4:44PM When Ed Driscoll reminded me this afternoon that there was another GOP debate tonight, the first thing I said was a string of obscenities so offensive, my monitor now displays whites as a kind of sickly yellow. But then I remembered Marianne Gingrich, Mitt’s South Carolina poll implosion, Herman Cain’s endorsement of “all Americans,” ABC News declaring itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DNC, President Obama speaking at Fantasy Land (!) just a day or so after throttling the XL pipeline, and I thought…

…man, I’m gonna need a bigger string of obscenities.

4:46PM Also, Roger L. Simon is live on the scene, filing reports directly from SC. I don’t know what Roger is drinking, but tonight it’s nothing but Bombay Sapphire martinis for me. Just a touch a dry vermouth, and a nice twist rubbed ’round the rim of the glass.

4:51PM Over at The Other McCain, Smitty is sober-blogging, the poor guy.

4:52PM For the record, I do not want to see Mitt’s tax returns. But I wouldn’t mind seeing his colorist.

4:55PM The biggest disadvantage of watching these things on CNN rather than FOX is, I don’t learn nearly as much as I’d like to know about reverse mortgages.

4:57PM I have Wolf Blitzer’s tie.

4:59PM I’m betting Wolf has some money in the Caymans.

5:00PM Why is a CNN reporter interviewing a CNN reporter? This is news?

5:01PM “Welcome to the South… the heart of the Republican Party…”

Really? Did CNN really just say that?

5:02PM Pro Tip: Defeating Mitt Romney in Iowa is like defeating me in drinking tea.

5:04PM Ron Paul is wearing yet another bespoke suit. Newt is looking… like a guy who I can’t believe ever had even one wife ever. Mitt’s posture is weak. Santorum looks like a guy who just won a state where they lost a bunch of ballots.

Where’s Rick Perry? Did I miss something?

5:04PM DWL: I know Perry dropped out.

5:06PM “Welcome to Berkeley, California, the heart of the Democratic Party… ”

5:07PM Mitt: “I’m married now 42 years.” And to just the one woman, he didn’t need to say.


5:09PM To Newt: Did you really want an open marriage?

Newt: “No [I don't want to respond to that], but I will.” Crowd goes wild.

5:10PM Newt: I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.

Crowd goes wilder.

5:11PM Newt: “As close to despicable as anything I can imagine.”

John King looks embarrassed to be breathing. But I’ve watched his old Sunday show on CNN, and so I’ve seen that look a lot.

5:11PM Newt: “You and your staff chose to start this debate with that.”

5:12PM Newt: “I’m tired of the MSM protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”

Wonder what we’ll be talking about tomorrow.

5:13PM Santorum: “I thank God for forgiveness… ” but… Yeah, he went with the Big But.

5:13PM MItt: “Let’s get on to the real issues.”


5:14PM RON PAUL: “My wife of 54 years…”

5:14PM So, all that just happened.

5:15PM To RON PAUL: Washington could put people back to work by “getting out of the way.” Also, gold standard BAWK BAWK BAWK BAWK.

5:17PM Newt: Repeal Dodd-Frank to create jobs. Also, drill, baby, drill.

Although there’s an argument to be made he’s done enough of that already.

Sorry. I shouldn’t go there. But you know I’ll go there again at least one more time.

5:18PM Newt: Bain Capital ruined the steel industry or something.

I grew up in the steel industry, and that just isn’t so.

5:19PM Mitt: “[Obama] has been practicing crony capitalism.”

Once again — and this is almost always the case — Mitt draws first blood on Obama. It’s been his trademark in these debates.

5:20PM Mitt: “My view is capitalism works.”

Not exactly Reaganesque, is it?

5:21PM MItt: “There’s nothing wrong with profit.”

5:22PM Santorum: “I believe in capitalism, too.” Except, apparently, for rich people. This is not a very coherent answer, but he seems to like capitalism — just not capitalists.

5:24PM Should DC be promoting job credits for vets?

