Perry’s choke illustrates the error with marathon debate format– it focuses on one aspect (under pressure public speaking) while conveying answers that may mean something but have no content. They can’t. Explain health care in 30 seconds– it can’t be done!
But it’s what is expected.
The winner of last night’s debate was Newt Gingrich. Herman Cain did well. But neither candidate has $17 million in a Presidential Campaign fund. And Perry did that in a shorter time than Newt, Cain, Bachmann, Huntsman. It’s impressive he can garner such monetary support in such a short time.
Sure, we hate his debate performances. And so long as he doesn’t get excited in a debate with Obama, he’ll probably do OK. Obama’s weak on jobs, economy, foreign policy, golf– they only thing he’s good at is giving speeches, and a debate isn’t a speech. Obama’s debates against McCain were not memorable, and they didn’t win his election. Obama’s debate against Hillary didn’t secure his nomination. Obama conned the masses into believing his hype, and it was something Hillary couldn’t compete with. Hillary can’t deliver a stemwinding speech. Chris Matthews isn’t going to get tingles from a Hillary stump. But Obama could, and he built on that momentum. Now that we’ve seen 3 years of Obama, we know his speeches are as worthless as his approaches to the green. Perry, so long as he sticks to economic substance, he’ll stand up well against Obama.
But as Republicans we can’t help but look at a stage of 7 candidates and Mitt Romney and say, “Man, can we have someone other than Mitt Romney?” So we’ve gone from Bachmann to Perry to Cain, and now Gingrich is rising in the polls.
But you can’t argue with Perry’s fundraising. You can’t argue with his Texas record. You can’t argue with his earthiness. But we wonder if he truly has any transformative ideas, and if he does, can he communicate them?
And we wince. And we say “Is this the best we can do?” As a party, we want the best candidate. And so far, on 30% of the party seems set on Romney, which leaves the other 70% grimacing. Do we want gaffe-prone Perry? Poorly-organized Cain? Sketchy-past Gingrich? Donkey-in-disguise Huntsman? Isolationist Ron Paul? Michelle “We’re Not Sure She’s Knows What She’s Talking About” Bachmann?
Someone’s got to be better than Romney, but nobody has the total package. And Perry’s horrible gaffe was just that, horrible. But who else can fundraise like Perry? Is the one-time gaffe worse than Gingrich’s past marriages? Is Perry’s gaffe worse than Ron Paul’s destructive isolationism? Is Perry’s athlete’s tongue more damaging than Cain’s fumbling of sexual harassment charges?
Evidently it is, to some pundits.
But Perry has $17 million in the bank. That buys a lot of forgiveness. We can’t count him out.