Friday, December 14, 2007

Running Diary of the Republican Debate

OK. Tip of the hat to Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy, who does signature “Running Diaries” of his reactions to sports events. I’m not as good as he is, nor will ever be, but I thought someone should do that for politics, so I’ve tried to. I’ve jotted down my reactions to various events of the evening of Dec. 12th when the Republicans debated somewhere in Iowa, sponsored by the Des Moines Register. (Is there any paper with a duller name than “Register?” That’s right there behind the Ames Glossary and the Iowa City List of Things.)

So anyway, here we go.

I’ve never really had the experience of setting my DVR to record something on CSPAN. Is there anything more geeky than that?

OK, turns out that this will be a re-air of the debate. Yes, the joke is, “Don’t tell me how it turned out!” But that’s really not funny because what does CSPAN start it’s coverage with? The guy calls a journalist on the phone asking, “So what’s the headline for this debate?” Hello? How about a spoiler alert warning? I fast forward through this part.
(On a side note, I’d just like to call this typical example of the media self-aggrandizing and making their coverage of the story more important than the story.)

All right! 6:30 PM and they’ve promised to solve all the nation’s problems in 90 minutes, so let’s ride!

6:30pm PST
Thanks Des Moines Register for splurging on the graphics!

6:31pm PST
Carolyn Washburn editor of the Des Moines Register… Let’s just say she has a good face for the newspaper business, and move on…

6:32pm PST
Carolyn informs us that 6 in 10 Iowa Republicans can still be swayed away from their candidate! You know, by another candidate, or shiny object.
Carolyn also informs that there will be no discussion of Iraq or Immigration in this debate. Or any other issues beginning with the letter I.

My daughter Moxie is climbing all over me during the introductions, and I’m so blinded by Giulianni’s cornball smile so I miss them. But let me just say that, not only are all these guys white males, but they’re REALLY white. It’s called the sun people! Get some! All except….
Alan Keyes in the House!! What up dog!! Well, this is gonna be a party after all!

6:33pm PST
Rules Rules rules. Carolyn, you had us at Alan Keyes….

Single biggest issue in Iowa is Finances and national debt.
Rudy agrees with the people in Iowa! Shockeroo! I’m betting McCain starts us off by saying “Oh, you Iowa boneheads. Wrong wrong wrong!”
Rudy says we have to cut corporate taxes to bring down the debt. Isn’t that like quitting your job to pay off your credit cards? Is there anyone who will have the courage to say, “It’s harder to pay off debts when you take in less money?”

Oh, Yes or no questions. Let’s keep track of the number of times yes or no answers are asked for versus how many are given. 1-0 right now.

6:34pm PST
Duncan Hunter blames China and foreigners for our debt. When he loses the election, will he blame illegal immigrants for that too?

Time warning #1`

Ron Paul blames too much govt. Shockeroo.

6:35pm PST
Tancredo is still in the race? Where’s he been? He only shows up when Alan Keyes does. Are they Siamese twins or something?

Fred Thompson reads you the notes on the subject he read earlier this week.

Mitt blarneys it up.

The Huckster says we have to feed and fuel and fight for ourselves. Nice alliteration Mikee!

6:38pm PST
McCain keeps up the scare campaign. We’ll be oil independent.

6:39pm PST
Alan Keyes just said that “National Security is Securing the Blessings of liberty.” Al, we know you’ve read the constitution. Now answer the question!
I had to replay what Keyes said twice. I hope this doesn’t happen every time he talks.
Al says abolish income taxes and we’ll have no debt. Yeah, and if I were homeless, I’d have no worries…

6:40pm PST
The question is, what sacrifices must American people make to pay off the national debt. Over/under line on actual sacrifices offered by these candidates is… zero.

Rudy says Government must sacrifice itself. But that won’t hurt anyone. In fact, the American people will get MORE!!

