I think I must have been the only person in the entire city of Seattle last night who watched the GOP debate non-ironically. (Actually, I had it on while I was cooking, which means I didn't hear some large portions of it.)
--I occasionally think I am being irrational and unreasonable in how much I dislike Rick Santorum. Then I hear him talk for 30 seconds and feel totally OK about it. He is a despicable, self-righteous stain on our collective consciousness.
--A computer model designed to produce a generic, unsurprising, predictable presidential candidate would likely spit out Tim Pawlenty. I have no idea if this is a good thing for him or not.
--I wouldn't vote for him, but I'd be happy to have a couple of beers with Herman Cain. I have no idea why he is doing this. I don't think he does, either.
--Ron Paul has gotten a lot better at answering questions on his feet. Cramming the complexity of tort reform, no-fault insurance, and federalism into a reasonably coherent answer in under a minute is no mean feat. I sure as hell couldn't do it. I don't think President Obama could, either (and I do think Obama is one of the smarter men to hold the office in modern times.) I know Paul's out there for a lot of people, but you can't seriously argue that he doesn't know what he's talking about.
--I don't think Gary Johnson can win the GOP nomination this year, but I hope he stays in it long enough to shift the debate. If the Republican party has a national future among voters currently 40 and younger, it's going look a lot like him. Otherwise, they are going to relegate themselves to being a regional party of pissed off rural and suburban white guys in a country that is becoming browner and more urbanized.
--Republicans (except for Paul and Johnson) still really seem to want to torture people. Still.
ONE MORE THING (this has been percolating in my brain all day): Back in the good old days, torture apologists at least had the decency to argue from a ludicrous "ticking time bomb scenario" of the sort that only happens in big dumb action movies. (In fact, if you read my post from '07 linked above, you'll note that the torture question was put to the candidates in that debate in that form exactly.) Now we've gone from torture being justified in a hypothetical (and highly unlikely) scenario to being justified after the fact, because it may (or may not) have possibly led to intelligence that enabled us to kill OBL...eventually. That's a long way to fall in four years.