GOP CNN/Tea Party Debate: Nirvana Reference Edition

And then there was a Republican presidential debate with a Nirvana reference. Nevermind (haha) that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s odd invocation of the 90s alt-rockers didn’t make much sense, it was totally, undeniably there—which, come to think of it, is probably the best way to describe a lot of the debate.

Watching Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney go back and forth on Social Security was like watching two boxers spar—in a practice ring.

Is it a Ponzi scheme, as Gov. Perry has said before? Should it be a federal program at all, or returned to the states? If Romney likes it so much, then why did he say its accounting, if employed in the private sector, would be “criminal?”

Sadly, neither candidate suggested that we put individual accounts in heart-shaped lockboxes. Perry tiptoed around his harshest criticisms, saying that for those currently enrolled in the program, it should be “slam dunk guaranteed” that the program will continue to pay out benefits. Romney pressed further. Should the federal government have any role in the program? Perry dodged: “I think we should have a conversation—” Romney leans in for the kill: “We’re running for president. We’re having that conversation right now!” Well, as long as ubiquitous CNN host Wolf Blitzer let them, anyway.

Blitzer long ago mastered the art of speaking many words in a row without saying much of anything—at this point he is a marvelously forgettable words-producing machine. One wonders if he gave a pre-debate crash-course in content-free sentence production to the candidates. This was the sort of zzzs-inducing night at the podium where it was easy to come away feeling less informed than when you started. Like a late-season episode of Lost, it defeated even very low initial expectations.

Herman Cain, the former pizza chain executive, revealed that he still measures economic growth franchise by franchise, declaring that “one restaurant is the basic fundamental business unit in this country.” Rep. Michelle Bachmann wanted to shrink the federal reserve back down to “such a tight leash that they’re going to squeak.” Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum accused Rep. Ron Paul of blaming America for 9/11. Paul was asked a couple more variations on ask-a-libertarian: "Really? You believe that?" Newt Gingrich, backing a fully funded eight-tentacled defense octopus, if that's what it takes, warned that “we are on the edge of an enormous crisis in national security” and ominously asked listeners to consider “what is at stake if a foreign terrorist gets a nuclear weapon into this country.” Without an empowered Transportation Security Administration, who will protect us from crotch nukes?! Ahem. 

Huntsman, not content to be the recipient of just one Awkward Award for his Nirvana reference, accused Gov. Perry of “treason” for saying that America’s southern boundaries couldn’t be sealed. Perry, for his part, had merely said that building a fence wouldn’t work; he argued that stopping illegal immigration would require “boots on the ground” and thousands of full-time troops; time to declare war on the border!

And Washington profligacy too. All of the candidates who got the opportunity heroically vowed to get rid of waste in Washington (only Romney said it wouldn't be enough). None of them, however, appeared ready to repeal the Medicare prescription drug benefit created (but not paid for) under President Bush; even Rep. Paul said it “wouldn’t be high on his list” of programs to wipe out. Gingrich argued that the silly idea that retiree entitlements and defense spending made up most of the budget was just “Washington mythology.” Also: math! But what’s the difference? Does it matter? Here we are now, entertain us, etc. etc. 

Bonus pop-culture conversation starter: Which GOP presidential wannabe goes with which Nirvana song? A few starter picks:

Perry: “Territorial Pissings”
Romney: “The Man Who Sold the World”
Bachmann: “About a Girl”
Huntsman: “All Apologies”
Ron Paul: “You Know You’re Right” and/or “Come As You Are”
Cain: "Big Cheese"
Gingrich: “Big Long Now”
Santorum: “Jesus (Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam)”

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  • ||

    Herman Cain: Monkey Wrench

  • ||

    So, so racist.

  • Mike E||

    That's Foo Fighters.

  • ||

    same thing, roughly

  • Gojira||

    I'm exercising my one veto and revoking your posting privledges.

  • ||

    Your veto is not as powerful as you think it is.

  • Gojira||

    *sad face*

  • ||

    Tulpa, you lost my respect long ago. Now you're into negative respect.

  • ||

    Actually, the first Foo Fighters album was far better than anything Nirvana ever did. imho. At least Dave Grohl could sing, relatively. Too bad they sucked after they became a "real" band.

  • ||

    You know what fucking kills me is all you Ron Paulbots have been talking about the Fed and Social Security for years, and then Rick Perry starts talking about it and you go ape shit. I wouldn't vote for Ron Paul because he looks weak and he's never run any kind of organization. Rick Perry is winning because he comes off as leader and as someone tough. There is this thing called testosterone, and some of you guys may want to talk to your doctors about it.

  • ||

    You know who else had testosterone?

  • Cowboy||

    The American people: "Rape me"

  • ||

    Dammit, Suderman, "The Man who Sold the World" is a David Bowie song.