Paul Ron says it’s unnecessary to sacrifice. I set the over/under too high…

Huck says, no, we’ll just do things differently. Still at zero sacrifice

Next question “Is there a program you’d run a deficit to pay for?” I’m betting… no…
Got to say, much as I love YouTube, the questions are way better when a newspaper is doing the moderating. The moderator doesn’t jump in ad nauseum like the CNN or FOX talking heads to get her airtime, and there’s a bare bones attitude that really moves this thing along. Say it once, I’ll say it a million times, people who read are smart. People who watch TV are me.

Mitt says, well, a lot of stuff. Basically no. He’d cut everything. Says we need to run the country like a business. Oh. Start by laying off a lot of citizens…

My 2 year old son just came in past his bed time. Hard not to watch him since he’s both more entertaining, and would make a better president than anyone on my TV right now…

The Tank (Tancredo) says, no. Follow the Constitution and there’s no problem. You know, I couldn’t tell him apart from Duncan Hunter if I saw them both in a police line-up. Judging by the polls, the American people can’t seem to tell him apart from “Margin of Error.”

Fred says Military, infrastructure. And “Takes a big risk and tells the truth to the American people.” The risk? He’s probably lying…

Next question for everyone, and a good one that they won’t answer. “Who in this country is paying more than their fair share in taxes?” I’m guessing the smart answer you’ll hear is “Republicans.” The answers allowed are upper, middle or lower class.

Al- Essay answer to a multiple choice question. Time warning given.

McCain- Essay. Doesn’t know.

Huckster- 80% of people. Kudos that you didn’t give an essay answer. Too bad your answer wasn’t one of the choices.

Mitt- Middle Class! Actually one of the choices! Mitt here done been to college!

Fred Frankenberry- Takes a cheap shot at Mitt, saying he don’t pay no taxes, chuckle chuckle. Mitt jokes back something just to break Fred’s concentration, which works. Fred jokes that Mitt’s getting to be a better actor, Chuckle chuckle. Rare moment of honesty in there. I seriously doubt that anyone on this stage pays any taxes at all.

Fred also says that 40% of all Americans pay no taxes at all. That is such an outrageous lie that I don’t know where to begin…

Duncan or Tom, oh Tom… selects. I dunno.

Ron Paul says middle class suffers most and that’s EVIL!

Duncan says it’s that other class, the IRS

Rudy shows that they’ve all forgotten the question, but says E, all of the above. My “Republicans” answer was better. These guys should hire me! (Under the table of course… Got a little tax problem…)

And now, each candidate gets 30 free seconds! I hate this! The YouTube debates did the same thing. This isn’t ad time! Put your little canned statement on the Internet like anyone else! If any candidate yields this time, or uses it for “A quick shout out to my homies,” he’s immediately got my vote…

McCain reminds us he’s a vet, has experience, and isn’t very popular.

Duncan Hunter- “Dee-hunt” is also a veteran, and so is his son. Oh, by the way, he’s also a Mexican hating bigot.

Carolyn Washburn looks bored already.

The question is how to keep foreign markets open while blah blah, making sure we’re still richer than God.

Ron Paul gets angry

Mitt understands. Mentions education for the first time tonight.

Huckster blames taxes and regulations hurting industry. Yes… if only we were more like China…

Next question: Should we trade with… what again? Oh. Human rights. Should we give a rat about human rights while making money?

McCain. Sure we should, but no we won’t. Free Trade all the way.

Next question, and now I guess we’re at the annoying point where only one guy answers a question that everyone maybe should, so some guys completely don’t have to answer and some get trapped and there’s no rhyme or reason to the whole thing. Anyway we get to hear what Rudy thinks about NAFTA

6:57pm PST
Rudy doubted it, but now he loves it! Here’s what bugs me most about Rudy. Why does nobody ever mention that he SUCKED when he guest hosted SNL? SUCKED! He gets a free pass for that just for being mayor on 9-11. Sorry pal. Not with me. Worst… Host … EVER!!!

Fred gives a nearly unintelligible answer about NAFTA. “It’s a long complex document” says he in a long convoluted response. Jeezes, this guy is a lightweight.

Tancredo gives Duncan Hunter’s answer. Or is that… Man, this is confusing

Now DeeHunt jumps in and extends my confusion. It’s like giving one guy an extra thirty seconds. Freaky. But together, the two of them can hate twice as many foreigners.

