The first big Republican debate of the 2012 campaign season found a collection of lifelong wielders of state power one-upping each other on the topic of their vehement disdain for state power. Such is the fate of this strange party, its standard bearers without an excuse for why someone who loathes state power so much would wish to wield even more of it. The Soviet threat was their saving grace, I think, and they’ve been a mess since. In the Cold War they could seek power in order – ostensibly – to defend the nation. Now they seek power to show how horrible it is; and last night they largely decide to show how horrible it is by displaying how horrible they are.
Indeed, they are coherent enough in their loathing of state power to agree they won’t actually govern, in the style of decision making. Instead they swore great oaths of adherence to various principles: no taxes ever, for example. I counted at least five questions where the questioner started with, “X [magazine / pundit / politician] termed you the most [rabidly anti-tax, frothingly pro-choice / absolutely intransigent]; is it true? Or is someone else up here even more so?” Their best moment of clarity was on outlawing gay marriage by a constitutional amendment, a result which is both politically impossible and ever losing support.
I thought they came off edgy and visceral (with one exception, see below) and very much aware of the absurdity of their position: at the start of a desperately long and tough process to achieve, at the end, the thing they so claim to disdain. Also, they will all create tons of jobs! My rankings:
He’s done it before, and it helped him look calm. Reaction in the media said he “ducked questions”, but when is he going to get these actual questions? He coherently explained his health care plan via states rights, and outlined a plan of the old Republican sauce: help the wealthy and business and the nation benefits. I disagree, but it is coherent and its won before. Dudes in Connecticut country clubs are nodding. Looked neither bonkers nor scared, which was huge in that field.
(Looking ahead, it is already obvious that it will be Mitt the Mormon Businessman versus Rick the Gun-Toting, Jesus-Man Southerner. Who will the R primary voters pick? Dudes in Connecticut country clubs now shaking their heads.
2-3. Not Big Enough for the Both of Us
Tim Pawlenty, aswim in David-Byrne-esque suit, withered under Michelle Bachmann’s assault. He’s done, if he’d ever actually started. He finally got to use “Obamneycare” in a debate, but the moderator stepped on his line. His big rhetorical move was to offer to mow people’s lawns, which was all a set up to twitch Romney on being rich. He thinks being rich works against you among Republicans? He quoted Spiderman, so points there. He then closed as if he’d given the State of the Union; it’s as close as he’ll get.
Bachmann, for her part, is a fighter. She fights and fights, as she does it fightingly. She’ll fight some more! Is she done? Nope? Fighting. She’ll fight with congress and the courts if you elect her. She’ll fight for Jesus every day. She fought to not raise the debt ceiling! And see what happened? “Standard Poor’s [sic] downgraded us.” If only we would have defaulted, she says, we would not have been adjudged a risk for default.
Still, her supporters are as immune to gaffes as Mama Grizzly’s were/are. She’s in it to the end. Can’t say the same for Pawlenty.
4. He Won’t Survive
American needs to learn to take a joke, says Herman Cain, disproving his point. He finished off with a Donna Summer quote, and not even a good one. Standard rich-dude vanity candidate, and in the style of this candidate, he eeds to find a niche issue he can bore us to death with.
5. The Undisputed
Question for you, Mr Gingrich. There he is, sausage fingers clasped atop the lectern, leaning on one elbow, smirking. What has he been doing? Not listening to this bullshit, I can tell you that. He’s playing a chess game in his head. Against Kasparov. In Afghanistan. But, fine, since you ask:
“First, I find your question despicable. Now, the answer is: the 90s. Democratic president, Republican House. We were young, sir, and we did great things. This entire conversation is juvenile. The Yellow Press rains calumny upon me, which I will excoriate further when I rejoin said press, as soon as I convince a few elderly shut-ins to pay off my campaign debts.”
He’s really the best. He needs to stay in at least until he has a chance to explain how the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Renaissance caused the insolvency of medicare. (Or something.)
So boring he doesn’t deserve a title. Vibrated at a high frequency. His voice made dogs anxious. Seemed exceptionally short. Took great pride in his role in the Hunstman Corporation, a global chemical concern. Blamed the EPA for his outsourcing his chemical business to India and China. Yes, why would we regulate our chemical factories? (Hey India and China: I might run the rule over this guy’s ops if I was you.)
Also promised to turn America into Utah, which is worrisome, as this is the goal of the LDS church.
7. Ron Paul!
Made sense on “militarism”, as he does every four years. Also blamed financial panics on US leaving the gold standard. Um…1873, ’84, ’90, ’93, ’96…etc…1929.
8. Look at Me:
Rick Santorum mentioned polygamy twice, so he’ll consider it a win. (Also stated darkly that there were currently polygamy-legalizing bills in state legislatures.) Whinged about lack of TV coverage, ignoring that he’s big on The Google. Iran isn’t Iceland, but which one shares more social views with Rick? Got the crazed look of a man who will shortly be protesting outside these debates. Which means he won’t have to watch them. So he’s got that going for him.
Good weekend, peoples.