After last night’s Fox/Google/GOP prez debate, I feel like a glutton for punishment. Why do I come to each of these “Gong Show” episodes expecting to learn something? Sigh.
That being off my chest, my feeling is that Rick Perry’s days as the consensus frontrunner are ending. He had an awful night, mostly by reason of incoherence. The one-on-one, tit-for-for-tats with Mitt Romney were mismatches. Perry was flustered and looked weak. Romney was calm and looked in control, even though he’s recycling attack lines from the previous debate.
Perry, by the way, did have something that he was too tongue-tangled to communicate. He said, to Romney:
“As a matter of fact, between books, your hard copy book, you said that it was exactly what the American people needed to have — that’s Romneycare — given to them as you had in Massachusetts. Then in your paperback, you took that line out.”
The poor man couldn’t even come up with the word “hardcover.”
But the fact-checkers have clarified that indeed, between the hardcover and paperback editions of his book, “No Apology,” Team Romney removed a line, referring to Romneycare, that read: “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.”
Perry’s answer to what he would do if the Pakistani nukes fell into the hands of the Taliban — he said we need to improve U.S. relations with India — was a not-ready-for-commander-in-chief disaster.
I watched the post-game coverage on Fox, which led off with the usual Frank Luntz focus group of likely GOP primary voters who had just watched the debate. Perry didn’t have a friend in the room. One man, reacted specifically to Perry’s statement that anyone who opposed his policy of granting in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants is “heartless.” The man focus groupie said that as a conservative, he’s sick of being accused of heartlessness.
Rick Santorum got the non-sequitur award for his statement about why he would restore the former don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy for the military treatment of gay and lesbian soldiers. Santorum said he wanted to back to the old policy — which, of course, includes the policy of kicking gays out of the military if their orientation becomes known — because “sex is not an issue” where the military is concerned. Huh? (The booing in the hall when the video played of a gay soldier asking the question was the low point for the night for the audience.)
As MinnPost teammate Devin Henry emphasized, Michele Bachmann was a non-factor last night and gave one of her classic non-answers when asked about her disastrous the-vaccine-caused-retardation moment after the last debate. She is so unable to retract or apologize that she is stuck claiming that she bears no responsibility for repeating on national TV something that a total stranger told her about the side effects of a drug (which, by the way, has no such proven side effect).
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson got off the line of the night: “My next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.”
Although ABC found he had stolen the joke and Johnson confessed he got it from a gag writer. Shocking.
Johnson, like Bachmann, promises to balance the budget immediately upon taking over the Oval Office, but unlike Bachmann, he gave a shocking detail about the kind of cuts that would be necessary. Johnson called for a 43 percent reduction in military spending.