We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, November 7. 2011
Over the next hour and a half, the following harrowing events occur:
— When the candidates are asked a new question, they decide between them who should answer first.
— The candidates are welcome to talk as long as they want. When the other wants a turn, he wags a finger and the floor is turned over to him when the next conclusion is reached.
— At one point, a candidate answered a question for about three minutes, then the other candidate talked for about three minutes, then the first candidate apologized and said he hadn't really stated his answer very well the first time, so he took another three minutes, resulting in a much better, clearer answer.
— When the candidates were invited to ask the other a biting, crippling question that would put their opponent's greatest weakness on display, one candidate referred to the other's extensive business background as a CEO and asked him what advice he'd pass along to the current crop of CEOs. Then that candidate referred to the first candidate's extensive political background and asked him what three things had he learned looking at the system from the outside.
— One of the candidates told a lengthy joke and everyone had a really good laugh.
— While they didn't wish to appear rude, it was clear that they didn't want the members of the audience to break in with applause any more than they had to. After all, it is a small breach of etiquette to interrupt someone while they're talking, and thankfully the audience took this slight with good grace.
— Over the course of an hour and a half, these two big, warm, lovable guys who were nothing but smiles all evening long used the words "cheaters", "liars" and "crooks" about a thousand times. They didn't hold anything back. With both of them, it was like a given that every government institution is filled with X percent of the aforementioned cheaters, liars and crooks. They were merciless.
Like I said, it was different.
Personally, I've never seen anything close to it before. The usual one-on-one almost always involves the antagonistic press, whereas this was like — actually, I can't decide what it was like. No analogy quite applies. The video is here.
On the tally sheet, I was wrong about one thing and hit a couple of others right on the bean. Cain didn't try to squeeze 9-9-9 into every other sentence, as I thought he might, and the one time he mentioned it was when explaining that the tax code is one of the things that needs to be changed for the whole system to get back on track. And just before he said it, 48 minutes into the debate, he had a sly grin on his face, like "Okay, here it comes!", and then he said "My 9-9-9 plan..." and the audience loved it. Then he never mentioned it again. So kudos to Herman for not playing the hustler.
And from my pre-debate post yesterday:
As far as them referring to Social Security as a 'Ponzi Scheme', they were so far from going in that direction that it was laughable. Unlike the blame-namers and finger-pointers, they approached the problem realistically and offered up not only solutions, but perspective. Social Security used to make tons of money. Then Lyndon Johnson got it hitched into the Federal Budget and the rest is downhill history. Solution? Get it removed from the Federal Budget like it used to be. The 'Ponzi Schemers' [see Appendix E: Birthers, Truthers & AGW Believers -Ed] come across as the angry, torch-carrying village mob compared to the way these two guys approached the subject. Get it detached from the budget, implement some changes, add 20 million to the work force and this thing would be in the black.
Everyone in the entire building and watching at home immediately relaxed.
First big applause of the evening went to Cain, when asked what he thought was the single most important thing to focus on during the campaign, and he replied it was to get people informed. That is, he could have pulled out some standby like 'unemployment' or 'the economy', but he basically said, you get informed out there. You think about the issues. You make the decision and vote on it. When people say, "I like Herman Cain, but I just can't put my finger on exactly why," this was one of those reasons. He doesn't fall back on tropes and platitudes, he goes right to the source. He connects with people simply because he really is more like us than the dreaded them.
Cain also got a big round of applause when he mentioned something that I don't think has been brought up in a debate yet (or maybe once), and he claimed to be a strong proponent of it:
The place burst into BIG applause. Then Gingrich said that what every single state should do is sue Washington every single year for the costs they've incurred from illegal aliens.
Friggin' brought down the house.
The joke Newt told was also on the subject of illegal aliens and how they could be located and deported. He asked the audience how many of them had ever tracked a package via the Web and most of them raised their hands. He noted what a miracle it was, that we live in an age where you can track a package anywhere in the country with high precision.
He then suggested we simply send every illegal alien a package.
