The first GOP presidential debate was held last night in Greenville, South Carolina. If you missed it, you were not alone. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and The Donald also were no-shows.
The five who showed up are, to put it mildly, improbably occupants of the Oval Office. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has the kind of resume that would qualify him for the post, but his entire demeanor screams (well, nothing about Pawlenty "screams" - better to say "suggests") "standard politician giving cautious, guarded comments. Cong. Ron Paul does his Ron Paul thing and he does it well, but when the subject turns to gay marriage, his libertarian sensibilities do not cohere with the social conservative base of the GOP. Ditto former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson who supports legalizing marijuana. Former Sen. Rick Santorum detailed his success at knocking off Democratic incumbents but neglected to mention is 18 point defeat at the hands of Sen. Bob Casey. Santorum's demeanor also suggests typical pol, even though his positions are extreme. Pizza entrepreneur Herman Cain did the best with a Fox News focus group - they liked the fact that he was not a politician but his answers were all slogans, and it is difficult to imagine he will wear well over time unless he learns to do more than deliver a mini-motivational seminar.
The GOP has a problem on their hands. They need a candidate. Last night's debate was embarrassing.