Thursday, September 8, 2011

GOP Presidential Debate on MSNBC

"I can get you a gallon of gas for a dime," Ron Paul said.

A silver dime, that is.  Ha, ha....  Ron Paul also warned us that border fence might be some kind of government conspiracy to keep American citizens in rather than keeping illegal immigrants out.

WHY IS RON PAUL IN THESE DEBATES?  He is clearly off the GOP reservation. 

Now that I got that off my chest, I can continued with some more reasonable thoughts about the debate.

Oh, except for wondering why Jon Huntsman is in the debate.  I mean, he has a nice tan and everything (though I suspect he fake bakes), but that's not a reason to be permitted in the GOP debate. Though he continues to try to repackage himself as a Republican, he will not be able to overcome is close alignment with the Obama administration as the recent Ambassador to China and his left-leaning positions. 

Moderator John Harris from Politico baited Jon Huntsman by questioning him about his Tweet that mocked the GOP candidates who cast doubt upon man-made global warming and evolution.  Huntsman made it clear that the general voting public was way too smart to vote for some backwoods yahoo who didn't believe in the proven religion of man-made global warming!

Of course, the left-leaning moderators used him to push their agenda.  The question was a gem: "You yourself have said the party is in danger of becoming anti-science. Who on the stage is anti science?"  Huntsman responded:
"Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I am saying is that in order for the Republican party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy.  We've got to win voters. We've got to do what I did as governor when I was elected. We reached out and brought in independents. I got independents, I got conservative Democrats. If we want to win in 2012 we've got to make sure that we've got somebody that can win based on numbers and the math that will get us there. And by making comments that basically don't reflect the reality of the situation we turn people off."
Like John McCain, right? Someone should tell Huntsman about the recent Fox News poll showing 45% believe in the "Biblical account of creation as told in the Bible" including 55% of Republicans and Tea Party members, 42% of Democrats and 31% of Independents.  Hardly the wing-nut belief that elitist Huntsman and his cronies in the MSM would like to portray.  Poll after poll repeats similar results showing that despite the State's mandatory evolutionary indoctrination in public schools, Americans still cling to their religion.  Also, 48% of Americans now believe warnings about global warming have been exaggerated.  So clearly, Jon Huntsman is outside the mainstream and needs a spell in the time-out corner for a big, fat attitude adjustment! But PLEASE STOP the sanctimonious lecturing!

I really don't understand why the Republicans go into the belly of the liberal beast for these debates.  They know the moderators are going to try to pit them against each other in a way that gives ammunition to the Obama campaign and they know that they're going to aim for "gotcha" questions that will provide soundbites for Tingles Matthews and Ed Schultz to salivate over for weeks to come.  Sure, MSNBC will get a 2-hour bump in their ratings, but why should the GOP air their family squabbles in this forum at this point in the race?  Of course, the eventual nominee will have to suffer through it in the general election, but it's counterproductive to subject our candidates to this process at this point in time. 

Harris then turned his keen moderator's eye on Rick Perry and asked, "Governor Perry, which scientist have you found most credible on this? Are there specific scientists or specific theories you've found particularly compelling?"

Right....because... Harris really wanted to know that....because maybe he had a list of approved anti-global warming scientists that he could compare to Perry's list? Or perhaps he wanted to have a substantive debate about some of the "specific theories" detractors have advanced?  As if Harris would recognize one if it hit him upside the head.   Why didn't he ask Huntsman to cite his sources?  Or Romney?  Like I said, "gotcha" questions. 

Perry basically blew off the question by patiently explaining that the EPA regulations based on something that is not settled science is crippling the economy. He should have known that the liberal moderators were going to throw that one at him.  I suspect he'll be better prepared next time and won't fumble that question again.  Still, it's an example of why primary debates in hostile venues are just a bad idea. 

It's becoming clear that the field is narrowing quickly.  Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won the Iowa straw poll was almost a non-entity tonight.  Since Gov. Rick Perry entered the race, Bachmann has been barely a blip on the radar screen in recent polls. Sadly, tonight, she was barely visible. and was clearly bumped down to the 2nd tier. 

The moderators treated this debate as a two-man race. Most of the questions were directed to Romney and Perry and many of the other candidates took the opportunity to pile on them.  Perry, maybe because he was the new guy in the debate took most of the heat, saying that he felt like a "pinata." 

There were a couple exchanges that I feel were significant and give us some important insights into the candidates.  The first is a discussion of Social Security.  Gov. Perry was asked about the assertion in his book, Fed Up, that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. 

For the record, here's the definition of a Ponzi scheme (thanks to Wikipedia):
"A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors, not from any actual profit earned by the organization, but from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The perpetuation of the returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors to keep the scheme going. The system is destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments to investors." 
"And people who are on social security today - men and women who are receiving those benefits today [looks straight into the camera] and individuals who are on my end of the line pretty quick to get them - they don't need to worry about anything. The Republican candidates are talking about ways to transition this program. And it is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids who are 25 or 30 years old today, "You are paying into a program that's going to be there." Anybody that's for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids and it's not right. "
Can anyone refute that statement?  