5:25PM RON PAUL: “To some degree.”

Principled libertarianism! Some intervention, but just the right amount! RON PAUL.

5:27PM Santorum: “We have and should continue to have veterans preferences.”

5:28PM Mitt: Wants the states to help vets, with DC money.

5:30PM Hey, they’re letting Newt talk again! He’s not on camera, so I can only imagine how much John King is cringing.

5:31PM Q: Can ObamaCare be repealed or reversed in its entirety?

5:32PM Except that wasn’t the question, because King is asking his own question that isn’t at all what the gentleman from the audience asked.

So you know what? John King — shut up for just a damn second. If you’re going to take audience questions, then shut your damn trap and take an audience question, you prima donna mofo.

5:34PM Newt: “If you’ve watched Washington and you aren’t skeptical, you haven’t learned anything.”

Now Newt is arguing that ObamaCare will be a big part of the fall campaign, which is a sneaky way to undercut Mitt. Nicely done, Newt.

5:35PM Newt: “Elect us, and your kids will be able to move out because they’ll have work!”

5:36PM Rick going after Mitt on RomneyCare. There’s a federalism issue that the candidates gleefully ignore — but it IS still Mitt’s Achilles heel.

5:38PM I ran out of martini before the first commercial break. Who’s going to do a blogger a favor?

5:40PM Wow. Now Mitt is schooling Rick on Medicaid.

This is an interesting debate. I must be drunk.

5:41PM Newt: I’m the one who got Rick’s ideas on HSA’s made into actual law.


Santorum is nodding along without much to say.

5:42PM Rick: But ObamaCare bad.

He’s not answering Newt’s charges.

5:42PM Newt: “I figured out I was wrong; you didn’t.”

5:42PM RON PAUL: “Thank you! [for finally letting me speak]”

5:43PM RON PAUL: “Chances are, we can’t” repeal ObamaCare.

5:44PM RON PAUL: Will pay for everything by cutting back on the military, which on Monday he promised he wouldn’t cut.


5:49PM The stage just looks so empty. Maybe CNN could get cameo appearances from Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Du Pont, Paul Lynde. Something.

5:50PM Rick: “Grandiosity has never been a problem for Newt Gingrich.”

That is the first and maybe last Santorum line that I will remember the next day.

5:51PM Pro Tip: Rick, you’d have spent more money if you had had more money, so stop making it a point to tell people you have no money.

5:52PM Newt: I worked with Ronald Reagan.

5:52PM Newt: “I think grandiose thoughts; this is a grandiose country.”

What a line!

5:53PM Rick: “I will not give [Newt] his due on execution” of his ideas.

5:54PM Rick is just nailing Newt on House ethics and the 94 win.

5:55PM And now Newt is defending his record of taking on business-as-usual in Congress, and “busy being a rebel.”

This is good stuff, and largely forgotten.

5:55PM So far, this is the Newt & Rick Show. And it’s not a bad show.

5:56PM MItt has “lived in the real streets of America.”

He said that. Really.

5:57PM Nice moment where Mitt couldn’t remember the original question and neither could Newt.

5:58PM Newt: “When I was speaker, we went back to the Ronald Reagan playbook.”

5:58PM Newt just took credit for setting the stage for Mitt’s financial success.

5:59PM Mitt: I never said, “Thank heavens for Washington, DC.”

Well done. Well done.

5:59PM Q: When will you release your tax returns?

6:00PM RON PAUL: “I’d be embarrassed.”

No need for jokes. No need to see a candidate’s tax returns.

6:01PM MItt just kicked his toe in the dirt and said, “if I have to.”

6:01PM Mitt is going after Obama again. It’s tagline stuff, but delivered pretty well.

6:02PM Newt: “If there’s anything in [MItt's taxes] that will lose the election… ”

6:03PM Rick: “I don my own taxes, and they’re on my computer.” And, “When I get home, you’ll get my taxes.”

6:04PM I’m so tired of this tax return BS.

