October 10, 2007
The only debate news came after the debate: One Republican candidate openly declares a dictatorship
Clowns. It was the one word that instantly sprang to mind and then hovered over and throughout the debate. Clowns. Nothing but clowns.
Prior to their collective performance, The Politico's Roger Simon had written specifically of newcomer Fred Thompson: "All he has to do is not fall asleep. All he has to do is not throw up."
Good advice, and even better advice for the television audience, although I found both admonitions hard to comply with. It was two hours of the expected -- two hours of somniferous platitudes, banalities and imbecilities.
Having already cited Mr. Thompson, I'll start with him. "I think there is no reason to believe that we’re headed for a recession," he said, adding a few generalities that rounded out his view of our economic wonderland. Later, residing in an altogether different universe, he warned of our surefire and coming doom -- all the result, of course, of entitlements. Go figure.
(No reason other than common sense, I guess)
Mitt Romney was, as usual, pumped full of economic amphetamines and aswirl in euphoria, saying, to quote the coverage, "that if Republicans wanted to regain voters’ trust on the economy, they had to avoid doom and gloom." This line of reasoning is a real puzzler, akin to saying that if a physician wants to ensure a cancer patient's health, all he has to do is avoid mentioning the diagnosis. On the other hand, this was a Republican debate. Reason is an uninvited foreigner.
(Mitt Says there's no problem, therefore there isn't, or some such crappola as that. Can these Republicans get any any more stupid?)
Rudy was similarly giddy, knowing just how to apply that common-man touch. When asked about the obscene profits being made by private equity firms -- a subject that has gross inequality implications for millions of Americans -- his smallest of world views was, "Well, I mean, the market is a wonderful thing -- the sky’s the limit." There's nothing like thoughtful analysis.
(I may barf)
Such as John McCain's. Bucking the Mitt-Rudy feel-goodism and Fred's bi-polar fudging, he asserted that Social Security is going broke. Wrote the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dean Baker, who was blogging live for the New York Times: "Mr. McCain is completely unaware of the Social Security projections.... According to the Congressional Budget Office it can pay all scheduled benefits through the year 2046 with no changes whatsoever."
(Much more of the Goopers and we will all be dead by then, anyway)
McCain "also said Medicare is going broke," wrote Baker, "but if he knows the projections at all, he knows that this is attributable to projections of rising health care costs." In short, the cure -- national health care -- is the one and only cure that naturally shall remain unmentioned and untouchable in any Republican forum.
(Why are Goopers so afraid of anything that might even the slightest smack of socialism? Perhaps, because they see it as the opposite of fascism, which they are all for.)
And of course there was the collective love of tax cuts. Always tax cuts. Calling their projections "utter nonsense," Baker said of the panel's participants: "It is fascinating ... how all the Republicans candidates feel the need to claim that we can get more revenue through tax cuts.... The most optimistic research shows that growth can offset 15 percent of the lost tax revenue and even this is a short-term effect." But there's that unwanted reasoning again.
The only worthwhile moment came from the lips of Ron Paul, who audaciously noted that only Congress can declare war. This, of course, did not sit well with Rudy, who can't seem to distinguish between "19 thugs," as Paul correctly called them, and nation-state threats.
But an even better and far more Republican-defining moment came later on MSNBC's Hardball (transcript). Interviewing forum-participant Duncan Hunter, Chris Matthews asked if he were president, would he seek congressional approval for any military strikes. He would, he said. Well, pursued Matthews, what if Congress denied such approval. Would Hunter proceed anyway with military action?
Hunter's reply: "I would."
(Wouldn't that be an impeachable offense? Or is there any such thing as impeachment anymore?)
Cut to commercial, which gave me time to pick myself up from the floor.
At least one Republican presidential candidate was willing to announce with no hesitation or qualifications that he would actually enhance George W. Bush's dictatorial war-making schemes -- that he would, from Day One in office, treat Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution as null and void.
(...and so the people would treat him as null and void!)
It was a brilliant question for Matthews to ask -- and a damn shame to witness a time-constrained failure of follow-up. Nevertheless the question should be put to each Republican candidate. The answers might indeed induce vomiting, but we sure wouldn't fall asleep.
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.