To the Moon, Alice!

Well, alright. If it’s going to be like this.

Last night was another debate. This one was in Florida, Land of the Hanging Chad. What did we learn?

We learned that Wolf Blitzer, in addition to having the most awesome non-fake name ever, will not take crap from Newt Gingrich. He asked Gingrich for his thoughts on Romney’s taxes, Gingrich tried to play his The Media Suck and Every Question They Ask That I Don’t Want To Answer Is Stupid Game, and Wolf said, “But, Mr. Speaker, you made an issue of this, this week, when you said that, ‘He lives in a world of Swiss bank and Cayman Island bank accounts.’ I didn’t say that. You did.”

Gingrich’s response:  “I did. And I’m perfectly happy to say that on an interview on some TV show. But this is a national debate, where you have a chance to get the four of us to talk about a whole range of issues.”

Boo-freakin’-hoo, Mr. Speaker. Wolf told him that, if he’s going to say something like that publicly, he needs to explain it when asked. And that’s when Mitt Romney hit him with the follow-through: “Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t make accusations somewhere else that they weren’t willing to defend here?”

There was, yes, a lot of arguing in this debate. Bitter arguing. You know who didn’t do any of it? Ron Paul. He rose above everything and came out unscathed. But we heard in a speech after the South Carolina primary that he never expected to get this far, really. He said his campaign was about promoting an idea, and then when he saw how well he was doing, he realized that getting elected is how you further the ideas. He’s flying by the seat of his pants at this point, doing fine because he pulls in contributions and he really never varies his stance on anything.

-"You're a pompous ass!" -"Well you're a stupid phony!" "Smile, there's a camera."

Gingrich and Romney did the most jabbing, with some flavor thrown in by Santorum, who took Romney to task, and I mean to task, on the Massachusetts health care plan. Santorum effectively made Romney explain it a little better than before. He said 92% of the people already had insurance, and the 8% who did not have insurance had to choose between finding their own insurance or “paying the state for part of the cost of their free healthcare.” Which, by definition, means it’s not free, but I digress. Santorum used the description to point out that, in the plan, Romney required all Massachusetts residents to buy healthcare or pay a fine. He said the fine is lower than a lot of health care plan costs, and therefore more people in Massachusetts have elected to just pay the fine, which he says amounts to taking a free ride.

I think that might have been the most effective deconstruction of this long-hashed out subject to date.

There was also further discussion of the immigration question, and a plan I hadn’t heard of before. It’s called “self-deportation,” and apparently it works by giving legal immigrants cards that verify their legality and allow employers to give them jobs. The illegal immigrants don’t get those cards, so if employers hire them, they lose their jobs and the employers are sanctioned stiffly. As Romney said, “If you do that, people who have come here illegally won’t be able to find work. And over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport.”

Raise your hand if you believe that.

You’ll note I’m still typing. I am still using both hands.

We learned, perhaps a little surprisingly, that The Newt might be considering Marco

"Gingrich/Rubio. Hmmmm... Let me think about that..."

Rubio as a running mate. We learned this when a woman in the US island of Puerto Rico asked the candidates to name which Hispanics (her word) they might consider for cabinet positions. Gingrich said he’d consider Rubio for something a little more  “dignified” and “central” then being in the cabinet, “but that’s another conversation.”

Ree-hee-heeeeallly? That’s an interesting play. I don’t see it happening, but it’s an interesting play. Rubio is popular with the Tea Party and Gingrich may have bought himself some Florida caucus votes with that comment. And not a moment too soon: Gingrich’s poll numbers are slipping below Romney’s again.

Santorum decided not to spend any money on TV ads in Florida. I suspect it’s because he wants to go the distance in the race and he really doesn’t have the war chest to fund the whole shebang. It will be interesting to see what happens with him in Florida, then, because if he doesn’t finish at least a strong second, I think his numbers just dwindle from there. He also said in a post-debate interview that he’s not staying in the state the day of the primary, because it’s a wasted day, and he’d rather go campaign in Nevada, where the next primary will be held just days later. Super Tuesday is approaching and with more states dividing up their nomination votes by percentage of primary votes, Santorum is just hoping to stay alive until summer.

One of the best moments of the debate was when Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates why their wives would make the best First Lady. Ron Paul’s answer was sort of superficial: she’s a mom, she’s a grandma, she wrote a cookbook. Okay. My mother could be First Lady based on that. (Not the cookbook part.)

Karen Santorum

Santorum’s answer was something we’ve heard before: mother of seven children, one severely disabled (their youngest child has Trisomy 18, a chromosomal defect so severe that kills the overwhelming majority of those who suffer it before birth, and most of those who make it to term die during birth. The great majority who survive that die within the first year. Bella is 3 1/2 and highly physically and developmentally challenged). In addition, the Santorums lost a child, Gabriel, mid-term. Karen Santorum wrote a book about that experience that Rick Santorum says “saved hundreds of lives” when expectant mothers read it and decided not to terminate their pregnancies.

She also wrote a children’s book about manners. She sounds like fun.

