Six in Debate


Watched Saturday night’s GOP presidential debate. Made some notes. Nothing comprehensive, just scattered. Share them with you?

Michele Bachmann gets this super-eager look on her face, her eyes shining. She literally licks her lips in anticipation. Kind of fun to watch. I like the woman, I swear. Wouldn’t want to work for her. Not sure she should be president. Like her.

Diane Sawyer gives a weird little paean to democracy, thanking the candidates for running. I feel this is a little gaggy. Am I just Joe Cynic?

Kudos to George Stephanopoulos for his grammar: He speaks of “questions from Diane and me.” Doesn’t he know the modern American way is “from Diane and I”? Between you and I, I don’t think so.

Newt talks about what to do — what to do to restore us to health: cut taxes, reduce regulation, develop energy, encourage employers. Ballgame.

This is the Republican consensus of 2012, and it is correct. (How nice when a consensus is correct!)

When I say “2012,” I mean, of course, the present presidential cycle. Get off me. Thanks!

When he looks at other candidates as they speak, Mitt Romney has a pained smile on his face. I don’t think he’s aware of it. He just does.

Why do they love Newt? Because he can talk. Republicans are always looking for a candidate who can talk. They almost never get one.

Remember when Dick Cheney debated Joe Lieberman in 2000? If you were a Republican, weren’t you comfortable, assured that our man could handle anything, verbally?

That was such an odd feeling for us Republicans. (I say this as someone who loved, to varying degrees, W., 41, Reagan, and others.) (Even Dole.)

When Sawyer speaks of a “distinguishing idea,” several times, I can’t help thinking of “distinguishing characteristics,” a phrase that was a distinguishing characteristic of the Clinton-Lewinsky era.

Sorry about that.

Mitt’s makeup seems a little off. A Nixon 1960 problem? Not as bad as that . . .

Man, does Mitt like lists — 1 to 3, 1 to 7, all that. I kind of do too.

Ron Paul talks like a cartoon character — some combination of characters, such as Elmer Fudd, Mr. Magoo, and Daffy Duck. I find him quite endearing, when he’s not expressing a worldview that’s demented and dangerous.

Rick Perry sings my song, when he talks about a flat tax. But would the American people ever stand for it? The politics of envy is very, very strong, I’m afraid. People are used to the idea that their neighbor who earns more should be taxed at a higher rate.

Democrats call that “fair.” Has never struck me that way. Different people live on different planets, when it comes to perceptions of fairness.

Bachmann thinks that everyone should pay a little something — that we should all contribute to the commonweal, even if it’s a mite. I agree. But, again, I’m not sure the American people would ever go for it.

You never know, though: People can be appealed to. Shamed, also. Why should other people carry the entire freight? Wouldn’t people feel better about themselves, contributing a little something, not leaving the entire burden to their neighbors?

I dig the way Bachmann says “code,” as in “tax code” — pure Minnesota. Like a lake.

I also love her phrase “legalize American energy” — make the production of American energy legal. The enviro-Left has declared it out of bounds. Tell it, Michele.

Sometimes, Rick Santorum gives the impression of running for president of American manufacturing. Everyone needs a theme, but . . .

Ms. Sawyer seems to be having some mascara problems. Tough to be a girl, I know. I’d go crunchy lesbian in a second.

Once, Reagan was described as having a “whiskey baritone.” Mitt has some whiskey in his voice too.

I know, I know: He doesn’t drink. I’m talking about a vocal quality — a certain graininess of tone. Pleasant, too.

Some people hold it against Mitt that he doesn’t drink. America loves a lush a lot more than it loves a teetotaler.

In fact, I knew people who held it against W. that he didn’t drink. They were actually offended.

The thing about drinkers: They take offense if you don’t. They consider it a personal affront, even if you’re happy for them to drink their own urine, if they want.

Mitt makes some sort of joke about Obama and his golf grip — dumb. So, the guy plays golf. Big deal. Frankly, it’s one of the best things I know about him. Keeps him out of the office, away from governing (although there are always cellphones).

I’m for more Obama vacations too! Workless vacations . . .

George Stephanopoulos grills the candidates on who’s the most conservative, and consistently conservative. Hilarious. It’s as though I demanded of Democrats that they give their bona fides as a McGovernite.

Romney says that Obama wants an “entitlement society,” while he himself wants a “merit society.” An excellent formulation. But will it fly, politically? There are a lot of people who aren’t so keen on merit, and are very keen on entitlement.

Newt is so right about Mitt: Would have been a career politician, if the voters of Massachusetts had cooperated.

Iowa State University is attracting “brilliant students,” Newt says. Really? Good. (Really?)

What Newt says about kids’ having jobs in school — makes perfect sense.

If I hadn’t followed Newt for 30 years — if I knew him through these debates, only — I’d vote for him as early and as often as I could. Such an impressive fellow, always has been.

But there is that “baggage,” to use the shorthand of the season.

Newt refers to his influence-peddling as private-sector work! Well, strictly true, I guess . . .

When Bachmann speaks of “Newt Romney,” Newt gives Romney a priceless look — a look that says, “Get a load of this weirdness, would you?”

Bachmann is so crisp, and she makes such great sense. But then she goes and says something cuckoo, such as, “They were for the illegal-immigration problem” (referring to Gingrich and Romney).

They were for the illegal-immigration problem? Apparently, the congresswoman can’t help saying these things. She’ll be coasting along, doing great, and then, bam.

Bachmann is one of the millions of Americans who say “advocated for” — as in “advocated for the individual mandate.” In my ears, it’s many millions of fingernails, scraping against a chalkboard . . .

People actually bought Newt Gingrich’s books? They were New York Times bestsellers? Geez.

Really, Michele, really? If Newt or Romney were the nominee, he would not be able to disagree with Obama? Really?

Quit being crazy! Be rhetorical, sure, even hyperbolic and unfair. But not crazy!

Romney gives a fabulous answer involving the Tenth Amendment — just great. Perry is supposed to be a specialist on that amendment, but I have never heard anyone talk about it more effectively than Mitt.

He’s also 100 percent right on ObamaCare: The Democrats could have done something about the uninsured; instead, they took the opportunity of a national economic crisis and big majorities in Congress to achieve their decades-long dream of socialized medicine, or something akin to it.

One of the most offensive things about ObamaCare is its immodesty. Gross.

Romney bets Perry 10 grand. Sure, it’s a rich guy’s figure. People will say — as they always say about Romney — “Richie Rich! Richie Rich!”

But you could look at the bet, and its magnitude, this way: It says, “You think you’re so right, Rick? You think you got me? Okay: Put a whole lot of money behind your proposition. You could pick up a quick 10 grand. You’re sure, right? Or do you want to rethink your charge against me?”