5:46pm (All times likely Mountain) I’m into my first cocktail, and getting my, uh, workstation set up in the living room. More once the TV warms up in a sec.
5:52pm “Lou Dobbs is winning,” reports Lou Dobbs on the Lou Dobbs show. Losing? Mother Nature, who must take personal offense at the color of Lou’s hair. All I can do is stare at it.
5:54pm Dobbs is running for President. Right now, I mean. Dunno about next year, but he really is running right now. Listen to him go! Please, Lou, go.
5:58pm We’re only two minutes out, and already the tension isn’t anything like palpable. It’s the opposite of palpable, the tension is. It’s impalpable. Unpalped. I’ve never touched it, I swear.
6:01pm Anderson Cooper says “all the question tonight come from you.” From me? But I only uploaded like 12 of them. But I’m honored, and a little creeped out that he can talk directly to me through the TV. I guess that’s why the kids today all love him.
6:02pm Remember, please, don’t click Refresh more than every two or three minutes.
6:03pm Duncan Hunter is the first one out. Fitting, since I expect him to be the next candidate to drop out.
6:04pm Like the last Democratic debate, CNN is introducing all the candidates talk-show style. It makes them look like idiots, and there’s not a one of them who actually needs help with that.
6:06pm The candidates just stand there and wave and smile while CNN cuts back to their own people in the spin room. Whose idea was this, and why are they still employed. Wait–it made the Dems look like idiots, so I guess the Pubbies need their equal time.
6:08pm Note: At any time, I might disappear for a few minutes. Michelle Malkin threatened to call me in to do a spot on her live video blog, and who knows when that will happen. In any case, I’m drinking heavily in preparation for her call.
6:09pm Cool podiums. I had something much like them in my dorm room, built out of milk crates.
6:11pm The first question is in the form of what might be a song. Ron Paul got caught looking like a deer in the headlights before suddenly smiling. I’m not sure which was creepier. No, wait–the song is probably the creepiest. Although it was kind of funny, it contained no actual question. WTF?
6:12pm First real question goes to Rudy, asking him if he’ll keep being soft on illegal immigrants. Rudy says he was following an old policy, and was never soft on illegals anyway, and he reduced crime, and George Will called him a conservative that one time, and… I can answer these questions now as well as the candidates. I’m skipping the next debate.
6:13pm Comments thread is below.
6:14pm Mitt comes out swinging against Rudy, Rudy hits back. It’s stuff we’ve all seen before, only usually not this early on, or this bitter. In fact, Rudy just accused Mitt of having illegals working at the governor’s mansion–and got booed. Mitt denies it, saying it’s “offensive.”
6:16pm Wow. Schoolyard fight. Rudy will not let it go, and Mitt can’t let it fight. Romney sounds defensive, Giuliani sounds peevish. Winner? Ron Paul! UPDATE: Rudy got booed again, loudly.
6:18pm Another video, another question about immigration–this time, from an anti-amnesty angle. Thompson answers, “A nation that will not defend it’s own borders will not long remain a sovereign nation.” It’s the strongest I’ve seen him in any of these debates.
6:20pm Fred accused Mitt of flip-flopping on immigration, and is also attacking Rudy on sanctuary cities. Which Rudy still denies. So far, this is the best fake debate I’ve seen the Republicans in. We’ll see how it goes.
6:21pm McCain denies he ever supported amnesty, and the entire audience said, “Awww, c’mon.” Seriously. McCain, again, looks tired. UPDATE: McCain says “Secure the border first” before segueing into something about protecting the children or something. I didn’t get it.
6:23pm Now that was cool. The guy who asked the last question was in the audience, and Cooper asked him if he was satisfied by the answers given.
6:24pm More immigration stuff. Bored now. Who edited the selection of the questions? Oh, right–the huge supply of faultless editors at CNN. Also, Tancredo is talking, but you’ve heard it all before, and he’s not going anywhere, so who cares?
6:26pm Duncan Hunter is bragging that he built a fence south of San Diego. I’d build a fence around my house, but right now I can’t even afford illegal labor. Maybe Hunter will come over next weekend and help out.
6:28pm The next question comes from a gal standing under a portrait of Reagan. So she’s got cred in Florida tonight. Anyway, something about college tuition and Mike Huckabee and–you guessed it–illegal immigrants. Did CNN spend 30 minutes at the Democratic YouTube Debate asking questions about being soft on terror? Just wondering.
6:30pm I totally missed Huckabee’s answer, because it was so technical and boring. How’d this guy pull ahead in Iowa? Oh, right–because Iowans freakin’ suck at picking winners. Abolish the caucus already!
6:33pm Hah! The next question is to Ron Paul, asking if he really buys into “all of this” about the so-called North American Union conspiracy theory. And guess what? Ron says, “It depends on what you mean.” In other words, “I’m nuts!” And then Paul, uh, gracefully segues into just about every conspiracy theory out there. And I mean, out there. And he got a fair amount of applause.