7:00pm PST
Free statement time now for Paul and Frankenberry.

Paul- Liberty is good

Fred’ “What was the question again?”
By the way, did anyone see how he mailed in his performance in “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World?” He had like 5 lines and he still didn’t seem to bother to memorize them. Not Albert Brooks best movie btw, and I’m a fan. However, it’s worth it just for Al’s fake improv schtick. Such a funny bit…

7:01pm
Show of hands time!!
Who believes in Climate change? Wait…
Fred won’t do the hand show! Apparantly there aren’t stage directions in the script. This is a more confrontational moment than when someone says “build a fence along Mexico.” Some idiot in the audience applauds Fred for his courageous stance on this issue.

A few hands go up and everyone talks at once. Well it really isn’t fair. To understand the concept of raising your hand requires at least a kindergarten education…

Rudy and McCain (The Science Posse) say GW is a problem. (GW here refers to Global Warming. The other GW won’t be mentioned much tonight…)

Mitt looks really presidential by begging “Hey give us all a chance to talk… please? My turn! My turn!”
He gets his presidential stature and republican street-cred back in one fell swoop however by blaming foreigners for global warming in his answer.

Alan Keyes uses the global warming question to go on the greatest tangent I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t mention anything about climate, global warming, anything. He talks so crazily that even Fred Thompson is able to zing him by saying “Well there’s Alan Keyes position on global warming…”

By the way, if Bill Clinton is a bit oily, then Mitt Romney is eight gallons of salad dressing.

Huckster jokes “Global Warming? It’s cold outside here in Iowa! Crickets are heard in the auditorium. Oh, and by the way, our govt is responsible for global warming.

7:08pm PST
Duncan Tancredo says something.
Tom Hunter chimes in. Having these two clones chime in back to back on everything really does a disservice to your readers Des Moines Register…

btw Des Moines “Shout out to my homies!” Now there’s a name for a paper!

7:09pm PST
Free time for tacredohuckalopolis.

Tom- Immigrants suck. Shockeroo!
Huck- Founding fathers rool. I wanna be prez, because I like it when ordinary shmoes boss me around. Oh, and I used to be poor.

7:10pm PST
New Topic! Education! (Moderator notes that Iowans say it hasn’t been talked about enough. Iowans know about education? OK, that was a cheap shot…)
We suck at science. What gives?

McCain- More choice and more competition. Charter Schools may fail, but at least then we can blame the students for making bad CHOICES!

Rudy- “Parents should choose the school their child goes to. Colleges are good, because they’re expensive! Get it?”

Duncan Hunter- “Jaime Escalante is a guy I saw in a movie once. If we let people who are uncredentialed teach in our classrooms, some of them might be like him…”

New question: Does the fed gov need to set standards? (For education I’m guessing)

Mitt asks what the rules are. 30 seconds? 60? Real presidential Mitt.

Huckster: the federal govt. can personalize the curriculum for these kids. Um… Wha?
“Unleash weapons of mass Instruction!” He said that. After hearing him say that, many high-schoolers recognized that education is not that important.

The Keyes-ster interrupts to point out, perhaps rightly so, that he hasn’t been asked a question since his diatribe about anything but global warming. The moderator then gives him 30 seconds where everyone else was getting a minute.
This, my friends, is the Republican party in a nutshell. “Katrina? You want us to respond to Katrina? We can ignore a black man who is on stage next to us in a presidential debate! You think we’re gonna respond to some for a lousy hurricane?”
On the other hand, Keyes platform of “Vote for me because nobody wants to give me the time of day” has never been much of a proven winner…

Keyes then goes on for over a minute blaming our education crisis on judges taking God out of the classroom and the fact that kids don’t know “our national creed.” He is impassioned about this. Cricket chirping ensues. The moderator then goes right back to asking Ron Paul the question he’d interrupted, as if Keyes were Mr. Cellophane. Very surreal.

Ron Paul: The problem with education is probably the federal government.

