'Weak field' spanks CNBC liberals

Putting aside Rick Perry's awful 53 seconds, the real story of the CNBC debate last night was how thoroughly the so-called weak field of Republican Presidential candidates collectively embarrassed the panel aggregated by the financial network.  

This was not lost on questioners Maria Bartiromo and Jim Cramer, whose demeanor change was obvious as the debate wore on.  Meanwhile, in the post debate questioning, manchild Carl Quintenilla asked perhaps the worst question in the history of American journalism by trying to couch Herman Cain's "Queen Nancy" reference in light of his "problems with women."  Puh-leeze.

On the whole, it was a stunning display of free market and pro-liberty principles versus the nanny state mindset that government must be at the center of all problem solving.  Every one of the eight candidates had strong moments against CNBC's self-anointed experts.  Especially promising was how the field almost unanimously fingered federal regulations as the main problem with our economy and society -- and they did so as the faces of the questioners went into shock.  Moreover there was near unanimity on the idea that the only answer to housing is, well, the economy stupid.

And in spite of repeated attempts to get the candidates to go after each other, only Rick Santorum fell for that bait.  Meanwhile the attempt to bring up Cain's sexual harassment issues was met with loud boo's.  Very loud boo's.

It is fair to say that it was a fantastic night for most all of the candidates (Rick Perry and his lost department of Energy being the exception).  Regardless of what you might think of the candidates, it would be hard to argue against clear wins for Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich and clear losses for Perry and CNBC.

Here are some stream of consciousness thoughts in order:

Wow.  Bartiromo asking strictly Wall Street based question to Cain and then to Romney.  What about Main Street?  The economy is not Wall Street.

Is Jim Cramer yelling at Ron Paul? Yes.  Cramer was yelling. And now the same to Jon Huntsman.  Cramer was all in for his stock market buddies -- trying to shame the candidates into bailing out Wall Street at all costs under the guise of 401 K's for average folks.  Nice try Maria and Jim, but all four answers were good.

Harwood then trying to trap Romney, but failing, on auto companies.  And Harwood, being the insider elitist he is, was having a chat with Romney and seemingly ignoring Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.  Oh, Mitt slipping one in on Newt with his "married to the same woman" comment.  Then slipped one in on Obama also. 

Perry very good with his "America is gonna be America again" answer. 

Oh, Newt very good with "fired as rapidly as possible" comment about Ben Bernanke.  Then made good points with the Reagan economy and the Contract economy.  Well done. 

Bachmann with great point about the regulatory burden and also her comment to "legalize American energy."  That's a great line.  Wonder if she'll realize it.

Not falling into the trap of going after each other.  These candidates are eating the lunch of these questioners.

The Cain character question: Crowd booing Maria Bartiromo -- and Cain's simple answer got a loud and hearty response.  And Mitt didn't go for the bait.  CNBC guys getting booed.  CNBC is losing this debate.  Maria actually smiling.  Hmmm.

Cramer is just being childish.  His profit versus social responsibility question was simply kindergarten.  Romney's response was very good.  Mitt is having a good night.

Cramer tried again with Perry: and Perry's "they better be" was a good response. And then Newt.  He embarrassed Maria.

Oh snap! Cramer stepped in it with Rick Santorum on the Dakotas, I guess without knowing what goes on in Pennsylvania and oil shale.  Jim Cramer is having a very, very bad night.  He's been so pompous with every question and he's been blown out of the park by everybody.

Cain's tax response to Bartiromo was good and strong.  His "visible" point versus the "sneak attaxes" was good.  This is a huge plus for his 999 plan.

Bachmann's point with 47% not paying anything was a good point.  "Everybody has to be a part of this tax code." Another good line for her.

"The disease is spending" line good by Paul, though his lack of emphasis on the code is misguided.  Do love the trillion dollar cut idea while losing five departments though.

Romney and Gingrich with great answers on housing.  Romney excellent on Frank and Dodd.  And they're right, it's the economy stupid.  Way to go guys.  All of these folks are doing fantastic.

