Monday, September 12, 2011

An exercise in futility

Yes, this blog post is an exercise in futility, because I'm going to try to pull together some insightful remarks from the Republican Tea Party debate just aired on CNN.

‎"If you'd suggest I could be bought for $5000, I'm offended." -- Rick Perry
Here the always eloquent governor of Texas was responding to attacks about his executive order to require that girls be vaccinated for cervical cancer. Michele Bachmann accused Perry of ulterior motives, citing contributions from the drug corporation Merck. Perry's response was to compare the $5000 contribution from Merck with the $30 million he has raised as governor. I think the important insight here is that it's very important as a Republican to be able to raise money from multiple corporations, not just one or two. After all, how can we have a democracy if the interests of big corporations aren't represented in government?

"We are a melting pot, not a salad bowl." -- Rick Santorum.
This brilliant metaphor came as Santorum was responding to a question about immigration, and specifically, I believe, about how Republicans could get the Latino vote. For some reason Rick Santorum and most (all?) of the Republicans I saw on the TV tonight believe that building a fence to keep people out of our country is a sign of greater freedom. Here, sadly, Rick Perry was actually the only person who made at least a little sense--well, they didn't ask Ron Paul his opinion.

(For the record, I am much more a fan of open borders than either Mr. Paul or Mr. Perry, to say nothing of any of the other Republicans.)

"I am committed to repealing Obamacare." -- Michele Bachmann
OK, but apparently Ms. Bachmann is not quite as committed to answering questions given to her in a debate. The question she was actually given was how society should handle a difficult hypothetical situation: a young person decides not to get health insurance, suddenly disaster strikes, and he is in desperate need of extensive treatment. What do we as a society do with this? Ron Paul was given this question and answered directly and eloquently: freedom means accepting responsibility for the consequences of your own actions; but on the other hand, freedom also means that many people and organizations, such as churches or other charities, are likely to be generous of their own accord.

When this very challenging question was put to Bachmann, she completely ignored it and started preaching about how dedicated she was to repealing Obamacare. The insight here is the Republicans don't actually have to believe in personal responsibility; they just have to really really hate Barack Obama.

"Boo...!" -- A handful of Republicans, in response to Ron Paul's explanation that U.S. foreign policy has created an atmosphere of resentment in the Middle East.
This, of course, was the only time anyone in the audience booed a Republican candidate. Somehow, Republicans get away with repeating the same old propaganda--they hate us for our freedom, blah blah blah. Only one Republican, Ron Paul, has the courage to apply the Golden Rule to foreign policy. He alone asks the question, "How would we like it if...?" You fill in the blank: how would you like it if China built military bases on our soil? if Iraq set up dictators in our country that supported their interests? if Afghanistan bombed our cities?

It's worth reminding people that the majority of campaign contributions from U.S. soldiers have gone to Ron Paul. What gives these hawkish Republicans the right to claim that they support the troops? I would like to see us support the troops by bringing them home alive.

All in all, the debate was pretty much the show I expected. Herman Cain said some cute things, Jon Huntsman said some reasonable things that no one will remember, Mitt Romney tried desperately to compete with Rick Perry, and nobody cares about Newt Gingrich. Also, Ron Paul didn't get the question about the Fed, which of course all of his fans noticed.

I'd say tonight's winner was Wolf Blitzer, who managed to keep it together amid a swarm of Tea Party conservatives.

OK, no more politics for me. Shut it down.

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