I spent the evening live blogging the Huckabee FOX News GOP Candidate Forum for Sulia. My sense is that Gingrich consolidated his front runner status tonight. He was lucky to be the first person. I'll bet that viewership declined over the course of the debate. I think Gingrich enjoys a lot of advantages right now because of his front runner status. It must give him great confidence that even though he has made all these mistakes in the past, many voters are forgiving him and expecting him to be a stonger, better president. It's hard to be intimidated when you are leading in the polls.
I can report that Gingrich is a sincere student of Washington. I was surprised to learn that for over two decades, Gingrich has taught at the United States Air Force's Air University. He is the longest-serving teacher of the Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course. I've met both Obama and Gingrich face-to-face. There is no way that Obama is as bright or as informed as Gingrich.
I was glad that neither Cain or Huntsman were there tonight. I think this format would have gotten even more tedious if they were included in this debate.
All in all, I see Ron Paul as being as much of an ideologue as Barack Obama. This is why he occasionally hits home with a punch. I think ideologies endure because they have some compelling insights than endure. I think Ron Paul is a living example of how far you can go in life by rigidly sticking to an ideology. Obama’s ideology, in contrast, is Indonesian socialism – socialism with an anti-colonial twist and a good dose of Islamic sensibilities.
What were the best moments? I think Rick Perry did surprisingly well at the very beginning when it looked like he was less distracted the normal. I also like the way that Bachmann discussed how states would find ways to cooperate even in the absence of a strong federal government. I think Romney has got his answer down pat for why Romneycare looks so much like Obamacare, but why that does not really matter.
What surprised me tonight? The format gave me a sharper focus on each candidate as if I was looking at them through a pure microscope lens. What I saw, however, pretty much confirmed the basic conventional wisdom regarding each candidate.
What would I change? Bring back the studio audience. I missed them in this debate. Sometimes I feel like the audience has a better grasp on reality than the candidates. I think we can still learn a lot from the one guy in the audience that suddenly shouts out: You lie!
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.