Republican Debate III: Skirmish at Saint Anselm


6:57: The sound of Wolf Blitzer clearing his throat could be easily mistaken for a swarm of locusts, mating.

6:58: I guess it's possible that that was his microphone.

7:02: Is Tommy Thompson growing a devilock?

7:03: More quick snark: Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback know how to use their junk. Hasn't John McCain been tortured enough? Mike Huckabee is blissfully unaware that Bill Clinton is really, really popular.

7:04: "I am the champion of the Constitution." And I—have—the—power!

7:05: Why is Mitt Romney still beating up on Harry Reid? Obvious: Only one Mormon gets to ride the white horse. That said, he waffles the "would you have supported Iraq if you knew it would be the worst war ever" question with grace that would drive Fred Astaire to the bottle.

7:07: Here's the paradox: Giuliani and McCain handled the Iraq question with far more grit and honesty and, hell, respect for Wolf Blitzer than Romney did. And yet, pop quiz: Which of those guys is it easiest to imagine behind the podium? That's right: The waffler.

7:09: I have no comment on Rudy's "live free or die" remark. He might ban me from his event tomorrow.

7:10: Brownback "doesn't remember" the National Intelligence Estimate. Jim Gilmore does and hezzzzzzz….

7:11: McCain won't let Hillary Clinton lose the war. Well, good.

7:13: Thompson's "dey can have dere own states" plan sounds less dotty when he's asked a specific surge question.

7:14: This is superficial, but the fact that Paul has started chopping his hand when he makes his anti-war point makes it far, far more effective.

7:15: Mike Huckabee's solution for Iraq: Quote Terrance Howard's dialogue from Hustle & Flow.

7:16: Did Tancredo not enjoy the applause Paul got when he called for quitting Iraq? He dashed through the fact he voted against the surge to say how much he wants it to work.

7:18; Things Duncan Hunter doesn't want to nuke: the border wall, the Liberty Bell, Disneyworld's California Adventure. Things he does: All that other stuff. (He said we scould use "any method" to stop Iran from moving arms into Iran, but Blitzer made him clarify.)

7:20: Rudy: Iran can "hand nuclear material to terrorists." Well, hell, why are we arguing about "when they'll be ready" with nukes? Let's hit it to quit it!

7:21: Romney: "How do we move the world of Islam so they don't move toward the extreme?" You don't need to use force, but you need to be ready to… attack everyone.

7:24: That's a lot of time Tancredo got to explain his position on the immigration bill: It's not just bad, it'll break America up into Balkan states.

7:25: Rudy wants immigrants to live free with a tamper-proof ID card and listing in a national database or die.

7:27: Romney: Sure McCain disagrees with me, but he campaigned for me. Romney, you'll recall, is the candidate who hates non sequitors.

7:29: Hand it to Wolf Blitzer: He knows how to let John McCain talk. He sounds arrogant, like he knows no one else has reckoned with immigration (or the current bill), and dares them to come on and bring a better idea. Giuliani and Romney know just enough for this strategy to fail, although Rudy sounds like he's pored over the bill and Romney sounds like he's read a memo.

7:31: I got a fever! And the only perscription! Is more Duncan Hunter! (Or, you know, a shitload less.)

7:32: I really don't want to worry this point: Maybe Ron Paul will get 10 minutes of speaking time right after I post. But Duncan Hunter won't get as many votes in New Hampshire as Paul. He doesn't have the built-in constituency that Paul does. If he gets more votes in the primary, I'll donate a brick to the border wall.

7:34: Wow, Paul is really humming tonight. He gets the pre-selected kook question from Blitzer (Deeuhr, should we build a wall on the Canadian border?) and unloads his line about "if you subsidize something you get more of it it." This is probably the Paul position most repulsive to left-libertarians, but he makes a play for them by calling illegal immigrants "scapegoats" in the current system.

7:38: A ticket has two people, Jim. Not three.

7:40: And God literally strikes Rudy with lightning. Multiple times.

7:41: And the lightning goes away, the clouds part, to allow Mitt Romney to wax about his Immaculate Flip-Flop. Matt and Trey were right: God is a Mormon.

7:43: And the Holy Spirt has possessed Mike Huckabee! This is like The Last Temptation of Christ without all the jokes.

7:44: Inherit the Wind, starring Wolf Blitzer as Clarence Darrow and Mike Huckabee as William Jennings Bryan. I miss Duncan Hunter.

7:46: I suspect that McCain attends church less often than Huckabee and Brownback.

7:47: Paul and McCain give the same answer on church and state. Blitzer's framing is amusingly silly: "You ran for president as a Libertarian. What do you think?" Maybe he has a well-known stance on it, Wolf.

7:50: Romney and Rudy agree: Let's launch a major national project, paid for with tax cuts and a kissing booth, to solve the energy crisis. I guess everyone misses the Carter presidency.

7:53: When it comes to the energy question, Paul is the only Republican on the stage.

7:55: Huh. I joked about Paul getting more time, and (probably because of his good behavior) he's actually getting more time. Of course, unlike Rudy Giuliani, I believe in Jesus.

7:58: Does anyone know why CNN is harping on the gays/military issue? How hot a topic is this?

8:00: I'm selling tickets for the "George Bush Rocks the Youth of America!" tour out back after the show.

8:02: Tancredo and Dennis Kucinich are probably the only candidates who'd put President Bush on trial at The Hague. Paging Unity08…

8:03: Huckabee: "There was a feeling that there wasn't a proper handling of the Iraq War." Maybe a little more than a feeling. When I hear that old song they used to play.

8:06: The Libby question: Hunter wants to pardon those border guards, and who cares? But there's a nice, surprising difference between Rudy and Romney. Rudy approaches the question as an attorney, talking (for a long while) about how he recommended pardons in the Reagan administration. Romney approaches the question with absolute smugness: He practically brags that he never pardoned anyone as governor and pretends that Scooter Libby's fate is worse than anyone ever convicted by a journey in Massachusetts. Brownback recants his vote to remove Bill Clinton from office. (Not really, but he doesn't think Libby committed a crime.)

Part two here.