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Pawk-Pawklenty Chokes.

“A feeb,” as fictional Rhoda Morgenstern said in the Minneapolis of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” A loser. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty sounded the retreat on healthcare a day after cleverly branding the national program Obamneycare .

Pawlenty had his moment early in the Manchester, New Hampshire debate to explain why he thinks Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts law was the inspiration for Barack Obama’s 2010 legislation. He might have reduced it to this: “Fifty miles from here, working men and women are being fined thousands of dollars because they haven’t purchased insurance under Governor Romney’s law. That’s the spirit of neither Lexington nor Concord. That’s the difference between us. I believe in choice. He stands with President Obama on the side of compulsion”

Romney could have offered his well-rehearsed rejoinder that everyone is going to get sick, so a price will be paid. This is the best way to collect it. Romney knows how to fight his corner, but the beginning round of the debate would have been prolonged and fought on Pawlenty’s turf. The other aspirants would have had to have piled on or faded at the starting gate.

Instead, Pawlenty was on the back foot, ducking his moment with a question that could have propelled him to the front of the herd. The only things missing in Pawlenty’s answer were a trembling lower lip and a quaver in his voice. Romney spent the long 2 hour debate unruffled, in command, and triumphant. The spot as the frontrunner’s main challenger remains unfilled as the summer begins.

Herman Cain deflated his boomlet with dark, nonsensical talk trying to explain away his comments about loyalty oaths and Moslems. Could someone explain why New Mexico’s Gary Johnson was not invited?

Newt Gingrich sounded and looked angry, as he might be after a spontaneous human combustion that rivals Dickens.

The number most often repeated wasn’t the national debt or the year Medicare will collapse. No, it was 23, the number of foster children Michele Bachmann has tended. She did make smart use of a Barack Obama quote opposing raising the government’s debt limit. The Romney campaign will be hoping she emerges as his chief rival. Listen for whispers of “unbecoming” if she does.

Rick Santorum made little impression until he delivered a crisp assessment of the Obama administration’s foreign policy an hour and forty five minutes into the talk marathon. By then, it was too late. The fates put Santorum at the edge of the stage for a reason.

1 comment

1 Dan Reale { 06.16.11 at 1:41 am }

“Could someone explain why New Mexico‚Äôs Gary Johnson was not invited?”

Good point.