Why is Pawlenty On Stage With These Crazy People?

May 5th, 2011 at 11:20 pm | 91 Comments |

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Closing Thoughts:

Credit goes to the Fox News anchors who moderated the debate. They did their research and managed to ask tough questions that trapped some of the candidates. They managed to get Rick Santorum to come very close to endorse ending foreign aid to Pakistan, before following up by reminding him that Boehner supports aid to Pakistan to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. In his second answer, Santorum seemed genuinely unsure what his policy was.

Pawlenty’s toughest question was the grilling he got on Cap-and-Trade. Fox managed to bring out many speeches and radio ads where Pawlenty had shown his support in the past for a Cap-and-Trade policy. His answer to the question to amounted to “We’ve all made mistakes” and added that there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, challenging anyone who thought they were perfect to declare themselves.

Romney wishes he could give that sort of answer on Romneycare.

Gary Johnson was the candidate who was most out of his league. The Fox News team would not even take him seriously. They asked him what he would want his own reality TV show to be. Bret Baier also noted that Johnson has run nearly 30 miles, leading to the followup “What are you running from?” Johnson eventually managed to answer that he has actually climbed Mt. Everest.

Johnson’s answers on immigration and free trade also seemed to misjudge where the GOP Primary electorate is on those issues. His “guest worker” program will probably only be approved by the WSJ editorial board, and he underestimates how protectionist voters are.

Herman Cain was not someone I gave high marks to during the debate but he “won” the Frank Luntz focus group that came on immediately after the debate. Cain would consistently answer his question giving a bullet-point response, arguing that you need to “identify the problem” before solving “the problem.” For whatever reason, this seemed to appeal to the focus group.

Rick Santorum remains the social-issues candidate but also one who consistently seems to be out of his league on the substance of his answers. He announced that he would not repeal Medicare Party D and would want to continue reforming Medicare as Paul Ryan has done. Then he was pushed when it was pointed out that he wants to voucherize Medicare immediately, which is not what the Ryan budget does. To this point he had no answer.

Ron Paul did exactly what you would expect Ron Paul to do. Ron Paul went on the record that he believes that using heroin and practicing prostitution are forms of liberty. There will soon be a viral video of Ron Paul imitating a heroin addict which will be making the rounds on YouTube. No surprises here, we already know what he thinks.


Tonight, FrumForum writers Tim Mark and Noah Kristula-Green will liveblog the first GOP Presidential debate being held in South Carolina. We invite the commentators to join in as well!

Tonight’s debate was announced back in December perhaps with the expectation that more candidates would have announced their intent to run by now. There are only five candidates debating tonight: Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Tim Pawlenty.

Of all these candidates, only Pawlenty has a chance to win a general election, what does Pawlenty gain by agreeing to appear on stage with these second tier candidates?

We can already predict what the other candidates are going to talk about: Ron Paul will argue that with Osama Bin Laden dead it’s time to pull out of Afghanistan. Gary Johnson will talk about ending the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana, Rick Santorum will assert the importance of social issues (maybe even attacking the Mitch Daniels’ “social truce”) and Herman Cain will make attention-generating statements to break out.

How will Pawlenty handle himself in this setting? Will he be able to appear a little bit presidential, or will he be overshadowed by the more exciting but less credible candidates?

Follow Noah on Twitter: @noahkgreen

Follow Tim on Twitter: @timkmak

Recent Posts by Noah Kristula-Green

91 Comments so far ↓

  • SqueekyFromm

    Well, the name of this thread sure leads me to suspect that somebody has already picked their favorite/winner in this little verbal contest. Personally, I think I will listen to them to decide the hierarchy of nutz.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • Smargalicious

      What rotten anti-Republican hack thread.

      Truth: any one of the debaters didn’t listen to his preacher scream “God DAMN White America!” for over a dozen years.

      Think about it.

      • CentristNYer

        Thought about it.

        Doesn’t change the fact that these guys are dangerous clowns who should be as far from the White House as possible.

  • hisgirlfriday

    Why is the GOP holding a Crazy Convention without Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich?

    • abj

      Exactly. Say what you will about Santorum, Johnson and Paul, but they aren’t nutjobs (don’t know anything about Cain really, but he isn’t going anywhere anyway). The names you reference are more accurately characterized as nutjobs.

  • HeeHee23

    Pawlenty is there because he’s been pandering to the same nutjobs that they do.

  • indy

    Rick Santorum? He of the Langston Hughes inspired slogan? Can’t help but think somebody pulled one over on him. Good job, whoever you are.

