5:50PM What is this — the dozenth debate so far? Earlier, I soothed my soul with a ribeye and a Caesar and half a bottle of Cab. Now I’m soothing my soul with the knowledge that this is the last debate of 2011.
That, and a massive vodka-rocks.
Right now, I’m just — unexpectedly and for the first time ever — thankful to Donald Trump. If Celebrity Debate had gone ahead as scheduled, I’m not sure I’d have made it to the new year.
With that, once more into the breach.
5:52PM Like you, I’ve tuned into Fox News a little early. And, like you, I’m wondering just what in the hell Bill O’Reilly thinks he’s doing.
5:59PM Name and the town you’re from. Name and the town you’re from.
Please, don’t let O’Reilly be the intro to any more debates.
6:00PM Sioux City, Iowa. They’re cheering. They have no idea.
6:00PM Brett Baier has the same hairline as my five-year-old son. How does he do that?
6:01PM Newt looks pissed. He must have seen today’s polls.
6:02PM Baier is making me sad, reminding me how bad things are both here and at home.
6:03PM To Newt: Why are you do unelectable, compared to Mitt, and perhaps Zombie Nixon?
6:04PM Newt: Merry Christmas! I’m white and round and jolly!
Also, I remember Reagan in ’76. REAGAN. Big solutions. REAGAN. You’re getting very sleepy.
I think he meant 1980.
6:05PM To Newt: Do you have the discipline and focus to be President?
Newt: I have so many things it should scare you. I can melt lasers with my eyes.
6:06PM I’m not sure “very large changes” is the right tact after the last three years.
6:06PM To Paul: Why aren’t you electable and will you support the nominee?
6:07PM Paul: “Probably anybody up here could beat Obama.”
Sometimes I Ron Paul.
6:07PM Paul: I’ll cut “one trillion dollars out of the budget the first year.”
Pitter and also patter.
6:08PM To Santorum: Why do voters hate you?
Santorum: “I’m counting on the voters of Iowa.”
He’ll do not-bad in Iowa. After that, it’s all down hill. Snowball style, with the skis and gloves and heads sticking out, all the way down.
6:09PM Fox’s little Time’s Up ding sounds like my IM ding. So it’s like it’s reminding me to message the candidates to shut up.
6:11PM To Romney: Are you really electable?
Romney: Let’s talk about the thing I want to talk about. “I spent my career in the private sector… I can debate President Obama based on that record.”
Romney is even talking about what he learned from his failures. THAT is big stuff, considering Obama’s refusal to do just that. Good stuff.
6:11PM To Bachmann: Explain how you might be electable.
Bachmann: “I’m a woman who said what she meant.”
That’s what makes me drink.
6:13PM To Perry: What makes you electable?
Perry: Save a pretzel for the gas jets.
No, really: “I’m kinda getting to where I like these debates… I’ll talk about what I did in Texas.”
THIS is the Perry we thought we’d see last summer.
Also — Tebow reference? Colorado Just. Went. Red.
6:14PM To Huntsman: Did you know your hair looks just like Earth-2 Superman?
6:14PM Huntsman: Yes, I do.
6:15PM Huntsman: “I’m going to fix this country’s trust deficit,” by bashing conservatives as yokels.
6:16PM To all: Work with Congress – how?
6:16PM Santorum: This is a great country.
6:17PM Perry: “You’d think this president would have learned to work in Washington, DC.”
Not if you’ve been watching, you wouldn’t.
6:18PM Mitt: As governor, I had to work with a lot of effing idiot drunk MA Democrats.
I might have paraphrased there.
6:18PM Newt: I agree with Mitt, who just surpassed me again in the IA polls.
6:19PM Paul: Everybody sucks on spending.
Still, war is cheap compared to welfare. Also, we get tanks and aircraft carriers out of the deal.
6:20PM Bachmann: “No new taxes, we’re taxed enough already.”
Nice. I just can’t tell who she’s trying to appeal to here.
6:20PM Huntsman: I got a flat tax, and Utah is business-friendly.
Unless you run a bar or a liquor store.
6:21PM Commercial break. I have the bottle of Jimmy Beam with me, but I need more ice.
I’ll be back long before the pols are.
6:22PM While the commercials are playing, just go on and do a Google image search for Earth-2 Superman and tell me I’m wrong.
6:23PM Stacy McCain is liveblogging, too. I know Stacy. Stacy is a friend of mine. And Stacy is… probably drinking just as much as I am.
6:24PM My lovely bride brought me ice.
6:27PM Romney: I added tens of thousands of jobs at Bain.
That’s 2,010,000 more than Obama.
6:28PM Sorry, that last question was to Mitt. It only involved Newt.
6:28PM To Newt: SHould you go to jail for taking Freddie money?