  • ||

    I think somebody should suggest to Ron Paul that the next time talks about our wars he should point out the financial support he gets from our troops compared to the other candidates. Then say something like, don't you think these patriotic soldiers know what they are doing by donating to my campaign?

    I would like to see a tea party crowd boo that.

  • sevo||

    "I think somebody should suggest to Ron Paul that the next time talks about our wars he should point out the financial support he gets from our troops compared to the other candidates."
    Uh, what?

  • tarran||

    The last time I checked, when I summed the donations presidential candidates get from people who list the military as their employer, Ron Paul got more donations than anybody else. He, alone, got more donations than all the other Republican candidates combined.

  • ||

    He tried it in one of the 2008 debates, but it didn't work.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Also, it's just anecdotal, but Ron Paul is really popular with many of the troops and veterans I know.

  • Brandon Magoon||

    Now we can't go confusing the issue with the facts!

  • ||

    I went to a Tea Party rally once and it was full of Ron Paul people??????

  • Tea Party War Machine||

    Let Him Die! Let Him Die! Let Him Die! Let Him Die!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Since they won't let him on the main stage, is Johnson the "Lounge Act"?

  • ||

    Dude, "The Man Who Sold the World" and "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam" ain't Nirvana songs.

    That said, most of the people onstage get "Moist Vagina" and/or "Dumb". Perry gets "Hairspray Queen". Ron Paul gets "Curmudgeon". Gary Johnson gets either "Help Me, I'm Hungry", "Talk to Me" or "Oh Me". Somebody probably deserves "Pay to Play" or "Negative Creep." Pawlenty (RIP) gets "Blandest". Santorum gets "Stain". We all know why... A racist a-hole would say that Herman Cain gets "Very Ape".

  • Peter Suderman||

    I'm using the expansive definition: Anything the band recorded.

    Re: "Sunbeam," I thought it was "doesn't want..." and then wikipedia said otherwise, and I didn't Google any further. Corrected.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Next you're going to try and convince us that Cobain's death was a suicide.

  • ||

    It's ok - I'm a hypocrite, as "Oh Me" is a Meat Puppets song.

  • ||

    ron paul: 'anuerysm' in ref to him bleeding out first mention of return to gold standard.

    sen.bachman: 'polly', for obviously being dismissed and not relevant (runner-up for the senator was 'breed'

  • BakedPenguin||

    And so many qualify for "Negative Creep"...

  • prolefeed||

    That's pretty much a job requirement for anyone with the slightest chance of winning.

  • Tea Party War Machine||

    Grandma take me home

  • ||

    I think that song is called "Sliver."

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Sarah Palin: Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle!

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Tim Pawlenty - Endless, Nameless

  • Almanian||

    Glad to have missed another Team Red "debate" (see also: "glorified talk show appearance").
    The one thing these episodes have helped confirm is that I won't be voting for ANY of these assholes.

    Thanks, Debates-R-Us!

  • Kang||

    Go ahead, THROW your vote away!

  • Kang||

    FYI that's sarcasm. The "wasted vote" argument in the electoral college system is the stupidest argument someone can make for voting.

  • Doug||

    Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum accused Rep. Ron Paul of blaming America for 9/11.

    Your obsession with Ron Paul suggests he's gotten into your head, Richard. PWNED!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • sunny black||

    Doesn't Richard do this crap to Ron Paul at every single debate? I swear they choreograph this stuff so that Santorum can get sanctimonious and a rise out of the crowd.

  • Doug||

    Doesn't Richard do this crap to Ron Paul at every single debate?

    Prexactly. I perceive Santorum's perpetual obsession with Ron Paul as a strong indicator that he feels he's been pwned by RP on an epic level. Epic to the point that Santorum spends all his waking hours scheming to get even.

    I don't know what that epic moment was, but as a pissed off former constituent of Santorum's, I welcome it. Relish it, in fact.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah Santorum confirmed his douchbag stautus again this debate. I noticed he and Newt smirking at each other when Paul was getting boo'd after his attack. Reminded of one of those old campy jocks vs geeks movies when the jocks give the skinny kid with classes a wedgy and then laugh about it. Santorum should have been called out on his simpleton they attacked us 'cause we're so gosh darn swell. Also, why waste his mud on someone who's not going to win?

  • Brandon Magoon||

    Paul should call a press conference at the National Press Club,and present Santorum with the graphic novel edition of the 9/11 report so he can educate himself.Kind of like he did to Rudy in 07.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Paul's problem is he when he's giving the reasons for 9/11 he sounds like he's defending Bin Laden. He needs to start with the statement that regardless of their "reasons" there was absolutely no justification for killing 3000 innocent Americans. He also needs to not be so Spock like when talking about something so personal to everyone. It's not that Paul isn't smart enough to be elected, it's that he is not able to connect to voters.

