In the future, everyone will be a serious Republican Presidential candidate for 15 minutes.
We’re close to that now. Last Monday several GOP contenders for the big job debated in New Hampshire, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s relatively lulu-free performance appears to have pushed her into second place in the estimation of likely Republican voters.
The top guy so far is company man Mitt Romney, but the rise of Bachmann gave rightbloggers hope for something less vanilla.
Though there were some grumbles — “As a conservative, I am a bit dismayed at the candidates this year (unless Christie decides to run)” — rightbloggers were generally pleased with the team’s performance.
“My general impression is that all of the candidates did pretty well,” said Power Line’s John Hinderaker. “The overall impression, I think, was of a united front, determined to make Barack Obama a one-term president… it was a pretty good night for the cause of conservatism and constitutional government.” “Everybody on the stage is better the current president,” said John Stansbury of Wizbang. “All in all, a great start to campaign 2012,” said Hugh Hewitt.
“…the GOP debate in New Hampshire was a big success in two ways,” said Peggy Noonan. “First, there was no obvious candidate from Crazytown, which was a boon to the party’s reputation and brand, and which may help it more easily shake itself out and pick an electable candidate.”
This absence of Crazytown extends, it would seem, to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and Michelle Bachmann. Bachmann was particularly lauded because, despite her long history of saying outlandish things — which, as shown by her recent comments on intelligent design (“What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide”), is ongoing — at Monday’s debate she said outlandish things, but in simple, forthright sentences, which immediately elevated her in conservatives’ estimation.
Bachmann “nailed her ‘right to life’ answer,” said John Ellis at Business Insider. “That answer (‘I stand for life’) will resonate all across the Right To Life movement in Iowa… she emerged tonight as a significant challenge for Sarah Palin. Ms. Bachmann is sharper intellectually than Ms. Palin and she’s equally gutty.” (That last part might contain a typo.)
“Bachmann has risen to be the more formidable Romney alternative,” said National Review‘s Andrew Cline. “Her answers are well-spoken and to the point.”
“Michele Bachmann was quite a hit,” said The Lonely Conservative. “Though she’s portrayed in the media as a lightweight,” said Philip Klein, “she came across polished, knowledgeable and quite comfortable during the debate.” Klein admitted he was “a bit confused” by Bachmann’s gay marriage answer, in which she indicated that she’d support a Constitutional amendment outlawing it while also saying that “I don’t see that it’s the role of a president to go into states and interfere with their state laws.” But at least it wasn’t Crazytown.
“From the start, Bachmann stole the debate spotlight,” said Neon Tommy, “and subsequently refused to relinquish it.” (We assume he didn’t mean it like it sounds.) “Bachmann Announces for President and Outshines the Boys,” said Uncoverage. “…a great story, great conservative cred and personal appeal.” “Bachmann ROCKED the debate (the Guardian agrees),” said Butch Porter, “and blew everyone away and managed to do it without looking like a complete LOON.”
“Michele Bachamann was a big winner last night,” said Yid with Lid. “Her job was to prove that she wasn’t the nut job she is portrayed as by the liberal media” — though he did admit that Bachmann was “perhaps a bit too enthusiastic the times she tried to get the crowd to cheer along with her.”
The candidates mostly hammered Obama on the economy rather than one another. Still, there was some talk about the gay marriage amendment — Tim Pawlenty also advocated it — and of the threat of sharia law being applied in the United States, which worried Herman Cain (“I do not believe in Sharia law in American courts… There have been instances in New Jersey…”). A humorous, 24-second Democratic National Committee video excerpted these moments; rightbloggers found that dirty pool.
“Ridiculously Misleading,” said Weasel Zippers. “It’s not like it’s the first time leftists have selectively redacted history to make it fit their preferred narrative,” said Allahpundit at Hot Air. “If it’s already this deceptive and ugly this early in the campaign,” said Thoughts from a Conservative Mom, “you can imagine what it’s going to look like a year from now.”
