Former MN governor Tim Pawlenty had a very impressive performance on The Daily Show last night. I never watch the program, mind you. If I wanted to see the news presented through a spiteful, left wing focus with maximum attention paid to ridiculing Republicans, I'd break out my old VHS tapes of the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather from the 80's. But I caught the video over on Big Hollywood, via this post from the great John Nolte.
What's surprising to me is John Stewart's performance. From watching him years ago, I remember him to be a remarkably glib and clever speaker, difficult to win a debate with based on his guile and winning sense of humor. But in this interview with Pawlenty comes, he comes off as strident, narrow, evasive, and scatter-minded.
Pawlenty, on the other hand, is dynamite. He calmly accepts all of Stewart's weird insinuations, keeps bringing the conversation back to real issues and solutions, and bests him with both his arguments and quips. He looks, dare I say, Presidential.
Stewart is on the defensive almost immediately (despite the fact he dominates the early parts of the conversation with his own filibuster). What he looks like is a guy desperately trying to sell a losing argument and knowing he's got nothing to battle with. He also cedes much of the argument on solutions to Pawlenty and appears to be just trying to carve out a small accommodation for his belief system.
In that economic liberalism, in the age of catastrophic budget problems, is a losing argument, I wonder how much of the tone of this conversation will be the dynamic of the 2012 election.