Man, if it weren’t for foreigners, and our government, we’d be in the Garden of Eden right now.

Fred “What was the question again?”
He then blames the NEA. Lousy teachers. Which makes me realize that I left Unions off my list of Republican scape goats.

Tancrunter: “Get rid of the dept. of education.” Yeah that will improve… education.... He says that they cut 80% of the people in the dept, and nobody noticed. Really? The people who got fired didn’t notice? You did make sure they weren’t still showing up for work right? What an ass. Whichever one he is. He then takes a cheap shot at Huckster for wanting art and science taught in school. Dick.

(Yes, I realize that purposely mispronouncing the names of the candidates in this debate is immature much like the way FOX news commentators purposely mispronounce “Achmadinijad”
I apologize for this, and from here on in promise to only refer to Tom Tancredo as “Achmadinijad”)

7:23pm PST
New Question. “What can you accomplish in your first year?”

Rudy: Secure against Islamic terrorism! Are you here tonight Rud, or is that one of those cardboard cutouts with a little voice recorder in it?

Drunken Hunger. Make the military bigger, and get that border fence up!

Ron Paul: End the war. Amen Ron. Too bad you’re batshit insane. (Even a clock that’s broken is right how often?)

Achmininididijad: “Free somebody nobody’s ever heard of. Secure our borders. Kill Islamic people.”

Frankenberry: “Tell people the truth.” (Yeah, that’ll take a year.) Man, this guy knows absolutely nothing.

Mitt: Reign in entitlements and Muslims. Bunch of other stuff he won’t get done.

Huckster: Bring the Country back together. (I assume this involves annexing British Columbia and building a bridge to Hawaii.) But he does finally play his “Hey I’m the only one up here who isn’t a hate-filled bastard card.” Of course he doesn’t believe in evolution…

McCain: Make America safe. BTW, you aren’t safe. Did you know that?
Oh, and restore trust and confidence in your govt. again. Hey, isn’t that what the guy who beat you the last time you ran said HE was going to do?

Big Al. Hey guys! What debate have you been to tonight? I went to one! I think I won! Now I’m going to talk about killing things in the womb and a bunch of crazy nonsense! I’m Alan Keyes ladies and gentlemen! What the hell am I even doing here?

7:30pm PST
Lastly final words. (In other words, we’re Iowa, you need to kiss our asses just one… more… time…)

Mitt: Thanks Iowa! Gosh you people are so nice!

Keyes: Iowa, you suck. You aren’t gonna vote for me. Everything wrong with America is your fault. You’re all going straight to hell! Oh, and Vote for Me!
(A side note. Caucuses are awkward social gatherings, where nobody knows anyone and then has to argue politics with them. They really are difficult, so here’s an ice-breaker Iowans. Go in, and when they ask you who you’re backing, say “Alan Keyes” with as straight a face as possible. Then wait for the awkward moment of silence, then for everyone to bust out laughing. In this way he brings us all together.)

Rudy: (OK, I didn’t want to make the joke in this blog that Rudy only talks about 9-11 and does so ad nauseum, and for the most part I haven’t. I don’t like to go on such overdone comic territory, but with Rudy’s last words he just has to remind us…. I WAS MAYOR ON 9-11!!! Jack-ass. Did I mention that he sucked on SNL?

7:34pm PST
Wait, now we go to some video thing? This debate confuses me. Shouldn’t the last words be the last words? This is surreal and stupid.

Wait, now there’s more? Oh! I had to rewind and figure out what was going on. She didn’t say last words, she said “Last candidate statements.” I guess that refers to the free ad time the candidates get. (See I told you this was a bad idea.) I guess I just wanted it to be over. Wishful thinking on my part….

And last but least, stuff about character:

Rudy: I am not a crook. My awkward laugh should prove that I’m not on the take from mobsters in Dubai…

Keyes: “Be authentic about who you are.” Yes. If you’re crazy, let everyone know.
Oh, and he brings up abortion because even republicans in Iowa don’t seem to care much about it any more. Keyes is the first person to question another candidate about it. I find that interesting.

