Drunkblogging CNN's GOP Debate

And so it begins.



Again.



I skipped the undercard debate, and it might have been better had CNN chosen to do the same. Listening the the wrap it's being described as gloomy, angry, scared -- and that's from some of the conservative members of the panel.



The way I see it going into the main event is that it's really about three men on that stage.



Rubio, whose sunny disposition might benefit most from the current doom & gloom -- but who suffers from a trust deficit on immigration. Most polls show him in something like a holding pattern.



Cruz, representing the Realpolitik wing of the GOP -- but who often comes across as pandering. He's surging in Iowa, but Trump rules everywhere else.



Trump, who brings in non-traditional GOP voters -- but who might alienate as many voters as he brings in. And Trump is the only serious GOP contender who loses in most head-to-head match-ups against Queen Cacklepants.



It's easy to be cynical when we have so many debates featuring so many also-ran, but as of tonight it's time to set aside the cynicism and maybe enjoy a little excitement.


Closing statement, which is MEGO city for those of us who watch this stuff every day.

The bad: Too many candidates by half. There should have been five, top, on stage. Too long, by an hour. Probably a result of there being too many candidates, but also of CNN and the candidates wanting to milk these things for all they're worth.

The good: This was a serious and substantive debate, well-hosted by Wolf Blitzer and by his co-moderators. More like this, please -- but 60 minutes and four candidates shorter next time.

If you had a favorite candidate going in, they probably reinforced why they were your favorite. If there's an exception to that, it might be Donald Trump who again exposed his ignorance on two basic-but-vital issues (internet intel and nuclear weapons) and showed no desire to fill in those gaps in his knowledge. He also threw a temper tantrum against the otherwise feckless Jeb Bush.

On the other hand, reading Trump supporters isn't easy, so maybe they got more of what they wanted.

Next time edits need to be made. Kasich, Paul, Christie, and Fiorina need to be dropped from the main stage. Jeb gets a pass, but only because he has (for now) enough money and (barely) strong enough polls to get through NH and maybe SC, too.

As someone who doesn't (and likely won't) support a candidate other than the eventual nominee, tonight was a welcome change from the usual shouting matches. Or at least mostly so. In the end, viewers got a better feel for all the contenders, and CNN's crew gets a lot of credit for that.

More like this, please -- except for the parts we need less of.

Cruz has a nice little three-step parlor trick:

• Criticize the other candidates' positions

• Remind everyone any of them would be better than Queen Cacklepants

• Restate his original position in contrast to the other candidates

Um...

Trump got busted a month or so ago for not understanding our nuclear triad.

Since then, he has apparently done ZERO homework on our deterrent.

Unseriously.

Dangerously unserious on our most dangerous weapons.

Hmmmm.

Everybody has the wrong answer on North Korea.

The correct answer is: "We're selling air and anti-air assets to EVERYbody around North Korea and around China, and telling Beijing that the Norks are their damn problem."

Christie just laid down the best case yet against allowing in Syrian refugees, without all the Trumpisms and backtracking.

I was busy typing and missed the audience response. Anyone want to chime in with Rick on this one?

Carson reports from his Syria trip that Syrian refugees want to go back home to Syria.

But there's a catch, isn't there? It's that there isn't a Syria anymore, and there likely never will be again, not like it was before 2011.