Yesterday, Joe Klein had the best observation I’ve seen on the GOP debate: “Listening to the Republicans, you’d never guess that this was a country 70% of the public thinks is heading in the wrong direction.”
Exactly so. I re-watched most of the debate today, and this was the standout quality. You had all these candidates engaging in a kind of “how many angels fit on the head of a pin” conversation about tax reform (flat tax! fair tax! consumption tax! repeal the 16th amendment!) that was almost totally disconnected from anyone trying to claim that their policies were going to address some kind of anxiety people have. The one candidate who did it — John McCain proposing a $3,000 refundable health care tax credit — said it in an utterly affectless manner and the policy proposal is both pretty dumb and clearly inadequate to the scope of the country’s health care issues.
On national security, the candidates didn’t convey any real sense that American policy has been running into any kind of problems.