This is from Jonah Goldberg’s “The Goldberg File.” The entire post is simply wonderful and humorous too, but NR does not allow links so you have to subscribe to his weekly newsletter at NRonline.
So, on the merits, I think Newt Gingrich was the best and — I can’t believe I’m saying this — Rick Santorum was a runner-up. They had a command of the issues as they saw them, and they made their arguments well for the most part. I think you could say the same of Ron Paul, save for a few cranky-old-man moments.
It really helps to know what you believe and why you believe it. I listen to Michele Bachmann and sometimes, while I’m sure she knows what she believes, I’m not always sure she knows why she believes it. I listen to Mitt Romney and to a lesser extent Tim Pawlenty, and I hear men who know what they’re supposed to believe and why, but I’m not sure they actually believe it.
Politically, the scoring is very different. Romney and Bachmann won, Pawlenty lost. Romney needed to get out of the debate undamaged, which he did successfully enough. Pawlenty needed to beat Bachmann and he failed. Bachmann needed to keep sucking up oxygen and appealing to her base in Iowa. She succeeded.
Of course, the clearest sign that objective scoring and political scoring are very different is the fact that most of the pros I know think Rick Perry won, and he wasn’t on the stage