LIVEBLOGGING: First-in-the-South Republican Debate

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The idea that Sean Hannity is posing as someone fit to judge the rhetorical styles of others, let alone their logic, is offensive to those of us who can construct a sentence that doesn’t include the words “Hannitized!”

I advise those who can to start drinking now.

Blogging to begin at 9pm. (Or, you know, now.)

8:51 PM: Scene-setting from the AZ Republic.

8:53 PM: Fox is already text-polling on the “winner.” This IS like American Idol!

8:56 PM: Carl Cameron just told Sean Hannity that Brit Hume may yet “drop the rules” and “let the candidates mix it up.” Fight! Fight! Fight!

9:00 PM: A Swampfriend enthuses about the Fox slogan: “You Decide 2008”: “I decide! It’s been a good run for me…First I was person of the year. Now, I decide.” Congrats, Swampfriend!

9:04 PM: Vaunted Fox production values are already disappointing, as the red and white stripes in the backdrop are moireing… oops?

9:05 PM: Swampfriends in general are unanimous: Why does this whole thing seem even MORE like a game show than usual? The set, the dinging bell, and Brit Hume… And not just any game show, but Jeopardy . Please phrase your soundbite in the form of a question.

9:06 PM And then there’s “Wink” Romney. God he loves the word “caliphate.” Think that he and Ann talked about “caliphating” before marriage? (It’s not really going all the way!) Okay, no, trying to be serious… everyone agrees that letting Iraq turn into a lawless bloodbath is bad. It’s just the specifics that are a problem. Poor Sam Brownback, trying to plug for “consensus here” before victory there… didn’t he get the memo?

9:11 PM The “whoosing” sounds are, uhm, not un-game-show-like. Rudy with the first Fort Dix Six mention! Also he thinks “McCain has it right.” Gutsy.

9:13 PM Wallace asks if Paul thinks he is running in the primary “for the wrong party.” Maybe that should be one of those “raise your hand” questions.

9:16 PM Duncan Hunter would make a great replacement for Fred Thompson on “Law and Order.” President? Maybe not. Points for honesty: He didn’t do “anything special” in Vietnam. George Bush, of course, just got special treatment.

9:18 PM Listen to that answer about taking Iran seriously. You’d think Gilmore actually thought he was running for president! So cute! But, says one Swampfriend, “I can’t hear him over his tie.”

9:20 PM Please give your guesses as to what game show set this most resembles in the comments. Current favorite: “$64,000 Pyramid”.

9:21 PM I have a bulletin for Senator McCain. You lost in 2006 because of the war. No, seriously, you did. Also? Retire the drunken sailor story. It dates you. And, really, you don’t need to be dated. (Unless by carbon.)

9:22 PM Gratuitous John Edwards swipe! He spends money on haircuts… like a girl! Huckabee wins audience favorite.

9:24 PM A Swampfriend wonders if Rudy’s syntax is the only thing more convoluted than his stance on abortion: “if you can lower spending in new york city, Washington is easier to deal with, than new york city.” Huh.

9:26 PM If McCain can do it, I can, too: TOMMY THOMPSON AND HIS GIANT EARS OF JUSTICE. Also, someone needs to take the chip out of his head so he can talk AND move his hands at the same time.

9:28 PM Two more nominations for the game show the set most resembles: “Fear Factor,” and “that weekend high school show where it’s like the academic bowl of whatever.”

9:29 PM You gotta love Ron Paul advocating eliminating the Department of Education. That went over so well last time the R’s tried it. Learn something from the people that win elections, Ron: You just make the department useless, you don’t get rid of it.

9:31 PM GILMORE IS BLOGGING! FROM NEW JERSEY! I’m so excited I think I may faint. Of course, that might be the blood loss … and the wine.

9:32 PM Tancredo always seems so sane on the surface. Like the junior high science teacher who seems so cool when he’s explaining how volcanoes work then it turns out he also believes we descended from Thor.

9:34 PM We’ll be back in two minutes for double jeopardy.

9:36 PM I hope Thompson took this opportunity to take a pee break.

9:37 PM Wow. Who’s oppo team paid off Gilmore for these hits? Who just joked about “feeling left out”? McCain! Hmmmm

9:40 PM Rudy actually flailing the most. His statement on abortion almost, really almost word-for-word the same as Hillary’s. Fine position, wrong party.

