First, the no-shows…
On one level, this debate was good for Sarah Palin. She wasn’t there and wouldn’t get compared to Michele Bachmann, who exceeded expectations (at least mine!). On another level, Palin was probably sitting comfortably on her couch thinking: “I can clean those folks’ clock!”
So we still may have not seen the last of Sarah.
And Donald Trump was probably in one of his Trump, Inc., nonbankrupted homes pulling his hair out, wishing that the big lights were on him. “Darn, what question would John King ask me? Private school or public school?” [See a slide show of GOP 2012 contenders.]
Then there was Jon Huntsman, who was just in New Hampshire, who probably figured he needed to make sure there was no more of that China-Obama jet lag left in his system. “I’ll just check these folks out and wait for the next one.”
Of course, it did hurt Pawlenty, but he is not always present anyway. I’m afraid his campaign may begin and end in Iowa, where Bachmann may just take him out. [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
As for the rest of the crowd, Gingrich was a bit of a grinch, as usual, but still smart and had trouble with the 30 second rule. Santorum was preachy but probably didn’t help or hurt himself either way. Cain is a nonfactor and Paul is Paul, but he seemed to bring everyone along on his isolationist foreign policy journey.
That leaves Romney, who thought he was going to get knifed in the back and maybe in the front, as the frontrunner, but managed to not only escape any real attacks, but had control of the anti-Obama economic message. My guess is that money comes to him, and he plays for the silver in Iowa and escapes these early rounds without much of a scratch. Plenty of vulnerabilities, but no one wants to take him on right now. [Vote now: Who won Monday night's GOP debate?]
But, watch out, Sarah the Barracuda could draw blood, and the others might just pile on—especially Pawlenty, who is now being called a wimp.
The bash Obama-fest must be countered by the Democrats, but this crowd is not exactly made up of Abraham Lincolns. All in all, not a snooze fest by any means.