Perry, responding to the moderator's comments that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney have been critical of Perry's references to a Ponzi scheme:
"You know Karl has been over the top in his remarks, so I'm not responsible for Karl any more.  If Vice President Cheney or anyone else says that the program we have in place today and young people who are paying into that expect that program to be sound and expect to receive benefits when they reach retirement age - that is just a lie!  And I don't care what anyone says. We know that.  The American people know that, and more importantly, those 25 -year-olds know that."
Romney [to the moderators]:
"The issue is not the funding of Social Security. We all agree, and have for years, that the funding system for Social Security is not working. Congress has been raiding the dollars for Social Security to pay for government expenditures. That's wrong. The funding, however, is not the issue.  The issue in the book Fed Up, Governor, is you say that by any measure Social Security is a failure.  You can't say that to tens of millions of Americans who live on Social Security and have lived on it. The Governor says, "Look, the states ought to be able to opt out of Social Security."  Our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing Social Security, but is committed to saving Social Security. We've always had, at the heart of our party, the recognition that we want to care for those in need, and our seniors have the need of Social Security. I will make sure that we keep the program and we make it financially secure, we save Social Security and under no circumstances would I ever say by any measure it's a failure! It's working for millions of Americans and I'll keep it working for millions of Americans and we gotta do that as a party."
 Did you catch that? "Under no circumstances would I ever say by any measure it's a failure."

So does he think that the nearly-bankrupt program that will fail if not radically reformed is successful?  That should be a huge red flag.  We cannot afford a candidate who does not grasp the urgency of the Social Security  - let's call it what it is - Ponzi scheme. If Romney thinks it's as easy as halting the raids by the general fund, he's seriously delusional. Or lying to our children and grandchildren. 

The whole exchange brought back some memories of this debate:

Governor Perry, explaining the executive order he signed mandating that young girls and teenagers be vaccinated with the Gardasil HPV vaccine (my comments in red):
"There was an opt-out in that piece - it wasn't legislation it was an executive order. I hate cancer. We passed a $300 million cancer initiative that legislative session [big government alert!!] of which we're trying to find over the next ten years cures to cancers.  Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. We wanted to bring that to the attention of these thousands of - tens of thousands of young people in our state [and the only way they could come up with to educate them was to mandate a vaccine???] We allowed for an opt-out. I don't know what's more strong for parental rights than having that opt-out [ about an OPT-IN!].  There's a long list of diseases that cost our state and cost our country. It was on that list.  Now, did we handle it right? Should we have talked to the legislature first before we did it? Probably so. [No, you didn't handle it right. This shouldn't have even been a matter for the government to discuss. Period. It's a private matter between parents, their children and their physician. Period.] But at the end of the day, I will always err on the side of saving lives. "
Rick Santorum's response echoes my own:
"Governor Perry is out there claiming about state's rights and state's rights.  How about parental rights being more important than state's rights? How about having instead of an "opt out" an "opt in?" If you really cared, you could make the case instead of forcing me as a parent...I am offended that the government would tell me - and by an executive order, without even going through the process of letting the people have any kind of input - I would expect this from President Obama. I would not expect this from someone who's calling himself a conservative governor."
Amen, Senator Santorum!  I really, really like Santorum. I would vote for him in a heartbeat.  I find myself agreeing with nearly everything he says and wish that his campaign would gain some traction.  I'd love to at least see him as someone's VP.

Romney was asked to respond to the Gardasil flap.  It was clear that he couldn't care less about such trivial matters and rambled aimlessly along both sides of the issue for a few minutes before finding his way back to his own comfortable message:
"I believe in parental rights and parental responsibilites for kids.  My guess is that Governor Perry would like to do it a different way the second time through. We've each taken a mulligan or two. And my guess is he'd do it differently. He just said he'd do it though legislation next time through. And I recognize that he wanted very badly, that he wanted to provide better healthcare to his kids and prevent the spread of cancer. I agree with those who said he went about it the wrong way but his heart was in the right place. Right now we have people who on this stage who care very much about this country. We love America. America is in crisis. There are differences between us but we all see that this president's got to go. This president's a nice guy but he doesn't have a clue how to get this country working again."
While this was painful to watch, it's an excellent example of Romney's constant wavering in the middle.  Instead of having a willingness to take a stand on an issue and fight for it, he's more comfortable in the squishy middle where he can broker a deal and ask everyone to get along.  If that's what you think this country needs, then Romney is your man.

While I have some serious reservations about Perry (I hated his answer on Gardasil - hated it!), at least he's willing to stake out a position and stand by it. I will give him that. The problem is, I don't always agree with his positions.  That said, I probably do agree with him on 90%+ of issues.  It puts him far ahead of Romney at this point and since it's highly unlikely Santorum will be the candidate, we're running out of options.   

Winner of the debate?  No winner.  Romney didn't lose. Perry didn't lose, neither did he have a winning performance, though I suspect he'll get a bump in the polls because he is infinitely more likable than Romney.  The second tier candidates stayed at the second tier. The should-not-be-candidates still should not be candidates.   

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