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Friday, September 09, 2011

On the off chance that someone cares about my reactions to the political process, I watched the entirety of the Republican debate on September 7 (thank you, YouTube, though Part 4 seemed snipped) and I'd have to say that I'm assured by what I saw. There are no obvious morons in the bunch,* and all of the big ideas on all the issues of the day are on the table, simply due to the sheer number of candidates and the diversity of perspectives. I thought that I'd give a short little pithy summary of each candidate's evening (hopefully humorous) and then offer some concluding thoughts:

Rick Perry: "Dude, I'm good-looking, folksy, Christian, and Texan. No, you've never seen this before! Just sit back and enjoy the ride."

Mitt Romney: "I am the only person on this stage who's read a real book in two months. I believe nothing I'm telling you, but I'm not Obama."

Newt Gingrich: "The term 'policy wonk' was coined for me. I'm personally off-putting, but I'm also correct. I won't win, but feel free to call if you get stuck."

Jon Huntsman: "I secretly hate the Republican base, I've actually been to foreign countries, and there is a 77.2% chance that I'll say something inoffensively sensible."

Michelle Bachmann: "What? You mean 'Obama Sucks' isn't good enough? I should probably be running a home-school co-op instead of running for president."

Herman Cain: "I have no chance (and Obama set back the acquisition of Black political power by 50 years) so I'll say interesting things about economic and fiscal policy. When these boobs make it worse, they'll realize I was right in 35 years."

Rick Santorum: "I am a neocon fascist. I'm not sorry about it. Our military can do everything. We are the new Rome, and we shall never fall."

Ron Paul: "I'm the most correct one here, but these people just make me so ANGRY that...war is bad. No, I will not be able to speak coherently for more than 15 seconds. Look, a squirrel!"

My take: Huntsman and Gingrich were outstanding. I'd love to hear those guys bat policy around in a room at 2 AM. Romney is very smooth, but a mite untrustworthy. The big loser tonight was Bachmann. She does not appear to be able to articulate a full political philosophy; she seems like she'd be a great advocate for children, families, or education. Fine: yes, she is attractive. And no, I don't mind attractive women in politics at all. It doesn't mean I think they are stupid, or sex objects. It means I'm a man, a young man, and it will be a long time before I fail to notice. Which reminds me: Hey, Christine O'Donnell, if you're ever in Missouri, I heard you were single and looking. I'm Catholic; so are you. Just think about it. I digress.

Santorum's answer to the question about foreign policy was horrid; re-thinking the strategic deployment of the US military and the scenarios under which it would be used is not 'isolationism.' Isolationism implies isolation--economic, social, and military--and even our friend Dr. Paul is not advocating disengagement; rather, we are advocating an engagement that is primarily economic, striving for mutual interdependence. Your suggestion otherwise says, "I'm incapable of re- examining America's military role in the world, because we cannot be wrong." You may find it useful to read President Washington's Inaugural Addresses and take heed. On the positive side, your statement in defense of Republican philosophy concerning poverty (in the face of a loaded question) bears repeating until it is at least respected, even if not agreed upon. Brian Williams was useless as the moderator, but his question to Perry with respect to the death penalty was a good one. It stuns me that although the editors of the most prominent conservative magazine in America are divided right down the middle on the issue, being a politician opposed is political suicide, or at least oblivion.
I have to say that Bachmann's stance on the wisdom of the Libya mission, coupled with her critique of President Obama's defense spending cuts and overall foreign policy, has more than the faint whiff of hypocrisy. Libya's freedom rationale, and ongoing relation to the so-called "Arab Spring," is not substantially different than the one offered for Iraq. She did not say that a good mission has been poorly executed; she said it should not have occurred. In other words, pick a basic foreign policy stance: military non-interventionism, (Dr. Paul) supranational military interventionism, (Eisenhower in Korea) or unilateral military interventionism (Bush the Younger). Good debate.

*Note: Perry mangles words, and doesn't think on his feet. Though being articulate is highly overrated (see "44th POTUS") it is prized among voters. He did sound like a dummy several times.

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