Sunday, January 08, 2012

All hail Mitt Romney! -- how last night's "caustic" GOP debate in New Hampshire was really all about deference and resignation

On the one hand, last night's Republican debate in New Hampshire was "caustic," with the various anti-Romneys lining up to take their generally lame and mostly ineffectual shots at the frontrunner -- and of course continuing to show just what right-wing extremists they are, Huntsman excepted. There are occasional glimpses of nastiness in this race, but for the most part the tone is one of respect, politeness, and deference. And while the anti-Romneys have often gone after each other (e.g., Ron Paul's attacks on Gingrich and Santorum), it would appear that a certain resignation has set in. Mitt Romney will be the nominee, no one really wants to weaken him any further, and he continues to float through this whole ridiculous process largely unscathed. Last night's debate only "caustic" from the ever-so-courteous Meet the Press perspective of the Beltway.

(Speaking of MTP, this morning's debate was indeed "far livelier than its predecessor," as Steve Benen puts it, but still hardly a fireworks display. Perhaps the key takeaway is that Romney, good plutocrat/oligarch that he is, thinks that politics is for the rich. Aristotle would not be amused.)

Read what you want about the debate, but do not neglect Esquire's Charles Pierce, who penetrates through the bullshit to get to the heart of the matter:

At this moment, I am still digesting the incredible farrago of gibbering nonsense, vengeful religious rage, political chickenshit, and Mandarin Chinese that combined to make the 45,670th of 62,390 scheduled Republican presidential debates the Level 4 biohazard that it was.


In brief, Saturday night may have been the most naked piece of point-shaving and game-throwing since the 1919 World Series. I've seen fixed prizefights where the issue was more in doubt. The other candidates went so far into the tank for Willard that they may not dry off until next August. In the 1950's, Frankie Carbo would have had them all killed because they made it look so damned obvious. Where was the promised Gingrich assault on the frontrunner? Where was the blood, the guts, the glory? Where was the damn slasher film we all anticipated? This was a waltz, and a clumsy one. If the people in that audience had any pride at all, they'd have attacked the ABC platform and demanded satisfaction for this massive piece of consumer fraud.

The coalescing has begun. The non-Romneys seem to be coming to grips with the fact that there's virtually no chance that Willard isn't the nominee. So, by and large, the rest of them started paying court staying away from him.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole piece. It's awesome, including his takedown of Santorum for saying there are no classes in America: "I have never heard a politician say anything that stupid before in 30 years of watching politicians talk in public."

In the end, these clowns merely embarrassed themselves still further, again excepting the generally respectable Huntsman:

At the very end, just as I was beginning to wonder if the end would ever come, they were asked what would they be doing on Saturday night if they weren't on that stage. (Ooh, ooh! Ask me! Ask me!) Gingrich started off by saying he'd be home "watching the national-championship college basketball game." He meant the football game, and he caught himself, sort of, so we'll give him a pass. Then two of his compadres — including Willard — agreed with him. Yeah, they'd be watching that national-championship game, you betcha, boy howdy.

The BCS championship game takes place Monday night. Three members of the Republican presidential field told America last night that, if they weren't in New Hampshire being dicks to themselves and the rest of the nation, they'd be home watching a football game that wouldn't be played for nearly another 48 hours. 


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