Tonights debate was one of the better ones, actuallyobviously, the candidates all took the issue of national security seriously, because this was tonights theme, and all the question stemmed around it.
We began with a nutty CNN intro that looked like Call of Duty: a pulsing, sinister theme music, and a montage of rockets, tanks, grim-looking presidents addressing the nation, and stuff blowing up. This followed with an introduction of each candidate, in Terminator-vision, with computer-fonted stats clicking, spinning, and whirring, just like a video game. The Czar was hoping to press right trigger + A + B + X to unlock Paul Ryan, but no luck there.
Wolf Blitzer, looking like the son of the original funeral home proprietor who was now in charge and interested in sexing up the business, glided out on stage and irritatingly explained to the candidates what debates were, why a President is an important person, and even provided examples of how they should introduce themselves. The irritated, anywhere-but-here-please look on Ron Paul was priceless.
Then followed the national anthem, with Mitt Romney proudly singing, Michele Bachmann beaming, and Ron Paul covering his diaphragm with his hand feebly, and sighing visiblydoubtless planning to whack this Star Spangled Banner (or whatever the kids call it) in a cost-saving measure.
The problem with the debate, frankly, was the game-show atmosphere, and whacky comedy that Wolf Blitzer tried to inject. Thankfully, no one was interested, and he quickly dropped the sarcastic, overly familiar tone and stuck with the questions.
Those questions ranged from Iran, cutting military spending, immigration, Pakistan, the Patriot Act, and so on, with some lengthier sparring between candidates. Impressions:
Rick Santorum: Far too quiet. At points, it seemed as if he left the stage to watch the Predators/Oilers game. He did have a couple of moments where his mic was on, and he wasted them mostly by quoting Ronald Reagans city on a hill speech at least twice.
Ron Paul: Disastrous recitation of his hate-everything-military speech, denied Irans threat, and offered to legalize marijuana for medical reasons. He said nothing new tonight, which is understandable because he hasnt updated his talk track since 1981. Gingrich did punish him a bit on the differences between Timothy McVeigh and Islamism, and military interdiction and law enforcement, which Paul no doubt appreciated later in the green room by kicking over an end table.
Rick Perry surprisingly did not screw anything up. In fact, he made some strong pointsthe others refuted his points, but he did a good job of standing his ground and fighting back. He drastically toned down his usual oddly armed attacks on Mitt Romney, and even agreed with Romney on a few issues. The Czar is pretty sure this was his best debate to date.
Mitt Romney: Yeah…dunno. He seemed confident, had a bunch of great answers, and really pounded on some conservative talking points to reassure everybody he could be tough. And he probably is; but he still seemed a little off-balance and defensive at points tonight. He was good, to be certain, but he seems to be a little scared of Gingrich when they disagree on something. It doesnt matter of course: Mitt could openly micturate on stage and the pro-GOP pundits will announce that hes clinched the nomination based on his performance tonight.
Herman Cain: He was very unclear tonight. He spoke well, and even forcefully at times, but seemed to have trouble getting to concise bullet points (which is his usual strength). In many cases, he seemed to hold back, watch to see what others were saying, and then agree. He gave us the impression that he was well-coached tonight, but still lacked confidence in his knowledge and might even have been overly cautious. Strangely, not a single question about his Libya answer last week.
Newt Gingrich: His usual strong self, agreeing for the most part, and disagreeing with others (particularly on immigration). He knows what the myths and rumors are about his positions, and he clearly had answers ready to go about his past comments and voting. The only difference tonight is he did not seem hostile to Wolf Blitzer, but was uncharacteristically smooth.
Michele Bachmann: Invisible. She started off very strong, gaining thunderous applause in her very introduction when she breezed past her own credentials (seriously, CNN, do you think there are people who dont know all the candidates at this point?) in order to profusely thank the troops for their sacrifice, and how sad she was they couldnt be home with their families on Thanksgiving. Very slick move, and she came off as highly sincere. There seemed to be an awkward tension from the rest of the candidates as they realized they, too, should have said something about the troops. However, after that, she answered one or two questions and even got cut off by Wolf Blitzer when responding to a question. He assured her he would come back to her on that point, but never did. Seriously, its as if the media has totally written her off.
Jon Huntsman wants America to have an honest conversation. He said that about three times, as if trying to convince us he has any idea what that phrase might mean. Also, whatever the other candidatess answers were, he wants to us to step back, for a minute, and look at the real problem…which evidently is whatever he wanted to talk about more. Question on what part of the world the next threat to American national security will come? Lets step back, and look at the real threat to America: joblessness on every street corner… followed by his hastily assembled anti-Barack Obama platitudes. The problem with Huntsman is that he sometimes raises some good points or throws out an interesting challenge, but then completely erases his value by trying to force a snappy comeback. Even if the topic has moved on twenty minutes ago.
The Czar thinks there should be a fair amount to comment on, unless the pundits want to discuss Romney to the exclusion of all else. Perry and Bachmann really laid out two different approaches regarding foreign aid, and both had good points. Perry raised the issue of enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria; the others objected, but did not have a good reason to refute his idea. Paul was babbling about Israel and Iran, and a couple of the candidates dismissed him as a naive idealist. Overall, this was one of the more interesting ones in terms of ebb and flow.
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.