But nothing we can point to tonight, in noting highlights, will claim much time in the conversation tomorrow when set against the Major Event of the evening: the ending of Rick Perry. Yes, many of us advancing in age can have sympathy with someone forgetting names or items on his list. But to go out of his way to make his point about three departments he would remove from the federal government — and forget the third — that is not a man ready to stand in this arena. And yet it was worse: The department he had forgotten was the Department of Energy, touching an issue that he has made the central issue in his campaign. But the distraction of mind did not end there: When the subject of student loans arose, he somehow couldn’t see the point that loans to students and public funding had themselves become engines for escalating the costs of college, well beyond inflation. Apparently the cassette was inserted in his head and he began to reel off things like long-distance learning and putting the press on trustees to reduce costs — by doing what? The poor man was reeling and suffering distraction. Yes, quickness of wit in debate may not be the test of soundness of judgment. But a debate can test clarity of mind. And he should be reminded that Lincoln, in debate with Stephen Douglas, offered the fullest unfolding of his argument, the clearest exposition of its moral ground, and the most savvy scheme of prudence to guide the administration he would later form. No trifling thing, a debate, when it is serious — and done by a thoughtful political man.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Brain Freeze: The End of Rick Perry?
Professor Hadley Arkes writes at National Review Online: