Quotes about an intensive political week in America…

An intense political week for the Republicans is behind us, with the first battle in the long Republican primary election campaign, with the first victim of that campaign, and with a new Republican presidential candidate.

Here are some quotes from the press and blogosphere to reflect the debate. First about the controversial Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, where the outcome was exactly as Walter Shapiro wrote in The New Republic the other day:

“The Iowa Straw Poll is one of the most insidious events in politics. Even though the straw poll is about as scientific as sorcery, political reporters over-hype the results and pretend that they mean something. The upshot is that fringe candidates can get an unwarranted boost and serious candidates can be prematurely eliminated before most Iowa caucus-goers, let alone most Republicans elsewhere, have a chance to decide on their preferences.”

About the candidates’ debate last Thursday, wrote Charles M. Blow of the New York Times yesterday:

“I must confess that every time Representative Michele Bachmann uttered the phrase “as president of the United States” during Thursday’s Republican presidential debate I blacked out a little bit, so I’m sure that I missed some things. But one thing that I didn’t miss was the moment when all the candidates raised their hands, confirming that they felt so strongly about not raising taxes that they would all walk away from a hypothetical deficit-reduction deal that was as extreme as 10 parts spending cuts to one part tax increases. That moment should tell every voter in America everything about this current crop of Know-Nothings — no person who would take such a stance is fit to be president of the United States or any developed country.”

And Frank Bruni in the New York Times today:

“It was an intensely dispiriting spectacle, because it was an entirely familiar one: the same old same old at a moment of extraordinary global uncertainty and profound national anxiety. Americans are more frightened and pessimistic — and Washington is more dysfunctional — than they’ve been in a very long time. But the script in Iowa was unchanged.”… “It’s time for nobler, smarter, more substantive politics. It’s past time, actually. But that’s not what Iowa presented.”

About Tim Pawlenty, who finished third yesterday in Ames and who today announced that he is no longer a candidate, writes Chris Cillizza on his Washington Post blog The Fix:

“Pawlenty’s demeanor — he was the definition of “Minnesota Nice” — didn’t fit with an electorate who wanted confrontation with President Obama at all costs. Pawlenty watched as Rep. Michele Bachmann soared past him in the race — channeling the anger of voters who saw compromise in any form as capitulation.”

And, finally, here is Professor Juan Cole on his blog Informed Comments about the new candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry:

“Rick Perry’s announcement of his presidential ambitions marks the triumph of fantasy over reality in American politics….Perry is in the American tradition of the huckster and the booster, the snake oil salesman who promises you a cure for what ails you that turns out to be one part pretty words and another part dream castle…Perry sees no problems that can’t be fixed by slashing taxes further on our 400 billionaires and then holding prayer meetings for the unemployed.”

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