Salon.com Recaps the Republican Debate – with panache

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Today’s issue gives a wrap-up of the most recent Republican Presidential Debate. And it’s a riot. Michael Scherer’s piece is titled What you missed while watching “Deal or No Deal”: Salon watches the third GOP debate so you don’t have to: God frowns on Giuliani, Romney does weird math on Iraq, Thompson proposes a Bush morality tour, and more.

We get a minute-by-minute summary of the highlights and lowlights. Among my favorite:

2 minutes. “My name is Thompson, Tommy Thompson,” says the former Wisconsin governor, in his best James Bond impersonation. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is worth $350 million and does not live in your neighborhood, introduces himself as a “neighbor.” Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee apologizes to the crowd for his hometown, Hope, Ark., which birthed Bill Clinton. “All I ask is give me one more chance.” People laugh.

4 minutes. The first question goes to Romney. It is concise. “Was it a mistake for us to invade Iraq?” Romney won’t answer. He calls the question “a non sequitur.” He also calls it “a null set,” which is a term from mathematical theory that means something complicated involving X, if X is a measurable space, and the “sigma ideal.” Instead, Romney attacks Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid for saying the war is lost.

5 minutes. Undeterred, a reporter from the Manchester Union Leader asks Romney the same question again. “Was it a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq?” Romney says “null set” again, maybe with more feeling this time. Then he says, “That I think is an unreasonable hypothetical.”

6 minutes. The question is asked a third time, but now to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “Absolutely the right thing to do,” Giuliani says without hesitation. Ouch. That must hurt for Romney.

10 minutes. Arizona Sen. John McCain is asked what will happen if generals report that the surge of troops in Iraq is failing. McCain says he met this morning with the family of a fallen soldier. Then he attacks Hillary Clinton for saying Iraq is “Mr. Bush’s war.” “I didn’t say that Bosnia, our intervention there, was President Clinton’s war,” McCain explains. This is how it is done. If asked a tough question, treat Democrats like pincushions.

A bit later on:

55 minutes. Huckabee reveals the darker side of his faith. Answering a question about gays in the military, he calls homosexuality an “attitude.” “It’s about conduct,” he says, endorsing the current policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly. “It’s not about attitude.”

59 minutes. The gays in the military question goes to McCain. He soars. “We have the best-trained, most professional, best equipped, most efficient, most wonderful military in the history of this country. And I’m proud of every one of them.” But McCain also says that the current policy, whose net effect is expelling gays for being gay, “is working.”

And on English as the official language of the United States, which, for some reason is an issue with Republicans, we learn the horrifying possibilities of people speaking Spanish:

100 minutes. Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo explains why Spanish speakers may soon destroy America, and why he would never advertise in his campaign for president in Spanish, which Romney does. “English is the language of this country,” he says. “We should not be ashamed of that.” Blitzer intervenes, “Sen. McCain, I’d like you to respond.”

101 minutes. “Muchas gracias,” says McCain.

Read more here.  It’s worth it.