Election 2012

The Gary Johnson Debate

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Are you tired of Republican debates yet? At tonight's Fox/Google-sponsored GOP showdown in Orlando, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sure acted like he was. The man was clearly in need of some wake-up juice. He yawned. He pondered. He talked slow—even for Rick Perry. By the end of the debate, he was trying to figure out how to "mate" Herman Cain with Newt Gingrich for his veep slot. Who's ready for Rick Perry-Hernewt Caingritch in 2012?

Don't think that match-up has a catchy enough ring to it? How about Gary Johnson-Ron Paul? The former New Mexico governor and multi-instance Reason feature subject, asked to quickly pick his running mate from the crew on stage, picked Dr. No. He also proposed balancing the budget by cutting federal spending by 43 percent (!) more or less immediately, and delivered the night's most memorable one-liner: "My next door neighbor's dogs have created more shovel ready jobs that this administration."* There is no such thing as shovel ready!

Speaking of dogs, that's who this debate was for. Literally. The Fox News anchors who moderated the showdown announced early on that they'd changed the time's-up sound from the last debate after multiple complaints that the previous ding sounded too much like a doorbell—and was freaking out viewers' puppies.

Hernewt Caingritch

Meanwhile, much of the evening's entertainment revolved around the fight between Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both whom were vying to be the GOP presidential field's top dog.

With a bit of moderator prodding, they tussled on Social Security, on ObamaCare, on their flip-flops, and their respective books—which may not be entirely fair, given that Mitt Romney seems to have read Rick Perry's book, while it's not clear that Perry has.

The biggest squabble between the two was probably about immigration. When Romney went after the Texas governor's record—in particular, his decision to allow immigrant children to attend state schools at in-state tuition rates—Perry repeated his call for "boots on the ground" at the border. Of the two, he was the immigration moderate.

There were a handful of unexpected moments scattered throughout the night—Michelle Bachmann responding to a follow-up tax question by saying that Americans have a right to keep every dollar they earn, but also noting that "obviously" we need to collect revenue to run the government; Jon Huntsman delivering a lengthy disquisition on his dislike of green energy subsidies…only to finish by noting that, "if there were a way to get the ball rolling" on alternative energy, he would be for it.

200 percent more libertarian

But aside from Johnson's entry, the debate was fairly stale, especially for those of us who've slogged through previous prime-time podium parties. Despite his recent surge in the polls, Ron Paul seemed less of a factor than in prior outings, perhaps in part because of the welcome absence of many ask-a-libertarian gotchas. Newt Gingrich continued to question the questions, as if running for debate ombudsman (or, given his stated desire to "control 100 percent of the border," some sort of deity). Former pizza executive Cain once again mentioned "the Chilean model," which you should not Google at the office, and touted his 9-9-9 plan to deliver nine pizzas for nine dollars in nine minutes, or something. There were word clouds, and graphs showing which federal departments poll respondents most wanted to get rid of. Rick Santorum was there too. 

But overall, Rick Perry had the right idea. This debate was a snooze.

Watch Reason.tv editor Nick Gillespie's interview with Gary Johnson:

*As commenter John Thacker points out below, this appears to be a borrowed line. Johnson says that he got the joke from a radio host based in Albuquerque.  

NEXT: Bernanke Fails Again

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  1. They totally screwed Johnson and Paul on time. It was ridiculous. Still, between the two of them, they got as much time as Perry or Romney, and if we’re concerned about ideas, that’s a win.

    1. Re: Joe M,
      At least, Johnson did not take the bait from Brett to attack Paul. Good for him – he was, even within the limited time, pretty good.

  2. The GOP should update the Gadsden Flag with the image of a coiled turd and run that up their flag pole.

    1. You, mister, are definitely not tired of being a smart ass.

      Still, I like the idea. Only problem I see is that snakes and turds can be roughly the same color, so people may not quite catch what’s happened.

    2. …coiled turd…

      That better be a Punk band name.

      1. Keep going, Doug… you left out a comparable symbol for Team Blue.

        1. A cartoon impression of a Tijuana donkey show.

  3. With his minimalist style “Imagine” ad, the weird metallic sounds that you hear when a video says “LIVE FREE,” and his always interesting music choices, I think Gary Johnson might be the most avant-garde candidate so far. Maybe he can steal the hipster vote from Obama.

