The Pocket Guide To Last Night's Republican Debate

A group of people who believe the government's job is to do as little as possible descended on Hanover, New Hampshire last night, and spent the next two hours talking about who would do the least if elected.

Political debates, like hockey games, are made better if fisticuffs are involved, and alas, last night was fairly civil, apart from the requisite lady interrupting that always goes on at these things. Still, the candidates each found ways to punch themselves in the face a little, which is fun. Between lighting the Federal Reserve on fire and executing every single person who managed fiscal policy between 2007 and 2011, Republican Presidential hopefuls and The American People had some moments worth cherishing. Here are some highlights:

Herman Cain

Here he is. Rock you like a Herman Cain. The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza couldn't shut up about his 9-9-9 tax plan (he wants to throw out the entire tax code and replace it with a flat 9% national sales tax, 9% income tax, and 9% business tax). When jokingly told by Jon Huntsman that the scheme sounded a little like a pizza deal, he went full metal cranky.

Michele Bachmann

She was in true Bachmann form last night — dressed impeccably (apart from the curiously anal-beady necklace she wore) and saying goofy things. From claiming that her background is in economics (her background is in tax law, and she spent much of her time as a federal tax attorney on maternity leave) to making sure to point out that when turned upside down, Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan is actually a 6-6-6 plan. She also said that the root of the current recession was the federal government's encouraging banks to give loans to poor people. I guess the government and poor people must have also worked in cahoots to securitize bundles of those loans, and they must have also conspired to inflate the ratings on those securities and then forced people and governments to buy them based on those inaccurate ratings. Poor people and the government also invented Credit Default Swaps. Wow, for poor people, they sure must have known a lot about investment banking! You'd think they'd have used that knowledge to get not-poor.

Rick Perry

The coyote-shootin' sunscreen shunnin' governor of Texas was largely quiet last night (he's got plans to make a big speech about his economic policy on Friday, and may not have wanted to jump the gun on himself), but made a point to announce that the American people don't need fancy "plans" or high falutin' "legislation," they just need someone who is going to go in there and get things done. Go in where, exactly? Into the government? Aren't things in the government done using plans and legislation? Aw, shucks. There I go again with my book learnin'.

Ron Paul

He still hates the Federal Reserve, he still believes that a government that governs best governs least, and he still communicates with the air of an unsuccessful gold prospector driven mad by solitude. His supporters are still mostly insufferable cockholes, and he's still never going to be President.

John Huntsman

John Huntsman, former governor of Utah and ex-ambassador to China, is the only Republican candidate that shouldn't be ashamed of himself on any given day. Unfortunately, aside from a joke about Herman Cain's Pizza Deal Economics and Perry's evangelical fervor, he didn't make much of an impression. His hilarious daughters, tweeting from a shared account, got a few jabs in, at one point imploring their followers to "Just imagine the Von Trapp family eating pizza and singing about numbers." Can they run for President?

Mitt Romney

Everyone keeps saying that Mitt Romney looks "presidential," what with his square head and rectangular grin, but I think he looks like Eddie Munster if he'd been raised Mormon. Pundits are also claiming that Romney won the debate, as he challenged Herman Cain's cantankerous repetition and slickly defended 2008's TARP. However, if most people agree that Romney won, I'm not sure I was watching the same thing that everyone else was watching. Romney's dripped with condescending disdain for one female moderator, Bloomberg reporter Julianna Goldman, interrupting her, cutting her off, almost chastising her. If that's how he speaks to a woman whose job it is to know about politics and the economy who dares mildly challenge him, I can only imagine what his attitude must be toward women when cameras aren't pointed at him. Just once in a Presidential debate, I'd love to see a female moderator tell a candidate that there's no need to be patronizing.

Newt Gingrich

In keeping with his lifelong "I'm a dick!" message, Gingrich brought up his urologist in the answer to his first question, and went on to suggest that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd should go to jail.

Rick Santorum

I can't even with this guy.

So there you have it. By next November, one of these people's supporters will be scaring you shitless.

If you can't stand the thought of being away from these clowns for another week, fear not: they'll be taking to the stage again on October 18th to hash and rehash it out.