Dave Weigel reports:
GREENVILLE, S.C.—The first debate between the candidates who would lead their party in 2012 led Rep. Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina , to ponder an existential question: So what's the point of debates, exactly?
"The notion that we can solve what ails our country and our economy in 60 seconds is driven by television," he said disdainfully, hobnobbing in the spin room after the debate, which included former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, and businessman Herman Cain. "What we really ought to have is Paul Ryan, with whoever the best economist who has the contrary viewpoint is, and a thorough discussion." [...]
A bit later, in the same part of the room, Trey Gowdy kept sketching his ideal world. It was a world in which debates were long and wonky and serious, not about quick solutions but real reckoning on spending. It was a world in which Paul Ryan was on the debate stage, running for president.
"I ask him to, every day," said Gowdy. "The answer's no."