Last impression from the Podium Portion: Rudy looks like a real primadonna halting the chain of Scooter answers to indulge in a recapitulation of his record.
On to the Town Hall. Erin Flanagan cuts a noble figure, asks a noble question. Hunter can't reach the heart of the matter, just the brains of it. Brownback uses the threadbare word "incredible," then launches into Federal Iraq. Using the words "loose" and "weak" to justify Ms. Flanagan's question is not a good way to go about things. McCain gets the heart. No question about that. But McCain has a tolerance for war -- for fighting, for sacrifice, for endurance, for hardness, for toughness -- that may be beyond us now. Still a hearty round of applause. But who we really want an answer from is Rudy. Bad memories of Obama, Hillary, and Edwards last night escaping the tough questions. Damn this new style of letting all the major candidates off all the major hooks.
Ron Paul has clearly upped his game. He rambles less. He softens his moral touch and toughens his rhetorical force. He gets applause regularly now.
Rudy only has to "respond" to Paul, meaning Rudy gets to put the question -- whatever it is now -- "in a slightly different context." Advocates a post-1970s mindset on terror. Wants us to "take on the responsibility of nation-building." Does that Rudy a neocon make? He's right about orderly existence. But is he too late? The issue remains mere pacification, a tougher sell in a strange way than the embrace of democracy.
And a question on conservatism as conservation! Gilmore goes wrong by buyring the question in national security and budget discipline; Tancredo hits nail on head, this is twice in one night now for him; and once again that's all we get. Lame.
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