This is the best synopsis of last night’s debate I’ve yet seen. Via George Neumayr at the American Spectator:
Mitt Romney’s campaign is essentially plastic and dishonest, an insuperable problem Wednesday’s debate in Mesa, Arizona, underscored yet again for disenchanted primary voters. Romney bested a rattled Rick Santorum in it, but this victory, like his others, looked hollow and dispiriting.
One suspects that Romney’s low surrogates paid punks to enter the debate hall and loudly boo his opponents. Not that Santorum didn’t deserve a few. He blew it, exposing himself to repeated strikes from a Ron Paul-Mitt Romney pincer movement. Seated to Santorum’s right and left, Paul and Romney took turns needling him. If, as the saying goes, a candidate “who is explaining is losing,” then Santorum lost very badly. He kept getting entangled in the weeds of boring disputes from the past in which he had betrayed this or that conservative principle.
Romney, at his most hypocritical, labored hard to present himself as more socially conservative than Santorum, noting that Rick had voted for Planned Parenthood funding. Astonishingly, Santorum missed his chance at a return upper cut. Why didn’t he mention that Romney once gave money to Planned Parenthood from his own pocket? Why didn’t he mention that Romneycare dollars go to Planned Parenthood?
Romney’s sudden social conservatism invites an obvious question: How stupid does he think primary voters are? Romney’s con job here depends upon the amnesia of his audience. Here’s a politician who pled fealty to Roe v. Wade, voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas, and competed with Ted Kennedy as a champion of “gay rights.” By the way, Romney’s social conservatism didn’t even last for the whole debate. In the second hour of it, he indicated his support for women in combat.
But let’s get back to the debate. Even as Romney took his mittens off and suckerpunched Santorum for earmarks Mitt himself supported — Romney remains the smarmy apple polisher who likes to narc on his misbehaving classmates — one could almost see strings attached to the reinvented Republican’s back. Romney is the semi-reformed RINO dummy of high-priced ventriloquists — a dummy whose words and robotic jerks come from the pushing and pulling of scummy strategists and pollsters who crawl along a corrupt corridor from Boston to D.C. His “Fortune 500” campaign makes me sick. Is the GOP really going to nominate this fraud?
The cheapness and inauthenticity of his campaign is too depressing for words. One small example of this dismal charade came early in the debate when Romney made an utterly random reference to “George Costanza.” Apparently, one of Romney’s oh-so-clever strategists told him to dispel his image as a nerd trapped in the 1950s by spicing up his answers with “hip” references. So what does Romney do? He cites, for no apparent reason, a character from a sitcom that went off NBC’s schedule over a decade ago.