Republican debate January 19, 2012 (South Carolina, CNN, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Ron Paul)

Brace yourself for yet one more worthless GOP debate. It starts today, January 19 at 9pm Eastern.



WHERE: South Carolina

PARTICIPANTS: And then there were four: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. Rick Perry dropped out earlier today.

TRANSCRIPT: When available.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: For a preview of this debate, see debates. As with all the rest, this debate will feature weak, superficial questions and few follow-ups. Any immigration ideas the candidates present will be flawed, and the moderators won't press them on their actual policies but instead will concentrate on gotcha. CNN is somewhat OK when it comes to covering breaking news, but when it comes to politics they're a horrible influence. They concentrate on horserace rather than policy and even when they discuss policy, there are issues they ignore or minimize such as immigration and trade. John King makes Ron Burgundy look like Edward R. Murrow.

SUGGESTED READING: The links in the list of candidates above and most importantly of all the alternative to bogus political debates. That plan would ensure that the presidential candidates promote vetted policies with only known side-effects. All the debates so far simply allow candidates to give their stock speeches without being challenged on the flaws in their plans.

FAKERY: Use the #CNNDebate hashtag.

Feel free to leave comments below before, during or after the debate. This post will be updated after a transcript becomes available.

UPDATE: Newt goes nuke! The video below shows Newt tearing into CNN's hack for asking a smear question. CNN simply isn't capable of asking tough questions ask discussed above. The solution is also what's mentioned above: demanding real debates.

UPDATE 2: A transcript is here. Observe this portion:

MR. KING: All right, gentlemen, thank you. Let's get back to our issues discussion and let's begin with a question down in our audience.

Q: Hi. I would like to ask, on the issue of amnesty of the illegal aliens, would you -- how would you secure that the American citizens would get -- keep the jobs in line first for them?

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, let's start with you on that. She mentioned the word "amnesty." You have explained your position in this campaign, and as you know, some conservatives have said: No, Mr. Speaker, you say you can't deport -- maybe it's 10 (million), 11 (million); some people say it's high as 20 million -- people illegally in this country. You say it's unrealistic to deport them all, so some would have to be given a path to legal status. And as you know, many conservatives say: No, that's amnesty, Mr. Speaker.

MR. GINGRICH: Right. What I say -- let's start with -- I think you have to first of all control the border...

The concept of the audience member's question isn't that bad; see immigration wage floor for a related discussion and more generally DREAM Act for a discussion of limited resources.

However, one problem is that the audience member used the word "amnesty"; see reform not amnesty for why using the word "amnesty" in such a context plays into the hands of amnesty supporters. (The tea parties types aren't going to understand that, and that's why they need to let others ask the questions. They'll just keep stepping on that rake).

The more severe problem with the question is that it wasn't forceful and directed. It should have been re-phrased to demand that the candidates answer that very question and none other. For instance:

"You've repeatedly stated your plans to secure the border and your other immigration plans and it's easy to find those online through a basic search. But, I want to ask you specifically how you'd ensure that Americans are first in line for jobs. I would like you to specifically address that question: how would you ensure that Americans are first in line for jobs? Please just answer that one specific question."

Because the questioner didn't do that, John King was able to pivot the question into a solicitation of the candidates' general plans. And, that just generated stock speeches that the candidates have said several times already. Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum didn't say anything new. I don't think it's much of a stretch to assume that King did what he did intentionally: the idea of discussing limited resources fired the pro-massive immigration chip in his brain, and he pivoted the question around to just a recitation of the candidates' stock speeches.

With a real debate, things like that wouldn't happen. John King would be replaced with experts who would really press the candidates on limited resources and job competition.

1/27/12 UPDATE: The video that had been here (from BuzzFeed, Youtube ID 1Yf_005EqDM) was deleted from Youtube due to a copyright claim by CNN. CNN certainly has every right to do that, and keeping as few people as possible from seeing one of their "reporters" made to look bad is just a beneficial side-effect for them.

3/6/12 UPDATE: The video that was here before (Youtube ID iGT8A8kbF10) was deleted, I replaced it with another copy.