About Last Night


It’s the usual deal, for better or worse: I’ve watched the Republican presidential debate. I’ve jotted some notes. I’ll give them to you in the order of jotting (roughly). I don’t intend the notes to form a complete appraisal of the debate. All right then:

Watching the sweeping shots of Las Vegas, I think of something Sharron Angle told me, when she was running for the Senate: “We Nevadans generally don’t gamble. But we want you to.”

I’ll bet . . .

As I listen to the crowd cheer, I think, “Uh-oh — what’re they going to do tonight? What gross thing — wrong cheering, wrong booing — are they going to do tonight? Because even if it’s one ding-a-ling, the Democrats and the media will pretend that it stands for the entire Republican party.”

Even the president of the United States got into that act not long ago. Are you surprised?

Bachmann, as she enters, is stylish, even chic.

Newt looks lumpy and happy. Plus, he loves to point into a crowd — even if he doesn’t see anybody in particular. Even if he hasn’t had time to spot anyone in particular. Even if the lights are obviously too glaring . . .

Perry swaggers and salutes.

Romney looks like a runway model, though slightly hunched.

Cain gets huge applause, then pounds his heart, as though to say, “I’m so moved, and I love my public.” I don’t know: Maybe he’s enjoying his celebrity a tad too much?

There are just seven candidates assembled, instead of the usual eight or nine. The problem with this is that, whenever you have seven, people say, “Ah, the seven dwarfs!” Even if the seven were all NBA centers, someone would say, “Ha, ha, the seven dwarfs!”

The guy singing the national anthem simply can’t sing in tune — or at least can’t this night — and should not be unaccompanied.

Interesting that a few of the candidates sing along, even though there is a solo singer doing the anthem. I see Romney and Santorum.

Off the bat, Santorum talks about the health of his daughter and addresses his daughter directly. The Oprah-ization of politics is just about complete. It is now so normal, hardly anyone notices. And to object makes you look like Hitler.

Which would be more meaningful: addressing your daughter on the phone, before the debate, or doing so onstage?

Ron Paul says, “I’m the champion of liberty.” Oh, you’re the one!

About twelve years ago, I met Matt Drudge and said, “Your site is my homepage.” He said, “Oh, you’re the one!”

Stressing his business background, Cain says, “I solve problems for a livin’.” Nice. A very nice line.

What to my wondering eyes should appear but Wayne Newton (in the audience). We are in Vegas! But hey, where’s Engelbert?

Someone has fed Perry the line “conservative of convenience,” as in, “I’m a genuine conservative, not a conservative of convenience.” A jab at Romney. And a pretty good one. Alliterative and all.

I feel so at home when Bachmann talks — hearing those Upper Midwestern vowels. I could be in the living room of some Michigan relatives . . .

Who would have thought, months ago, that the candidates would be debating Herman Cain’s policy proposals?

Out of the gates, Perry calls Cain “brother,” twice. Not so sure this is wise (although, obviously, Perry means nothing bad by it).

Perry is sounding more Texan than ever, droppin’ g’s like they cost too much.

I’m afraid I would flop on the campaign trail, because I think pretty much all working Americans should pay taxes — from the pimply kid at McDonald’s, with his first job, to Rockefeller (or whoever today’s Rockefeller is). Everyone contributing something to the commonweal, even if it’s a mite.

I’ve been a flat-taxer for a long time — and that’s with no exemptions. Charity, home mortgage, children, etc. See how I wouldn’t fly?

If I were a Republican candidate — there I go again! — I would talk about Obama, most of the time. 1) I would want to. And 2) I think it would be effective, politically.

They would invite me to attack another Republican candidate. Fine. I’d do some of that. But my main target would be the incumbent president, whom I was hoping to challenge in the general.

Cain calls Romney “Governor Romney.” Romney calls Cain “Herman.” Doesn’t sit too well with me. Leaves me slightly queasy.

Bachmann says much of what I believe, about paying taxes, and everyone contributing his mite. Hurray! If I weren’t so comfortable in this chair, I’d stand up and cheer.

When he entered the race, all the questions and barbs were about Perry. Now — Cain is the focus of attention. Amazing. (I’m repeating myself, I realize, just like a candidate.)

Perry is apparently trying to make up for his subdued performances in previous debates. He’s all wired up, practically in stemwinder mode. This is a little weird, in a debate of this type.

Balance can be so hard to achieve.