I didn’t watch the Republican debate at the Reagan library last night. The consensus among the Serious People is that Mitt Romney held his own and that Rick Perry had a lot of good applause lines, but both mangled their facts and distorted their own records; gee, what a surprise.
If you want a minute-by-minute accounting, the team at TPM has the highlights, but these events are like the first game of the season in baseball; you can’t tell who the pennant winners are going to be from the first innings, but you can get an idea who has the staying power to make it through the season. You know that Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain aren’t going to get the nomination; a year from now you’re going to have to come back to this post to remind yourself that they even ran. Well, Ron Paul will still be running no matter what. Say what you will, but he just never stops, and his supporters never shut up.
So you’re left with the white guys who represent the legacies of the GOP: the country-club rich Mitt Romney, the redneck poser Rick Perry, and the calm, cerebral (by contrast) but lovelorn Jon Huntsman, who probably is the biggest threat to President Obama but will end up as the Bill Bradley of the GOP; respected by too many nice people to be elected by the rabble.