6:35pm I like McCain when he’s in confession mode. Asked if Republicans could fight spending, he admitted that the Republican Revolution of ’94 got seduced by Washington. I still would walk over broken vodka bottles, barefoot, before voting him however.
6:37pm Mitt says “inflation minus one percent” on Federal non-defense spending. I think his subtraction skills could be stronger.
6:38pm Another question on spending. “What would you reduce spending on?” Thompson says, “It’s a target-rich environment.” Sometimes, despite myself, I just love the hell out of Fred.
6:40pm Paul’s three programs that he’d cut are… everything. Sometimes, despite myself, I just love the hell out of Paul. But then he goes off on another isolationist rant, and I remember all those crazy girls I used to date, and why those “relationships” never lasted.
6:42pm McCain doesn’t like the FairTax. Neither do I. “If Congress can’t fix the tax code, give me the job and I’ll fix it.” Then drop out of the Senate and run for Congress, Mr. McCain! And then McCain attacks Paul for his isolationism, to rounds of boos and applause. Although he did break Godwin’s Law, and ought to be escorted off the stage.
6:44pm Paul defends himself by saying he gets a lot of money from active duty troops. And that means…? And then he blames America first. Again. Yawn.
6:45pm Question: Would each of you promise to veto any and all tax increases? Which is like asking a Democratic crowd if there was any spending program they wouldn’t increase. Or Republicans, for that matter. Sigh.
6:47pm Next question: “Nothing says delicious like cheap corn subsidized by the American taxpayer.” Which of you hypocrites looking for votes in Iowa would stop this nonsense (I’m paraphrasing)? Great question, and no one is going to give an honest answer (except Paul), so I’m zoning out for now.
6:49pm It’s sad when the candidates try to make YouTube videos.
6:51pm Question: What are you going to do to keep dangerous Chinese toys away from my adopted baby and force Americans to make toys right here in our country? And… here comes the parade of populist anti-trade bullcrap.
6:53pm Thompson’s YouTube video is an assault on Romney, using his own Massachusetts campaign videos against him. So instead of a commercial, we’re going to Romney to respond. Who says, “I was wrong” back then. It’s a hell of a way to defend his abortion flip-flop. But it’s still a flip-flop. And can we please cut to commercial now? My drink has been empty for minutes already. The things I give up for you people.
6:57pm Fresh cocktail–whew! While we’re still on break, let me claim credit for coining the phrase “Punxsutawney Fred.” To find out what it means, watch my video series of Thompson questions on YouTube.
6:59pm “Like any small town, we like our big guns.” From a guy with what looks like a cut off pump action 12-gauge. Anyway, the question is “What do you guys think about gun control?” A daring question for a Republican crowd, like asking Democrats what they think about… gun control. Let’s face it, after the 1994 elections, that question is SETTLED for at least a generation.
7:02pm Rudy defends “reasonable regulations” on gun control, and got some boos. Again, his answer sounds peevish and defensive. This is his weakest debate so far.
7:04pm Fred says that the 2nd amendment isn’t “a choice thing, it’s in the constitution,” and got plenty of applause for it.
7:05pm Another question about gun control, another question from a local yokel guy who maybe makes you think that gun control might be a good idea. You think maybe CNN has an agenda here?
7:07pm Couple guys from Atlanta want to know what all these white guys are going to do about black-on-black crime. Mitt: “The best thing you can do is have a mom and a dad” around the house.
7:08pm To Rudy, from Cooper: Is Romney really tough on crime? Short version of his answer: Nope. I’m shocked, shocked, that one candidate might disagree with another on an important question phrased for a simplistic answer.
7:11pm Question: If abortion becomes illegal, what should the punishment be? Paul defers to state’s rights, even though he’s pro-life. Paul also says that he doesn’t believe that a woman should be punished. Talk about a straddle! I’m against it, it’s up to the states, but even so here’s my prescription to punish the doctor and release the girl. A three-(four-?)way straddle! Well done, Dr. Paul.
7:13pm Would you sign a Federal ban on all abortions, if Roe v Wade were overturned and Congress passed it? It’s not gonna happen, so who cares how the candidates answer?
7:15pm Question: The death penalty, what would Jesus do? I don’t think Jesus ever served on a jury or as a state governor, so who the hell cares? Stupid question, and another one which makes me wonder if CNN has an agenda. (By the way, I’m mildly anti-death penalty.) Huckabee says, “Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office.” Great answer.
7:19pm Question: Do you believe every word in the Bible? I’m no Christian, but the question was so anti-Christian that I was almost offended. Again, I wonder, what is CNN’s agenda here? Rudy says he believes it, but not always literally. Romney: The Bible is the word of God. Pressed by Cooper, he stumbles. Huckabee: Yep, you believe it or you don’t, except for the obviously allegorical stuff.