    • SqueekyFromm

      Langston Hughes??? Which poem???

      Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

    • TerryF98

      BButt he has such great family values.

      And the weirdest family around.

      • dmnolan

        Is the child in this photograph, the one holding the doll, praying? I ask because there seems to be a connection between a public display of piety and squinting. George W. did a lot of squinting for the cameras when it appeared necessary to assure the electorate that God was directing the President’s policy decisions. Here, is Santorum’s family on display to demonstrate proximity to Godliness? And what agreement might there be between Ayn Rand and the Catholic Church that Rick knows about and we don’t??

      • dafyd

        Terry come on, leave the family out of it please.

    • Bunker555

      Arigatou gozaimasu. I found it by Googling “santorum”.

      In response to indy // May 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      Rick Santorum? He of the Langston Hughes inspired slogan? Can’t help but think somebody pulled one over on him. Good job, whoever you are.

  • Rabiner

    Gary Johnson is not a crazy person. He’s a very reasonable politician with somewhat out of the mainstream views on some issues (that I happen to agree with).

    • hisgirlfriday

      I would agree with that. I thought it was pretty unfair how they presented him as any old pot-smoking hippie for illegally using marijuana to loud guffaws to the crowd and then it came out it was a medical marijuana issue.

      I get that Gary Johnson is for legalizing pot for all and frankly I agree with that stance even though I would never say so if running for office. But medical marijuana I would passionately fight for having seen a friend’s now-deceased mother with colon cancer only be able to eat thanks to pot.

    • Bunker555

      Gary Johnson has to get the support of some major donor to make it to the next phase. He sounds life an honest

  • Graychin

    Republican primary voters don’t care which candidates have a chance to win the general election. They care most for a candidate who tells them what they want to hear – no matter how crazy or out of touch with reality that is. That’s why they vote for big-spending Republicans who claim to oppose government spending.

    Pawlenty has perhaps twice as much chance of winning the general as any of the other candidates. That’s Pawlenty at 2%, the rest at about 1%.

    • abj

      You may be proven right, but I really don’t think Obama will be in the commanding position many Democrats currently take for granted.

      He is the favorite, yes, but not the overwhelming favorite. Much can happen in a year and a half.

      • medinnus

        Amen. I think Obama has a decent edge, but that it won’t ensure victory if the adults like Gary Johnson run against him.

        • abj

          I like Johnson. Certainly, he’s a serious guy and does not deserve to be labeled a “nutjob.”

  • politicalfan

    Debate everyone. There needs to be some ‘one’ out there with a plan!!! Practice makes perfect or in this case, “why not”.

  • mickster99

    As long as the Teabaggers are setting the agenda everyone running for Republican Prez will be hitting the koolaid extra heavy. Pawlenty is no different. Pandering to the worst of their “base”.

    • medinnus

      Ron Paul and Gary Johnson stuck to their ground. They didn’t pander. You do them a dis-service; you may not like them, you may not agree with them, but they remain (for politicians) consistent and articulate.

      • dafyd

        I beat you to it by a minute :) . What pisses me of is Noah would rather have a liar then two honest men. I may not agree with both Dr. Paul or Mr. Johnson on all the issue, but I could respect their consistency. I know where they TRUELY stand. Another thing that pisses me of, criticizing them because they are “boring” well, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, etc are not boring and well, you see what that gets us, I rather have boring.

      • Bunker555

        How right you are MEDINNUS

  • TerryF98

    And the winner is. The craziest of the lot.

  • dafyd

    Why do you have to be five steps behind to be considered a “good candidate” for the the American right?

    As far as the stupid title of this story, Pawlenty had a choice to stay strong on his moderate point of views or change them and pander to the worst of the Republican base. He choose to change them and pander. Gary Johnson and Ron Paul have not pandered or changed their mind or done whatever it is spineless pols do when they want to run for something. I don’t think I could support Dr. Paul, but I could at least respect him.

    Noah, which Pawlenty do you like the 2007 one or the 2011?
    I don’t think I could ever take you seriously again. Not that you care, I don’t think you even know what the true meaning of integrity means.

  • SqueekyFromm

    OH, this can’t be true!!! The racist Republicans loved them some Herman Cain. OH MY!!! (Feigned surprise.)

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    • medinnus

      Straw man, you cretin. Not all the GOP are racist, not all racists are GOP. Just most white racists are GOP, and pretty much all gay-bashing bigots. There are plenty of Christianist fascist candidates for the people like Smeggylickious.

