Stand and Kvetch – A CNN/Tea Party Debate Diary

I got mentioned where? By whom? - Via

Important life lesson today. Don’t count on the B train to get you anywhere on-time. The MTA is responsible for me missing the first twenty minutes of tonight’s CNN/Tea Party debate. But I come bearing two gifts to make up for it.

8:03 – Apropos of nothing but my love of Party Down and my enjoyment of Martin Starr in anything he does: Madeon’s Pop Culture.

8:12 – Check out this classic Onion article on tonight’s moderator Wolf Blitzer. He has never denied it – Girl Raised From Birth By Wolf Blitzer Taken Into Protective Custody.

8:15 – Looks like CNN’s video is going to be atrocious. Was pretty close to looking for the Tea Party Express website. Sure that would have messed up Google’s ad algorithm for me.

8:16 – Ron Paul is asked if Social Security is a ponzi scheme. Doesn’t answer but says it is broke. Wrong – check this out. Even though he doesn’t say he wants to kill it, his plan would do just that.

8:18 – Did Jon Huntsman just make a Kurt Cobain joke? When talking about social security no less. Is he giving an extemp speech? He also makes a non sequitur about Paul Ryan’s plan – oh wait, it is a Tea Party Express debate and he is throwing out the red meat where he thinks he should.

8:19 – Newt Gingrich just made a joke about Obama and the audience wooted like an Arsenio Hall crowd. I’ll take individuals who were unexplainably popular in the 90’s, Alex.

Arsenio Hall was the pre-debate entertainment. Roo Roo Roo! - Via

8:21 – Does Rick Santorum think name checking James Carville at the Republican debate going to score him some points? Follows it up with Bill Clinton. All he is missing is saying he and Howard Dean do vocal warm-ups.  He realizes this is a Tea Party Express debate, right?

8:23 – Newt Gingrich says waste is the problem. That is a lame answer as explained here. Newt Gingrich is pushing Strong America Now. I would love to sit down with those folks and have a conversation about shared sacrifice and how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the only ones in American history that weren’t paid for by raising taxes. Speaking of which,  Gingrich talks about how bad the federal government is at wasting money – he is right, look at the Bush years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:26 – Wolf Blitzer asks Rick Perry, if he was president, would he vote to repeal Medicare’s expansion under President Bush? Please re-read Blitzer’s question.

8:27 – Rick Perry seems like a lot more comfortable in the one answer I’ve seen. In fairness, a Tea Party debate is more home turf for him, even compared to the Reagan Library.

8:27 – At least Romney is intellectually honest enough to say waste won’t cover the budge shortfalls. Romney stated his support for a balanced budget amendment, Perry seemed to perk up like a dog hearing a silent whistle. Nothing comes of it.

8:29 – Ron Paul really wants to cut. Education and Energy departments among others. Sounds like a guy yelling at a hippie, “Get a haircut and cut those damn foo-foo departments while your at it!”

8:30 – Ownership society. Personal responsibility from Bachmann.  That must have been a long 14 minutes without a question directed at her. It just sounds so uninformed and trite. No specifics or even data to back up her claims.

8:33 – Sandra wants to know about the economy. Me too

8:34 – Huntsman goes for pathos and then gets wonky on the economics. Heroin reference – somebody OD on Nirvana before the debate? Nevermind.

8:35 – Rick Perry says there were zero jobs created by the stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009 – that is a lie. Answers a question about Obama’s proposed tax cuts, by saying they’ll be covered by raises in taxes. And the Bush tax cuts will be paid for by….

8:37 – Michelle Bachmann says we should draw a line in the sand on economics. That is funny, I figured she had her head in the sand. She makes a jab about China and debt. Will Huntsman throw back since he was ambassador? [Editor’s note: Nope, might not have heard it since he was too busy listening to The Radical Dad’s latest dope EP.]

The Original Negative Campaigner: Lizzie Borden - Via Wikipedia

8:39 – Herman Cain wants to get government out of the way. Yea that worked well in the Bush administration’s handling of the financial sector.

8:40 – I like the payphone/smart phone line by Romney. Its a 10-word answer but it is original. He kind of wastes it with an attack on Obama instead of a description of what he stands for.

