I think I’m about two debates behind on what’s happening, but I want to get this out because I said I would.
Ron Paul suggested that our foreign policy just might have some teensy effect on the choices of others. His opinion is supported by the 9/11 Commissionâ€™s report. Giuliani replied, “It has nothing to do with our foreign policy.” Wow. The ignorance of such a statement is breathtaking. Yet what disgusted me most was not Giulianiâ€™s idiocy, but the snickers of the other candidates sitting around Ron Paul. They snickered at the mere suggestion that what America does has consequences â€“ that knocking down governments and propping up dictators can create blowback, that American can do wrong in the world. They are the snickers of childish Manichaeans, who believe that people would only harm us because they are evil. The Republican Party supports a forever-war because it has created a shadow enemy, Islamofascism, which combines disparate groups into a global menace.
Giuliani also turned me off with talk about a tamper-proof ID card. That’s utter bullshit. You’ll never create a tamper-proof ID card.
Romney looked very wonkish on healthcare, which was actually quite impressive. Then, Gibson, the moderator, cut them off, “We’re in the weeds now on this.” God forbid that a presidential primary debate might get into details! Gasp! Of course, Romney lost me when he said that spending hundreds of billions of dollars on healthcare would “break the bank.” Somehow, though, a one trillion war in Iraq won’t. Just for the record, a trillion is a thousand billion.
One of the best moments of the debates was when Romney said, “Don’t try to mischaracterize my position.” And Huckabee replied, “Which one?” I thought it was hilarious. But then, the attacks continued. By the time I got to McCain’s agreement that Romney was “the candidate of change,” it was getting really old and I was slightly peeved. McCain seemed to take a vicious glee in the personal attack. It seemed like a tired attack by a man who lacked a way to launch a substantive argument. In retrospect, though, the attacks seem deserved. Romney boldly lied that his ads did not call McCain’s plan amnesty. They did. (Go look them up on YouTube.)
The debate confirmed Huckabee’s rockstar status. He was the master communicator on stage, looking like the authoritative voice on several issues. Romney looked smart. The moderator had asked McCain, “Why not Obama?” and McCain trotted out his experience. Romney rebutted that Obama’s Iowa victory told a different story. But when Huckabee started talking about Obama, he looked like he really understood Obama’s appeal.
I will end with one last quote from Ron Paul, a damning criticism of the current Republican party, “You can’t pay lip service to the Constitution without obeying it.” That’s the party today, but not just on the Constitution. They pay lip service to small government and fiscal responsibility too. I imagine that if you were to ask them why a Democrat would be any worse on fiscal responsibility after the Bush presidency, you would only get snickers in response.