Last night, in a little-watched debate, all of the non-Mormon, non-gay, non-Louisianian Republican presidential candidates gathered in an Iowan chuch to talk about "Faith" and "Family."
The debate was about as big a panderfest as you think. The historian Tim Stanley, blogging for the Telegraph, gave it a punchier, pithier summary than his American peers:
On Michele Bachmann: "Her entire philosophy seems to revolve around self-reliance mandated, or perhaps made bearable, by her belief in a loving God. She also told us that she was 'saved at 16,' which happens to be the exact same age I started actively sinning."
On Herman Cain: "That guy can really turn on the taps. Herman wept not just once but twice during this debate ... when asked what his biggest failing in life was, Cain broke down ... when he said that he hadn’t spent enough time with his young daughters. The camera fell on Gingrich, whose eyes seemed to say, 'Buddy, I’m sure you’ve done a lot worse than that.'"
On Rick Perry: "Perry offered as his 'greatest challenge' growing up in rural Texas. He recalled going to a school with just ten students: 'And I graduated in the top ten of my class.'"
On Newt Gingrich: " ... he argued that the contemporary 'crisis of values' stems from the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution. It’s a subtle reminder that Gingrich sounds like an evangelical but is actually a Catholic convert. In sectarian terms, Newt plays for both teams and does it very well."
On Ron Paul: "The evening offered Paul the chance to explain the contradiction at the heart of his philosophy: he is both socially conservative and a libertarian. Paul stressed that just because he wants freedom of choice doesn't mean that he condones all the moral choices on the table ... The idea is that if Christianity goes up against humanism in a free marketplace of ideas, its self-evident superiority will make it a consumer hit. Ergo, Ron Paul is just as uptight as Rick Santorum – but he trusts in the people’s ability to choose good over evil."
On Rick Santorum: "Santorum earned a lot of applause by attacking homosexuality and promised, if elected, to tour the country fighting it. “Our country is based on a moral enterprise,” he concluded. “Gay marriage is wrong!” Rick also says that he hates the Iranian theocracy, but I suspect that if it were Lutheran he’d absolutely love it."
Most reports agree that Newt Gingrich had the best night. He was articulate and mean. Big applause line:
All the Occupy movements start with the premise that we all owe them everything. They take over a public park they didn't pay for, to go nearby to use bathrooms they didn't pay for, to beg for food from places they don't want to pay for, to instruct those who are going to work to paying their taxes to sustain the bathrooms and sustain the park, so they can self-righteously explain that they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything. Now, that is a pretty good symptom of how much the left has collapsed as a moral system in this country, and why you need to reassert something as simple as: 'Go get a job, right after you take a bath.'
Please note that that doesn't actually make any sense. The second and longest sentence in that graf is meaningless -- it's just strung together, invective-flavored words. But watch the video AFTER THE JUMP, and see how reasonable Newt makes it all sound, and how much the crowd loves him.
... or you can catch the entire two-hour debate here. Click that link and you can also hear the debate's sweet theme song. It's called "More Than Ever," and begins with this rhyme-reaching quatrain: "A land without a conscience/A world without a soul/Can never hope to prosper/Can only pay a toll." The chorus contains the lines: "Jesus, we need you more than ever/Today/Come be our king."