  • dmnolan

    Why? He’s bottom-feeding. Taking nourishment from the semi-solids you see hovering near the gravel floor of your aquarium when it’s in need of cleaning. We who believe that the government should be of the People must constantly question if the People are capable of governing themselves.

  • hisgirlfriday

    The South Carolina panel deciding after this debate that Herman Cain is their man for president reminds me of the Illinois GOP deciding Alan Keyes was their man to defeat Barack Obama for Senate in 2004.

    We can only hope it turns out just as hilarious as the Keyes decision did.

    • Bunker555

      Kristol has run Keyes’s campaign before. Maybe he should stick his paws in for Pawlenty.

    • dmnolan

      Herman Cain has done so much for the well-being of all Americans, offering pizza as a diet staple. And look! Thirty percent of all Americans are obese. So let’s all jump in behind his exhortations because they’re so much more sensible than Obama’s recommendation that we citizens maintain proper tire pressure. We’ll get fat, but not flat.

  • Arms Merchant

    Why are Noah Kristula-Green and Tim Mak posing as legitimate journalists with a headline like this?

    The only crazy people in politics are the fascists who want to control our lives, plunge us into endless wars, steal the value of our labor and give it away to their pet special interest groups, and borrow and print money until the dollar is worthless.

  • _will_

    i’m so sad i can’t watch this right now. PLEASE let them ask Pawlenty how he plans to reinstate DADT!!!

  • Bunker555

    I’m watching Hannity here on the West Coast, and it’s fun to watch Frank Luntz’s focus group of the “conservative base”. If this is the base, the GOP is totally screwed. Santorum can get perhaps a 2 percent bump in the polls from his “terrific” oration.

  • hisgirlfriday

    I love how in the post-debate interview with Hannity that Gary Johnson’s pivot to get out of talking about the abortion issue is to come back to his support for legalizing marijuana.

    The concept of a real-life Republican hippie politician is still blowing my mind.

  • rbottoms

    I can picture Barrack with his feet up munching on a bag of popcorn laughing his ass off.

  • jg bennet

    2012 is the year of the non politician and i think it will get down to trump & cain. look how cain ran away with the debate in the voters opinions. pawlenty is the one that won’t be standing on the stage sooner than most.

    america wants a business person not a politician.

    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that nine percent (9%) now say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. That would be the politicians…..

  • rbottoms

    america wants a business person not a politician.

    No America wants someone who knows what hell he’s doing.

    The GOP teabagger nitwits on the other hand want someone man enough to go take “our” oil from those damn ay-rabs.

    You know, like the crazy racist MF’s roughly 27% of them are.

    I suggest a name change. Unfortunately, The Insane Klown Posse is taken.

  • Moderate

    Why is Pawlenty on Stage with These Crazy People?

    Don’t think of candidates as “crazy” or “non-crazy.” Think of them as “electable” or “not.”

    Not one of these candidates is electable. I say that as a Republican who wants the GOP to win. Pawlenty can’t. His campaign, which is built entirely on the wishful thinking of Beltway insiders (in this way he reminds me of Lamar Alexander in 1996), has no raison d’être.

  • SteveT

    While I don’t really like her Nikki Haley looks like she’d be a lot of fun in bed.

  • Rabiner


    “OH, this can’t be true!!! The racist Republicans loved them some Herman Cain. OH MY!!! (Feigned surprise.)

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter”

    You mean the Hermain Cain who is Islamophobic?

  • CentristNYer

    “Why is Pawlenty on Stage with These Crazy People?”

    What exactly would lead you to believe that he’s not one of the crazies, too? I’ve heard little in T-Paw’s standard repertoire — starting with his advocacy of the re-implementation of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — that would lead anyone to believe that he’s the standard bearer for sanity in the GOP.

  • Dept. of Not Getting It : The Other McCain

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  • ottovbvs

    As someone has remarked the Republican candidates divide into two categories. The genuinely crazy and those that are pretending to be really crazy in order to keep in with the Republican base.

  • nhthinker

    Noah is a hack propagandist.

    Latest CNN poll shows Ron Paul the Republican that does best head to head against Obama.

    Ron Paul has been consistent. The reason I did not support him in 2008 is I thought the Iraq war needed to be finished- now that Iraq is relatively democratic and not a haven for international terrorism nor a puppet to Iran, it’s time to get this country healthy again.

    Iraq had an indigenous population that could raise an army that would support a democratic government. Afghanistan may have that in another one to five decades. Iraq was winnable in a decade: Afghanistan is not: Americans did not “break” Afghanistan and it is not “fixable” in a reasonable amount of time.

    Ron Paul is old but that is about his only negative this time around. People like Frum will try to do a hit job on Paul but will likely fail miserably.

