Last week’s Republican candidate’s debate in Jacksonville probably changed no one’s mind.
First, it was only theater, as most political debates tend to be. Newt Gingrich, in a follow-up attack, even called Mitt Romney’s part “the most blatantly dishonest performance by a presidential candidate I’ve ever seen.”
The two smeared each other pretty well in the debate, freely violating Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.
We found out what we already knew -- that Romney is a bit stuffy and uptight, but looks presidential, and Gingrich is erratic, but a fighter.
Rick Santorum had the best line of the night when he told Gingrich and Romney to quit beating each other up and talk about the issues. He also focused most on the central point, which is winning in November.
Let’s face it. There is no conservative hero resembling Ronald Reagan on the ballot this year. GOP voters will choose from what they have available Tuesday and conservatives will vote for whoever wins.
In 2008, the people chose a pig in a poke.
This year, the choice is a little easier because the incumbent has a record, which he is going to do his best to ignore, or disguise with dishonest spin. He gave it short shrift during his State of the Union speech. There was no mention of the mountain of debt and only a passing nod to the legislation he considers his masterpiece.
As much as he and the lapdog media would like to ignore it, however, his record is out there and most people know what it is, so the anti-incumbent vote will be substantial. If it was the general election being held Tuesday, there is a good chance he would be defeated.
But much can happen by November. Liberals are counting on the private sector to save them by finding some way to create growth and jobs between now and then, despite the enormous obstacles that liberals, themselves, have put in the way.
After the puny 1.7 percent growth last year, anything that looks like improvement will be hailed as enormous, spectacular, breathtaking achievement by the most brilliant president of all time.
With the media doubling down on its choice in ’08, the power of the incumbency, and a billion-dollar war chest, Barack Obama has a good chance of getting a second-term. Unfettered by worries about being elected, he can go pedal to the metal with spending and taxes.
What could stop him is a conservative Congress. The GOP should retain the House and has a good chance of winning the Senate, although not the 60 votes it would need for full control.
Progress would be delayed for another four years if the GOP bid for the White House fails, but there is hope of a fierce fight between the executive and legislative branches that could prevent further damage.
Given the serious state the union is in, the question is whether we can wait four more years.
Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville.
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