There were too many terrible parts of last night's Republican debate in Iowa. For example: Any time Tim Pawlenty did anything. But the worst, and definitely most dangerous, was when all eight contenders joined forces to be terrible together and promise to never raise taxes one cent, even if it came in a deal that gave them everything they wanted.
Fox News' Bret Baier — who did an excellent job as moderator, as these things go! — asked the group early on if they'd reject a deficit reduction package that was "10 to 1," meaning $10 in spending cuts for each $1 in increased tax revenue. They all raised their hands. Now, due to their cowardice in the midst of a stupid television spectacle, they're each bound to the promise they made in this clip. Did you see this, America? This is one of the major political parties in America. Even National Review was flabbergasted by this nonsense.
And what advantage does rejecting this hypothetical deal give, say, Jon Huntsman, or Rick Santorum, or any of the other minor candidates who need something to keep their campaigns alive past Labor Day? Really: What would Jon Huntsman, the supposed reasonable one, have to lose politically by being the one guy who'd accept such a deal? Baier could ask for an explanation, and he could say, "because it would be stupid to reject a great deal like that." He might not get many cheers from the crowd, but perhaps some moderates watching at home would realize (1) that Jon Huntsman exists and (2) he's not as self-defeatingly insane and psychotic as the others. Instead, last night's debate just proved that Huntsman is a useless candidate offering nothing.
After liveblogging this debate last night, I watched about 45 minutes of the replay to see what actually happened when I was busy typing like a madman. I laughed for the entire 45 minutes. Mostly due to the alcohol consumption, but still: Put aside what frustrations you have with Barack Obama for the moment and picture him on the stage with any of these people. It's easy to forget that he's the best politician — simply in terms of winning elections — of his generation. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is the best the Republicans have right now. Obama will ruin him, just ruin him. Boy howdy, will he ever ruin him.