THE VIEW FROM CHINA….James Fallows emerges from the media hinterlands of China to report his impression of last night’s Republican debate:
This is the first debate among the Republicans that I’ve seen at full length and in real time. So…how did it look?
Romney by a mile. More precisely, the only candidate you could imagine putting up a plausible general-election fight. Again, I’m not handicapping the GOP race, which I know nothing about. I’m not saying how each candidate did relative to previous appearances. I am telling you how this one debate looked if you had never seen these guys on the same stage before.
I missed the start of the debate, but it seemed to me that John McCain had a few strong moments during the last half hour (“the reason why I’ve had such strong support amongst independents is because they know that I’ll put my country above my party every single time”). Huckabee was smarmy. Giuliani didn’t really have anything to say. Ron Paul was Ron Paul.
But Romney? I dunno. Unlike Fallows, I’ve seen him so many times that I can’t react to him in ordinary human terms anymore. He’s just a windup doll, and everything he says gets filtered through that lens. I just have no idea what kind of impression he makes on the kind of person who might be inclined to vote for him in the first place.