6:29PM Newt: I took my Freddie money in the free market. Also, I worked for Habitat for Humanity, unlike Mitt Romney who destroyed 10,000 jobs.
6:30PM Newt: I love me some government enterprises!
What a stinker line. It fell flat, too.
6:30PM Paul: “He has a different definition of private enterprise.”
Newt isn’t against subsidies. He’s against the “wrong” subsidies.
6:31PM Dear Dr Paul: Don’t bring up Austrian economists in a public forum. I love them, too, but you’re losing people.
6:31PM Newt: I still love me some government-sponsored enterprises! So long as they’re the “right” ones.
6:33PM Bachmann: “We know [Newt] cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac.”
Sometimes, Bachmann gets her facts right, and when she does, it’s devastating. Newt is bleeding right now, courtesy of a single-digit candidate.
6:33PM Newt: “That’s just not true.”
The part about the paychecks?
6:34PM There’s amphibian blood everywhere.
6:35PM Newt: “I have never once changed my position because of any kind of payment.” Also, I have bestselling books, biatch!
Wow. Ugly moment.
6:35PM To Newt: How do you save Medicare?
6:36PM Newt: “I’m not in the business of blaming Gov Romney.” Well, maybe not yet.
6:37PM Romney: “I hope people understand just how big today is.”
6:41PM Paul: “If everybody did what I did, there would be no earmarks.”
Ahem. Cough. Cough. $300 million four Texas shrimp fishermen. Cough.
6:41PM To Perry: Don’t you love big spending?
6:43PM Perry: “Don’t you beleive everything you read in the Austin-American Statesman.”
Also: The issue we ought to be talking about is how to reform DC. He’s saying this as a sort-of defense of Newt, and an attack on Congress. Which is half-controlled by his party.
A disjointed answer, but it got applause.
6:43PM To Huntsman: Don’t you just want to spank China?
6:44PM Huntsman: I know the names of many countries China deals with, and if you’re lucky I’ll speak some more Mandarin.
6:45PM To Santorum: Would you support a tax holiday for overseas profits?
6:46PM Santorum: Yes. But. Incentives! Conditions!
Look, we’re the only major country to tax overseas profits at all, and it’s killing us.
Stop the big government gimmicks already.
6:47PM To Mitt via Twitter: Where will jobs come from?
Romney: “The free market will decide that, government won’t.”
I’m warming up to him a little bit. Only a little bit.
6:48PM Big applause line from Romney.
6:48PM To Newt: Why do you hate the judiciary?
6:49PM Newt: My plan is so big, your puny brain is unable to comprehend it. I wrote a paper! In 2002! And I typed it with my eyeballs!
6:50PM Newt: As an historian, I AM THE ALL-POWEFUL ZORG!
6:51PM To Bachmann: Newt’s some crazy about courts, huh?
6:52PM Bachmann: I’ll show you crazy.
Sorry — cheap shot. Bachmann is giving a good answer here, and it goes to the root of how progressives have corrupted our courts.
6:53PM Paul: “The proper procedure is impeachment.”
6:54PM To Romney: Why, as governor, did you nominate a bunch of Democrats?
6:54PM Romney: I had to get my appointments past a commission of seven Democrats. What would you do?
6:56PM Supreme Court Justice Roulette time. Count me out.
6:58PM What, no love for Justice Stevens?
6:58PM Commercial break.
7:02PM We’re back.
7:02PM Baier: “We begin our number two…”
MY EARS MY EARS!
7:03PM Paul: Iranian nukes? S’cool.
7:06PM Paul: We talked Libya out of its nukes.
No, we pulled Saddam out of a spider-hole, you… you… many bad words.
7:06PM Paul: Too many sanctions on Iran! Play nice with the terror-mullahs.
7:07PM Santorum: “They’ve been at war with us since 1979.”
If Santorum looked like a real grownup, he’d be doing much better.
7:08PM Santorum: “They hate us because of what we are and what we believe in.”
If I were religious, I would say, Amen.
7:09PM Romney: What would you do about Iran having our stealth drone, and is Obama inviting war?
7:09PM That was TO Romney.
7:10PM Romney: “America has to lead the free world… the the free world needs to lead the entire world.”
7:10PM Big lines from Romney, big applause.
7:11PM To Bachmann: Back to Iraq?
Bachmann: Obama threw away victory.
7:12PM Bachmann taking on Paul, directly, on Iran.
She gave her best performance on Saturday, but this is better.
7:12PM Paul: “I would like to see a lot less nuclear weapons.”
Unless, you know, “some radicals” get some.
7:13PM Paul: “Why were we flying a drone over Iran?”
That’s what DC calls a self-melting ice cream cone.
I think I just coined that.
7:14PM Bachmann pwns Paul. There’s your shocker of the night.
7:14PM Paul: NENENENENENENE I can’t hear you.
