After a long day of college football and poignant play-by-play announcer comments on the rape of children and the effect on Joe Paterno, an estimated 612 channel changes between games – each accompanied by a “where are my glasses moment,” an unrehearsed comedy segment using picture-in-picture mode on our not-wide-enough-screen-TV, and a frustrating trip to NetFlix “New Arrivals” which all pre-date the birth of the parents of our grand-children, we decided on a survivor show: the “CBS News/National Journal South Carolina Republican Debate.”
Eight candidates. Each seeking to find the heart of the Republican voter and ride their hate toward final victory in November to overthrow four long years under the iron-will of the Democrat (insert your preferred insult here) who has spent his entire time in office trying to undo the problems created by the last Republican vice-president and his henchman, George Bush.
Can Cain harass Bachmann saying “9-9-9” or by “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan”? Can Perry remember what he’d forgotten? Can Huntsman get a question from the moderator? Can Santorum get past audience snickers? Can Newt be more sanctimonious? Can Bachmann think of anything new to say? Can Paul continue to sound sensible? Can Romney again calm the debate with the black hole of his personal charisma? And will they, one-by-one, convincingly kiss the “ring” of Jim DeMint? These were the questions we wanted answered.
The subject: national security and foreign policy. The entire debate, including commercials, was an hour and a half. You can watch it at CBS.com, read the transcript, their fact check or winners and losers. Here’s what I heard.
- Bachmann, Huntsman and Santorum recognize that foreign policy is complicated and that it is dangerous to give simple answers to complicated questions.
- Romney and Cain recognize that it is best not to answer questions, simple or otherwise, with specifics and that it is dangerous in politics to give answers, simple or otherwise.
- Newt prefers to agree in general with other candidates so he’s not really on the record, while speaking as if he knows the inside jargon the others don’t.
- Perry worked very hard this week and delivered a few carefully rehearsed lines reinforced by the extensive experience that he gained as governor of a state where he can see Mexico.
- Paul spoke his mind clearly and saw no reason to give long answers to questions that were, inherently, absurd.
For specifics on issues, I carefully charted the candidates’ answers below. Enjoy:
Note: this post was updated on Monday, November 14, 2011 to correct a misspelled word in the torture chart.