    1. You mean from Huntsman the Captain Beefheart fan?

    2. I felt a Hot Chip vibe. Raise Huntsman with some Zappa?

  4. “My next door neighbor’s dogs have created more shovel ready jobs that this administration.”

    Yeah, but it appears that he stole that line from Rush Limbaugh, or at least that Rush said it first.

    1. We’ve heard the term “shovel ready” for a long time, I don’t think Rush was the first to make that joke either. Gary would be smarter than to purposely use a Rush line the day of the show in front of an audience of conservative elderly Floridians.

      1. Sure, wouldn’t surprise me, it’s an easy joke to make.

        And of course Reagan wasn’t the first to tell all the jokes that he told. And Presidents have speech writers.

      2. It’s not like plagiarism is a huge deal for politicians anyway. The sitting president cribbed his motto from the governor of Massachusetts, who in turn stole it from Bob the Builder.

        1. If it weren’t for plagiarism, the sitting Vice-President might have been President, or at least he might have lost in 1988 instead of Dukakis.

          Oh, well, I guess plagiarism doesn’t make much difference after all.

          Like I always say, you can fool some of the people all of the time, etc.

    2. Most jokes, like songs, are “stolen”.
      I heard a variation of this first on Rush but did not assume it originated there.

      I’m not GJ’s biggest fan but his delivery and timing were excellent and it was the crowd-pleasing line of the night.

  5. Jon Huntsman delivering a lengthy disquisition on his dislike of green energy subsidies…only to finish by noting that, “if there were a way to get the ball rolling” on alternative energy, he would be for it.

    This reminded me of Herman Cain wanting to totally abolish the EPA– only to set up an entirely new EPA.

    1. And only if he were forced to do so! :))

    2. There was a lot of mend-it, don’t end it talk.

      Then there was Huntsman who wanted to ‘reduce taxes during this economic downturn’ or something. I guess he would be perfectly willing to raise taxes once the economy picked up. And he wants to subsidize natural gas production. Hasn’t anyone told Huntsman that natural gas is economically competitive for some uses and needs regulatory relief, not subsidies? Huntsman is definitely trying to pick up the open primary vote.

  6. There was a double penetration of libertarian ideas tonight.

  7. Ron Paul seemed subdued because, despite being third in the polls, he was given 2d LEAST amount of questions.

    1. The boring old fuck is lucky nobody asked him about those racist newsletters. Call him the Teflon Libertarian flop. What a fucking joke.

      1. get yourself down to the Marine recruiting station, they’re looking for a few good americans to sign up…..you might be boots on the ground in Libya if you’re lucky.

        1. Didn’t the Marines do that already?

          Anyway, they’re kind of selective.

          1. The racist newsletters which Paul himself did not write, Max? Those newsletters?

            Go the fuck back away.

  8. Romney also attacked the Perry book, quoting something about Social Security being forced on the American people. Huh? It isn’t? Does this mean he knows of some secret way for the average American to avoid the payroll tax and keep their money? Pfft! :my face meet wall:

    1. Romney also attacked the Perry book, quoting something about Social Security being forced on the American people. Huh? It isn’t?

      Of course not. And neither is the voluntary income tax. Says so on the label.

  9. Santorum’s candidacy may come to a frothy end after tonight’s performance.

    1. It did fizzle somewhat.

    2. And with his name now an international cyber-epithet, it was all that much more humorous that Google was a debate sponsor.

      When Santorum drops out, I’m waiting for the sequel to this Reason post that’s kept me in stitches for going on half a decade now:

      https://reason.com/blog/2006/11…..mmy-and-sw

      1. He made quite a splash at first, but Santorum cooled down rather quickly, I guess.

        1. Wait a minute. Santorum’s been running for president this whole time?

          1. (For the record, I refuse to google his name, so I don’t know the new meaning.)

            1. Yet you made a completely appropriate joke? Ha ha, nice.

            2. The frothy mix of shit and lube expelled after anal sex.

              1. … a preferred delicacy of SF – usually eaten as a topping on cinnamon rolls.

              2. SF, you do realize there might be kids reading this blog, right?

                1. Yeah, SF. I think Tulpa is about 15 himself.

              3. SF omitted a key component of santorum from his recipe…

                Also, for FofE and others, it’s not that “new” of a meaning. Dan Savage started this Google bomb years ago.

