There was animated scribbling, petulant sneers, verbal scuffles, name calling, bold accusations and seemingly indignant denials of the bold accusations. Though the same thing could be said of, say, a junior high school homeroom class, tonight I am referring to the most recent of Republican debates to help the American people decide on a nominee for the highest office in the land.
One thing the contenders could all agree on was that President Obama has been a terrible, terrible president. To hear them describe it, our president would have us be an immoral (or is it amoral?), hedonistic, abortion-loving nation that is dangerously close to the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. I prefer to think of our president as the reason I have healthcare, preexisting conditions and all. But that's just me.
Each of the Republican candidates was, in turn, the aggressor and the tap dancer, hoofing as fast as they could around previous positions held and votes cast for things they now awkwardly backtrack from like No Child Left Behind.
This crowd hates unions, particularly those comprised of teachers. They love businessmen, particularly those who contribute to Super PACs. And they all show about equal disdain for the impoverished, as if it were a choice made by people they heard about, but never actually met. They also have an uncanny affinity for the word "feckless," but that was mostly Romney. Nice scrabble word, Mitt.
I might have been less inclined to criticize had PBS not just aired a four hour documentary on the Clinton presidency. As I watched old footage of a campaigning Bill Clinton, I saw a woman talking about how she could not afford her medication. She began crying, and Mr. Clinton went over to her, knelt down, hugged her, and wept with her.
Fast forward to tonight's debate, and I am hard pressed to feel that any candidate is capable of caring that much about any of us. And let's face it, we would all like to feel that we are heard, understood, and significant. That is the least we should demand of those who represent us.
To emphasize this point, John King, the moderator, asked a final question of all the candidates: what is the biggest misconception of you? The only one who actually answered the question was Ron Paul, who said that it was the perpetuation of the myth that he can't win.
When Romney, who veered away from the question to hit his desired talking points, was reminded of the question, his response was, "You get to ask the questions you want; I get to give the answers I want." Such blatant disregard and disrespect for the question is a telltale indicator not only of the kind of president he would be, but who he is as a person.
My conclusion at the end of the night? Santorum lost a little footing, Romney gained a teensy bit, Newt found his mojo again, and Ron Paul, well, he still entertains me.