In a post yesterday, I discussed how the fact that the declared GOP field has been narrowed down to a fraud (Romney) and a not-ready-for prime-time illiterate (Perry) has opened the door wide for Governor Palin to come crashing through, and how the recent series of GOP debates has made the gaping hole in the current field crystal clear. Late yesterday, in an excellent piece at City on a Hill Political Observer, Bill Hughes came to the same conclusion. Here are some excerpts from his piece:
Going into this debate the race was basically a two person contest (with the third frontrunner, Sarah Palin, waiting in the wings) between Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The general consensus was that Perry was pulling largely from the tea party and right side of the GOP while Romney was rolling in the mud with the RINO brigade.
In the debate, Perry’s greatest strength (his perceived solid conservative political courage) was decimated in the exchange over free tuition to illegal aliens. Embracing the rhetoric of his former colleagues in the Democratic party, Perry claimed anyone against such handouts to folks who sneak illegally into this country while millions of folks around the world wait in line was “heartless” while sanctimoniously grinning at his own compassion for law-breaking.
It didn’t help that he’s still against a border fence on the grounds that America can do a lot of things, but building a simple fence along her border is beyond her capabilities. It also didn’t help that he seemed incredibly ill at ease and unable to coherently espouse some of his policy positions. Even attacks on Romney seemed like he was searching for the next scripted word. And the inauthentic fumbling in the midst of such attacks delivered as much damage on Perry as it did to Romney.
Make no mistake, though, the Perry and Romney boxing match also damaged Romney. While reminding voters that Romney has been an all of the above candidate on virtually every issue, the argument also delivered one of the most politically ludicrous (albeit hilarious) moments in the debate. Romney actually had the political cajones to actually chide Perry for changing political positions. Romney, the liberal moderate conservative who is pro-choice pro-life and supports tax increases tax cuts and spending increases spending cuts while supporting the state-run government mandate variety of socialized healthcare and simultaneously opposing the identical federally run variety considers himself the picture of political stability and credibility. He even lied outright about a statement that Perry rightly pointed out had been deleted from his book when the updated edition came out.
Perry came away from this debate extremely damaged. The talking heads such as Dick Morris (who earned his credibility as a political prognosticator by correctly predicting the 2008 matchup of Hillary Vs. Condi) insist that Romney scored major points in the debate and would reap the benefits of Perry’s demise.
Maybe. But the problem with Romney is that he has been so politically duplicitous that the vast majority of tea party folks and many in the GOP no longer listen to a word that he says. He’s lost all credibility and no longer possesses enough political clout to re-invent himself for the tenth time. So Perry’s loss is not Romney’s gain.
Who did gain?
…the person who benefited the most from this debate is Sarah Palin. Every day the justification for her entrance into this race gets bigger and bigger. Her national polling has dramatically improved and the crazed scouring of her emails, the documentary of her political career and her savvy political op-eds and speeches have been driving the political debate for months. Case in point: She gives a speech on crony capitalism and suddenly all of the GOP field is obsessed with rooting it out. Even folks who have been sidled up to its teat for some time.
With Perry on the verge of collapse, Palin’s moment has arrived. With SarahPAC declaring her “on the verge” of her decision and with the political stage set for her arrival, expect Sarah Palin to enter into this race in short order and to immediate front-runner status. Unlike previous front-runners Romney, Perry and Bachmann, however, Palin has been the most thoroughly vetted national candidate since Reagan. Where they all took dramatic nose-dives in support under such attacks, Palin’s candidacy will demonstrate the teflon of Reagan. With Palin in the race, the tea party will finally have a credible candidate with a record AND matching rhetoric of sudden and relentless common sense Constitutional conservative reform. It will quickly change the race into an establishment versus Palin race.
And that’s a contest that the Mama Grizzly has won before to the tune of landslide elections of 75% of the vote and 80% plus approval ratings for the majority of her term as governor.
Be sure to read Hughes’ entire piece here. He gets it.
(h/t Josh Painter)