May 4, 2007
I didn't watch the Republican debate last night. There was nobody on there I wanted to see or learn any more about at the moment, and, if it went like the one the Democrats had a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn't have learned anything anyway. It was designed to give us a glance at the whole field, so that the parties could decide who came over best at a glance. The viewing audience was sort of a focus group for the system. Now they can get seriously behind one candidate or another and force their choice on the rest of us.
If this new system is to be believed, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination just because she didn't lose it -- and because Barack Obama didn't snatch it in that one glancing moment. And by all accounts I can get my hands on this morning, Mitt Romney won the Republican nod.
Never mind that Obama goes on coining money, and received an endorsement the other night from Oprah Winfrey, and that Al Gore and Fred Thompson have not announced yet. Never mind that Republicans don't really like the cut of Mitt Romney's jib; they think he looks too young and too happy (as Democrats regard John Edwards). Not enough gravitas for the office. I guess they don't recall Reagan's glib glitter from his early days, or George Bush's slick sophomoric appearance on the day he moved into the White House. (He looks old and grave enough after eight years of failure.)
These initial debates don't amount to much. In my heart I believe that Hillary Clinton will actually win the Democratic death-wish nomination. And it may be that Romney will be her opponent. Nobody can call it yet.
But something tells me that the next President was not on that stage last night, or the other night in South Carolina. It's interesting, but most of us are not paying much attention yet.