      2. 11/8/06
        Never Forget.

  10. Gary Johnson totally missed his chance. When the audience booed the gay soldier’s question, and then Santorum gave his idiotic reply, he shoulda piped up and shown everyone that that kind of crap won’t fly anymore. The libertarians have arrived….

    1. GJ’s nebbishy, faggity delivery of a response would have been delish and would have so won him votes!

    2. the audience booed the gay soldier’s question,

      It was apparently one or two people, not “the audience.” People keep making that claim, which seems about as legitimate as quoting someone out of context.

      1. One person may have booed the question, but a large part of the audience clapped enthusiastically at Santorum’s response. Slate trying to spin the incident is blatant revisionism.

  11. What difference does it make, the media has decided. It’s either going to be Perry or Romney.

    And they made sure we all know that Jimmy Cahtah wants it to be Romney. That’s so fucking important and relevant that they just had to let us know it.

    1. Re: tired of being a smartass,

      It’s either going to be Perry or Romney.

      I’m fine with whichever as long as they promise, the very first day they take office, to abolish “word-clouds” forever from the American lexicon.

    2. The panel of voters they talked with after also had a lot of Romney supporters and a bunch of people who switched from Perry to Romney after last night’s debate. I only saw half the “debate” but from what I saw, people as usual are fooled by who is the prettiest, who has the best sound bites, and who looks and sounds the most “presidential”. Romney is the smoothest one up there but no one seems to realize he doesn’t really say anything meaningful but he deliberately says things like “and I’m going to lead us there” and I guess that reassures people. Same old, same old.

  12. Johnson would abolish all taxes! Uh, except the tax he would impose on all of us to replace the taxes he just abolished!

    Great.

    1. A consumption tax would be a better tax. Unfortunately, the math of the specific FairTax? he called out doesn’t quite add up.

      1. Could you elaborate on how the Fair Tax is not revenue-neutral?

      2. How does the Fair Tax not add up exactly?

      3. The FairTax is preferable to the current system and superior to normal sales taxes (which would be incredibly regressive without the rebate). But taxing consumption still causes deadweight loss by taxing a productive activity.

        I’d prefer a replacing the entire system with a national land value tax with a citizen’s dividend, which actually improves the economy by reducing unproductive land speculation, encouraging more productive use of a limited resource and the net effect would be lower land prices. Since land was not created by labor most of the time, the government’s realm of control is essentially the land mass it has jurisdiction over, and historically land ownership was not at all a free market where people of all races and genders had equal right to own it, I see it as the least unjust, naturally progressive and most economically utilitarian tax.

    2. I wouldn’t vote for a “fairtaxer”.Aside from the problems with the propsal it would never pass in a form anything like it was written. We’d get a VAT in addition to our existing taxes.

      1. You could probably replace the income tax with a straight VAT tax. The Left could be sold on how European it is.

    3. I would abolish all taxes on individuals too, and replace them with nothing.

      Course, I would have Congress send a bill to each of the states, for a share of the budget proportional to its representation, and let them worry about how to work it out, so money would still go from the people to the Feds. You could call it the Contrapositive Tea Party plan (i.e., “yes representation, yes taxation”).

  13. In other news, Kinky Friedman: Rick Perry’s got my vote.

    Money quote: “These days, of course, I would support Charlie Sheen over Obama. Obama has done for the economy what pantyhose did for foreplay.”

    1. …and you can’t win an election without the singing Jewish cowboy vote!

      1. Well, you probably could, but it would be a totally hollow victory.

    2. Oh Kinky, why hast thou forsaken us!?

    3. If you can’t figure out a way to use pantyhose to your advantage in foreplay, you don’t deserve the name Kinky.

  14. It’s good to see a fringe or flake candidate like Johnson get whatever face time he gets, just so people have a standard by which to judge sanity from insanity. I am surprised that Fox Noise/Google didn’t put a homeless guy on the stage as a prop for Johnson to kick in the teeth.