7:15PM Paul: “We killed a million Iraqis.”
7:15PM We killed. A. Million. Iraqis.
7:16PM Newt: Reduce UN commitments.
7:17PM Newt: “We have no obligation to lie” about how bad the UN is.
Lines like that explain how well he’s been doing.
7:18PM Huntsman: “Let me tell you what… ”
I had a niece, who upon her 12th birthday, started every sentence with “let me tell you what.” And then she would. Huntsman has the same appeal as a precious 12-year-old girl. Explains a lot.
7:18PM To Perry: Syria sucks, huh? What would you do?
7:19PM Perry: I’ve called for a no-fly zone, Syria is “attached at the hip” with Iran. And then some good zingers on Obama.
I disagree with Syria, but his critiques are right-on.
7:21PM Newt: China will take out Canadian oil!
It sounds science fiction. Under Obama, it’s political fact.
“Utterly irrational,” he says. No, it’s Obama-riffic.
7:23PM Newt has climbed out of the hole he was in earlier. This is the secret of his entire career(s).
7:24PM Huntsman: “It’s balancing act.”
Lines like that inspire… nada. He also used the word “transactional.”
Does he really wonder why he isn’t even an also-ran?
7:26PM Bachmann: “Keystone is extremely important.”
Understatement. That’s a nice thing to hear from her, and it was lovely.
7:26PM To Perry: Why do you love Big Oil, which is evil, and hate kinder, gentler, green energy?
7:28PM Perry: “Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers” — and Texas leads in wind energy, anyhow.
7:28PM Commercial break.
7:32PM One mo’ again.
7:32PM Sioux City is loving this, those sick masochists.
7:33PM To Perry: Are you buying Holder’s F&F lies? (I paraphrase a LOT.)
7:33PM Perry: Heads would roll. Big applause. Great issue. Fox is the first to make it a debate issue.
7:34PM Santorum: I agree with one of the many people doing better than I am doing.
7:36PM To Romney: Why do you love amnesty?
7:36PM Romney: I’m quoting Rudi Giuliani, because he did so well in 2008.
7:38PM Newt; Big brain. Eye lasers. Melt bad illegals, spare good illegals.
7:39PM To Huntsman: Why won’t you pander to Latinos?
Huntsman: I’d be happy to do just that.
7:40PM To Romney: Why are you such a flip-flopper?
7:41PM Romney: I’m not a flip-flopper, but let me explain to you why my positions have evolved.
7:43PM Romney: I’m pro-gun, even if all the laws I signed aren’t. I love guns!
7:44PM Santorum: Mitt is a flip-flopper. I am not. I have also been fully-reupdiated by the voters of my own state.
7:45PM Mitt: I had lawyers who told me this stuff was totally OK.
7:47PM Bachmann: Newt supports partial-birth abortion.
She is, again, and I mean no nasty pun here, drawing blood.
7:48PM Bachmann is the spoiler tonight, and she’s been scary-good at it.
7:49PM Newt’s defending himself ably, but still – blood has been drawn.
Myself, I’m moderately pro-choice, but I can read the tealeaves here.
7:50PM Newt: “I wouldn’t go out and try an purge Republicans.”
No, Newt — the Republicans purged you, about 15 years ago.
7:51PM Question: Reagan’s 11th Commandment — why do you hate Reagan and each other so much?
7:51PM Santorum: I love Iowa and let’s vet the candidate.
7:52PM Perry: If you don’t get you tail kicked every now and then you’re not playing at a high enough level.
7:52PM Mitt: “We” can “play at a high enough level.”
7:53PM Newt: MY BRAIN CAN MELT IRON.
7:53PM Paul: “Maybe the media is messing up.”
That’s news. You betchya.
7:54PM Bachmann: “Reagan brought clarity.”
7:55PM Huntsman: “I worked for Reagan.” We need “heightened trust.”
So stop slamming your constituents.
7:55PM That’s it. It’s over. Final thoughts in just a moment.
8:00PM This was a Fox News debate. I know what people — lefty people — were expecting. You know, the Hulk debate: SMASH OBAMA!
Instead, the moderators, very deliberately, set the contestants — er, candidates — up against one another, issue after issue. So much so, that every time someone brought up the Current Occupant, it felt tacked on. Fake. Pandering.
This was a red-meat debate for the heart-and-soul of the Iowa voter.
On that basis, I suppose it was something like a success. There were no awful moments. Everyone played to their strengths.
But how it all advanced a conservative agenda… I have no idea.
Maybe Mitt won. Maybe Newt salvaged his lede. Maybe Perry continued his mini-surge. Certainly Santorum and Bachmann lived to fight another day.
But the big winner was President Obama, who hardly had a glove laid on him tonight. And at a Fox News debate.
That’s not how the Left will spin it. But that’s what I saw. How about you?