Gail Collins, back in the fold.
After taking the summer off to write a book, Gail Collins returns to the New York Times op-ed page with her take on last night's Republican candidates debate from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. Among her observations:
Perry and Romney had an interesting dust-up over who did the better job of creating employment. This is a fight that is going to go on for the next several months. Statistics will be cited, and by the time it is over you will come to understand why young people don’t dream of running away from home to become an economist.
“Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt,” Perry said at one point. “George Bush and his predecessors created jobs at a faster rate than you did,” retorted Romney. Score. Republicans, do you want to trust your nomination to a guy who makes Mitt Romney look clever? Just think about it.
I was sorry that no one asked Perry more of the really critical questions. For instance, is it true that he saved his daughter’s puppy from being eaten by a coyote? This allegedly happened when Perry went jogging “packing a Ruger .380 with laser sights and loaded with hollow-point bullets.” Because, as he says, he is “that kind of guy.” His puppy-rescue is a stirring picture, especially considering that Perry’s chief competitor is the man who drove to Canada with the family dog Seamus strapped to the roof of the car.
But the more I think about it, the more I wonder. Where were his bodyguards? How did the puppy keep up with him if he was running? And where exactly was he carrying the Ruger? Many joggers I know have trouble hanging on to a water bottle.
Perry and Romney were not the only debaters. There was Jon (I Believe in Evolution) Huntsman Jr., hoping to be next in the Not-Mitt Sweepstakes. Rick Santorum, Bachmann and Ron Paul ganged up on Perry for trying to get Texas girls inoculated against cervical cancer. This is a big deal for some social conservatives, but it’s still interesting to think that we have presidential candidates who believe that they could score a stunning upset victory on an anti-cancer-prevention platform.
Santorum, ever hopeful, has been telling people that the competition is “like an episode of ‘Survivor,’ ” but I am thinking you need a more depressing image — maybe like an episode of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” or one of the several current television shows about people who bid on abandoned storage bin lockers.
The debate was at the Reagan library, and no matter what you think of Ronald Reagan, this crew makes him look good. It is the genius of the Republican Party in recent decades that it continually selects candidates who make the ones who went before appear better. Remember how great George H.W. Bush seemed once we’d lived with his son for a while? And I have a strong suspicion that whoever the nominee is this time will make us yearn for the magic that was W.I already agreed on the last point.