The Plank

Fred's Debut

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I could only give this afternoon's Republican debate my partial attention, but here are some admittedly superficial thoughts about Fred Thompson's debut.

Thompson didn't exactly bomb, but he was anything but impressive. For one thing, he hardly looked like a movie star. Frankly, he looked old and craggy, and was a little slow on his feet at times. (The way he kept rubbing his nose and putting a fist up to his mouth made me wonder if he's got a cold.) He also gave an utterly pathetic answer about the significance of a weak dollar which made it seem like he'd never considered the question before. (As I write, I'm told he also gave an embarrassingly vague response to a question about Social Security, which I missed; a colleague may elaborate.) This was not a storyline-changing moment for him.

As for the others: Rudy Giuliani was confident, assertive and funny. The most likeable. (He doesn't seem at all shy about bombing Iran.) Mitt Romney was crisp and efficient as ever, although he absurdly punted a question about whether he would need Congressional authorization to attack Iran as a question for "the lawyers."

Ron Paul, meanwhile, went on a tirade about possible war with Iran which I predict will raise him another $100,000 online by midnight.

--Michael Crowley

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