan anti-amnesty void--"our unprotected borders are out of hand"--but leaves himself plenty of room. ... He also uses the word "midget" in describing the GOP field. ...
** Memo to Thompson: "I didn't watch it. I was on a plane" doesn't work as an excuse anymore! You can watch it any time. (For those who might be a bit ... um, lazy there are highlights on YouTube.) ... If you're going to be the rule-breaking, late-entering Internet candidate you should probably stop saying fogeyish things! Although I admit I find a little bit of fogeyism reassuring. ... 12:59 P.M.
The Curve Has Spoken: Mark Halperin calls Mitt Romney the winner. Say no more! ... More: The AMC dissents. ("I'm sort of flabbergasted by the love Mitt's getting from the media.") I'm with her. ... 12:06 P.M.
Critic-proof? Most commentators I've seen or heard thought Rudy Giuliani did badly in Thursday night's debate (except my mother, who said he "makes a very good impression.") I didn't think Giuliani did well either. So how did he decisively win that Survey USA poll cited on The Corner? Part of the answer is that Survey USA polled only California debate watchers. A mere 45% of whom were Republican. 53% of whom were pro-choice. That's not the national Republican primary electorate. ... Still ...
Update:Mystery Pollster compares the percent who thought Giuliani "won" with his support in four previous California polls and concludes that he may have indeed lost ground, along with McCain. But note that those four previous California polls were weeks ago--weeks in which Giuliani was falling in national rankings. If you could have taken a California poll right before the debate it might not have looked very different from a poll after the debate. ... The "real winners" ... well, go to MP to learn the real winners! (Search for "lower tier.") ...
See also: Bill Bradley, who's usually an accurate debate judge and who agrees with Noonan that Rudy washed out in the crowd. ... John McIntyre, who suggests why Giuliani might still have done well enough with Republican voters (though he doesn't explain my mother). ... 2:20 A.M.
How can Bill Clinton hope to stop the tabloids from damaging his wife's campaign with gossip about his zippy socializing with bachelor buddy Ron Burkle? Well, he can't. I mean, it's not like the tabs are under some sort of centralized control, a single management that could be bought off by a truckload of cash. Get with it! Clinton's business partner can't just waltz in and buy up all the tabloids. ... What's that you're saying? ... [ What would Arnold do?--ed. Good point. The aptly-named tab king David Pecker may finally have hit on a solid moneymaking strategy.] 11:29 P.M.
Republican Debate: I guess I'm really not a Republican--or else Chris Matthews is an effective Dem saboteur--because the whole GOP field seemed weaker after the debate (just as the Dem field seemed stronger after its MSNBC debut). Judging just on affect, Blink-like, I thought McCain, Ron Paul, and Hunter did well. Giuliani a bit less well. Romney appears stiff and phony compared to the other front-runners. He made me want to go re-read Catcher in the Rye. Tancredo and Huckabee failed to make much of an impact at all. Brownback seemed to be talking about 50% of the time, but I can't remember a thing he said. ... P.S.: If anybody took advantage of the opening for an anti-amnesty immigration candidate, it was Hunter (though he talked mainly about his border fence, not about the pending semi-amnesty bill). Hunter looks to be a far more effective spokesperson for that side of the debate than the genially bumbling (but not kooky!) Tancredo. ... P.P.S.: Is Sarkozy unavailable? ... 6:35 P.M. link
Whippersnappers: Why do youthful netrootsy wonks always think older Dems-who-criticize-Dems are movitated by unprincipled careerist self interest? Here, for example is Matt Yglesias, distinguishing himself from "other professional journalists":