We actually had a lively debate. But you missed it, right? Finehere is your summary.
Moderators: Blew it. This was CNBC trying to promote their various hosts by having a good portion of them sit at the table and ask questions (including the perpetually annoying Jim Cramer trying his schtick out on people much smarter than him). Best moment: the moderators attacking Mitt Romney on his flip-flopping, which he dodged. Worst moment: Tied for twoNewt Gingrich incredulous when challenged by the moderator whether he really believed the mainstream media biases economic reporting to favor Barack Obama, and Jim Cramer screaming at Herman Cain. The premise of the latter was that Cain wants businees regulations pulled waaay back; Cramer exploded that people were suffering back under Bush before these regulations were enacted, so how could that help? Cramer seems to forget that, as a relic of the 1990s, he wasnt crying foul when companies were selling website animations for billions in stocks. Too bad Cain didnt say, Cramer, the difference between me and you is that I made a fortune in the 1990s, while you sat back and watched me do it. Twenty years later, Im still relevant, while you were a gag part in Iron Man.
Rick Santorum got a little more time to speak, and managed to come off not looking like a whiny brat. He smiled, looked comfortable, and answered questions compeltely and thoughtfully. He did very well, and by rights ought to see a slight uptick in the polls. He also did an overdue job of pointing out he has some very big differences from the other candidates based on conservative ideals. Most notably, confessing the GOP has done a bad job of winning lower class voters; he suggests strengthening the manufacturing sector again to where vocational training is respectable, and thereby giving the working poor a real career track to middle class since college is never going to be a financial reality for most of them. Big applause.
Michele Bachmann, by God, did not mention (a) Barack Obama is a one-term president, (b) she has several hundred children, (c) she was the first person in Congress who ever did anything, or (d) she understands taxes. She answered all the questions, made sense, sounded coherent, and looked impressive. No, there were no questions for her on foreign policy, the military, or education, so maybe tonight was a softball night for her. Doesnt matter: she didnt blow it.
Newt Gingrich still answers the questions smartly, still pummels the moderators with how stupid they are, and did his usual routine. That is to say, he looked great up there. He did repeat two of his complaints, of course, that Ben Bernanke is incompetent, and that 30 seconds is a ridiculous amount of time to answer questions hes been working on since 1974. A smart move: he challenged Barack Obama to several Lincoln-Douglas-style debates (although the Czar wonders if either will consider himself Douglas), which the public would dearly love to see. Of course, realistically, that only happens if he wins the nominationso a clever psychological seed was planted in the unwary.
Mitt Romney struck the Czar as a little nervous. His pupils looked terribly dilated, and he did not seem ready for the moderators taking potshots on his flip-floppy record. Worse, they turned on him again with the next question, and read back a few self-contradictory quotes from the recent past. Romney seemed a little off-balance all night, but did pretty overall in trying to reassure voters he was a reasonable conservative and understood what that will mean.
Herman Cain knows who the President of Uz-beki-beki-beki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan is: its 9-9-9! Yes, he repeatedly returned to his punchlined economic plan, botched a few questions (but not badly), and cracked the audience up. But when the inevitable question came about the harrassment allegations, he grew darkly serious and flat denied their grounds. He handled this surprisingly well for how badly things had been done the last two weeks. Moderators were booed twice: first for asking the questionwhich while inevitable, was unfairly phrased as whether he was even credible as a candidate at this pointand then having the temerity to ask Mitt Romney whether he, as a CEO himself, would hire a liar like Herman Cain. After the boos died down, Romney basically told them to go scratch themselves. Some rough patches, but a good night for Cain considering. (Anyone notice the rapid eye-blinking when denying the allegations?)
Hey Czar, you ask, did it go as badly for Rick Perry as we heard? The Czar struggles to summarize, but will refer to the Twitter crawl in which a tweeter referred to him as Texas Toast. Yes: Rick Perry was asked, point-blank, to quote from his economic plan which three federal departments he proposed cutting and why. And Rick Perry did not know. He said Education, Commerce, and then blanked. He freaking turned to Ron Paul for help, but Dr. Paul suggested he should be cutting five, which got Paul applause. Mitt Romney asked him if it was the EPA, and Perry agreed that was probably it. No, waitthat wasnt it. So the moderators asked him again, and now he could only remember Education, and had to look at a crib note to get Commerce. Three or four minutes later he suddenly remembered, on his next question, that it was Energy. It is now impossible for the Czar to look at Rick Perry and not see the high school football quarterback who totally failed to prepare for his oral presentation. At one point, Perry should have just yelled out San Dimas High School Football rules! and run off the stage.
Ron Paul stuck on his usual track of eliminating the Federal Reserve, but made a surprisingly good argument for why the federal government needs to get out of the student loan business. CNBC tried to persuade him by playing a bunch of video clips of college students explaining how bad their debt is under their student loans, but Paul pointed out that each year, the goverment pours more money into this program and the problems get worse. Get rid of it entirely, and the student aid situation will be forced to switch to a lower-cost market-based system. [Incidentally, Gingrich gave a much smarter, more detailed answer that greatly expanded Pauls plan and introduced many more reforms of its own.] Paul had a subdued night, and for him, thats always good.
Jon Huntsman bothered to show up, and continued to give the old Dieter eyebrow to every question. But he was substantially less annoying tonight, stayed on message, and did an excellent job of crushing Romneys plans to hold China in check. Huntsman made a great deal of sense predicting how China would respond to Romneys ideas about tariffing and checking Chinese products, and how the end result is a worse economic situation. Gotta be honest: it was tough to argue against Huntsmans logic that China would immediately play the same game against the US and hurt our manufacturing sector directly. It is what China does; hes right. Oh, and he mentioned that he was governor of Utah only a couple of times.
Realistically, a lot of grist came out of tonights mill:
- Perrys total mental collapse on stage
- Gingrichs education reform
- Santorums approach to strengthening manufacturing, which in turn provides a nearly-forgotten vocational education track as a means of non-college prosperity to the working class
- Romneys honing his conservative edge
- Huntsmans analysis of what China is doing to us and why
- Santorums challenge to the GOP to do more for the lower classes to move them up to the middle class
- Cains adamant defiance against allegations
- Romneys obvious discomfort at being force-fed his own contradictory quotes
- Most of the candidates calling Barny Frank out by name for his role in the financial meltdown
- Bachmanns tear down of Freddie Mac and Fannie Maes gross incompetence and malfeasance
But, more realistically, the emphasis is going to be on Perrys utter humiliation on stage. And by rights, it oughta.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.