The Third Republican Debate
It's time for a re-rematch! The venue is the Reagan Library, apparently in the Aviation section, as there's an enormous airplane hanging from the ceiling. Not a celebration of 9/11, right? The players:
Mitt Romney: The Romneybot plugs along, focusing on its protocol to become the President of the United States. (I'm still not sure if he's the prequel to Terminator: Salvation, or to The Matrix.)
Newt Gingrich: Still the parent chaperon of these candidates. While the other candidates keep talking about Reagan's days like it was King Arthur's Camelot, Gingrich is like Merlin--the only surviving guy who actually worked with Reagan on anything.
Herman Cain: Absolutely not a politician yet, and proud of it. Not sure if this is good or bad.
Rick Santorum: I won't back off my earlier theory that Rick Santorum is simply a Tim Pawlenty sock puppet. You never see the guy's legs. Everytime the camera goes to him, he's behind the podium! They'll show Romney walking around, or Huntsman, but not Santorum! This theory also explains why Tim Pawlenty was so eager to leave the race. It was getting awkward having to debate while he also worked the Santorum puppet. Your minds are blown.
You see any human legs here? Me, either.
Michelle Bachmann: Okay, let's get this straight: the Tea Party is not an actual political party. On your ballot this year, there's not going to be: Republican / Democrat / Tea. She's just gone to a bunch of Tea Parties. By that logic, calling her the Tea Party candidate would be kind of like calling Jon Hunstman the Tanning Salon candidate, or calling Rick Santorum the Muppet Show candidate.
Jon Huntsman: He's got oily, slicked-back gray hair, a smile that makes you want to take a shower, and his skin looks like a dish you could order at Red Lobster. I'd expect this guy to show up at my door trying to sell me a home security system, or worse. He's the Uncle Rico of these candidates. Liberals love him, but something makes me guess that they probably wouldn't love him as much as they love Obama.
Rick Perry: New to this Republican primary: the governor of Texas! There's no way the media would portray him as the new Bush in the general election!
Ron Paul: So here's a genuine question: who is the more popular old person, Ron Paul, or Betty White? He's no longer the most popular Texan in this race, and it obviously irks him quite a bit, and I'd like for him to at least win something.
I missed the first 35 minutes or so of the debate; my wife said it was simply everybody making fun of Ron Paul, which frankly was probably a lot like the other twelve hours of my day.
But from what I saw, it was a fair and unbiased debate. The topics ranged from immigration, to the death penalty, to why everyone should hate Rick Perry.
Everyone got their shot at solving immigration, with the apparent provision that it only takes three steps.
The MSNBC moderators pulled out all the stops here, nailing Michelle Bachmann with the reasonable, reality-based smoking-gun inquiry: “When the border is absolutely secure and the immigration system is no longer corrupt and gas is $2 a gallon, what THEN, Ms. Bachmann? What do you do with all the illegal immigrants over here?” She answered that it probably depends, case-by-case, on things like family, employment, and criminal history, to which the moderator repeated the question. BAM! Smoking gun TIMES TWO. You got 'er, MSNBC! You killed Michelle Bachmann with your tough, truth-finding questions!
The Death Penalty
I got shivers down my spine when Rick Perry explained that, in Texas, if you kill a cop, a child, or a regular person (along with some other crimes thrown in), you will face the ultimate judgment: execution. It was said with such conviction and finality that I didn't know whether to cheer or be terrified. Make sure to throw out your cop-and-baby-killing Halloween costumes, folks.
Why Everyone Should Hate Rick Perry
This moderation topic was headed by a very creepy looking bald guy with a morbid fascination for asking questions (ex-Gitmo?). He had candidates answer varied questions such as “Why do you hate Rick Perry,” “Why does Rick Perry hate old people,” “Exactly how much does Rick Perry hate science,” and “Why did Rick Perry turn Texas into an uneducated, citizen-slaying, freedom-hating dystopia.” The two people most excited about this topic, other than Varys the Eunuch, were Ron Paul and the Rick Santorum Sock Puppet. Perry just seemed confused.
The ancestor of Politico's Brian Williams. From a fictional universe.
Mitt Romney: Never seemed flustered or out of his element. More importantly, when everyone was ganging up on Rick Perry, he basically said “give the guy a break, he's learned his lesson,” immediately making him look 1) gracious, and 2) ahead of Perry.
Rick Perry: He definitely got flustered by finding himself as the focus of an irrational hate-fest, and he had a real hard time answering questions with his prepared stock answers. But I almost feel like he came out the better for it, because all fake niceness left him and he was left with nothing but conviction for all the stances he had to defend, and he backed them all up, even going further on some things, like calling social security a “ponzi scheme.” (Which, when you look at the SEC's definition of a ponzi scheme, is actually pretty tough to argue with.)
Newt Gingrich: Anytime he answered a question, I got the feeling that the moderator had just interrupted him from reading his newspaper. Gingrich threw in historical political details like it was nothing, answered eloquently and intelligently, and then went back to his crossword puzzle. I'd say that he won the debate, except that it looked like he didn't even care.
Herman Cain: When Romney and Perry were arguing abstractly about exactly how broken or unbroken social security is, Herman Cain interrupted and presented a concrete solution to social security that was broken down simply and backed up by history (the Chile solution). I never get the feeling that Herman Cain is short on ideas (hullo, Rick Santorum Sock Puppet).
Jon Huntsman: I knew it was over for him as soon as they asked him a policy question, and his answer had nothing to do with his actual policy, but with his ability to not be conservative and therefore get more independent votes in a general election. I don't know that anybody can smugly brag that they're less conservative than everyone else in a Republican primary and end up winning.
My wife compared him to a slimy cheeto. (Dis-favorably, to be clear. We're not college students anymore.)
Ron Paul: Let's be fair—this guy was a loser before the debate even started.
Rick Santorum Sock Puppet: You know how, in football, there's that guy who's always the last one to jump on the pile? It took Rick Santorum Sock Puppet about ten minutes late to realize that hating Perry was cool. But he sure did it. And how! Awkward!
STILL A CHICK
Michelle Bachmann: Now that Rick Perry's in the race, Tea Partiers who are also sexist no longer have to vote for Michelle Bachmann. She's lost some of her novelty, but her answers were more intelligent this time around. I'd say she lost some ground from Rick Perry, but picked up some ground with consistency.
In the end, let's just say that when Republicans debate, America wins.