After watching what Newt Gingrich described to CNN’s Anderson Cooper as a forum setup to promote a lot of back and forth bickering between a couple of key candidates, my feelings fall right in line with Gingrich, because this entire Republican Western Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada was a tableau of back and forth bickering at its best. But unlike Gingrich, the personal attacks and the bickering made for some great, political moments in my book. In fact, maybe CNN and Anderson Cooper are much smarter than Gingrich and many of us are willing to give them credit for.
And the reasoning behind this is simple, whenever politicians are allowed to stand around and regurgitate the well-greased, talking points of their political stump speeches, a politically scripted characterization of a preferred persona is what often emerges, but when candidates are allowed to bicker, especially two adversarial candidates, the talking points can easily become personalized stones of frustration and the preferred, political personas can quickly morph into the desperation of the human emotion that is often well-cloaked behind the politics of the candidate, but will inevitably play a major role in the decision making process of that candidate, and that is what makes such rare glimpses of this basic, primal, non-political, human emotion so knowledgeably friendly. In other words, one can usually learn more about a fighter when the gloves are off than when the gloves have been scripted to stay on. And during this debate, the gloves did come off as candidates began to spar with each other.
And, the newly–crowned frontrunner, Herman Cain, found that out the hard way, as the GOP piranha gnawed on his 9-9-9 Plan like a hungry hobo trying to debone a chicken wing. Where Cain tried to convince people to look over his plan and not allow his opponents to confuse them with economic apples and oranges, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and others did their very best to convince the audience that Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan was all dolled up like a beautiful idea, but in the end it will only sing the same old song, and that song is called The Taxman by the Beatles, as Cain’s plan was accused of camouflaged taxes hidden in plain sight. Nevertheless, the best moment of this entire exchange was when Mitt Romney hornswoggled Cain into agreeing that at least one part of his plan added a new tax to the current tax, as Romney told the audience that no one wanted to pay a new 9% tax on anything.
Another heated exchange was, once again, between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, as Perry basically called Romney a hypocrite who hired illegal aliens to do his yard work, and Romney was not happy with that claim. Romney fired back calling into question Perry’s ability to be civil in a civil debate by implying that being president means that one has to have actual facts to back up statements, and one has to be composed enough to allow and process opposition feedback to such controversial allegations. Romney then strategically reaches across from his podium and places his hand on Perry’s shoulder; as if to try and assert his pre-presidential adulthood or dominance by attempting to calm down the unbridled Perry, as he forcefully demanded to Perry that he shut up allow him to continue to speak, but Perry angrily continued the shouting match. And while Romney laughed presidentially, Perry pointed his finger and cut his eyes at Romney while Romney’s hand was still on his shoulder, and for a fleeting moment only, it seemed like Perry was actually contemplating on whether or not to knock Romney’s hand off of him, but cooler heads prevailed. Although, it was clear that Romney had once again gotten the best of Perry, as he manipulated the moment into his favor.
But Romney wasn’t done there. The next big attack by all of the candidates on one particular candidate was another bum’s rush on Romneycare, as Santorum and Perry teamed up to pound Romney and his care into the non-mandated pavement. To Santorum and Perry, Romneycare is the official blueprint of Obamacare, and Santorum asked Romney straight up how the orchestrator of Romneycare could be trusted to repeal Obamacare, when Obamacare is the illegitimate son of Romneycare. Then, Perry described Romney’s governorship days in Massachusetts as abysmal with his Romneycare monstrosity being the centerpiece of its failure, but the exchange between Gingrich and Romney took the cake.
While Gingrich slammed Romneycare for instituting the dreaded, government mandate, which is political kryptonite to conservatives, Gingrich, the so-called genius of the party; also questioned Romney’s judgment in regards to the individual mandate, but Romney then turned it around and told Gingrich that he got the idea of a mandate from him. Now this exasperated Gingrich, as he defiantly scolded Romney by basically saying: ‘You didn’t get the idea of a mandate from me,’ and don’t you sit up here and lie to these people by misrepresenting me to them, but Romney was prepared again, as he backed Gingrich into a corner by forcing him to admit that he’d supported an individual mandate when he was opposing Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, and the last time that anyone checked Gingrich was still eating crow!
Overall, Michele Bachmann performed about as well at flawlessly delivering her scripted, talking points lines as one could expect—helping her cause among her brand, while Ron Paul continues to baffle the pundits with his unpredictability, his practicalities, and his overall common sense on many issues, but consider this for a moment.
Throughout all of these debates, it has been very hard to recall Ron Paul actually addressing President Obama as President Obama or the GOP’s political opponent. Paul seems to be running his personalized campaign against the federal government instead of President Obama, and the other Republicans still have not called him out publicly on that, which is politically baffling.
The two losers in this debate are Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman. Cain looks ineffective at best whenever he ventures off into anything outside of his 9-9-9 Plan, and even it got taken the political woodshed as just another tax increase. When asked about tough questions outside of economics, Cain seemed to forget his previous statements, especially when they were controversial. When Anderson Cooper asked Cain about his apparent statement that he would support the closing of Gitmo in exchange for Al-Qaeda releasing an American prisoner, Cain pretended that he didn’t fully understand the crux of it when he was originally asked that question, as he scrambled to change his answer in order to make it fit politically with the anti-terrorism tone of the moment.
Huntsman did not appear tonight, because he decided to boycott Nevada based on primary issues. To Huntsman, his actions might seem noble, but to the voters the inaction of his absence could ultimately cause him to be viewed as more irrelevant than he already is. He simply does not have enough clout to be skipping debates when he obviously needs all the exposure that he can get. Come on Huntsman! This is not rocket science.
Outside of the entertaining bickering, the general consensus of the GOP platform is still just as stupid as it ever was, from the portrayal of Ronald Reagan as the Republican Zeus, to Michele Bachmann’s guarantee to build a double-wide fence along the Mexican border, to the constant and exclusive blaming of President Obama and the federal government for the bad economy, while treating the Wall St. crooks and the bank shysters like misunderstood victims of too much bullying at the hands of the 99%. The only Independents who could judiciously fall for most of this crap would probably be Independents who are too independent of good-old common sense and a functioning brain or memory!