    1. Oh, they still have you, Mavi. They still have you.

      1. Go easy on ol’ blue eyes there, BP.

    2. SO which is the sane one? I’m confused.

  15. Romney just creeps me the fuck out. Even if I didn’t know he was a lying sack of shit politician, I still wouldn’t believe anything out of his mouth. There is just something about his mannerisms that screams, “Everything I’m telling you is bullshit!” He makes used car salesmen seem trustworthy. Anyone else get this feeling?

      1. Not nearly as good as the “fudge” picture.

    1. Yeah, he is pretty close to the John Edwards level of exuding creepy sliminess. I don’t understand how people can look at guys like those two and say “this is a good guy who I can trust”.

    2. If you’ve ever seen a biblical apocalypse program on cable doing Revelations – Romney looks and acts like the actor portraying the anti-christ politican.

  16. For all his faults, Paul’s getting better with his soundbites.

  17. It was interesting to see Johnson advocate an economic plan that would be 100% likely to bring on a second Great Depression. He should have explained that this was necessary to “wring the poison out of the system” and start anew. Sure, people would be living in tar paper shacks for a generation, but at least the debt* wouldn’t be out of control!

    *A number on a spreadsheet.

    1. Well gosh, if the debt is just a number on a spreadsheet, why not simply repudiate it outright?

      1. Non-sequitur. The federal government as the issuer of US dollars can always make any payment in US dollars, so there is no reason to repudiate anything.

        1. If it truly is “just a number” then there’s no reason not to either.

        2. Hey, Robert Mugabe called and asked me to offer you a job running the Zimbabwe central bank. You interested?

          1. You realize that this is the equivalent of a non-libertarian shouting “Somalia!” when you make a libertarian proposal, right?

              1. You apparently don’t realize that what I’ve said is true of every nation with a fiat currency and a central bank. That is probably because you are laboring under some false assumptions on how monetary systems function in the real world.

                Shouting “Zimbabwe!” when someone promotes (or even explains) a fiat monetary system is exactly equivalent (in ignorance and inability to draw distinctions) to someone shouting “Somalia!” in reply to any attempt to reduce regulations or limit the power of government.

                1. Not really. Your solution is precisely what Zimbabwe did, while letting people work as interior designers without a license isn’t comparable to what happened in Somalia.

                2. I mean, if someone were talking about abolishing the federal and state governments and letting warlords run each county as they saw fit, then shouting “Somalia!” would be an appropriate response.

                  1. Sign me up.

                    I will be the warrior of the wasteland, the ayatollah of rock and rollah.

        3. The federal government as the issuer of US dollars can always make any payment in US dollars

          Wrong.

          The Federal Reserve, which is an independent bank and not part of the federal government, is the issuer of US dollars.
          The federal government issues Treasuries (debt), many of which are purchased by the Federal Reserve, in exchange for dollars.
          The federal government can only make payments with dollars previously collected by taxation or the issuing of Treasuries.
          When it runs out of dollars it can no longer make any payments until it issues more Treasuries or collects more taxes.

          1. Yes, and actually the Federal Reserve is prohibited by law from buying debt from the Treasury, to prevent exactly the scenario Draco is proposing.

            Of course, they get around it by buying T-bills for inflated prices from private bank intermediaries. Like Jeff Goldblum says, government finds a way.

            1. I was wondering why the Fed buys bonds from Goldman Sachs (after a huge markup) instead of directly from the Treasury.
              Then you have former Fed chairmen running the Treasury, and former Sachs chairmen running the fed.
              The corruption is mind boggling.

          2. If you want your argument to hinge on whether the Federal Reserve (set up by Congress in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913) should formally count as part of the “Federal Government” in a quick note posted on a blog – well, okay. Congratulations.

            I was making a crucial point, which you missed: unlike Greece, say, which does not issue the Euro (and therefore cannot automatically make good on its Euro-denominated debt), the US can always make good on its US dollar denominated debt, since it is the issuer (through the Federal Reserve) of the US dollar.

            1. That’s a fair distinction.

          3. Since Congress defines what a “dollar” is, they can without notice declare someone else’s note to be that.

    2. Yeah a controlled restructuring is so much worse that a monetary collapse.

  18. Technically it’s not the jobs that are shovel-ready, it’s the project that the jobs will ultimately work on.

    1. It’s the country that’s shovel-ready.

    2. It’s true that there are no such things as shovel-ready projects. 3 years ago I was employed briefly by a consultant to call states around the country to get a list of them, only to disappoint my incredulous employer (who wound up never paying me) that there was no such thing. I mean, who would do the work to line everything up for a project to be ready to go, without actually being able to start already? “Shovel ready” implies some sort of fluke whereby work was momentarily interrupted and could be resumed without notice, and I’m sure that doesn’t exist.