  • sunny black||

    Does it occur to anyone that Huntsman's Cobain reference was likely... *gulp* a canned and scripted joke?

    Huntsman at debate prep: "How do I convey to these bitter clingers that I was in a freaking band called Wizard, dammit!"

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    John McCain - Breed
    George W. Bush - Polly
    Ronald Reagan - Smells Like Teen Spirit
    Dick Cheney - Love Buzz
    Budd Dwyer - Aneuryism
    Dan Quayle - Very Ape

  • Tea Party War Machine||

    Wolf Blitzer - Sliver

  • Kurt Cobain||

    Barack Obama - Black
    Joe Biden - Alive
    Hillary Clinton - Jeremy
    Timothy Geithner - Glorified G
    Teddy Kennedy - Last Kiss

  • Jerry Cantrell||

    Abe Lincoln - Everlong
    Howard Taft - My Hero
    George Washington - This Is A Call
    Franklin Pierce - Stacked Actors
    JFK - Learn To Fly

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    Ron Paul - John Elway
    Barack Obama - Jamarcus Russell
    Tim Pawlenty - Ryan Leaf
    Mitt Romney- Peyton Manning
    Rick Perry - Tom Brady

  • A Serious Man||

    (shrugs)
    Ron Paul-Obi Wan Kenobi
    Rick Perry-Darth Vader
    Barack Obama-Jar Jar Binks
    Mitt Romney-Grand Moff Tarkin
    Michele Bachmann-Princess Leia
    Newt Gingrich-Jabba the Hutt
    Hermain Cain-Nien Nunb
    John Huntsman-Bobba Fett

  • Jonas||

    Ron Paul would obviously be Yoda numbnuts.
    The difference is:

    Obi-Wan is a character who never actually accomplishes anything important and then he dies.

    Yoda is a character who accomplishes very little important because everyone refuses to listen to him and then he dies... but he's still the widely acknowledged bad-ass of the force.

  • ||

    Theme songs for this debate: Ain't It a Shame; Escalator to Hell; Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves

  • Steven||

    Romney, choking on the ashes of his enemies.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Ron Paul-"Fight the Power" (Public Enemy)
    Rick Santorum-"Bombs Away" (The Police)
    Barack Obama-"Now that the Magic Has Gone" (Joe Cocker)
    Mitt Romney-I don't know, what do *you* think my theme song should be?
    Michele Bachmann-"Crazy" (Patsy Cline)
    John Huntsman-"The Accursed Huntsman" (Cesar Franck)

  • ||

    Rep. Michelle Bachmann wanted to shrink the federal reserve back down to “such a tight leash that they’re going to squeak.”

    In any sort of competently run debate, somebody would have asked Bachmann what the hell that even means. The president always gets the opportunity to appoint the Federal Reserve chairman halfway through their term, but Fed governors are appointed to offset 14 year terms, their decisions aren't subject to review or veto by the president and, once appointed, they can't be removed other than for cause (and "because I don't like their policy decisions" isn't "cause").

  • ||

    Can't legislation removed the charter giving such free rein to the Fed governors?

  • ||

    Well, we all know who "a mulatto" would be referring to.
    Ron Paul is a lot like "a mosquito" to most of these assholes.
    And "my libido" is obviously Clinton.
    Let's get an albino in the mix! There must be a fringe party candidate.

  • ||

    Jon Huntman: Donald Duck
    Hermann Cain: Goofy
    Michelle Bachmann: Fairy Godmother
    Mitt Romney: Any Evil Queen
    Rick Perry: Foghorn Leghorn (I know,he's not Disney, but it fits)
    Ron Paul: Lion King's Mufasa
    Rick Santorum: Tinkerbell
    The Crowd: Overgrown Mouseketeers

  • bill||

    i think gingrich would work as your albino.

  • Colin||

    The best (or worst) moment of the debate was when Bachmann demanded immigrants be given an American history test, when she herself doesn't know where the fucking Battle of Lexington and Concord occurred.

    She makes Palin look qualified.

  • ||

    So true. Good point.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Not to mention imigrante ARE given a history test. And most I know have a better grasp than a lot of native borns.

  • ||

    Jon Huntman: Hanson
    Hermann Cain: Milli Vanilli
    Michelle Bachmann: Ashlee Simpson
    Mitt Romney: Ace of Base
    Rick Perry: Cowboy Troy
    Ron Paul: RUSH
    Rick Santorum: Vanilla Ice

  • ||

    This is the "totally uncool bands" index, right?

    Yes, I did just call Rush uncool. What are you gonna do about it?

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