The real winner tonight was CNN, YouTube, the GOP, and the American people. Yes, there were some stupid questions. But there were also some very, very good questions on important topics such as immigration, that would not have been asked by typical MSM moderators.
It was a tough and nasty debate, and that's a good thing. Whoever comes out of this as the nominee will be battle-tested and ready to take on the Democrat nominee.
In a multi-candidate debate, it's hard to pick one winner or one loser. In addition, as always, success is judged based on how candidates perform versus the expectations they came in with.
In my estimation, the candidates who benefited from tonight were McCain, Thompson, and Huckabee.
I'm reading David McCullough's excellent book on Truman, so a lot of what McCain said rang true tonight . McCain's comment to Ron Paul about WWII and the danger of isolationism rang particularly true.
In addition, his comment about the importance of America taking the high-road when it comes to torture also reminded me of the book.
As anyone familiar with history knows, there was a clear difference between the way America treated our enemies than the way other countries treated their enemies. For this reason, Germany actually tried to surrender only to England and America (and not to Russia).
But the bottom line is that I think McCain got his message out tonight -- that he has the experience needed at this time in history. In short, he was "Presidential."
... Fred Thompson benefited from low expectations. Tonight, he was "on." He was humorous, and had some great one-liners. At a couple points, he was even, "Reaganesque." There were glimmers of the Fred Thompson a lot of people (not me) thought they were going to get from day one. His controversial YouTube attack commercial was tough but very good. His opponents will say this is "desperation," but I say considering the position he's in right now, and the amount of time left, it's smart.
... Mike Huckabee is such a good debater that even when he's mediocre, he's still pretty good. As always, he did well and was humorous ("Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office..." was a great answer).
... If you like Ron Paul's message, he did well tonight. The question is if you like his message...
... Rudy was mediocre, but probably benefits from the fact that Huckabee and Thompson did well (presumably, their success hurts Romney). His closing line about the Yankees was humorous, but his opening skirmish with Romney about Romney's hiring illegal immigrants seemed personal.
... As such, Mitt Romney was probably was the one who most under-performed tonight. He didn't seem "on." In addition, he often seemed holier than thou. Some of his answers seemed to be pandering. Other questions reminded us of his past record. And some of his answers -- like the one about the King James Bible and gays in the military -- just seemed odd ...
Again, it was a good debate. As I watch the post-debate analysis, I only wonder why CNN doesn't have some younger conservative bloggers on the panel. I mean, David Gergen?