"It's the regulatory world that's killing America." - Perry. Great line.  

Bachmann's good answer on Fannie and Freddie.  Harwood just way over his head with Gingrich.  I mean, waaaaaay over his head.

Cain with great point: "you don't start there --" to an over matched Steve Leisman.  This is an experienced businessman versus an academia nut economist theoretician. No contest.  

Huntsman:  awful answer on housing - the only bad one so far tonight.  Well, that's why we keep him around I guess.

Everyone on health care was good to great, except Santorum. 

Is it just me, or is Maria getting less and less happy on being smacked down? Newt just took her totally apart.

John Harwood obsessed with tying Romney to Obama Care and to working with Democrats.  Asked several questions on this  --  and then cut Romney short when Mitt was going after Harwood's buddy Obama.

Perry with a decent answer on Caterpillar.  Did not take a swipe at Romney even though that's what Harwood wanted.  He did a good job of brushing aside the idea of "working with Democrats."  I love that these candidates are not taking the bait.

Perry painful with Education, Commerce.  The third one I can't sorry. Oops.  Indeed. It was painful.  OMG.  Is this the end?  It will be the headline no doubt. Painful.

Cain with a good answer, but he keeps going back to 999 on every question.  It is NOT the answer to every question Mr. Cain. 

84 minutes in, and finally we hear from Rick Santelli. Poses a tough question to Gingrich.  Newt handled it well, naturally.  An hour discussion between Santelli and Gingrich would be informative no doubt.

Harwood again, and he seems only to ask questions of Romney.  Mitt great with the "link the compensation of bureaucrats" answer.   And then Harwood does one of those "show of hands" questions.  Did Harwood read Dante?  He should.

I like Rick Santelli, but he needs to understand that a question should not be longer than the time allotted for the answer.  And why is he asking Huntsman anything?

The student loan question was so stupid.  Ron Paul, thank you for saying they got a "poor education."  He really put the little questioner in her place.  Paul's answer was a great manifesto of what happens when government gets into any sector.  But of course, then he went back to "the Fed."

Perry: a decent self-deprecating response to his "lost department."  Good job of ignoring Harwood too, so I give points for that.  But it won't be enough.

Harwood's "under a Republican governor" question to Cain was stupid. Oh No!   It's not 999 again. Come on Mr. Cain -- there is other low hanging fruit here.  Mr. Cain, what color is your tie?  Answer: 999. 

By the way, did Romney look a little "less perfect" and a little older tonight on purpose?  You know, some research showing that he is perceived as too smooth?  Just a thought.

Gingrich with a fabulous answer on the "Chinese bridge" question, including a nice deference to Huntsman.  He continues to rock in all of these debates. 

Harwood has a man crush on Romney I am convinced.  To him, everything starts and ends with Romney. 

Folks, we don't govern China and we can't govern China.  China is only taking advantage of our own self inflicted wounds and only Newt really nailed that. 

Uh oh, Cramer is back.  And yet another Wall Street focused question on "making the stock market safer" to Cain.  Oh no, is he going back to 999? Why not slam Cramer on how impossible it is for the stock market to be safe.  Cramer said "forget the economy."  Good, slamming Dodd Frank.  Oh, and the line that the other two problems with it are "Dodd ....and Frank" was priceless!

Ron Paul with a wise sidestep of an attempt to attack Perry, and good job of defining crony capitalism as opposed to capitalism.  Of course, it was an open sham for CNBC to make Paul and Huntsman so prominent. 

OMG I just about destroyed the TV;  Carl Quintenilla tried to tie Cain's phrase "Queen Nancy" to his "problems with women" and just would not let it go.  Carl, you are pathetic.  I have to go now.  I'm about the tear something up.

Overall winners: Cain, Romney and Gingrich in some order.  Overall losers: Perry and all questioners except Rick Santelli.  Biggest loser would be the arrogant Jim Cramer and perhaps Quintenilla on his post debate performance.

The author is a frequent contributor to the American Thinker, and moderated the Presidential Debate last weekend at The Florida Tea Party Convention.