8:41 – Wow! Mitt Romney is Lizzie Borden with a butter knife when he attacks Rick Perry

8:42 – Someone, maybe Gingrich, mentions tort reform as a cure all to the health care problem this country’s facing. Similar to government waste in that it is something that should be dealt with, it is not the one and only balm.

8:43 – Nothing like having a constituent on the stage with you. Ron Paul gets the best jab against Perry. Paul is on fire tonight when talking about foreign policy tonight.

8:44 – Perry says they’re coming to Texas – five years in a row. It is a land of freedom. It is a wonder he doesn’t break out into a Neil Diamond bit. He is right, they’re coming to America (Texas) – from Mexico.

8:44 – JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! I made a snarky comment about Wolf Blitzer in my mind and the video player kicks me out. Point, CNN.

8:45 – Gingrich talks about taking messages to the people. That is why he did so well with that government shut down plan in ’95.

8:47 – Herman Cain is pro-worker! Because is from workers! And he’ll be “working” on the problems too!

8:48 – In a long, policy heavy question, Huntsman takes too long to get at his jab at Perry and Romney. Had the same problem in the last debate too.

8:49 – On the way out to commercials, it sounds like Wolf Blitzer was impersonating Christopher Walken.

8:52 – Rick Santorum thinks the Fed’s efforts on employment leave Americans distrustful of it? I’d venture most Americans don’t realize the Fed deals with employment

8:53 – The crowd agrees that Bernanke should be tried for treason. Congrats Reagan Library crowd, you are off the hook.

8:54 – Blitzer should have asked Perry if he would have the DOJ investigate Ben Bernanke.

8:56 – It is easy to snipe at folks and this is why Mitt Romney still sounds like an adult in the room. Because he keeps the room serious every now and again when he decides not to use every answer as an opportunity to attack the president.

8:57 – Huntsman drew the bad hand there. Gets the $1 for $1 question. Can’t give a specific. Kudos to Blitzer to give this to a real candidate. Like the corporate subsidy reduction. Huntsman must really hate Perry/Romney as he shoots dagger eyes (and maybe an awkward turtle) at them as he finishes his answer.

8:59 – I like to make fun of Wolf Blitzer. But he has been asking some serious questions tonight. Newt Gingrich throws random middle east countries out there on the map to talk something – energy?

9:00 – Blitzer has brought his A-game. Pushes on the tax pledge. Gingrich gives two different answer in the same response.

9:01 – Fair Tax question – National sales tax. Crowd shouts no. This isn’t The Price Is Right. $1

9:02 – Question about executive orders. At least Paul will throw blame on both parties.  Audience is opposed to executive orders…where were they during this in the Bush years with all of his signing statements.

9:04 – Perry admits that the HPV vaccine process was a mistake. Sticks to his argument about children’s health. Not as strong an answer as he had in the last debate.

9:06 – Debate video froze. Come on CNN!

9:07 – Clean coal commercial stupid!

So there I was telling Volker how Keynesian economics could be applied to the BRIC countries when don't you know it, it was nap time - Via

9:07 – Come back to Bachmann going after Rick Perry on corporate ties in the HPV issue. Advantage Bachmann.

9:08 – Rick Santorum finishes off Perry on the HPV issue cold. How about that, two mid-tier candidates successfully wound the front-runner. Perry knows it too. Go back and watch the tape and follow his eyes.

9:10 – To all the candidates who talk about Obama care being the problem. They all seem to ignore the problem that was health care before then.

9:12 – Clean coal commercial again. I’m getting more of this than the debate. CNN you stink!

9:12 – Mitt Romney is not running for governor so he won’t talk about his time as governor when it comes to health care.

9:13 – Perry goes after Romney for being the progenitor of Obama’s health care policy. You know what was the progenitor of that plan – an idea crafted by the Heritage Foundation.

9:14- Romney is now happy to stand up for what he did for health care in MA. Umm, I thought he wasn’t running for governor?

9:16 – Crowd wants hypothetical man to die. Maybe he works for the Fed.

