Continuing our increasingly popular GOP debate tradition, tonight’s awards upon the conclusion of the Dartmouth debate. Notably, we offer for the first time our…
Actual Debate Strategy Award: Herman Cain. The story here is not simply that Cain got plenty of mentions of the 9-9-9 plan into his and everyone else’s answers (20, by my count). The debating success was that over the course of the session he was able achieve the rhetorical equation of his plan with himself as candidate. Hence when 9-9-9 was mentioned–not necessarily Cain by name–Cain was given a chance to respond. Cain now is 9-9-9. Thus he dominated and was given large amounts of time to explain and amplify his message. #999 emerged on twitter as its own hashtag, and when people were tweeting about #999 they were also tweeting about #HermanCain. The next messaging challenge is for Cain to attach positive values to the Cain999 brand; he rolled these out tonight: Fair, Neutral, Visible, Simple, Transparent.
Lorne Michaels Thanks You/Saturday Night Live You-Can’t-Make-This-Up Award: Tie, Rick Perry for apparently napping through the entire debate (paging Alec Baldwin); and Michele Bachman (paging Dana Carvey, who better get busy dusting off his Church Lady costume after the Congresswoman suggests the 9-9-9 plan is an inverted Mark of the Beast. Could it be….Satan?)
Remember the Maine! Historical Obscurity Award: Michele Bachmann, for referencing the Spanish-American War Tax. Close second to the questioner from Bloomberg who cited the costs of building the Erie Canal.
Tim Russert Is Rolling Over Award: Shared by all panelists. After playing a damning clip of Ronald Reagan clearly endorsing the principles of Obama’s so-called “Buffett Tax” on the wealthiest Americans, the moderators allowed every respondent to dodge, bob, and weave; Mitt Romney even appeared to say he preferred the tax policies of fellow Massachusetts Democrat John Kennedy to the president we otherwise would be led to believe was the greatest Republican of the century. Russert would never, ever, have let this slide.
Senator Fred Dalton Thompson Unfortunately High Expectations Award: Rick Perry. ‘Nuff Said.
John Williams Best Versatile Soundtrack Award: Bloomberg News. Musical interludes during the fade ins and outs to commercials included a potpourri of bongo war drums befitting Rick Santorum’s battle cry against China; a Philip Glass-like serialist electronic rhythmic figure suited to Rick Perry’s peaceful absence; an Ennio Morricone thriller passage capturing Herman Cain’s vigor and insurgence.
Admiral James B. Stockdale Memorial Who Am I, And Why Am I Here Award: Jon Huntsman. An earlier recipient of the Your Twitter Feed Is Making Me Sad Award, Gov. Huntsman (whose twitter feed is still making me sad) now seems completely irrelevant. Please, just let it go.
Barry Goldwater Memorial This Isn’t a Conservative Movement I Recognize Award: Rick Perry. One of his three Reagan references was to the President’s bombastic, radically conservative son Michael. We consulted the experts at ReaganCount.com, who sadly denied credit for this junior-Reagan mention. But after listening to every single candidate engage with the real Reagan on his centrist position on taxes and fairness, it was less than encouraging to hear Michael Reagan invoked by a leading candidate for his father’s party’s nomination.
Justin Bieber Twitter Team Award: Rick Perry. Within 30 seconds of a bumbling answer on “opening up our energyexploration areas” his team had two nicely worded, succinct tweets out on energy independence. Go interns!