They were taking their cues from Jake Tapper, of the notorious liberal lamestream media outlet ABC. Some rightblogger sites like TownHall merely quoted Tapper; others more fulsomely expressed their gratitude (“Media Admits: DNC Lied About Last Night’s GOP Debate”).
“But I suspect ulterior motives,” cautioned Kickin’ and Screamin’. “Since all three major networks are bleeding viewers this is probably a ploy by ABC to show they are ‘unbiased’ to attract ‘moderate’ viewers.” Some people are never satisfied.
“CNN’s moderator, John King, seeped with more left-wing bias than a slime prank on Nickelodeon,” said Monica Crowley at Human Events. “He practically begged the GOP candidates to say something nice about Obama: ‘Can’t you point to one thing he’s done right on the economy?’… I wished that one of the candidates had told him to stop trying to ‘help’ them with those ridiculous ‘humanizing’ questions.” Here we agree: In a Republican debate, “humanizing” is beside the point.
“But I don’t remember CNN hitting [Democratic candidates] with a bunch of ‘gotcha’ questions or trying to set them at each other’s throats,” said Robert Stacy McCain. When the New York Times, in a “fact-checking” article, noticed Bachmann’s odd gay marriage answers, Sweetness and Light protested: “Once again, where is the error here? What ‘fact’ has been ‘checked’ and found wanting?” Well, she’s got them there.
Along with Bachmannia and complaints of liberal bias, there was another strand of responses to the debate. “GOP hails debate, still waits for Perry,” headlined the Washington Times. “Pawlenty’s debate whiff fuels Perry buzz,” said Susan Ferrechio. “GOP debate winners: Romney, Bachmann and Rick Perry,” wrote Philip Klein.
No, the Texas governor wasn’t at the debate, nor is he a declared candidate. But he’s been making Presidential noises. And Texas has in recent years gained a bunch of jobs — though many of them are in education and health services, and Perry’s Republican colleagues in the state legislature are making huge cuts in those areas in response to a large budget shortfall.
“Perry’s style is very engaging,” said Stanley Kurtz. “At times, he seems to act out virtually every word he speaks with his body. It’s all totally natural, and something you just have to see to understand.” He helpfully provided a video of a previous Perry speech to the Heritage Foundation, with showed him using his hands a lot and sometimes making faces, much like another Texan with Presidential ambitions.
Roger Kimball appreciated that Perry stands forthrightly in opposition to the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau; in Kimball’s estimation, “The politicians we call ‘liberal’ today… are witting or unwitting followers of the philosopher Rousseau,” whereas “Governor Perry’s advice departs from the Rousseauvian narrative. Stand up. Challenge the ‘entitlement mindset’… These are open-air, adult, contra-Rousseauvian prescriptions.” So if you’re an intellectual you can get in on this, too.
RedState’s Erick Erickson ran through some rumors about Perry that we’d never heard before, with the purpose of calming readers’ fears. “So we can keep playing the ‘Rick Perry has skeletons’ game,” said Erickson, “but the odds are pretty damn good if there are any skeletons they’ll stay in the closet.” That’s encouraging.
“It is clear that Rick Perry will get the nomination if he wants it,” declared Gary Hollis. “If Perry does run, I suspect he will immediately emerge as the number one threat to frontrunner Mitt Romney, and will finally give conservatives their candidate which they can be excited about.”
And so rightbloggers who, despite the great lift Bachmann has given them, still dream of an as-yet-undeclared savior have a new name to insert in place of Donald Trump, Herman Cain, and Paul Ryan and other Great Right Hopes of the recent past.
Meanwhile a documentary about Sarah Palin has emerged, as have fresh rumors — not of the closeted-skeleton kind, but about Palin’s Presidential ambitions. Rightbloggers may get a chance, before the campaign begins in earnest, to dream bigger still.