Wall Street Journal
By Peggy Noonan
Nov. 12, 2011
One of the people in the debate was bombastic to the point of manic, and another was more pointedly aggressive than her usual poised and beautiful self. But enough about Jim Cramer and Maria Bartiromo. It was a revealing debate. It would be wonderful to see President Obama grilled as the Republicans were Wednesday night in Michigan. What exactly will you cut in the entitlement programs? How will you solve the foreclosure crisis? And we’d like you to answer in 30 seconds while we look at you with the sweet-natured gaze of a cop at a crime scene.
Those who say the debates are hurting the Republicans may be right. There is a freak-show element. But seeing Republicans repeatedly walk through fire may in the end make them seem far more impressive than the Democrat who doesn’t have to. People notice the disparity. And this isn’t a bad time in history to see would-be leaders get nailed, and fight back up.
But there was a moment in the debate that suggests something bad. Too many people in that audience were fully locked into Republo-world, a nice place but one that exists apart from the reality-based community. More on that in a moment. First a quick overview.
Rick Perry’s candidacy wasn’t going anywhere before the famous 53-second brain freeze. Now it’s official. To me it was the first thing he’s done that was endearing. You’re out there live in front of six million people, they’re watching closely, you’re under the lights, every word counts—and you blank. You forget the third element of your robotic soundbite. This is human. But we don’t want our presidents to be human, we want them to be perfectly prepped and drilled so we can make fun of their inauthenticity. Anyway, Mr. Perry continues to be dead, just as Newt Gingrich continues to make the debates come alive.