OK, so I didn’t watch the debate last night. Frankly, I think these things are overrated, and in this day and time of “gotcha” politics, the main point of debates seems to have become to a.) sound interesting and b.) keep from saying something ridiculous that becomes a punchline on Letterman. Substance often matter less than soundbites. Scratch that: substance almost always matters less than soundbites. And so I can’t vouch for what Dean Barnett says here:

A Big Night for Huckabee

But what I can point out, at the risk of sounding like Gomer Pyle (“Gaaaahhaaahhaaah-LEE”) is two comments Barnett makes, that don’t stand out as odd or unusual, but come off more matter-of-fact—but which in their matter-of-factness tell the story:

“McCain had some good moments and some bad ones. The problem is his principal rival, Mike Huckabee, has good moments and great ones.”

“In the race for the Republican nomination, Mike Huckabee is going to be tough to beat.”

Six months ago, it was Rudy and Flip Flopney, with Half-Dead Fred getting a lot of “will he or won’t he” buzz, and McCain being an afterthought with Mike Huckabee being an after-that-McCain-afterthought-thought.

Now, it is looking more and more like the Republican race is coming down to Huckabee and McCain (and yes, I admit, I wrote McCain off just a few weeks ago). And as I said, I think now that those two men will form the ticket, one way or the other.

Lessons:

1. The early pundits are often, dare I say “usually”, wrong. This has been proven in election after election, when the “conventional wisdom” proves over and over again not to be so wise.

2. Money doesn’t matter nearly as much in politics as people think it does. No amount of money can change peoples’ perception of Flip Flopney from the image that many have of being the Manchurian Candidate, the guy with all the money and Hollywood looks, but without clear core principles on many issues, a cross between pretty John Edwards and patrician John Kerry.

3. Polls are useful to a point, but only to a point.

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