The one important item I didn't mention in the post below is the
impact of McCain's performance on the voters. Those who already have
a candidate will be unmoved; they are all generally happy with their
guy's performance. (See, for example, the commenter to the post just
below, which exemplifies the McCainiacs' approach to matters involving
class and grace.)
What really matters is how the 44% of voters who were still undecided
yesterday respond. Is McCain's snideness and general nastiness of
temperament going to draw those voters to him? I have my doubts, but
we shall see.
UPDATE: Looks like Brit Hume feels the same way:
And John Hinderaker of the very objective and reliably conservative Power Line agrees too:
McCain: McCain did all right, but I don't think he helped himself with his jabs at Romney. At one point he delivered a planned one-liner, agreeing that Romney is the "candidate of change." I thought it was extremely lame; at first, no one but McCain laughed. Romney came off looking, I thought, like the grown-up, something that shouldn't happen to McCain. While McCain was strong on national security issues, as always, I thought he was generally less prominent in the debate than he should have been. . . .UPDATE 2: One of our commenters at Article VI Blog makes this interesting point:
Romney: I thought Romney was the clear winner, most of all in demeanor and general impact. I've been critical of Mitt's television communication skills in the past, but last night he was Presidential and effective. A viewer who knew nothing about the status of the race would have assumed, I think, that Romney was the front-runner and perhaps the candidate with the most stature. Headlines suggest that the other candidates were ganging up on Romney. I think that is overblown; it happened on only a couple of occasions. On those occasions, I thought Romney came across as the candidate who is trying to rise above pettiness and focus on policy. McCain's anger toward Romney backfired, I thought. On a number of issues--health care and energy, and even national defense--Romney showed impressive command.
What has apparently happened is Mitt’s message has been dulled by his inability to successfully navigate the school yard bullies who look to the presidency as a completion of personal ambition. He is ill equipped for that battle. He fights back the only way he knows. But intellectual jousts and battles of ideas do not win out when it comes to the ways of the world. We still love the guy who can slap the daylights out of the other guy and make him cry like a girl. To much of America it is hard to relate to the uber technocrat especially when he embodies everything your parents wanted you to be. There is no other candidate in either party who has achieved the things Mitt Romney has and that intimidates the hell out them. They automatically hate the guy who achieved by forty what they couldn’t. So they fight back the only way they know. In fact they gang up on him. The intellectually average rely on fear and ridicule as a tools. This is especially true with Huckabee and McCain. This behavior plays to baser instincts of survival. In a world where we should be discussing ideas we are faced with force and, for now, verbal violence. But we all know that people who use violence will rely on it again and again because it is successful. But it is a pedestrian value.