Seeing the GOP presidential debates in person is whole lot different from watching them on TV.
Thanks to our friend Herman Cain, we were seated right up front at the CNN debates last night in Las Vegas. Our section mates included gaming moguls Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, the Romney family, Wayne Newton, and too many other notables to list. This was not just the 1% crowd, these were decimal pointers.
If you are reading this, you undoubtedly saw the debate yourself - and perhaps noticed Joanne and me in the audience shots or up on stage with Herman immediately following the show (my son liked that part of the debates the best). So I won't go over what you saw, just tell you a little about what you didn’t see.
We rode to the event with the Cain party, cleared by security into a large warehouse area where a fleet of RV’s awaited the candidates – identical mobile green rooms where the candidates prepared themselves. Probably the closest any of these Republicans will get to a trailer park.
The campaign staffers milling about the campground looked to my aging eyes to be in their teens, and mostly stared at their Blackberries while furiously texting the other teens to schedule whatever it is all these teens do for the campaigns. The bodyguards were all as big as the Winnebagos and we were escorted to our seats by not one but two of the sun-blotters with the squiggly ear things. Rock star.
One of the grown-ups in the room described this election cycle to me as "American Idol on steroids". In a series of national televised auditions pitched as debates, the field is winnowed as the pundit class disposes of them one at a time. I never thought of it quite that way, but it rings true; the new paradigm is being made up as we go.
This is why a candidate like Herman Cain actually has a chance in this race - all of Romney's money and boots-on-ground organization in 50 states can't win him a talent contest. The more people see of Herman the more they like him; that's why the powers that be have stooped to smearing his 9-9-9 tax plan to try and slow him down.
I love Ron Paul. He was rolling his eyes, shaking his head, looking around at the set visibly bored while Perry and Romney wasted large gulps of our short time on this earth pulling each other's braids. Everybody wanted to, and Ron Paul did it; there is the man’s whole career encapsulated for you.
I got a chance to chat with Dr. Paul during a commercial break; thanked him for his service to liberty and for inspiring young people to discover the Constitution. Since Ron Paul is my idol and Herman is my friend, I asked them both to play nice. I was surprised and happy to learn they get on well personally, and I got to see it first-hand; I wish their supporters could learn from their example. Please.
Michelle Bachman had her hand up to say something the whole time like that Horschak character in Welcome Back, Kotter. Could you guys hear her calling out, "Anderson, Anderson!"? It was a little annoying and very weird. I lost $20 bucks when she didn't count her kids for us again - it's true you can bet on anything in Vegas.
In person, Rick Perry throws off a jerk vibe that makes your hairs stand up from 40 feet. That guy has got some seriously bad juju going on; and oversized hands, in case you wondered. The crowd booed him twice, nobody came up to talk with him on breaks, and the other candidates gave him that look of disgust I used to get from dads when I showed up to take their daughters out.
Newt Gingrich has to be one of the smartest guys on the planet - and he doesn't have a prayer. Rick Santorum is not one of the smartest guys on the planet - and doesn't have a prayer, either. Huntsman didn't even show up, answering many prayers. And Gary Johnson was not invited, for which CNN should pray for forgiveness.
At each break, Mitt Romney came over to visit with his wife and son; since they sat next to us, he was standing two feet in front of me each time. The guy looks like a President, and that might be enough to seal the deal. For a guy who claims not to be a politician, he sure can turn that smile on an off on command, and mostly the command is the presence of a potential donor.
I don't watch TV, so I hadn't seen Anderson Cooper before. My opinion of Communist Network News is not great, but he did ok for a guy with no first name. He is not 360; maybe 135 dripping wet. He made tiny Michelle Bachman look statuesque. David Gergen is a big guy. Newt was the only fat guy in the whole room – rich people must pay someone else to go to seed for them.
So there you have it; Dr. Tim’s take on the CNN Las Vegas debates. Does anyone remember what any of them said? I don't. And who cares anyway. People aren't going to vote for a tax plan or vote to eliminate fractional reserve banking. Touting experience as an IRS lawyer is suicidally stupid, to steal the best line of the evening from Newt. And neither one of the Bickersons is going to even get their families off the couch to vote for them if they keep this up.
So Herman Cain will win the GOP nomination, because he is the most liked and most trusted - American Idol on steroids, like the man said. If you are looking for a libertarian candidate, Mr. Cain is not your first choice, please quit telling me he was on the Fed board, I knew that a long time ago. But if you are looking for a conservative candidate, he should be your guy.
Check our his 9-9-9 plan for yourself and you will see that just about everything the others threw at it last night is bullsnot; they knew it and slung the poo anyway, all those faith-driven values candidates. They only one who didn’t was Ron Paul, who simply proposed his own plan to replace the income tax with nothing.
Herman Cain is my friend and Ron Paul is my idol. They are front-runners and have the whole field talking about less government and more liberty; I never thought I would see it in my lifetime. My lasting memory of the debates is watching them share a laugh at one of the breaks – the former Fed board member and the guy who would tear it all down.
The fact that one of those two could be the next President of the United States is simply amazing. Let that day come not a moment too soon.
“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.