You can tell that the Republican presidential candidates are feeling the pressure of the compressed primary schedule. Iowa set its caucus for January 3rd. Happy new year. New Hampshire still might run its primary in December. I can't take it.
And neither, apparently can the candidates Not Named Romney. The Romney team is moving furiously behind the scenes to move up the caucus and primary dates in order to seal in Mitt as the party's nominee as quickly as possible. He's having some success, as the calendar shows, so the other candidates are freaking out. They have just a few more weeks to raise money and make their cases. And tempers are running short.
During last night's debate, Romney and Rick Perry tore it up with each other. They interrupted, cut each other off, and sniped. Rick Santorum whined and stomped his feet. Michele Bachmann ended up raising her voice to continually interject. Herman Cain was the punching bag of the evening, being the new frontrunner, but he punched back often. Sometimes he landed those punches, some were air balls. Ron Paul gassed around about god-knows-what. And Newt Gingrich spent much of his time looking exasperated at the whole hot mess.
The candidates are under pressure, and it showed last night. But if they can't handle the pressure of their own party's primary process, how are they going to handle the pressure of a general election campaign against the most brutally effective leftist machine the nation has ever seen?
And how will they handle the pressure of the presidency?
I don't believe in a super-early, compressed primary schedule. It may lock us into a candidate we may later regret. I want us to take our good old time choosing our standard bearer, and I want them to duke it out and let the best man or woman win.
But the pressure test is a good one. Watch them sweat. Grace under fire reveals presidential temperament, and heaven knows, we need a true conservative with a graceful temperament. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?