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Round Two: Rick Perry and the Seven Dwarfs

They say it ain't over 'til it's over or the fat lady sings at least a dozen times, finally making all the high notes in Aida and La Traviata in succession. Nevertheless -- after only his second debate -- things do look pretty good for Rick Perry.

And consider before this Tampa debate he was already twelve points ahead of nearest rival Mitt Romney, according to its sponsor's (CNN) own poll.

So it's no surprise that most of Monday's affair -- which mostly reprised the same questions from last week's Reagan Library debate (this all could get pretty tedious fast) -- was a game of "Everybody on Rick" with the Texas governor, perhaps in deference to his state's proximity to Mexico, as the designated piƱata.

Well, not quite everybody. Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain declined to attack Perry. (I will try to explain that later.) But Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and, of course, Romney did their best to slam Perry at every opportunity, sometimes remembering, seemingly as an afterthought, to throw in an unkind word for Barack Obama, as if the Texas governor and the not the president was the incumbent.

The five, however, did their Perry dissing in different ways. The first three -- Huntsman, Bachmann and Santorum -- I would classify as the soreheads. They are all doing miserably in the polls. Huntsman and Santorum always were. They are both currently at 2%, tied with a generic "Someone else" and 2 points behind "None/No one." (No surprise here with Santorum who, when last facing the electorate, lost reelection in his home state of Pennsylvania by 18 points.) Who, besides their wives, really knows why they are running?

Bachmann, too, once flying high, has herself sunk to a mere 4% (tied with "None/No one") since Perry entered the race. No wonder she's sore at the Texan. She took after him, as did Santorum, during the Monday debate because some years ago Perry evidently tried by fiat to have high school girls vaccinated against cancer of the cervix. Perry admitted this approach was a mistake and this whole thing had apparently been rehashed ad infinitum by Kay Bailey Hutchison in her recent, ill-fated run against Perry for the Texas gubernatorial nomination, but never mind. To Bachmann and Santorum this attempt to prevent cancer, whether ill-founded or not, was a form of child molestation or something. The more they went on about this, the more rabid, and frankly scary, they sounded.