The pundits were out in force Tuesday night to cover the Republican "wave" that washed over the 2010 midterm elections. But some of the evening's most indelible highlights, television-wise, came from the candidates themselves, both winners and losers. Here are seven standout TV moments from the night:
1. Chris Matthews vs. a "hypnotized" Michele Bachmann
MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews had a memorably unrevelatory interview with "triumphant" Tea Party stalwart Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who seemed intent on ignoring his questions while delivering her four-point GOP plan and staring down the camera. "Has someone hypnotized you?" Matthews asked bluntly. "Because no matter what I ask you, you give the same answer." Bachmann responded, says Big Journalism, with the "dismissive tone the hack [Matthews] deserved," shooting back with her own snipe about his infamous 2004 remark that Barack Obama had sent "a thrill ran up my leg":
2. Carl Paladino's defiant "bat" speech
New York Republican Carl Paladino had a bad night against Andrew Cuomo, who trounced him in New York's gubernatorial race. And he "went out much the same way he came in: Incomprehensibly," says Max Read in Gawker. "His concession speech in a nutshell: Carl has a baseball bat, and Andrew Cuomo can hold it, and we 'have not heard the last of Carl Paladino." At least "he's not just taking his football — or, more to the point, his baseball bat — and going home," says Celeste Katz in the New York Daily News.
3. John Boehner's "teary" victory speech
The presumptive House Speaker in the next Congress earned his reputation for tearing up in his victory speech, and given his "amazing story" of political redemption, "I don’t blame him for choking up," says Jay Nordlinger at National Review. Boehner's waterworks, like the GOP's victory, "was a lovely re-branding, but utterly devoid of content," says The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan.
4. Marco Rubio's "Bill Clinton smooth" national debut
The rising Florida GOP (and Tea Party) star Marco Rubio won praise for his own American Dream–centered victory speech. He could well be "the Tea Party’s brightest rising star," says Peter Grier in The Christian Science Monitor. "Man, he's smooth," says The Guardian's Richard Adams, "Bill Clinton smooth." He can say basically "the same thing as Rand Paul but without sounding like a fruitcake."
5. Rand Paul: "We all work for rich people or sell stuff to rich people"
Paul won handily, "Aqua Buddha be praised!" says Jonah Goldberg in National Review. "Of all the crazy ones," says The Atlantic's Sullivan, "I hoped for his election the most." With his anti-tax, anti-spending priorities, Paul is "the likeliest Republican to put defense spending on the table." Here, Paul explains his opposition to ending the "Bush tax cuts" on top earners:
6. Christine O'Donnell's "We have won" concession speech
O'Donnell lost her Senate race by a pretty wide margin, but that didn't stop the cable networks from cutting from Rubio's victory address to cover her concession speech. Declaring victory and making demands of the candidate who just buried you makes for an odd concession speech, the MSNBC team notes. But a "very uplifting" one, says Tabassum Zakaria at Reuters. Amazingly, after such a hard campaign, she was "all smiles and positive energy," even ending with the upbeat exhortation "So let's party!"
7. "The Daily Show" debuts its "Holo-suit"
CNN famously used its hologram technology during the 2008 election. This Tuesday saw the debut of "'CNN's Election Matrix,' which is sort of a room where data becomes the furniture and the decor, all manipulated with a flick of John King's wrist," says David Carr in The New York Times. On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart samples the Matrix and the other networks' visual bells and whistles, before unveiling his own marvel of techno-eye candy, the "Holo-suit":