burt_small.thumbnailI must confess that I was pleasantly surprised by the GOP debate on Fox. Although I had hoped that all 17 contenders could have shared the main stage, in retrospect, it may have worked out better the way it was. I say that because my current favorite, Carly Fiorina, might have been squashed between the enormous egos of Donald Trump, Chris Christie and Rand Paul.

Overall, I thought Fiorina, Rubio, Cruz, Huckabee and Carson, came off best. They were followed, though not too closely, by Jindal, Perry, Walker and Santorum.

Because I find it hard to believe that Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore, are in it for anything other than increasing their name recognition and jacking up the price of their speeches, I think we can pretty much forget about them.

That leaves Kasich, Bush, Paul and Trump. I wish I liked Kasich more than I do. It would be nice to have the governor of a major swing state like Ohio on the ticket, but every single time he opens his mouth, he sounds like he’s delivering a sermon. He is constantly letting us know that he has a soft spot in his heart for poor people and drug addicts. Well, a great many poor people are poor because they thought that getting an education or learning a trade was something other people were supposed to do in order to support them. When it comes to drug addicts, I believe they are responsible for their lousy decisions. Nobody put a gun to their heads and made them waste their lives. It’s not as if they didn’t know the danger of getting too chummy with crack, meth and heroin. Heck, it was more than 30 years ago that Nancy Reagan was telling all of us to just say no. It’s not my fault they decided to just say “Yes,” and I certainly don’t wish to waste my tax dollars or have President Kasich waste them trying to save these selfish, hedonistic, idiots from themselves.

I believe that charity should be provided for those whose misfortunes can be blamed on old age, disease, injury and military service, not for those who have simply made unbelievably stupid decisions.

I almost admire the way that Jeb Bush manages to shuck and jive when it comes to amnesty and Common Core, but the operative word is “almost.”

Even if I agreed with Rand Paul when it comes to the NSA, which I don’t, because nobody should intentionally confuse the government’s collecting of phone numbers with its listening in on those calls, I would despise him because of that nasty smirk he barely even tries to conceal. It’s the smirk of a guy who grew up being told that he’s the smartest little boy in the room, and that his spit curls just make him all the more adorable.

That brings us to Trump. I know that he and some of his followers thought that the Fox moderators, Megyn Kelly in particular, asked him tougher questions than were asked of the others. I disagree. I watched both debates and all 17 contenders were asked tough questions. The difference is that Trump isn’t accustomed to being backed into a corner. The truth is that he has spent a lifetime surrounded by sycophants. He has naturally come to regard any question besides “Just how high would you like me to jump, Mr. Trump?” as sneaky.

Trump is accustomed to passing himself off as a tough guy, but if he can’t deal with a Fox host without whining about it, how the heck is he going to deal with a real adversary like Vladimir Putin, the Ayatollah Khamenei or even the President of Mexico? Overall, he came across as the anti-Ben Carson, a combination of a schoolyard bully and a barroom blowhard.

Trump’s low point came when, referring to Megyn Kelly, he complained “There was blood coming out of her eyes, out of her…whatever.” The crude dude didn’t do himself any favors when he later claimed that by “whatever,” he was referring to her nose.

I don’t know how many people I speak for, but I personally would much prefer having the Megyn than the Donald on the 2016 ticket. It’s not just because she has nicer hair, either, but because I have heard her speak intelligently on the issues and never once heard her say anything along the lines of “I know how to handle (Russia) (China) (Mexico) (Iran), but don’t ask me for any details. Just trust me. And, oh, by the way, if you don’t trust me, you’ll hurt my feelings and I might just run as a third party candidate or even support Hillary Clinton,” which, as we all know, he’s done in the past.

To sum up the debates, I came away even more impressed with Carly Fiorina than I’d been previously. It’s not just because she would make mincemeat out of Hillary in a debate, but because once she was elected, I believe she would remind us of Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher on steroids.

Now it is finally time to report the results of my epitaph challenge. The idea, you may recall, was to come up with a pithy (12 words or less), memorable, preferably witty, epitaph.

There were 67 responses. I guess it was a tougher challenge than I realized because although they each came in under a dozen words, most of them weren’t really worth carving in marble.

A few people sent me the old standby: “I told you I was sick,” but the only person I ever knew who deserved to use that one was my old friend, and perennial hypochondriac, Oscar Levant.

Now, without further ado:

In fifth place, Burgess Schnitzler: “The S.O.B. is Lying Again.”

In fourth place: Sara McLain: “Now I’m Really Not Listening to You.”

In the third slot: Darrel Knowles, who suspects his friends and relatives will send him on his way with: “Thank God — We Thought He’d Never Leave.”

In second place, Dan Christmas signs off with “Sorry, Kids, No More Christmas.”

And in first place, Frank Balkin reports: “I don’t have one for myself, but my high school trigonometry teacher, Mr. Wheat, used to tell us that when he died, the stone should simply read “Aftermath.”

With that name, the lucky stiff could also have used “I’ve Been Harvested.”