  19. Based on information gleaned up and through last night’s debate, I’d say the only candidates qualified to be POTUS are Huntsman, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Perry. I think Huntsman and Romney could both easily beat Obama and would make very decent Presidents. Perry might not be able to beat Obama. Gingrich and Santorum, not a chance. Perry is really a disappointment, now that I’ve seen him a few times.

    I might qualify Ron Paul if only he would get off the “sound money” anti-Fed bandwagon which is, frankly, a bandwagon on which only loonies and dupes are riding. We aren’t going back to a gold standard, ever. Also, his foreign policy is based on extreme naivete, and that disqualifies him too. But other than those two things, I do like a lot of what he says.

    1. Ron Paul is the only candidate up there with a coherent foreign policy strategy. Everyone else you mentioned just wants to kick the can down the road at best or resume the Bush approach at worst….and if you look up foreign policy naivete in the dictionary, they have a picture of Bush’s approach.

      And if you’re disqualifying people over having positions that are naive or politically impossible, what in God’s name is Santorum doing on your qualified list?

      1. Actually, on second thought Tulpa, and before I even saw your response, I have serious questions about Santorum’s qualifications. He really mishandled the gay soldier question, showing that, as you imply, he has difficulty dealing with an often complex reality. I do have problems disqualifying someone on the basis of one particular flub though.

        He was a decent Senator for Pennsylvania though, and generally came down on the right side of economic questions. He’s never going to raise your taxes, regardless what he may think of gays.

        1. I really don’t care either way about DADT; to me that’s a disciplinary matter that should be decided by the leadership of the military rather than the civilian command.

          One thing I noted was that Santorum said he would trust the military leadership to decide whether we should be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, but apparently he doesn’t trust them to decide whether open gays should be allowed to serve in their branches.

    2. I do however agree about the nomination being Romney’s to lose. Yes, Giuliani was ahead at this time in 2007 but he had a lot more chinks in his armor and was transparently depending on his fame from 9/11.

      The only thing going for Perry is that, assuming Obama gets the Dem nomination, methinks the ideal candidate to run against him would be someone who is his antithesis, ie someone who comes across as a do-er and not a talker. Perry definitely gives off that vibe.

      1. Interesting angle. I think Romney and Huntsman have actually done more than Perry though. Governor of Texas is a weaker position than that of MA or UT.

        And your phrase reminded me of:

        “The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other” — Thick as a Brick

      2. “Giuliani was ahead at this time in 2007 but he had a lot more chinks in his armor”

        Giuliani’s biggest problem was that he had no base of support other than a few people who seemed to want an all NY contest between Hillary and Rudy. Nobody really wanted Rudy, but there were a few political insiders pushing him anyway. Huntsman fills that niche this time around.

        1. Giuliani was way ahead in the polls until November of 2007. That’s not the work of a couple of New York-philes.

          1. No, they had the help of a polling firm which they commissioned to do a poll, big deal. Rudy had no real support. Why would he? What did he offer Republican primary voters? Nothing. His resume was weak. He is a social liberal, pro-gun control, pro-gay marriage, mildly supportive of affirmative action, supported open immigration and coddling of illegal immigrants, he openly kept a mistress and used city cops to limo her around, he put on a dress and smooched Donald Trump on TV – not the stuff of a successful Republican nominee candidate.

      3. “but he had a lot more chinks in his armor”

        WAAAACIST!

    3. Original quote:
      “I’d say the only candidates qualified to be POTUS are Huntsman, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Perry. I think Huntsman and Romney could both easily beat Obama and would make very decent Presidents.”

      Translation:
      “I, Draco, am a slavish supporter of the liberal Republican establishment. I will define for you the only acceptable choices in a presidential nominee. It is likely that my choices of nominees are not, in fact, the most likely to prevail in the general election, but I want the big government agenda to be advanced no matter what so it doesn’t really matter if a Republican wins or not, but if a Republican does win, he must be someone who will advance the cause of big government. The current political direction of the country is just fine. Let’s not make any dramatic changes to its course.”

