Tag Archives: Herman Cain

What the presidents read

The literary site Full Stop has just posted my short piece on presidential reading lists:

In this golden age of American polarization, it is no surprise that even one’s reading is subject to the scourge of partisan bickering. During this year’s presidential campaign, Amazon.com actually produced an interactive map detailing which states’ customers were buying conservative versus liberal titles and coloring those states red and blue, respectively.

Even politicians are now just as often producers as consumers of the written word: today, penning a flag-waving bildungsroman-esque memoir is nearly a prerequisite for launching a presidential campaign. Obama authored Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope; Mitt Romney wrote No Apologies. If Herman Cain fends off his circling sexual harassment accusers in the dually relevant courts of law and public opinion, perhaps he will release a recipe book of pizza toppings.

Live-blogging tonight’s Republican presidential debate

Hello! Are you ready? I’ll be live-blogging from Paris, where I’m sitting on a couch in the living room and generally wondering why I’m not asleep.

2:01 AM — Hello, and welcome to the nth GOP debate (n, in this case, stands for infinity). Anderson Cooper just showed up, and we’re now watching a truly entertaining (in a car-wreck sort of way) promo video about…the American West, Las Vegas, and (I think) the Republican debate.

2:03 AM — And the crowd goes wild! Can I just say, I love Anderson Cooper. Also, I have a full glass of wine waiting for me, and another half-bottle in the kitchen. I think I may have to turn this night into a 9-9-9 drinking game.

2:04 AM — Newt Gingrich is announced. I take a quick sip of merlot.

2:05 AM — They just announced Rick Santorum’s name. I suddenly have this uncontrollable impulse to Google something.

2:06 AM — While the national anthem is sung, a large video of the waving American flag is displayed at the front of the theater, just in case we didn’t get the point that this debate is taking place in the United States. Honestly, would any other country allow a pizza magnate to lead a presidential race? There has to be a law against this somewhere.

2:09 AM — Ron Paul opens with, “I am the champion of liberty.” And I am Captain America, but we can’t all be heroes, Ron.

2:11 AM — +1 to Bachmann for incorporating the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” slogan. She also just got the first question from the audience, which means she has now matched her entire TV exposure from the last three debates combined. I give her three minutes until she mentions her 1500 or so foster kids/army.

2:13 AM — Herman Cain is speaking about the economy. I compulsively gulp down more wine.

2:14 AM — “Herman’s well-meaning,” says Santorum, “but what is a black guy doing on stage?” OK, so I may have made up that last part, but I know he was thinking it.

2:15 AM — Cain: “I invite every American to do their own math.” Now you’re just stealing George W. Bush’s intellectual property, Herman. Not cool.

2:16 AM — This debate has gotten off to a surprisingly wonky start. Wow, and then Rick Perry just called Herman Cain “brother” twice in thirty seconds. Not a good sign from a guy who may or may not have painted over a rock named “Niggerhead.”

2:18 AM — Cain is under fire. Big time. You can almost see the thought-bubble around Anderson Cooper’s head: “Fight. Fight. Fight!”

2:19 AM — Cain is holding up surprisingly well so far. He must’ve eaten a lot of pizza beforehand. Oops, spoke too soon. Romney just calmly, coolly, and calculatingly owned him. Just like the cruel, job-killing CEO he is. Where do I sign up?

2:22 AM — Gingrich with a good line. When asked why he thought Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would be a hard sell, he quickly replied, “You just watched it.” Well played, Mr. 1994. Well played.

2:24 AM — And there it is! Ronald Reagan gets mentioned by Bachmann. I’m going to go ahead and drink one for the Gipper right here.

2:26 AM — OK, I’ll say it: Rick Perry looks better this time around. Now time to take Mitt to task over health care.

2:27 AM — Rick Santorum’s plan: Kill all gay people and bomb every country starting with the letter I. (I really need to stop making things up. What is it with me and Santorum?)

2:29 AM — Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney Go. At. It. “Rick, Rick, let me speak.” But I have to say (gulping down my pride): Santorum was right. Romney’s lying.

2:32 AM — Now it’s Mitt’s turn to get hammered. And by Newt, of all people. And now Bachmann.

2:36 AM — Andddd we take a break. Which means I take a drink. It’s getting a little hot in here.

2:40 AM — Rick Perry looks sick every time he’s called on. I know that feeling from sitting in the front row at comedy clubs. I guess there is a minor difference, though, since I’m not running for president.

2:43 AM — Wow, Mitt actually reached out and touched Rick for several seconds. I was waiting for a fistfight. Didn’t happen. But the fight continues.

2:45 AM — Mitt Romney just inadvertently admitted he had to fire the undocumented immigrants that landscaped his lawn because he’s running for public office. Gotta admire the man’s honesty. Even if it wasn’t on purpose.

2:48 AM — I cannot believe Rick Perry just advocated using Predator drones in the service of guarding the border. Then, just as I was regaining my composure, Bachmann pinged Obama on his undocumented relatives previously living in the US. Wow. This is getting dirty. And disgusting. (Now she said English will be the official language of the United States government.)