9:17 – 2012 is it! Bachmann is on fire. Where was this candidate in the last debate? It feels like she is too late with this.Oh no, running back stage during commercial break? Will she be back?

9:21 – Jesus, they are asking this crew how to disarm Iran? That’s like asking a baby to explain string theory.

9:22 – Build a’border. Tired of a Build A’Bear? Take your kids there for their birthday celebrations!

9:25 – Perry is intellectually honest on the border fence. His attack on the Federal Government is more an attack on the Bush Administration. here is why -….Obama has been deporting more illegal immigrants than President Bush did.

9:27 – Would like Santorum to explain his melting pot/salad bowl – No endless salad bread sticks in a Santorum administration?  I’m more of a fondue man myself.

9:28 – It is a shame that Perry is flailing on the question about tuition assistance for illegal immigrants in Texas. A better answer could have helped him distinguish himself from the pack a little bit. Maybe not in this audience, but definitely in the electorate. Instead, he shanks it, gains nothing, and leaves himself open for attack.

9:29 – Michele Bachmann is Mitt Romney’s best friend in this debate. Her and Santorum are chomping at Perry.

9:29 – Would have been strong for Perry to tie his education answer to job growth in the state.

Rick Santorum's Olive Garden - When you're here you may be family, but don't count on citizenship. - Via

9:30 – Whaaa? Did Huntsman try to make an ironic joke about treason? Is he running for president on FourSquare

9:32 – Mitt Romney says Republicans are the party of the law. Unless you want to repeal it. Or it is international law that we’ve signed on to but are planning on ignoring. Or human rights violations.

9:33 – Somebody needs to tell Huntsman he doesn’t need to attack Romney. That is what the also-rans are for. Huntsman gets way too wonky, way too late. He has been all over the place tonight.

9:34 – Cain is going to fill a government commission on reducing regulation by those who are “abused” by regulations. I’d get more worked up if there was a chance in hell he’d be president.

9:37 – Its great to see how smug Newt Gingrich is in his wrongness when Ron Paul schools him on international relations.

9:38 – In his answer about 9/11 mentality, Santorum talks about “Newt” again. All night, the two of them have been praising each other, complimenting their work. A bromance is in bloom here.

9:40 – Huntsman pivots question on protecting women in Afghanistan to nation building at home. Why doesn’t he talk about soft power. Ok, he does, but way too subtly to make a difference.

9:43 – What Would They Add to the White House. Seriously. Total bromance between Santorum and Gingrich as they talk amongst themselves going into the commercial break.

9:47 – Ron Paul would bring a bushel of common sense, Austrian Economic school of thought, and moxie. Only one of these were not uttered by Paul

9:47 – Perry’s change to the White House is bringing his lovely wife. Classy answer.

9:48 – Romney cites Winston Churchill quotation about how Americans do the right thing only after we’ve done everything else. Romney uses this quip to justify bringing a bust of Churchill back to the White House. Sure, they are being asked interior design – sort of – but even then Romney can’t be his own man? He is doing something Obama didn’t.

9:48 – Michele Bachmann is bringing three items: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Technically, that is only two. Somewhere Nicolas Cage heard this and found the plot line for the next National Treasure film: Take this – it is a ticket to Herbert Hoover’s inaugural ball. You’ll need it, it doubles a kite!

9:49 – Herman Cain will bring his sense of humor. Not his singing?

9:50 – Huntsman will bring his motorcycle and moto-cross bike.

What a weird debate. Huntsman fails to capitalize on the momentum he seemed to have going for him after last week. Instead, he turns in a middling performance and says a few inane things that will overshadow his strong answers. Rick Perry on the other hand knew he was going to be attacked, but looked like he wasn’t expecting it to be as vicious as Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum were. Perry tripped over HPV and illegal immigrants in what can only be described as unforced errors. Bachmann managed to regain some of her previous debate luster but how that will translate onto the campaign trails remains to be seen. And with Mitt Romney, another debate where he doesn’t hurt himself or wound his campaign. Maybe the comparisons of Perry to Howard Dean are apt, but to all those out there, these debates are fun to chronicle but come next summer, they will have played a small role in determining the GOP’s nominee.


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