      1. Politics is the art of the possible. It can’t be said often enough… especially to idealistic Reason commentators. It does no good to pick an ideologically pure candidate who goes down in flames in the general election. Ask Barry Goldwater.

        I believe that Romney is highly likely to prevail over Obama in the general. That is not the case with Gingrich, for example, and may not even be the case with Perry.

        Romney is for low taxes, fewer regulations, is pro-business, and isn’t insane. At this point, that may be the best we’ve got.

        1. Romney is also politically gutless and has flip-flopped on a number of issues. He has a real problem with authenticity.

          Which of the potential nominees is not for low taxes? Other than Huntsman, which of the potential nominees is not for fewer regulations? Which of the nominees doesn’t claim to be pro-business?

          Given the state of things, anybody can beat Obama so the real question is who would be best while in office. Romney and Huntsman would both be poor choices based on that standard.

        2. As a denizen of Massachusetts (I even live in the same town as ol’ Mitt, I can assure you that none of the assertions in the following sentence are true:

          Romney is for low taxes, fewer regulations, is pro-business, and isn’t insane.

          Romney fought against tax decreases in Taxacusetts, Romneycare is bankrupting businesses leaving MA mired in depression, and from incidents that I have personally observed, the strap-an-occupied-dog-cage-to-the-roof-of-the-car episode is not an aberration but a window into an unbalanced personality that unaccountably seems to crave the political office that eluded his dad and is willing to sacrifice everything to get it.

        3. Draco, your analysis seems reasonable, but many of us have decided that voting for a “serious” candidate won’t do any good either. Call me a cynic if you want to.

        4. Politics is the art of the possible. It can’t be said often enough… especially to idealistic Reason commentators.

          I strike a similar tone here quite often, but at some point you have to question whether the reward you get in return for making huge compromises is worth it. Gingrich and Santorum in particular don’t offer enough for the cause of liberty to justify the compromises a libertarian must make to accept them.

          Personally I favor Romney among the field of “realistic” candidates, but under no circumstances would I say he’s more qualified than Ron Paul. Ron Paul isn’t a good politician and there’s no evidence he’s able to actually direct groups of people to get things done (one immediate disadvantage of a grassroots candidate), but it’s not like the alternative is a slightly less rightheaded person with a track record of success. His opponents are all fundamentally wrongheaded in their outlook, it’s just a matter of which one is likely to cause the least damage that leads me to support Romney.

          Note that you didn’t say “I would like Ron Paul to win but since he can’t, I’ll support Romney or Huntsman.” That would be what a person making a compromise would say.

          1. Good analysis.

            One more thing that might seem trivial but which really makes me wonder about Ron Paul: In every single debate his suit jacket has been ill-fitting – he’s literally swimming in it, and the gap between his shirt collar and his suit collar sometimes widens to something like 4 inches. He can’t even find a campaign manager competent enough to prevent him going on national TV looking like he is swimming in his suit – how’s he going to fill a cabinet with competent men when he’s POTUS?

        5. To put it more succinctly, it is better to have a person who wants to do the right thing but doesn’t get it done, than a person who wants to do the wrong thing and gets it done. When paired with the wrong ideas, competence is a minus, not a plus.

          1. I don’t agree, it depends on the wrongness of the ideas.

            Let’s imagine someone with the ideology of Jeff Flake gets into office and appoints competent people and fires those who engage in incompetent or corrupt practices promptly and without great fuss. That would be miles better than a Ron Paul analogue who means well but is incapable of cracking down on corruption and incompetence.

    4. I was under the impression that he was under the “free money” bandwagon. Which A) probably is a real voter getter among the stupid and poor, and B) seems more in line with the American ideal. We don’t have a de jure national religion or language, why force the use of a national currency? Most people will still probably use greenbacks, but pretty much any sort of foreign currency or coin should be legit.

  20. Johnson’s joke probably had some unintended consequences:

    http://www.dailyscoff.com/empl…..eportment/

    I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see…

  21. The strangest thing about the debate broadcast, for me, was the frequent cutting away to explain the technology Fox was employing that night. Because, you know, Google really needs that extra bit of publicity.

