Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here


By Steve Deace

How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.


  • Something called Gary Johnson had the best line of the night.
  • Mitt Romney made the case he was the candidate of moral consistency, and the audience actually applauded that John Edwards-sized whopper.
  • Rick Perry’s best two answers of the night were on defending the indefensible—his approval of reduced tuition for illegal aliens and his controversial executive order mandating 10-year old girls in Texas get vaccinated for a sexual transmitted disease.


And those were the highlights.

No matter how you slice it, Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate was an exercise in futility with more clichés than an Obama teleprompter. Fox News, which did a phenomenal job overseeing an edgy and informative debate prior to the Iowa Straw Poll, for whatever reason played it safe and just added to the overall tediousness of the evening.

There were no winners, only losers—both on the stage and watching at home. Which is why we’re not going to hand out debate grades or talk about who helped themselves, because I don’t think anybody that should be president actually did. Instead, we’ll just provide a few comments on each candidate’s performance that sort of sums up the night each of them had:

Michele Bachmann

After getting just two questions in the first 42 minutes, Bachmann inexplicably thought it was best to finally interject herself into the conversation in response to Gary Johnson of all people. Then at the end of the debate she began an impassioned plea for primary voters to seize their opportunity to nominate a true constitutional conservative given how weak Obama’s poll numbers are, except for one problem. She never closed it by telling the voters she was that candidate. That lost opportunity is the Bachmann presidential campaign in a nutshell. After a strong set up, she consistently fails to close.

Herman Cain

Confirming what I have suspected all along, Cain proved once and for all he’s running for vice president by going after Romney and getting propped up by Perry. This debate was so bad, not even Cain’s consultants could save it.

Newt Gingrich

One part of me would just as soon vote for Gingrich just to make next fall’s debates with Obama interesting, and then another part of me wants to know when Gingrich will actually start running for president by contrasting himself with his campaign rivals. The GOP elder statesman shtick was fun for a while, but now it’s time to show some fire in the belly.

Jon Huntsman

He is the GOP presidential equivalent of that creepy Burger King mascot. It’s like he’s a human being portraying a human being acting like a politician. The equally creepy Daniel Day-Lewis will one day play Huntsman on MSNBC’s forthcoming biopic titled A Man in Orange: A Nation Awaits.

Gary Johnson

Epic fail for failing to bring up the icky sticky during his one shining moment, leaving him unable to shore up his core stoner constituency who is concerned Ron Paul isn’t libertarian enough. Johnson’s honorary lifetime subscription to High Times will be discontinued for this failure.

Ron Paul

His answer on the sanctity of life was inexcusable, simply because he chose to chase another libertarian rabbit trail instead of defending his own pro-life moral conviction that I have heard him discuss several times. Instead, Paul waxed on about RU-486 and never said it wasn’t okay to kill babies conceived via rape. Mr. Constitution also never once noted the 5th Amendment says no person may be deprived of life or property without due process. Mr. Constitution never defended the concept of unalienable rights, either.  In other words, Mr. Constitution didn’t uphold the Constitution.

Rick Perry

He had the kill shot on Romney as a multiple offending flip-flopper lined up, but he was so unpolished and clumsy he couldn’t get it out and let Romney off the hook. You find yourself almost wanting to root for Perry to save you from Romney as your nominee, and then Perry speaks and cures you of that affliction.

Mitt Romney

At first I thought Perry was in the race to deliver us from Romney once-and-for-all, but at the rate this is going Perry is going to deliver Romney to us—because Willard has never looked more presidential then when he’s standing next to Perry. This current field is letting Romney get away with just flat out lies and distortions of his record. Obviously none of these people wants to win as badly as John McCain, who didn’t let Romney get away with it four years ago. At this point I’d just as soon prefer Romney be the nominee if the field remains this flaccid, lest one more person in the name of Jesus and wrapped in the Constitution prove to be an ineffective leader. Since Romney isn’t about either of those things, he and the ruling class deserve each other. We in the grassroots deserve better, but no one seems willing or able to be our champion at this point.

Rick Santorum

He gave a great applause line on re-establishing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and his closing answer on how to inspire the American people again was inspiring. However, by that time only shut-ins and production assistants for The Daily Show were still watching, and he managed to get upstaged on a foreign policy question by Huntsman. Santorum has a window right now to make his case, but he doesn’t appear to have the resources to make that case.