Ann Romney

Mitt Romney explained that his wife has multiple sclerosis and is a breast cancer survivor, two things I’m not sure I was aware of before (and both eerily reminiscent of the conditions Gingrich’s first two wives were suffering when he left them). He said she’d be able to understand and reach out to those who suffer, and that she’s also worked on helping young women make family choices that emphasize marriage before children.

Callista Gingrich

But the part that I was most intrigued by was Newt Gingrich’s wife. Callista seems like a Little People figure. Her hair never moves and she never speaks. She is a slash of severe red lipstick on an all-white head. But apparently, she is also an accomplished musician and singer, and the arts are her passion.

That warmed me up to her a little. I’d love a First Lady who made the arts, and particularly music, more important. However, the supposedly devout Catholic had a six-year affair with Gingrich while he was still married to his second wife, which sort of knocks her down a peg. And I will say it in black and white, plain: I don’t want her husband in the White House.

Perhaps a White House on the moon, where he suggests the US should build a colony by 2020, and perhaps the citizens of said colony could petition for statehood.

The moon. A US state.

Imperialistic much?

Most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life. Explore space? Absolutely, when it’s fiscally feasible. I don’t want to end space discovery – far from it. But claim the moon as American space soil? It’s the moon, for God’s sake. Nobody can own the moon.

Moonpie. (image from infowars.com. Clever folks.)

Here was perhaps the most delightful touch of the evening: Ron Paul was funny. Not just “holy crap, he’s off the reservation again, look at him go” funny, but actually witty. His line about the moon? “Well I don’t think we should go to the moon. I think maybe we should send some politicians up there.” When they were talking about what kind of relations should be maintained, if any, with Cuba, Blitzer asked Paul, “What would you say to Raul Castro if you were talking to him?”

“Well, I’d ask him what was the purpose of his call?”

He was the comic relief for a relatively tense night of debating who the best candidate is for the Republicans. I don’t know if it got anyone closer to a decision, and I think Gingrich’s performance, for all his belligerence, was flat. Romney was a little more commanding and he came off not giving a flying fig about how rich he is – something he’s really struggled with because of the current economic climate of the country. He has a new debate coach. It might have worked.

The transcript: http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1201/26/se.05.html

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8 thoughts on “To the Moon, Alice!

  1. I really enjoy reading your political posts about these debates! I despise Newt Gingrich. I generally keep my political sentiments to myself, but I find him mean, condescending, sanctimonious, and a hypocrite. Both Romney and Gingrich speak as if those watching are idiots. I think they are both very wrong, and are completely out of touch with the average American. It’s refreshing–and fun–to read your recaps and analyses.

    • I’ve worried lately that I write too much about politics (or rather, not enough about other things), because there’s so much going on in politics and I committed to writing up the debates. So I’m glad you like the posts! Believe it or not, I do try to walk the line between my snark and being too obvious about my personal political beliefs. That’s sometimes hard to do when the Republicans are the ones debating, but I don’t think it’s a secret that I don’t care for Gingrich – for the same adjective-related reasons you mentioned (in fact, I called him condescending and sanctimonious in a previous post). I respect everyone’s political views, though – so if there are Gingrich supporters reading, I welcome them and I hope they don’t feel too afraid to make their own comments!

  2. I absolutely have to agree with everything Mind Margins wrote about this post. I despise Gingrich too, for all the same reasons, and Romney looks the part, but has no fire in his belly. From the clips I’ve seen, he was more decisive during the last debate–but is lacking in charisma and is totally out of touch with middle class (what’s left of them) Americans. What a woeful bunch.

    • Your point about Romney lacking in charisma is something a lot of analysts have noted. I believe it’s why he just can’t get past about a quarter of the popular vote in national polls. The irony is that he is the most moderate of the group, and therefore the least frightening to those who are of a more liberal persuasion.

  3. I don’t know how you you sit through all of this … do you love it or is it your job (since I’d guess you’re not going to vote for whoever emerges)? You really do a nice job of balancing your opinions and philosophies with facts. Even though I probably don’t agree with you philosophically, I usually find myself comfortable with how you characterize the actions of the candidates. Beyond his personal failings, I think part of the problem with the Newt is that he’s a vicious debater above all. He doesn’t realize that winning the debate by any means doesn’t win votes.

    I don’t always comment on your political posts because I often don’t have an opinion, but I read them all.

    • I do it because I’m interested and I think it’s important. It’s also, admittedly, a bit of a game for me. I like predicting things and seeing how they come out, figuring out who’s going to get a bump in polls based on a debate, finding out whether I was right or not. Someone the other day noted that most people who enjoy politics also enjoy sports (though not necessarily vice-versa), because of the competitive, analytical and sometimes endurance-related nature of each. I thought that was an interesting observation. Thank you for affirming that I’m getting the balance right – I appreciate that, and I think you’re right about Gingrich not realizing that winning an argument doesn’t mean winning a vote. And thank you for reading all the posts. 🙂

      And by the way: I do not yet know who I will vote for in November.

      • I do have a very good idea of who I will not vote for, yes. In must elections, I admit, I’ve been closer to a decision by now. But I think there’s a lot going on in the country and we have to give it time to play itself out before we can decide this time.

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