Tuesday night saw the last of the first round of Republican primary debates. CNN mentioned that this was, in fact, the eighth debate and the last one for a month. I have made my feelings about the structure and format of these things pretty clear, so I won't beat a dead horse about it. There was some pretty excellent human theater up there, though.
Everyone was so ANGRY! My goodness, for a minute it looked like Rick Perry was going to slug Mitt Romney. Rick Santorum was especially Santorumesque (more on this in a minute). Even Herman Cain was angry at times, evoking a pulpit-pounding evangelist. Why was everyone so feisty? Did the whole group lose a bunch of money on the tables prior to the debate? Well...the whole group except for Romney...maybe that's why everyone started piling onto him. At least we didn't have Jon Huntsman there auditioning for a show at the Venetian with his humorous stylings.
At this point, almost every candidate has become their own archetype. Romney's going to never answer a question simply, but do so in a polished way. Perry's going to get rattled and miss obvious retorts that would help his cause. Cain's gonna 9-9-9. Gingrich is going to act like he's already been President. Paul's going to act like he played the lead in V for Vendetta. Bachmann's going to blame Obama for literally everything and insinuate that her motherhood is a qualification for the presidency. And then we have Santorum.
Believe it or not, I think Santorum scored the most points (I've foregone declaring a winner for this one...believe me, there were no winners tonight). Though Ron Paul continued to make lots of sense, I have to say that I liked the way Santorum kept interrupting everyone and pulling off the most contemptuous onstage performance I've seen in a while. Between the headshakes, the butting-in and some wonderful sarcastic smiles, Santorum put on a rare display of televised scorn.
Don't get me wrong: Rick Santorum isn't winning anything. In a just world, Ron Paul would walk away with the nomination, Rick Perry would get a late-night talk show, and Mitt Romney would start trying to convince everyone he was a libertarian all along. But...the Republicans are probably going to give Romney the nod, and we'll have the general election of the dueling negligibly-different candidates. Joy.
That said, I would totally buy a Herman Cain T-shirt if he started using branding referring to The Mark of Cain and substituting 9-9-9 for 666.