2:54 AM — A Latino questioner reasonably asks what message the Republican candidates have for Latinos in the United States. Newt Gingrich ably evades the entire question. Ron Paul immediately begins discussing how to “attract Latino votes.” Sorry, Ronnie, but that wasn’t the question; it was just what you heard. And Herman Cain makes it a trifecta of avoidance. Make it quadrafecta (is that a word?), with the addition of Perry.

2:58 AM — It is unclear whether Michele Bachman supports the repeal of the 14th Amendment. I have just downed the rest of my merlot. Now she just finished educating us all on “anchor babies.”

3:04 AM — Mark notes that Rick Perry just referred to France as a “who.” This personification is, however, a step up from the usual way Republicans address France-related issues. That said, he did have a bit of a hard time remembering what the 10th Amendment is. (Don’t we all.)

3:09 AM — No way! Bachman just said, “I’m a mom.” But then she did not mention the foster kids. What happened? Did someone trademark the phrase?

3:11 AM — Ron Paul dings the Fed. I guess we could all see that coming. When do we get our next commercial break so I can refill my glass?

3:18 AM — Another break in progress. Another glass of merlot for me.

3:27 AM — Bachmann: “That makes all of us much danger.” Or something along those lines.

3:28 AM — Bachmann: “First Obama brought us into Libya. And now he’s gone into Africa.” You can’t make this up.

3:30 AM — Uh oh. Here come the Israel questions. I always cringe a little when this happens in GOP debates. Cain on the Gilad Shalit deal: I would not negotiate with terrorists, but it’s possible I would make a Gilad Shalit-type deal. Coherent as always.

3:34 AM — Ron Paul: “I want someone willing to cut something.” So, so true. But when it comes to defense, no one will touch anything. Except the brave Rick Perry, who just announced he wants to defund the UN. Sure.

3:38 AM — Michele Bachmann actually just said she wants Iraq and Libya to “compensate” the United States for “liberating” its citizens. There really are no words. Her comments speak for themselves.

3:40 AM — Ron Paul just nails everyone else by asking if they would condemn Ronald Reagan for his hostage deal with the Iranians. Rick Santorum stumbles through a response. Why is Ron Paul so crazy on some issues? If it weren’t for, well, every single domestic policy he has, I’d vote for him immediately.

3:49 AM — Rick Perry keeps getting booed. This is especially shocking at a Republican primary debate, where Rick Perry should absolutely own.

3:51 AM — Michele Bachmann is just about crying that her time is almost over. Her desperation is really showing. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich continues his streak of being incredibly cranky.

3:53 AM — And that’s it. This may be the beginning of the end for Rick Perry. Even with his stronger responses, he may have crossed a line with some of them and got booed multiple times.

3:55 AM — And that’s good night from me.

Key moments from last night’s debate

I didn’t get the chance to watch the Republican presidential debate on FOX last night, where it seems that Bret Baier and Chris Wallace did a great job of asking tough (if at times off-topic) questions. But I’ve caught up on the highlights and the reactions, and here are a few of what seemed like the important (or funny, or depressing) points to me.

1. When asked for a show of hands as to who would walk away from a budget deal that contained a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases, every single one of the eight Republican candidates raised their hands. Every single one of them claimed to oppose a 10-to-1 deal on the grounds that it isn’t good enough. I don’t think the below video needs any additional commentary; it speaks for itself.

2. Ron Paul thoroughly schooled Rick Santorum on Iran. Santorum’s incoherent foreign policy was no match for Ron Paul’s common-sense advice to simply try to imagine putting oneself in Iran’s shoes, surrounded as it is by nuclear threats, to determine why it might be so interested (assuming that it is) in pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities.

3. Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann took the gloves off last night (something Pawlenty was accused of being unable or unwilling to do in relation to Mitt Romney and “Obamneycare” in the previous debate). While looking a little more feisty this time around, T-Paw nevertheless wasn’t able to do much damage, as Bachmann ably pivoted with some sharp-edged comebacks of her own. (It almost goes without saying that neither of the two showed even the slightest glimpses of ability to govern, preferring instead to boast of their uncompromising positions on everything, but such is the nature of the primaries, and especially so with today’s GOP.) I’m not certain what Bachmann achieves by going head-to-head with Pawlenty, though, since he’s possibly on the verge of being forced out due to lack of traction, and she’s running at or near the top in polls.

4. I’m a bit torn on this one: Far be it from me to agree with Newt Gingrich on anything, but he may have a point here. While I do think that Wallace and Baier largely seemed to do an admirable job of asking questions that voters wanted to hear, Gingrich was understandably (also, self-servingly) frustrated with questions that pertained more to campaign dynamics and gossip than actual policy positions. Given the frequent insanity on policy positions emanating from all the Republican candidates (Gingrich himself being perhaps the most notable in that regard), I can’t say I entirely disagree with his take on the questions.

5. Jon Huntsman. Whatever happened to this guy?