Saturday, October 25, 2014
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The GOP Gong Show

Monday's Republican debate in South Carolina included a line of truth from Rick Perry: he made a reference to "The Gong Show."

The GOP Gong Show

Monday night's raucus Republican debate at the Mrytle Beach Convention Center before a raucous crowd of 3,000 really was low-brow entertainment.

In fact, Gov. Rick Perry, the delusional Texan pretending he's still a viable candidate, actually summed it up nicely near the end.

Fox host Brett Baier started the evening telling the audience there'd be no noise to signal that a candidate's time had expired. But during the debate he more than once said they might have to bring back the bell or some other noise.

Perry, following a particularly pandering exchange among other candidates, told Baier, "The noise you were looking for is a gong."

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The GOP Gong Show

It was a clear reference to "The Gong Show," a 1970s TV series involving amateur performers of small talent and a panel of judges that would "gong" their efforts in mid-attempt.

Perry's right. Fox coulda used a gong last night.

His call came after a number of time violations during exhanges among Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney over foreigh policy.

Paul was trying to make the point that bombing and killing U.S. enemies does long-term harm to the nation's international standing and that capture and trial (as was done with Saddam Hussein) was better than gunning down Osama bin Laden.

Paul, of course, was booed, giving Newt and Mitt an opening to chest-thump the audience. Newt said we should follow the example of Andrew Jackson (the president and southern slave-owner who enforced the removal of thousands of Native American tribes to Oklahoma in the 1800s). Newt said Jackson's position on enemies: "Kill `em." Wild applause ensued.

Not to be outdone, Mitt jumped in with his position on enemies: "We go anywhere they are and kill them," adding that in the case of bin Laden, "a bullet in the head was the right thing."

At least they agree on something. Enemies are bad.

Newt brought the audience to its feet by sticking with his plan to have poor urban kids, i.e. minorities, work as janitors in their schools and by refusing to back off calling President Obama "the food stamp president."  And Mitt said he'd "probably" release his tax returns around April.

The audience booed a question that began by noting Mitt's father was born in Mexico, though it wasn't entirely clear whether boos where for the question or for Mitt's dad's origins, though I'm thinking the latter.

And Rick Santorum, he who claims to be the candidate who never veers from his principles, explained that while he supports right-to-work laws he voted against them as a senator because a majority of his Pennsylvania constituency opposed them.

In other words, I believe what I believe regardless of the political consequences...sometimes.

I swear I heard a gong. Grrr.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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