9:41 PM McCain gets a relatively unscripted laugh about blood relatives and paid staffers being the only ones still approving of Congress… but, uhm, the “transensenstial” challenge of radical Islam? Not sure what it means, but I like it!

9:46 PM Tivo has totally screwed with my “live-ness,” as I backed up to try to make sense of “transensential.” Romney’s tan is TOTALLY RADIOACTIVE. WTF with the suit joke? You’re in Edwards territory, dude. Also, he likes English.

9:48 PM Rudy is totally against slavery. We could mock, but this is South Carolina. No, seriously: Huckabee’s take is intelligible and accurately reflects his deeply held beliefs. Rudy’s response? …. Crickets.

9:51 PM However, the Fox moderators’ focus on abortion in this debate may not accurately reflect the country’s priorities.

9:53 PM Let’s convene a bioethics panel on Mitt’s tan.

9:54 PM Oooooh, an immigration question to Tancredo! Like waving a red fence in front of a xenophobic bull! Des Moines punchline wins points in double jeopardy!

9:55 PM McCain actually sort of sounds like the only actual working politician in the room. You know, who talks to people about making deals and progress. Wallace (who I think is actually doing well) comes back with a folo on the “comprehensive” bill that McCain is supposedly backing away from. But, a-ha, he was on a conference call about it just yesterday! SO THERE. Though, you know, working politician. Lots of conference calls.

9:57 PM Mitt struggling to differentiate between “not punishing” and “special pathway.” Must. Resist. Gay. Marriage. Joke…. Must…

9:59 PM I think I can summarize McCain’s response on flip-flopping thusly: SNAP. (From the t’script, if you’re not familiar with “SNAP”: “Well, I take and kept a consistent position on campaign finance reform. Is there anyone who believes there‚Äôs not enough money, rushing around money in politics, which has corrupted our own party? I have kept a consistent position on right to life, and I haven’t changed my position on even-numbered years, or have changed because of the different offices that I may be running for.”)

9:59 PM Rudy thanks Tancredo for calling him “soft on anything.” Must. Resist…

10:00 PM Hunter says, “This administration has a case of the ‘slows’ on border enforcement.” In my day, I thought we called that “Montazuma’s Revenge,” but I guess this must be different. Yeah, it must be, as he adds, “the backdoor is going to be closed.”

10:04 PM Rudy: “As someone who lived through the attack of September 11.” Okay, I thought McCain was winning, but, uhm… yeah that line worked. But, also? HE’S STEAMROLLING RON PAUL. This is the biggest moment of Ron Paul’s life.

10:06 PM The most extraordinary moments of the debate: can’t decide… was it Mitt whining for 30 secs to respond to RON PAUL (YES, RON PAUL), or… more disturbing… the crowd BOOING the Confederate flag question?

10:07 PM Applause for McCain for saying “we should move on” about that whole Confederacy thing. Yeah, uhm, let’s go back to Wendell for response on that… maybe? Points out a Swampfriend: If you thought McCain felt bad about pandering on the flag issue last time, wait util he feels bad now!

10:14 PM The question is based on a “fictional, yet plausible premise,” that happens to be the plot of “24.” Bejeebus.

10:15 PM McCain is good on this. “It’s not about the terrorists, it’s about us.” And still a “24” fan!

10:16 PM Giuliani, however, would personally torture every terrorist. Also? 9/11. He was there, dude. HE WAS THERE.

10:17 PM Mitt would just rather just “double Guantanamo”! Yay! Does he even know what that means? Like, “Guantanamo” is not just Spanish for “waterboarding,” guy. “Doubling Guantanamo” means “invade Cuba.” But have fun with that. You need the Miami vote, after all.

10:20 PM Hunter just worked in the cool “SecDef” lingo, and referenced things from “24” plots that I’m not in a place to remember. He’s not as gung-ho as Rudy, but he’d like to watch the torture, I think.

10:25 PM Oh, great, ask what President Ron Paul would do with economic policy, post-terrorist attack. Talk about your fictional scenarios.

10:26 PM Tancredo actually says he would engage the services of an imaginary character (JACK BAUER!) in solving the “ticking bomb” scenario. Since only on Fox would there be a Tancredo or Paul administration, it’s all starting to make sense….

10:27 PM Also, asking Gilmore about minorities running for the Republican nom… it’s a good question… for someone else.

10:29 PM Mitt is talking about how he changed his mind on education. Because children are our future. Can we just start throwing dinner rolls at the stage now?

10:31 PM Apparently, we can.