    Frum and the rest of the big Fed/neo-Cons should be scared: very, very scared.

    • Smargalicious


      • ottovbvs

        those that are pretending to be really crazy in order to keep in with the Republican base.

        Exhibits A and B ^

        • indy

          Ron Paul isn’t crazy. He’s the right’s version of Dennis Kucinich. And exactly as electable as president.

        • zephae

          I dont know if he’s more Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel.

    • shediac

      Ron Paul: His words from his newsletter.

      “Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.”

      Wasn’t it lovely to see that the debate was sponsored by The Oath Keepers and The John Birch Society.

      • nhthinker


        Responding to the charges in a CNN interview, Paul denied any involvement in authoring the passages. Additionally, Paul’s campaign claimed through a press release that the quotations had come from an unnamed ghostwriter and without Paul’s consent. Paul again denounced and disavowed the “small-minded thoughts,” citing his 1999 House speech praising Rosa Parks for her courage; he said the charges simply “rehashed” the decade-old Morris attack.[140] CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer said that the writing “Didn’t sound like the Ron Paul I’ve come to know.”[141] Later, Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, also defended Paul.[142]

        “Everybody knows in my district that I didn’t write them and I don’t speak like that… and I’ve been reelected time and time again and everyone knows I don’t participate in that kind of language. The point is, when you bring this question up, you’re really saying ‘you’re a racist, or are you a racist?’ The answer is no, I’m not a racist. As a matter of fact, Rosa Parks is one of my heroes, Martin Luther King is a hero, because they practiced the libertarian principle of civil disobedience and nonviolence. Libertarians are incapable of being a racist because racism is a collectivist idea: you see people in groups. A civil libertarian as myself sees everyone as an important individual. ”

        — Ron Paul, CNN, Jan 10, 2008

  • MurrayAbraham

    I really wanted to watch this debate but I also had the chance to get a root canal without anesthetic­.

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  • Rob_654

    I don’t think this did Pawlenty any good. He ended up being on a stage with fringe candidates and did not look particularly good against them.

  • jamesj

    “For whatever reason, this seemed to appeal to the focus group.”

    I thought the reason was obvious. Most voters like to hear simple, easily-digestible sound bites, especially in cases where a nuanced discussion of the real trade-offs would be confusing to the uninformed. This is a microcosm of the exact same principle that the modern day Republican Party uses to fuel its core voting base.

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  • CentristNYer

    Is there really much of a difference between living in Crazytown (Santorum, Cain) and living in the town next door (Pawlenty)? You still drink the same water, read the same paper and shop at the same Wal-Mart.

  • WillyP

    nhthinker // May 6, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Noah is a hack propagandist.

    Let’s be blunter… with a continuous stream of crap articles for Republican outcast David Frum, Noah doesn’t deserve the apparent infamy of “hack propagandist.” He’s a loser.

    • Smargalicious


      • indy

        smarg, nh’thinker’, and willy all calling the same person a hack and loser? You know you’re on the right track to be taken seriously then Noah. Sorry, Tim, but apparently you aren’t.

      • ottovbvs

        There was a young man called Smarg
        His opinion of himself was awfully large
        Exactly why, was hard to figure
        Since his lies got bigger and bigger.

  • blueshark

    Interesting that the Fox News journalists asked such tough questions – something that Fox is not generally known to do with conservative Republicans (cf. Greta van Susteren and Sarah Palin). Given that (with the very unlikely exception of Pawlenty) the candidates last night were all a bunch of no-hopers, electability-wise, I wonder if this debate was actually intended to be a deliberate and public culling of the crazies before the real primary season gets underway.

  • Noah Kristula-Green

    Noah is a hack propagandist. Let’s be blunter… with a continuous stream of crap articles for Republican outcast David Frum, Noah doesn’t deserve the apparent infamy of “hack propagandist.” He’s a loser.

    Yeah, you have a point. I should be spending more of my time writing in the comments sections of blogs. That’s real #winning.

    • sweatyb

      do not feed the trolls, please.

    • ottovbvs

      That’s real #winning.

      An extremely ill judged remark Noah, since your implication is that anyone who posts at blogs including this one are losers. It’s nice to know what one of DF’s paid diarists thinks of us.

      • Nanotek

        I appreciate Noah’s read on things

      • doubter4444

        LOL. I like it when writers respond to particularly stupid or below the belt remarks, don’t take so seriously. I don’t take it as a bash on all commenters, just the ridiculous ones.

        I have wished Mr. Frum would respond to commenters or clarify his remarks on points raised in the comments (in the way the OTB guys do it).

