Bloggers react to Mitt Romney’s capture of the Michigan primary, and last night’s stultifying Democratic debate in Vegas.
Mitt gets his gold: Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary Tuesday night, beating John McCain by a substantial margin and making the GOP nomination impossible to call. Romney, a native of the state, pulled in a large chunk of the evangelical vote, while McCain did well among independents—even those who listed their opposition to the Iraq war, which he has steadfastly supported, as their biggest electoral issue.
At Commentary’s contentions, John Podhoretz writes: “Mitt Romney’s victory in Michigan is a testament to his remarkable elasticity. Having spent two years running as a social conservative, which he is not, he decided a week ago to run as a businessman reformer.” John Hinderaker at conservative Power Line analyzes Romney’s positions and concludes: “My guess is that Romney’s views on the social issues are similar to my own: he’s a social conservative, but doesn’t have much appetite for red-meat politics on abortion and gay marriage, and places much higher priority on the economy and national defense … I think if he had followed this route, he would have been truer to himself and more credible to voters.”
Andrew Sullivan compares Romney to Hillary Clinton: “[S]he and Romney have one thing in common: two focus-grouped cynical dynastic holograms.” More faint praise for Michigan’s native son from Tigerhawk: “Mitt Romney is the lowest risk Republican. If you are pro-business, think that we need to move away from the status quo in health care, and want a forward foreign policy, Romney is the lowest risk Republican. He may not be the best president of the group, but he is the least likely to be the worst. How’s that for ambition?”
At the National Review’s Corner,Mark Steyn counts Mike Huckabee out and says: “McCain’s loss is bad, too: He needed a win not just for poll momentum but for cash-raising.”
And Matt Yglesias likes Romney’s hall-monitor qualities: “The constant throughout Romney’s career is a cautious, paint-by-numbers approach. He’s running as a conservative right now, and that means that if he wins he’ll govern as a conservative … But that said, it seems very unlikely that he’d roll the dice on some hair-brained scheme if elected. He might do major harm, but I think it’s relatively unlikely.”
Pete Abel at the Moderate Voice wants to believe that Democrats went for McCain “for a reason similar to the one why many Republicans (including me) would vote for Obama if we found ourselves in a Michigan-like situation: We want two strong, reasonably good candidates in the general election, not a lesser-of-two-evils duel. ”
“There are important lessons here in Michigan,” notes Lee Ward at Wizbang Blue. “As the Iraq War takes a back seat to the economic woes of a nation slipping into a recession (and Michigan is one of the states leading that slide) we’re seeing that hopeful, and hope-inspiring answers seem to work better than hard and truthful answers – suggesting Obama may have an edge over Clinton in an ‘economy-focused’ primary season.”
Going into South Carolina, Huckabee remains strong, claims Sarah Posner at the American Prospect’s blog TAPPED: “Yesterday I chatted with Fred Astin, who works for the Beaverdam Baptist Association, a coalition of 70 Southern Baptist churches located in Seneca, South Carolina. Astin, who attended the November Pastors’ Policy Briefing sponsored by the South Carolina Renewal Project, at which Huckabee spoke, said that support for Huckabee at that event and among Southern Baptists in general is extremely strong. Not so much for Romney, or for Fred Thompson.”
Be nice: While votes were being tallied in Michigan, the three Democratic front-runners—Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards—had a downright kittenish debate on MSNBC, where the main topics of conversation seemed to be race and toxic waste. Bloggers see this fraternal back-and-forth as the worst one yet, even though Obama charmed, but also screwed up slightly in confessing that he was bad with handling documents.
Noah Scheiber at the New Republic’s Plank thinks Obama flubbed his answer about his own greatest weakness—disorganization: “He should have stressed that his weakness is personal disorganization (messy desks and the like) not managing an organization. (They’re somewhat related, but hardly the same.) I think this is what he was going for, but, even so, he was a little too dismissive about the importance of operational skill.”
Slate’s own Dahlia Lithwick at the XX Factor agrees: “[T]here’s something about the prospect of having yet another President who needs someone to pick up after him that’s incredibly jarring, and Clinton subtly capitalizes on that tonight.”
Ann Althouse did some terse live-blogging of the debate (she was busy watching the American Idol premiere) but had this to grumble about: “The pandering on economic issues is a huge turn-off for me. A 5-year freeze on interest rates? I’m not an economist, but that sounds terribly wrong. Yet there’s not a word of explanation of why that might be a good idea (from Hillary Clinton).”
Todd Beeton at MyDD thinks: “Clinton was projecting tough, knowledgeable competence rather than trying to charm us and got some nice digs in at the Republicans along the way. She also made some, I think, effective appeals to hispanic voters. She also benefitted from being aggressive with the poorly enforced time constraints, which Edwards and Obama probably should have done more of.”
A moment that caught the eye of Jonathan Stein at Mother Jones’ MoJo Blog was when “Hillary Clinton seemed to say that she was against the 2001 bankruptcy bill after she was for it.”
Read more about the Dem debate.