Drunkblogging Tonight's CNBC GOP Debate

If there's one thing we've learned so far in these GOP debates, it's this:

Pace yourself.

The last one ran over three hours, and I spent the first two hours drinking like two hours was all we had.

The next day was almost as ugly as the debate itself.

That was a mistake I don't intend to repeat, although the road to hangovers is paved with good intentions.

Once again, this is a hybrid drunkblog, live here on PJMedia and also on Twitter. You can follow me here, and also follow the #GOPDebate hashtag.

Tonight might be a little different from previous debate drunkblogs, since I plan to focus more on Troll King -- er, debate moderator -- John Harwood. His performance at the Kiddie Table debate was an embarrassment of trollery and lefty assumptions, and I'm guessing the Main Event will be no better.

Shall we begin?

Here's what I wrote about half an hour ago:

I need to retract that tweet from earlier, the one about the CNBC kangaroo moderators baiting them into sounding “angry.”

Instead, this panel has been so aggressive, so interrupting, so DNC Talking Points, that they may have done these candidates a favor by baiting them into expressing reasonable and understandable anger.

We won’t know until the polls move, but that’s my gut reaction at the end of Hour Two of tonight’s festivities.

And I stand by my retraction. This debate was so loaded from the get-go, that it allowed the candidates, at least a few of them, to shine. If there was ever a case of bad publicity being good publicity, that's what you saw tonight.

But we have to talk about the candidates, don't we?

Fiorina, Rubio, and Cruz got the most airtime of the major candidates, as as I go back through the liveblog, each had a couple moments of real brilliance. Christie did, too, but he just isn't conservative enough for this GOP electorate. Next year a smart GOP candidate might put Christie in charge of their media relations: Tough, likable, feisty.

Carson and Trump are the frontrunners in the polls, but scored in the middle of the pack during the debate. Counterintuitively, that might be the best for the both of them, allowing them to coast on their leads without displaying their political weaknesses during a widely watched broadcast.

Then there were the rest of the also-rans, none of whom really need concern anybody but their most diehard devotees -- and I'm assuming for the sake of argument that they do indeed have at least a few diehard devotees.

Tonight's big loser was Jeb Bush.

He was tired, disconnected, and seemingly unconcerned about his inability to connect or energize. I wrote as things wrapped up:

Jeb tried and failed to attack Rubio. Tried and failed to be funny. Tried and failed to inspire. Tried and failed just now to drive the stake into Hillary.

What exactly is he doing on that stage tonight?

Not even Bush seemed to know the answer to that question, and tomorrow morning he should expect his Big Donor Class to be burning up the phone lines trying to get a straight answer to it.

I suspect they'll try in vain.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with a jug of water and a prescription-strength Ibuprofen.

A short roundup to follow, just as soon as I put CNBC on mute and can maybe manage to collect a thought or two.

"We don't win anymore."

Trump, expertly summing up why he resonates.

The moderators ran out of steam after the last break, which brings us now to the silly and meaningless closing statements.

Does anyone really need to hear the Reader's Digest Condensed Version of anybody's stump speech?

"I'm against anything that's bad for my mother."

Rubio keeps nailing these easy laugh lines, seemingly off the cuff, in a way Bush can't when he spends half his answer trying to set them up.

"There are a lot of private sector things you could get for 12,500 dollars" than you get from the government.

Carson, doing the thing he does best.

Rand Paul speaks the facts on entitlements: "There is no money."

I learned that back in high school, and I'm about Paul's age. I'm guessing it might be what made us both into small-l libertarians.

As I was just saying...

Jeb tried and failed to attack Rubio. Tried and failed to be funny. Tried and failed to inspire. Tried and failed just now to drive the stake into Hillary.

What exactly is he doing on that stage tonight?

Youthful indiscretion?