6:06PM John King: I dare you all you say bad things about Apple Computer, which the young people love.

6:06PM Rick: I’d cut taxes to make Apple even awesomer than it already is.

(For the record, I, VodkaPundit, am a total Apple fanboy.)


6:08PM RON PAUL: “The way you ask the question infers… ”

No, RON PAUL, it implies.

6:11PM 70 minutes in, and just one break. I’m earning my salary tonight.

6:11PM A SOPA question!

6:12PM Newt: “You’re asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood.”

I think Newt has been reading Instapundit.

6:12PM The GOP, by and large, is so RIGHT about SOPA — and techies will still give and vote overwhelmingly to Democrats who love SOPA.


6:14PM Every single candidate on this stage hates SOPA. Damnit, techies, what’s wrong with you?

6:14PM Excuse me. Rick Santorum only mostly hates SOPA.

And the techies will latch on to that as they write their checks to Obama 2012.

6:21PM And… we’re back. If you aren’t following me on Twitter, you’re missing the stuff I can’t put up, even on the drunkblog.

6:21PM Q: What would you have done differently?

6:21PM Newt: I’d have been even Newtier.

6:22PM Mitt: I’d have worked to get 25 more votes in Iowa.

6:23PM Rick: “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

If Newt said this, everyone would call him an egotist.


6:24PM Q: Something about illegal aliens and/or amnesty. Audience member just not ready for primetime, and I mean no insult — that’s a lot of pressure.

6:25PM Newt: I’d build a fence even bigger than the bill I’d pass. Or something.

6:27PM For what it’s worth, I think Newt is more correct on amnesty than any other candidate on this stage.

6:28PM MItt: I would like to change the subject, and build a very big fence.

6:29PM Rick: I am “the son of an immigrant.”

6:31PM This is Santorum’s problem: He feels things very deeply… and then I stop caring because he seems so really very deep.

6:32PM Mitt: I’m tougher than Newt and nicer than Rick.

I think.

6:34PM RON PAUL: BAWK BAWK BAWK… and then some stuff about incentives.

Folks, I was once an earnest and well-meaning Libertarian. But then I realized that time is precious and ideas must be practical. And I also quit smoking pot.

6:36PM Newt went after John King again. And it makes me relike him again in spite of myself — every time.

6:38PM Now Newt & Mitt are talking very specific details about abortion and MA law… and suddenly I’m more exhausted than drunk. Just a moment ago, it was so the other way around.

6:40PM Rick: I know many technical details about legal abortions under RomneyCare.

6:45PM I know I should be keeping up, but the legal nuances of abortion confound me. I think English common law got this one exactly right ages ago — and now both sides, pro and con, will pillory me as they see fit.

6:47PM Commercial break, and do I need one.

6:51PM John King: “I wish I could stay all night.”

And… I just released another unprintable stream of profanities.

6:52PM Last call on tonight’s debate…

6:52PM And here is where RON PAUL comes into his moment, talking about spending and debt and what happens if we don’t get the budget under control.

6:53PM Newt… wants to “thank” CNN? Really?

6:55PM MItt: “It’s an absolutely critical election.”

And to prove it, he can quote the Declaration of Independence, and hoo-ra for the military, and… it’s really just a tasty smorgasbord of talking points.

6:56PM Rick: “I agree with Governor Romney.”

So he’s tying Romney to his sicking ship? That’s just mean!

7:02PM Wow. It’s over. Lots of energy, lots of BS.

CNN promised something like a free-for-all, and totally failed to deliver. Instead we got… a debate with some good moments, most of which were over-shone by John King’s seeming desire to be the corpse at every wedding and the bride at every funeral.

He intro’d the debate badly, and got schooled — first by Newt, and then by everybody. And then he intro’d audience questions, which he then attempted to sidestep. And then he spent a substantial fraction of the debate talking about abortion issues which have yet to play any part in the national debate.

So, as a debate, there were moments of… almost goodness. As an episode of the John King Show… it was about as awful as you’d expect, except maybe more so.