The 3 a.m. phone call has struck again. In tonight's GOP primary debate, NBC anchor Bryan Williams asked the candidates what they would do if told that Fidel Castro had finally died and "half a million Cubans" were on their way to the United States. Mitt Romney's hair mumbled something about "thank heavens" el comandante had met his maker. Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, quipped that Fidel would be burning in Hell instead. Then he went all Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on the debate.
"A Gingrich presidency will not tolerate four more years of this dictatorship," he said, adding that he would use covert operations like Reagan did against the Soviet Union. Break out the exploding stogies, boys! With Newt now leading by nine points in the Sunshine State, another Cold War could soon be dawning.
Gingrich was clearly serving up his hottest anti-Castro cortadito for the Florida audience. But Tampa ain't Little Havana, let alone South Carolina, and the doughy man-boy didn't get any standing ovations this time around.
"The cold war is over," Ron Paul retorted. "I think we propped up Castro for 40 plus years with sanctions. All he did was use us as a scape goat."
"It's not 1962 anymore," the Libertarian mocked. "The overthrow of foreign government is just not going to work anymore."
Rick Santorum -- whose neck rolls we can only assume were part of some silent protest against constricting government regulations -- went even further than spymaster Newt. Or should we say frothier.
The embargo should continue "until the Castros are dead," he said, before going all Jack Bauer on Ron Paul.
"You're right Ron. It's not 1962," Santorum said. "The Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans. There is a growing network of folks now working with jihadists -- the Iranians -- who are very excited at having platforms 90 miles off our coast."
As for the rest of the debate, here's a quick quiz* to see how well you know your right-wing nutjobs:
1. Rick Santorum wants to nuke:
b) Mitt Romney's coif
c) Puerto Rico, so he can build some more hospitals for his buddies in Pennsylvaniad) All of the above and more! just so long as you pay attention to his candidacy
2. Newt Gingrich's cheeks are full of:
a) Jell-o pudding pops
b) Nuts stored for the nuclear winter his presidency will usher in
c) Extra wives, each of which practices a different religion and musical instrument. Together, they are a jam band known as "Newt's Open Marriage Experiment."
d) Tiffany's jewelry for said extra wives
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3. Newt's nonsensical "Big Ideas" tonight included:
a) The Hong Kong Model**
b) Beat sugar vs. cane sugar**
c) "campaign languages" vs. "central languages"**
d) Changing Thursday's debate to a more "open" format where the candidates and their wives lose their clothes, sit inside a sauna together, and ruminate on the "body politic" -- meaning Newt, of course.
4. When Ron Paul is not running for president, he moonlights as:
a) That guy from the Smucker's Jam commercials
b) Your great grandpa who doesn't realize it's not the Great Depression anymore and still distills his own moonshine out of a miner's hat
c) The bad guy from Scooby-Doo episodes who always says, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!"
*Not an actual quiz. Answers definitely not located on page 14 of this week's Crazy Conservative Weekly.
**Actually ideas mentioned by Gingrich tonight.