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  • Noah Kristula-Green

    An extremely ill judged remark Noah, since your implication is that anyone who posts at blogs including this one are losers. It’s nice to know what one of DF’s paid diarists thinks of us.

    Of course not. I actually enjoy and appreciate the smart and intelligent comments from some of the commentators here at FF. Some of you have actually been very good at pointing out flaws in my articles and I respect constructive criticism. (TalkRadioSucks deserves special mention here for being harsh but I think fair.)

    As for nhthinker, well the last time I remember him in the comments was when he came to the defense of the birthers. (http://www.frumforum.com/would-the-real-birthers-please-stand-up/comment-page-1#comment-267912)

    Who can forget this comment:

    I’m curious: Would Noah Kristula-Green promise today to resign as a journalist if Barack Obama is ever found by the Supreme Court to be not meeting the requirements of a “natural born” citizen as it applies to Article II of the Constitution? I kind of doubt it… So the level of indignation seems a bit contrived.

    Yesterday… all the birthers seemed so far away…

    • indy

      Sure, no mention for the guy who had your back.

    • ottovbvs

      Of course not. I actually enjoy and appreciate the smart and intelligent comments from some of the commentators here at FF.

      But that’s not what you said Noah. Your comment was all encompassing and as thus ill judged. NHT and others of his ilk are of course fruitcakes which is why I objected to being bracketed with them by you.

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  • Frumplestiltskin

    How do you resign as a journalist? You can resign from a job but an unemployed journalist is still a journalist. You can only quit being a journalist and do what many of us posters do here, which is blog.

    And I think Noah is jealous of us, we have the free time to post and say whatever we want. He has to satisfy his boss and work hard. For me this is entertainment. For him this is work.

  • dafyd

    “At FrumForum, Noah Kristula-Green and Tim Mak ask the poignant question: Why is Pawlenty On Stage With These Crazy People?

    Their premise is that Tim Pawlenty is the only really electable candidate out of the extremist loons who participated in last night’s GOP debate.

    Which is just ludicrous, of course, because Pawlenty’s crazy credentials are fully up to date. Don’t believe the propaganda from GOP operatives, trying to tell you that Pawlenty is some kind of “moderate.”
    Via Littlegreenfootballs.com
    This is exactly how I feel.

  • Noah Kristula-Green

    @ottovbvs I obviously wasn’t referring to you in my comment…

    And I think Noah is jealous of us, we have the free time to post and say whatever we want. He has to satisfy his boss and work hard. For me this is entertainment. For him this is work.

    Considering the unemployment rate, I don’t think anyone who has work these days is unhappy about it…

  • WillyP

    did you two kiss?

    • indy

      Did you want to add a picture to your collection, willy? Got a little more space under the bed?

  • nhthinker

    Noah cross publishing thread comments.

    It’s clear he didn’t have either the confidence in Obama’s actual qualifications or just not enough balls to bluff.

    Which one was it?

    The point of my challenge was to see the level of confidence in this president that Noah would attest to. He wouldn’t attest to any faith. Expressing indignation without expressing faith. How surprising was that?

    As to this article- Noah seems too dishonestly attack Ron Paul. Wasn’t he the one that came up with the 5 question survey of a Tea Party that fully 1/5 of was the following:

    [i]Question 5: Do you support the legalization of marijuana

    FrumForum decided to finish off with this question to try and get a sense of how “libertarian” this crowd may be, even if only imperfectly. We found that 60% oppose marijuana legalization and 36% supported it (the rest were unsure.)

    We particularly enjoyed the comment of one Tea Partier: “If it was legal, then it wouldn’t be fun anymore!”[/i]

    Now he has the audacity to attack Ron Paul on drug freedom.

    Hack propagandist in perfect pitch.

  • shediac

    Can’t wait for the real action: Palin, Bachmann, Gingrich, Huckabee. A comedians wet dream!

  • Rabiner


    I enjoy your back and forth (especially since you’re using quotes as evidence for your statements) but I am somewhat taken aback by the title of this post. I can agree Herman Cain and Rick Santorum are pretty crazy (go figure since they’re popular with the Conservative movement) and Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are more libertarian than conservative (especially Gary Johnson) feels like the easy way out. Why do you feel they are ‘crazy’ as opposed to unelectable? I’d say the irrationality of Cains Islamophobia is crazy as is Santorum’s homophobia. Paul is a little nuts with regard to monetary policy and conspiracies with the Fed but I can’t think of a reason to think of Johnson as ‘crazy’ as you put it.