The next two Republican debates, tomorrow night and Thursday, “are shaping up to be the most important--and nasty--yet.”
Both come only weeks before Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, with primaries soon after in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. These debates, predicts the Caucus, “are likely to be slugfests as desperate candidates search for a magic bullet to improve their political fortunes in the short time that is left.
“The best predictors for the tenor of a presidential debate are the hours and days that precede it...And the 2012 campaign for the Republican nomination has suddenly taken on a much harsher tone.”
In this mudfight, David Brooks observes, “we have one man, Romney, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s, and another, Gingrich, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s. He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance...
“It’s really too bad. We could have had a great debate about the progressive-conservative tradition. President Obama is now embracing Roosevelt. Gingrich has tried to modernize this tendency.
”But how you believe something is as important as what you believe. It doesn’t matter if a person shares your overall philosophy. If that person doesn’t have the right temperament and character, stay away.”
The Wall Street Journal is kinder to Gingrich as Peggy Noonan calls him “Inspiring—-and Disturbing,” noting that “He is compelling and unique, and, as Margaret Thatcher once said, he has ‘tons of guts.’ But this is a walk on the wild side.”
All this is capped by a Romney surrogate accusing Gingrich of being "not stable."
Does the GOP go with the buttoned-down stiff they could bring home to meet their parents or the wild guy on the motorbike who might run them off the road?
Let the games begin.