Mitt: Keyes just said something about me, and I don’t care.
Mitt finally invokes the name of both Reagan and GW Bush. Only took an hour and a half.

It’s here that my DVR quits. They went over. Shockeroo. Fortunetely, I had the wherewithal to record the post-debate wrap up.

Freddy Thompson: Should we nuke Iran? Do you believe the intel that you’ll get as president? Freddy blames bureaucrats. I’m tired.

More video now. I’m not gonna comment on them. They’re monumentally stupid.

At this point I’m officially fast forwarding through to see exactly how long this goes on. Ah Jeezes. 12 more minutes. I’m gonna go dream about this a little and come back to this tomorrow… Man, do I not want to dream about Mitt Romney. Let’s hope my sleep is Tancredo-lishus!

OK. I’m awake and have recovered enough energy to watch the rest of the debate. I looked for any coverage that might bother to point out that Fred Thompson was talking out of his butt when he said that 40% of Americans pay no taxes, and instead found USA Today reporting that he won the debate! Way to go McPaper! A big hand for our free and watchful media everybody!

OK. I’m back now for the final twelve minutes. Thank God for DVR’s. I never would have made it in one sitting…

Huckster gets asked about his faith and how it changes his policies. He sounds like a hybrid breeding project between Jesus and Thomas Jefferson as he avoids the question.

Mitt is asked whether it’s more important to be fiscally or socially conservative and answers with a question that only he laughs at. Life just seems like an inside joke to him.
He then goes on to defray issues about his religion by saying that his official religion is “Conservatism.” (No, nobody really said that, but somebody should…)

Thunkin’ Dunter is asked the same question and is caught either sleeping or thinking about someone else. He’s so dull except for variations of his name. Hunkin’ Thunder is what I’d go by if I were him…

7:40-something. I’ve stopped caring. All times are unofficial from this point

Last pointless video. Mittster repeats the litany that Judges shouldn’t be allowed to judge. Thompson rails against consumerism and sets off irony alarms everywhere.

Achmadinijihad goes into a clash of civilization diatribe about Iraq. He was asked why his website only says five sentences about Iraq. He is given thirty seconds to explain this. Honest.

7:42
Ron Paul is called a “revolutionary” by the moderator. Look lady, just because someone’s ideas won’t work, doesn’t make them new.

McCain talks about Compromise and how he just looked up what the word meant.

7:44
Biggest laugh of the night comes when Carolyn asks the candidates to give new year’s resolutions to other candidates. We start with Alan Keyes… this should be good.

Alan resolves to keep repeating the same sentence he’s spouted all night.
McCain: “Lets resolve not to accuse each other of a lack of patriotism.” Why are new year’s resolutions so hard to keep?
Huckster: Responds to the wrong question. Covers with a “Joke-toid” A word I just made up for something that really isn’t a joke, but political candidates will laugh at nonetheless.
Mitttster resolves to slander democrats.
Fred also answers the wrong question
Achminidinijihad tries a bit late to ask Huckster a question. “Whoops! I forgot I’m polling at zero percent, and that I should attack the new front-runner. Mulligan!”
He can’t even get the question into his 15-second time frame, let alone the answer. We just move on.

“Just move on” is an accurate theme for the evening. It’s almost like everyone has just agreed that nobody is watching this debate (except poor me!) and let’s just get it over with. It’s amazing how many times rebuttals were just skipped, time was called and uncomfortable silences were just ignored and the next question asked. Even the paper sponsoring the debate really didn’t give any coverage to it the day after. They’d just moved on to the Democrats. So sad.

Ron Paul resolves to read the Constitution.
Thunk Dunk resolves to buy American.
Rudy resolves to not be pessimistic and reminds us about 9-11.

And thank God we’re out! Why in hell did I ever agree to do this! Never again! This is… Oh crap, I promised to do the Democrats tomorrow. Nuts.

Oh, and as for post-show spin CSPAN-2 actually wasn’t bad. They showed some of the FOX post-show spin and pointed out the errors Fox made. Not that it will make a difference.
See you next week with a belated Democrat’s debate diary.

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