If there was one common sub-theme that ran throughout the show, it was "Return it to the states!" No matter what it was, that was the gut reaction of both candidates. Medical benefits, health care, Social Security, personal retirement accounts, illegal immigration, banning fireworks, mandatory pet neutering, whatever came up it was "Return it to the states!" Gingrich beautifully called them "fifty labs to experiment with."
I'm sure the Founding Fathers would heartily agree.
Maybe it's the tone of the applause that's different, but this was the audience saying Thank you, gentlemen.
Oh, The Irony Dept
The show was broadcast on C-SPAN. For the first time in the debates, the technical side of the broadcast was pitiful. Newt's lapel mic didn't work, so he had to hold a microphone all night, and why they couldn't swap it with a new one while the camera was on Herman is anybody's guess. Cain's lapel mic worked okay, but it was like it was voice-activated and took a few milliseconds to turn on when he started talking, so there was an amateurish lag. There also weren't very many cameras and the shots of the audience were few and from the sides, so the whole thing came across as fairly ineffectual, probably operated by a bunch of union workers with lavish benefit packages and generous pensions awaiting them who don't give a damn about doing the job right.
C-SPAN is a government operation.
Hey, I was just watching two fellas talkin' about you guys on TV!
At the very end, they were asked if they had a final question for the other. Newt asked Herman what was the biggest surprise he'd run into during the election, and Herman, just possibly thinking of the recent media-hyped accusations of
The audience practically tore the place down with applause. This one actually got whoops.
Then he turns to Newt and in the gravest of tones says, "My question for you is, if you were the Vice-President..." and the whole place cracked up. They got in a few more quick quips between laughs, the audience was still rolling in the aisles, and the moderator said good night.
Like I said, it was different.
This is the first wrap-up where I won't be using the term 'most presidential' or the word 'winner'. The winner last night was an American public that finally got to see how large, multifaceted issues are presented, and how different solutions can be debated in depth and without rancor.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
I believe you may have forgotten a capital "R" on Refreshing. It was certainly that. I'm still chuckling over Mr. Cain's last question to Mr. Gingrich. The only thing more priceless that the question was Newt's reaction.
Kudos to Merc for the post and a well crafted overview/summary.
Haha. Very good. Thanks for the report. I don't watch these things.
It was broadcast against LSU vs Alabama, so all I saw in real time was that last question to each other. And it was awesome. These guys really do respect and enjoy each other.
Then the ending applause. It did feel different from normal applause. I didn’t know why until reading this summary. I am excited to watch the whole thing.
Note I said "operation", not "institution" or similar. It might be independently-owned, but the government is still its baby, and that broadcast sure had the feel of government ineptitude. Even the room was kind of hokey. I'm surprised they weren't using folding chairs.
Social Security in the black: All though I would prefer a way of opting out of this scheme of wealth transfer from young to old, witch in its current form is what it amounts to, the key thing would be to get 20 million working in the private sector. More government employees only exacerbate the problem.
Two big government buddies are going to be friendly and fun loving during a debate.
Social Security was never intended to be the crutch it is today. It was never supposed to be mandatory. Would either of these two defend an individual's right to opt out of the Social Security tax? (Previously you had to opt into Social Security) No. Would they defend the individual's ability to withdraw his paid tax plus the interest that it was supposed to accrue in lump sum when he wanted to get out of the Social Security program? No -- of course not.
"Return it to the States" is a Ron Paul talking point and has been for years.
Yes - it would have been much more interesting if there was a grumpy old man up there instead.
Polite discourse was not the point. These two do not differ significantly in their political viewpoints so there are only two guys showing off that they can speak well.
Did you hear statements that our foreign policy is off base? Did you hear that they will reduce the federal spending by trillions right now and that they will put America first rather than spending millions on those who hate America?
No this was a dog and pony show to pass the time of day. The recap was nice but there was nothing of substance to help America here.
"Did you hear statements that our foreign policy is off base? Did you hear that they will reduce the federal spending by trillions right now and that they will put America first rather than spending millions on those who hate America?"
I can promise you, you aren't going to like what I say about you and your kind in this Wednesday's pre-debate post.
I might watch this one - the crew from CNBC is going to press on some economic issues, maybe get a comparison or two going and there are going to be two real policy wonks on the panel doing the asking. Plus Maria Bartiromo is going to be on the panel and she's a take-no-prisoners questioner.
