Oh, God. I watched two Republican debates in 24 hours. If that's not going above and beyond the call of duty, I don't know what!
Saturday Night - The Republican debate last night was the first debate I've seen....because we're getting down to it now, down to the time when the Republicans will be making real decisions about who President Obama's opponent will be instead of just talking about it. So after months of trying to avoid the ugliness, it seemed as if it was time to tune in.
First, a prediction: Mitt has it in the bag. All the rest is just fun and games. He swatted his debate mates like they were so many annoyances, while focusing on Obama as if he is already the nominee. Chris Matthews had promised me that Newt was going after Mitt like a tiger goes after a gazelle. I was led to expect a bloodbath but instead, Newt never laid a claw on Romney. It was almost as if he'd been warned off by the Republican pooh-bahs who know a foregone conclusion when they see one.
I also thought Ron Paul cut Gingrich off at the knees with their back-and-forth about military service. Newt went on and on about being an Army brat as if that was almost the same as being a soldier. He didn't get deferments and anyway, he couldn't go because he was married and had a child during Vietnam.
"Oh, really," was Paul's rejoinder. "I was married and had two children but I still served my country when I was called."
The Libertarian war non-believer who served versus the gung-ho pro-military Conservative who didn't.
Gingrich seemed deflated after that exchange and never bounced back.
Perry wants to send our troops back to Iraq even though the departure time was negotiated by George W and Iraqi leaders. I don't know how a man this dumb ever got to be the governor of Texas, although there is a precedent.....
Santorum seemed to be trying to downplay his extremist attitudes about social issues. I honestly think he believes the real conservatives already know how radical his views are but he's trying to wink at them while allaying concerns moderates may have. But, he did say he believes states have the right to outlaw contraception and he did say that he could tolerate homosexuals...as long as they never acted on their desires and he did say that if we approve gay marriage, it would lead to polygamy and man-on-dog relationships. It is a little late to tack back to moderation once you've beached your boat on the shoals of extremism.
Huntsman. He appears to be the most sane of the candidates. He had the audacity to declare that gay people should be treated with dignity. That's probably enough to sink him with this incarnation of the Republican party right there.
Ron Paul is by far my favorite of this group. I am something of a libertarian myself - a liberal libertarian. They are honestly not all that far apart. I agree with him on the drug war and war, in general. I agree with him about the government not sticking its nose in our private business. Of course, when he glides off into the thin ice of "every man for himself" and "survival of the fittest", I have to part ways with him.
Still, Paul is courageous about voicing opinions guaranteed to be unpopular with much of his audience. He has no qualms about going where angels fear to tread. Of course, he isn't really running for president and they are, so he doesn't have to trim his sails. He just flies into the wind in spite of the storm warnings. He's what Captain Jack Sparrow would be if he was an old Republican politician. (The Republicans seem to inspire me to thoughts of the sea).
And, finally, we come to Romney. It is ironic that the Republicans of the 80's coined the nickname "Slick Willy" for Bill Clinton and now it appears as though they are going to nominate the slickest of the slick, the smarmiest of the smarmy, the most plastic of the plastic.
Despite all their big talk about the Tea Party and its grassroots values, they will be represented by a mega-wealthy CEO who wouldn't know an unemployment check if he saw one. And speaking of unemployment compensation, this is a man who continues to collect approximately $26 million dollars from Bain Capital for doing absolutely nothing years after he left their employ. How many Tea Partiers have a deal like that, I wonder? It's no surprise that he's not in favor of increasing the tax on capital gains or dividends or huge estates or interest on stocks or even the salaries of the rich. These are his people, members of his club.
Sunday Morning - The boys got a little more down and dirty today but it's too little, too late. They should have been going after Romney like this long before now. Huntsman had the most moving statement of the debate when he defended his service as our Ambassador to China in an Obama administration for which Romney had taken him to task. He essentially said it was attitudes like Romney's that were wrong with America today, that we are so divided along partisan lines we would refuse to serve our country at the request of our president.
Newt finally got some body blows in on Mitt. He called baloney on Romney's attitude of floating above those other eg0-driven politicians on the stage. Ole Public-spirited Citizen, Mitt, that's me. Gingrich pointed out that Mitt has been running for some office or other for much of his adult life and the only reason he isn't a "career" politician is because he lost more elections than he won. Newt also called Mitt on the nasty ads Mitt's super-PAC ran against Gingrich in Iowa. He asked Romney to disavow those ads and Romney looked pretty shifty explaining how he couldn't because it was illegal for him to have anything to do with them (although the PAC is administered by his former staffers).
Nothing that Perry or Santorum said stands out in my recollection except that Santorum seems to feel more animosity for Ron Paul than anyone else but why? Paul isn't his competition.
Paul was his usual self and made his points clearly and concisely, not that it will matter in the end.
New Hampshire votes on Tuesday. I expect Romney to slip a little in the polls but not enough to do him in serious damage. He'll win or at least finish a respectable second in South Carolina and that will be that. Many Republicans won't be too happy about their nominee but as the saying goes, "Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line." And fall in line they will even if they have to swallow hard to do it.