If you missed the Republican primary debate last night, you didn't much. It was basically a gameshow where everybody lost- including the audience. Some of the questions were very stupid (Elvis or Johnny Cash?), and the moderator did little to cut off the candidates' rambling answers.
The establishment candidates (Santorum, Bachmann, Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich) used the platform to substitute boilerplate for specific answers, regale the crowd with their past legislative achievements, and to take cheap shots at the President. Everything about them screamed 'politician'. They embodied all the things the average person doesn't like about politicians by coming off as disingenuous self-seeking replicas of their political ancestors.
The non-establishment had their own problems. I've heard some people talking favorably about Herman Cain, but he lost my interest when he spoke of himself as a man who solves problems. The last thing I want to hear about is a politician who wants to solve problems. Indeed, the state of the nation is the result of politicians trying to save us with their solutions.
Ron Paul was the main reason I tuned in to the debate. I do like Ron Paul, and I wonder whether that's the reason I'm so quick to distinguish him from the other candidates. While people might disagree with him, he at least doesn't come off like a slimy politician who's only trying to aggrandize his own power. What sets Ron Paul apart from the pack is that he sounds sincere and comes with a touch of humility- two qualities rare among people running for office.
I wish Dr. Paul had a better way of making his platform palatable to the average Joe Nobody who just wants a job and to make sure the financial rug's not ripped out from under him when he goes to retire. While I agree with his message, talking about Keynes and fiat currency isn't going to resonate with anyone but the people who already strongly support him. He also needs to keep his answers concise. That alone would be enough.
I would have a comment here about Gary Johnson (the only other guy in the whole bunch with his head screwed on straight), but he wasn't even invited to the debate. I guess CNN thought their lineup was already diverse enough- even with five basically interchangeable candidates making the list.
So on the whole, the debate was an embarrassment. It was a reminder of why people don't trust politicians and a lot of people don't trust the Republican party. It's anybody's guess as to whom will ultimately be selected to run against Obama, but I don't think anyone has a chance to beat him except Ron Paul (from last night's group, anyway). In short, last night was a showcase of why the Republican party is a self destructive combination of hubris and incompetence. It looks like Obama has his second term in the bag.