7:20pm Another commerical, another lovely adult beverage. My job pretty much rocks. Skip the commercials, indulge in the booze. Go on and hate me.
7:26pm Some girl in Islamic garb who spent a college year abroad wants to know what we’ll do to repair our image in world. And also by the way, we’re losing everywhere. Rudy: First, we won’t retreat. “And the people we’re offending are the people we want to offend: Terrorists.” Sweet answer! McCain: The surge is working, keep up reconstruction, train the police, fight the Democrats. Sweet answer!
7:27pm Same question to Hunter: I’ll never apologize for the United States of America. Sweet answer!
7:29pm Question: McCain is the only guy with real knowledge of torture, and he’s against torture, so how can the rest of you defend waterboarding? Romney skirts a straight answer before going into a defense of Gitmo. McCain pulls rank here, and makes me like him for it.
7:31pm Mitt defends himself, but poorly. His answer is basically, “I won’t rule anything out, to keep the bad guys scared of us.” McCain wins this round.
7:34pm Question: By staying in Iraq, we provide long-term security for the region. Who will provide a long-term commitment to Iraq? Fred: I want out, but not until we’re done. Or something. He hedged at first, before coming around to a strong position. But he’s still rambling. Weak.
7:36pm Paul: Give Iraqis their country back. Al Sadr runs southern Iraq, and the Kurds (who he couldn’t remember their name) run the north, so let’s retreat already and “take care of America first.” There was lots of spittle involved, and embarrassment over not remembering who the Kurds are. Paul makes me ache for the damage he’s doing to libertarian ideals.
7:37pm Paul AGAIN plays the Blame America First card.
7:39pm Thanks for the link, Glenn! But my Amiga 500 is breaking under the strain…
7:40pm Rudy is running on his PRE-9/11 record, which he has all along. But the question he got was, aren’t you just running on your 9/11 performance. Again, I ask, what is CNN’s agenda.
7:42pm Cartoon Dick Cheney is watching you! And wants to know if the next VP will get as much power as the real Dick Cheney. Fred says: Um, well, there’s a roll, and authority, and… I’m going to sip at my martini now.
7:44pm McCain: Cheney was an accident, having come in during peacetime. And now, another commerical, which means I get to top off my cocktail.
7:50pm Just got off the phone with Michelle Malkin and Bryan Preston at HotAir.com, where they’re all disressingly sober. Based on the assumption that I didn’t miss much in the debate… but wait, Mitt is getting booed about something regarding gays in the military. What did I miss?
7:51pm Ah–a retired Army soldier was stuck in the closet for the 42 years he served in uniform. He’s getting booed, and that’s shameful. Shameful.
7:52pm First, my blogging software crashed. Now it looks like my server is over-stressed, too. Please, kids, take it easy with the Refresh button.
7:54pm A question about the deficit, from a guy with a sibilant S so heavy that I thought he was asking about dethethit thending. Fred: Your generation needs protection from my generation. Of course, this question belongs to Paul, who would gleefully cut every domestic program, period–and have me cheering him along.
7:57pm Question: Let’s go to Mars by 2020! The Democrats win this one, since Dennis Kucinich has been there already.
7:58pm Tancredo says we can’t afford to go to Mars. Tell that to Kucinich, buddy.
7:59pm Question: Why won’t blacks, many of whom are social conservatives, vote for you? Rudy answers with a canned education answer.
8:00pm Huckabee: Blacks love me already in Arkansas.
8:01pm Question from a guy with a Confederate flag hung on his wall. Romney says point blank he “doesn’t recognize” that flag. Paul says, “We need to pull out of the South. It’s been a hundred years already!” (I might have made up that last bit.)
8:04pm It’s Paul’s YouTube video. I’m not watching in HD, so I can’t tell how much spittle landed on the camera lens.
8:05pm OK, my server is working again. Hats off to the great folks at Hosting Matters.
8:07pm Who is going to spend money on infrastructure? Rudy answers with a sidebar about federal accounting practices. Did I already say this is his weakest night? Paul: We’re bombing bridges overseas while our bridges fall down at home, even though the government shouldn’t be building bridges in the first place, so let’s spend the money on that, although technically I’m against it.
8:09pm Question for Paul: You’re going to lose. Will you please run as an independent? Paul: I have no intention of doing that. With the accent on “intention.”
8:11pm Last question: To Rudy–how could you root for the Sox in the post-season? That’s tonight’s boxers or briefs question–and the right answer to those is, “Commando, bitch!”
8:12pm And that’s all, folks. I’m going to eat some dinner and write my wrap-up for Pajamas Media. Look for it in the next 30-60 minutes. You kids can watch the Spin Room shenanigans without me–because I’m either too drunk, too sober, or too smart to care.