Unlike most of America, I actually watched it. Needless to say, what most of America thinks about it depends on what most of America's individually preferred media have to say about it. Here are some personal impressions:
Rick Santorum's facial expressions, as he listened to the few questions the moderators bothered to address to him, precluded anybody actually listening to whatever answers he eventually offered. "Gee," I thought, "he looks like he comes to school on the little bus." I suspect he won't be around for the next debate. (By the way, the eventual answers were not too impressive either.)
Michele Bachman's hair and makeup were just wrong. There was a bit too much blue eyeliner, and a hell of a lot too much hair lacquer. Many will say that it's a shame that a female candidate's appearance should matter so much, but appearances matter just as much for male candidates as well. As for what she had to say, who knows? She got totally predictable questions, and answered them with generally off-topic talking points.
Newt Gingrich, who knows he's out of it, was just having fun. I kind of enjoyed the way he stirred the pot — when the "moderators" (ha!) gave him the chance. As a long-term pot stirrer myself, I just had to smile.
Herman Cain acquitted himself nicely. Although I suspect nobody in the mostly Tea Party audience was following his "9-9-9" plan, he sounded as if he knew what he was talking about, which, of course, is what matters most. The plan itself would exacerbate the rift between the rich and the poor (and the decimation of the middle class) in the United States, but it is proof that race need not be a significant factor in the class war. Wealth is colorless. Nevertheless, as we're all aware, he doesn't stand a chance.
Jon Huntsman has good hair, but he's a bit too tan. Is that supposed to suggest that he actually spent time outdoors in Afghanistan? If so, I suspect that suggestion might be just too subtle for the Republican base. Anyway, he didn't use the opportunity of the debate to establish himself as a centrist — his only chance to differentiate himself from the pack — and hence made little or no impression at all.
Ron Paul came over as aged and frail, I'm afraid. He's lost the oomph he showed four years ago, and while he tossed a dart or two at Perry, they didn't hit very hard.
So, that leaves Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, the front-runners. In the handsome-off, I thought Romney had a slight advantage tonight — that is, until MSNBC tossed in an homage to Ronald Reagan (presumably because the debate was held at the Reagan Library.) Perry, we could see, looks a lot more like Reagan that Romney does.
The big news, however, will be that Romney wants to preserve Social Security while Perry wants to end it. Given that primary voters tend to be a bunch of old farts like me, I'd say "advantage Romney" for tonight — but you can't, by any means, count Perry out.
Hell. He really looks quite a lot like Reagan.