I don’t know, guys. I just … don’t know.
Alternate headline: “Maybe Huckabee was right.”
I’ll resist the urge to turn this into a hackish “wimp factor” post — although the alpha/beta dynamic at the debate was palpable, and distressing — and turn it instead in an almost-as-hackish critique of T-Paw’s political instincts. I can understand why he might pass on attacking Mitt at the debate: Maybe Pawlenty saw this as a chance to introduce himself to the public and didn’t want the introduction obscured by a shooting war with Romney just yet. (Said Pawlenty’s spokesman, “We take the long view, which is the right view. Presidential campaigns are marathons.”) That doesn’t make much sense since T-Paw wants to position himself as the “not Romney” in the race and attacking RomneyCare is the fastest path to doing that, but it makes a little sense. So far, so good.
If you’re going to do that, though, why would you (a) preface that non-attack with a headline-grabbing dig at “ObamneyCare” on one of the Sunday morning shows and (b) then follow that non-attack — three days later! — with yet another dig? And not only a dig, but a dig that’s actually framed as an admission that he blew it at the debate in not attacking? And not only that, but a dig whose unfortunate timing will help overshadow a tone-deaf gaffe made by Romney himself that’s in the news today? What exactly is the strategy here? “RomneyCare is a horrible mistake — but let’s not say it around Mitt in case it hurts his feelings”? Given the opening left by T-Paw for an aggressive anti-Romney candidate, if I were Rick Perry, my presidential announcement would consist of stepping to the podium, pulling out a photo of Mitt signing the RomneyCare bill in Massachusetts, and lighting that sucker on fire. Instant frontrunner. As it is, before too much longer, you’re going to have some Republicans fretting that Pawlenty as nominee would take the same kid-gloves approach to Obama as McCain did three years ago.
Speaking of alpha males and confrontationalism, here’s Trump weighing in on the debate (and Weiner) with Laura Ingraham this morning. Skip ahead to 2:20 for his take on Pawlenty’s big whiff. “Terrible.”