The GOP YouTube debate on Nov. 28 was fascinating and clarifying. If its impressions harden, two of the big five presidential candidates are toast, and what seemed like semi-anarchy is likely to settle down to a traditional city vs. country contest, with a compromise choice possible.
Mike Huckabee answered questions brilliantly. He has the feeling of George W. Bush at his best but the speaking ability that Bush lacks. Huckabee's rise is despite evangelical leaders, not because of them-and some of the leaders are now racing to follow their followers.
Rudy Giuliani also seems authentic, with his refusal to tickle the ears of interest groups refreshing but also worrisome: It's fine to depart from traditional political inanities, but does that also suggest a Nietzschean willingness to depart from traditional ethical concerns? Giuliani is clearly not pro-life, and his use of security guards during visits to his mistress reminds voters of adultery past.
Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson are faltering, with organizational clout but little more. Romney, asked a question, seems to run quickly through all the computer chips in his brain so as to find the politick answer. Thompson's mental computer runs at Atari speed.
Giuliani vs. Huckabee seems a lot like the Democratic race of 1924 between New York Mayor Al Smith and California's William McAdoo, who had the support of Southern and Western Protestants. Because Democrats then required a nominee to receive two-thirds of the delegate votes, the convention went to 103 ballots and an eventual compromise choice.
The present-day rule of a simple majority means that we'll probably have only one ballot at next year's convention, and the winner will be either Giuliani or Huckabee, with a vice presidential nomination perhaps going to the loser. But keep in mind that John McCain came across as steadfast and statesmanlike in the YouTube debate, and the Grand Old Party does have a history of turning to its Grand Old Men.