I did not watch the debate last night (sacrilege)! The reality is that family concerns took precedence, but my official story is that I can't pay that much attention this early.
That said, there's an interesting back-and-forth over at the Corner regarding the candidates and what we might call 'optimism vs. anger.' It's worth reading, and it features an excerpt from Peggy Noonan's column today:
All the candidates save one, the obscure but intellectually serious Ron Paul, seemed to be trying to show they will not break with the Bush administration on the war, but that, at the same time, they each know a heck of a lot more than President Bush. There were criticisms of the administration's handling of Iraq, with the first and strongest coming from Mr. McCain. Mike Huckabee had the most spirited explanation. The administration listened to "civilians in silk ties" rather than generals "with mud and blood on their boots." On Iran, the candidates seemed in general to be indignant to the point of bellicosity.
That's a good point. Will it work in 2008?
I'm still not sold on the fact that Iraq will be THE ISSUE of the 2008 election - at least not in the way it is today. Chances are still better than even that US troops will be largely out of harm's way by then, so Iraq would be an important part of the debate - but only to the extent that 'lessons learned' governed policy going forward.
Apart from that, one of the rules of thumb in presidential elections is that the 'optimistic candidate' wins; it fits right there next to the rules about the taller candidate and the one you'd like to have a beer with. One thing that the GOP field is lacking right now is optimistic candidates. Can Fred Thompson bring that, too?