The last GOP debate was definitely the most entertaining I've seen in a while. Now, let's take a look at the fallout.
The good news is Herman Cain is getting wobbly under pressure.
The bad news is, look what that leaves us stuck with.
If you want proof that Cain is in danger politically, just look at the changes he made to 9-9-9. The criticism that it will hurt lower income families seems to be hitting his campaign, so Cain made some changes to it. It now excludes the poorest Americans and allows some deductions. This is actually a mistake. Part of what is selling 9-9-9 is the simplicity -- you get your W-4, you do some basic math, you're done. Exceptions and deductions are counter to that simplicity. And it will only get worse as people realize what deductions they are losing and that it will cost them far more than they realize (business expenses, the VAT, etc.). The fact that his main rallying point is being changed does not bode well.
Cain came out to the last debate completely unprepared for what he got. First was his constant flipflopping on the electrified fence across the border. It's one thing to want a fence. It's another thing to not want a fence. And it's still another thing to want a fence that is not simply defensive in nature, but is intended to harm or kill. No matter how much people hate illegal immigrants, they just want them to stay out, they don't want them hurt. Cain's pronouncement that he wasn't ruling out any options turned the crowd hostile against him. (I note with some interest that a lot of news reports are mentioning he first suggested the electrified fence, then said he was only joking. No mention of his, "I'm keeping my options open" line.)
Cain is attempting to be vague through philosophy. But in order to be philosophical, you have to actually be smart. That means, when you make an assertion, you back it up, you don't abandon it when the heat is on. During the debate, the subject of Israel and the Palestinians came up. They recently completed a prisoner swap. The question was put to the entire panel what they would do. Most of them gave the Harry Truman "We don't negotiate with terrorists" line (see illustrating paragraph below). Cain said he would consider doing a swap, which triggered another zerg rush by the other candidates. He quickly changed his tune to "We don't negotiate with terrorists." Too late, the damage was done.
(When Truman was President in the time after WWII, an American reporter was taken hostage and demands were made. Truman said nothing. Instead, he mobilized a Navy fleet. Once they were parked outside the country, Truman sent a simple message -- you will give him back or we will take him back. They surrendered the hostage immediately. That, my friends, is how you protect your citizens.)
Cain doesn't understand his audience. Keep in mind, that was a REPUBLICAN debate. You are talking about Republicans, who, by and large, don't support abortion. Didn't stop Cain from putting his foot in his mouth. "The government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make." Now, while I agree with his statement, he was making it to a crowd that does not want to hear that. After the debate, Cain issued a statement reiterating he opposes abortion, aimed at reassuring the evangelical vote he is desperate for. But once again, he didn't make it on stage while the issue was in everyone's mind and he could have done some damage control.
Cain has tried to attribute this to misspeaking because of the pace of the debate. Bullshit. He didn't misspeak. He said what was on his mind and didn't have anything to back it up. He didn't even try to back it up. The other candidates know that, if they turn up the heat, Cain will cause his own demise. This is why you are to never show weakness -- it lets everyone know exactly how to get you. Cain will never win another debate.
Perry's tough guy routine, meanwhile, seems to have worked. His numbers are climbing again, and the GOP, which basically wants anybody but Romney for their nominee, is breathing a little easier. Perry's assertion that Romney hired illegal immigrants during his first Presidential campaign was a warning shot to Romney. Romney had tried attacking Perry on parts of his personal history instead of immediate issues. Perry was letting Romney know that he was ready to dig up dirt on him, too. It's the political version of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) -- you leave my record in the past, I'll leave yours. If Perry does get the nomination, he'll need a lot of ammo. Obama will hammer him just on the name of the old hunting ground alone. If Perry does start coming out on top, he better be ready, because his ride will get a whole lot worse. He coming from a state that isn't exactly the most progressive about modern times and is going up against the first black President. Obama would love to face Perry because he can use the racial intolerance of the region to rally support for him. "Vote for Obama and prove you don't tolerate racism!" Perry better realize he has an uphill battle ahead of him.
Michele Bachmann, meanwhile, continues with her campaign's theme of, "Here! He says he's not dead!" while the rest of us say, "Well, he will be soon!" Bachmann's early success was attributed to her precious Tea Party
Bachmann attempted to spin things when the news first hit. ""That is a shocking story to me," she told WMUR news. "I don't know where that came from. We have called staff in New Hampshire to find out where that came from and the staff have said that isn't true, so I don't know if this is just a bad story that's being fed by a different candidate or campaign. I have no idea where this came from, but we've made calls and it's certainly not true." Well, it was true, and in point of fact, they told several people who are not only close to Bachmann, but they themselves were close friends of hers. It makes her look like she's not paying attention and is another damning blow to her awareness of what is going on around her. The sooner she flames out, the better.
Keep sharp, we still have over a year until election day. This is going to get a lot louder.
You are now leaving a Lindsay Lohan-free zone.