This one might actually be fun to watch. Of course, the "minions" will declare the grumpy old man the winner because he's so....grumpy, but at least we'll get to see who's got the best economic chops. I hope.
My question is, when are they going to start paring things down? I haven't read anything on the next debate yet, but I gather the whole gang will be there. This silliness has gotta end. Huntsman, Santorum, goodbye and thanks for the memories.
No because I didn't watch it - I didn't even do my usual thing and follow the commentary on Twitter. And I wasn't expecting anything from it either. Instead I watched the college defensive football Battle Of The Century game in which my alma mater prevailed. GEAUX TIGERS!!
However, putting a spoiled rich old grumpy racist professional political curmudgeon into the debate so that his loyal minions can holler and scream every time he says anything that plays to their fears wasn't going to solve anything either.
And as an official curmudgeon and grumpy old man of Maggie's Farm, I, as well as grumpy old, but lovable curmudgeons everywhere, resent his act - he's giving us all a bad reputation.
"And as an official curmudgeon and grumpy old man of Maggie's Farm-"
"An" would imply more than one. :)
Nice recap - very complete and interesting. Didn't watch of course (couldn't figure out how to work the video scope machine) so I was looking forward to your take.
Now that's a recap, Dr. M.
Reminds me of Wm. Buckley's Frontline and some lectures by Milton Friedman. Low key, very informative about the two men, now can look up the topics they addressed on the Internet (etc), much better format without media involved. I hope to see more of this style over the next few months.
Voter I.D. Yes.
And thankee kindly, old bud. While all of the recap articles I read focus on the 'political dimensions' of what was said, I like taking it more from the audience's perspective, like who got the first big applause, who got the biggest applause of the evening, who got booed, etc, and then I try to wrap that around the 'political dimension' of the moment. I think how the audience (and, by way of extension, the viewer at home) responds is much more insightful than some pundit blathering away.
"Voter I.D. Yes."
What's amazing about the whole thing is that it isn't federal law. If drivers licenses had existed in 1776, you can bet it would be in the Constitution. "Only actual citizens should be allowed to vote in their country's future" is just plain common sense, not some esoteric political point to be debated.
Dr Mercury just what kind am I? (220.127.116.11)
I pointed out that both of these big establishment men are not going to change the status quo. They were scratching each others back. It was a show with lots of words, a few laughs and that was all. It was the same as watching "Cheers" or "Friends."
In 1776, only the Federalists would support driver's licenses. Thomas Jefferson wanted a limited federal government and would advocate no driver's license at all or leave it to the states to decide. After all you are a citizen about your lawful business -- aren't you.
Note: As a laugh in the 1990s the Rocky Mountain states had individuals who espoused the Sovereign Citizen position. One aspect of that was that in Colorado you didn't need driver's license or a license plate on your vehicle. Instead you notified your sheriff of the markings on your vehicle and you were good to go. Of course the news and those who didn't read very well were aghast that anyone would do something so drastic. The Sovereign Citizens were demonized in the press and in the coffee shops. The really funny part was that the Colorado laws specifically stated that driver's licenses were only required for commercial drivers and license plates required for only for large vehicles or commercial vehicles.
Dr Mercury since you live in the Keys you should go fishing. Years ago in Key West "The Tailhooker" had a great boat and knew where the fish were. You should look him up and relax a bit.
Now hold on, big fella. I'm confused. You come in here like usual, spewing spittle and rage, and all I do is note that you're not going to like my next election post and I'm the one who needs to relax??
No spittle or rage from me.
I just pointed out that the Founders would not go for driver's licenses or the other nonsense that Cain and Newt push claiming they are being conservative.
Don't forget to vote in your locals today if your part of Florida is holding them.
Okay, no spittle or rage. Sorry. I just like embelishing a good story. Well, it was that, or I confused you with Tom, or "Ol' Spittle & Rage" as we call him around the Farm. It was your complaint about the topics they're discussing that was so far off base, but you're in good company. All kinds of august writers have complained about the same thing recently. I'll quote a few of them tomorrow when I make what should be an obvious point.