  22. I’m not so sure this debate was more dull than earlier ones: it struck me as more of the same, and it might be that we’re all just tired of watching the same debate over and over. Romney is still a transparent bulls**t artist who will literally tell you anything to get your vote. Perry is an empty suit with GW Bush’s mannerisms and no real plans. Cain and Gingrich steal the show, but don’t appear to be running presidential campaigns apart from their debate appearances. Paul is almost invariably right on the issues, gets raucous applause every time he speaks, and gets ignored the next morning. Same old same old.

    I think Bachmann and Santorum are toast today; both needed a big performance last night, and both were largely invisible. Johnson was okay, but this debate was likely too little, too late for his campaign. Everyone else held serve.

    1. I like your analysis except that I think Johnson pretty much drove a stake through whatever small chance he had. He didn’t look and sound presidential, no matter how meritorious his ideas may have been.

      Santorum helped his cause a little. He got some big applauses. I know that it is not popular to mention this on H&R, but there are a lot of people who are unhappy with letting gays serve openly in the military. That’s why the Democrats crammed the change through while that still held the majority in Congress. Amongst voters, not just the media or the political class, Santorum’s stance on gays in the military may be more popular than his call for escalation of military activity in the ME.

      1. What makes one look and sound presidential continues to elude me, but I’m certain Santorum’s whiny tone and interrupting people during their time to talk doesn’t fall under the heading.

        Everyone on the stage except Johnson and Huntsman wants DADT back, so it’s not like that issue really differentiates him.

        1. Oh, and Romney’s “nice try” tic and Perry’s senior moments, coupled with the surreal tryst they were having over who wrote what in the softcover vs. hardcover editions of their books, didn’t make them look presidential either.

        2. Johnson just looked squirmy and underconfident, like a guy who stood in front of a mirror before the debate and chanted, “You’re a popular guy and people really like you!”

          “Everyone on the stage except Johnson and Huntsman wants DADT back”

          Is that known to be true? It’s pretty safe to say that Bachmann would reinstate it, but I’m not so sure the others would expend the political capital.

  23. Hernewt Caingritch only cheats on his wives with younger pizzas!

  24. I don’t think I’m going to waste my time watching any more debates until Reason sponsors one or the debate literally promises that all questions will be on liberty and property.

    Last nights – same freaking questions, same freaking answers. No questions on, for examples, the drug war, eminent domain abuse, blue laws, social engineering through excise taxes, or the FDA’s recently granted and unique power to do all it can to stop people from using a product it oversees – or for that matter, the real theft of private property freedom that are legislated smoking bans.

    Oh how I crave a debate where all these and like subject matters are asked of each and every candidate.

    As a side note, with FN/Google touting interactive technology with the debate, how about this as an interactive idea: all users watching have a “button” on their computer – if, in answering a debate question, the candidate either starts rattling off vague talking points or completely fails to answer the question, all users can push the “button” and if enough do, the candidate’s response is interrupted with a loud, “rrrrrr” and the candidate is cut off from answering – “I’m sorry but our vieweres conclude that you’re full of shit, so we’re moving on”

    1. Most of the things you mention aren’t issues the federal govt has anything to do with. Smoking bans and blue laws are definitely state/local level issues, and the federal govt doesn’t use eminent domain very often.

      1. That’s not entirely true. The Federal Govt had the opportunity to rein in state abuse of eminent domain, and has not (after Kelo v New London). Our current President is certainly culpable in the FDA regulation and the steep Fed excise cig tax of late. As for bans, under Obama, HHS has been doling out millions of dollars to local anti-smoking groups to “persuade” bans city by city. He is also now recommending a ban on ecigs on planes. I’d like a president that doesn’t do this. I’d like a president that will stop this. And I’d like a debate that addresses liberty issues like this so I can make an informed decision. Is it too much to ask or do all debates have to cover only the same five or six grand topics to death?

  25. Ooh ooh!

    “The only shovel-ready project Obama created was a hole in the ground to bury America in!”

    I should run for President. I too can make crowd pleasing zingers.

  26. He also proposed balancing the budget by cutting federal spending by 43 percent (!) more or less immediately…

    Sounds like a good start. Federal spending has doubled since 2001, so a 43 percent cut would put us back at 2002 levels, when the government was still way too big.

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