Open thread: Cain vs. Gingrich in Lincoln/Douglas debate

In lieu of a Quote of the Day, here’s your thread to follow along with C-SPAN tonight. The debate airs live at 8 p.m. ET (and online, of course) and will re-air at 9:45 in case you can’t make the early showing. No moderator and no questions about sexual harassment. Just three 30-minute blocks devoted to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, respectively. I’m frankly not sure why Cain wants to go head to head with Newt in his natural habitat, wonking out over policy as cameras roll. I could understand if Gingrich was leading the field and Cain was struggling and desperate for publicity; it’d still be a gamble in that case but maybe one worth taking. Instead it’s Cain who’s on top and Newt who’s looking to break through to the top tier — specifically by siphoning off Cainiacs and other “Not Romney” voters, which makes this a perfect opportunity. (That also explains why he sided with Cain when asked about the harassment charges the other day. He was cuddling up to the Cain supporters he covets.) Maybe Cain’s thinking that his reputation for being shaky on policy would be too big an obstacle to overcome later so he has no choice but to take proactive measures now. Doing well in a debate against Gingrich on a seminal budget issue will help reassure undecideds that he’s a legit alternative to Romney. Still, though, a big risk.

Two things to watch for. One: Will Cain remind Gingrich of his infamous dig at Paul Ryan for “right-wing social engineering”? Two: Will Gingrich find a way to challenge Cain on the fact that 9-9-9 isn’t nearly the boon for middle-class taxpayers that they think? While we wait for answers, via the Daily Caller, here’s David Brooks being very, very David Brooks-ish.

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