“Opening a new phase in a race to define the direction of their party, the leading Republican presidential candidates gathered Monday night for the first time to begin drawing distinctions among themselves in a vibrant competition to be seen as sufficiently conservative for primary voters, but electable enough to defeat President Obama.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/us/14repubs.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2). If the entire thing hadn’t been so staged and so stage-managed, it might actually have been hilarious. As it was, it was pointless. And boring. Did I mention that it was boring?
Let’s see: Newt was a groveling mess, Ron Paul was a fiery mess, Herman Cain was a blustery and clueless mess, Mitt Romney was a tight-ass mess, Tim Pawlenty was a “LOOKIE AT ME! I’m ACTUALLY a blue-collar worker!” mess, Rick Santorum was a homophobic mess, Ms. Bachman was a “Mom and apple pie” mess, and the one contrarian that might actually have sounded like he knew what he was talking about was banned from the debate: Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico. Basically, this was a meet ‘n greet on the grand scale, a great opportunity to prove just how adept a candidate-to-be is at dodging the asked questions while promulgating their own views, and hopefully to sway the future voters into their respective corners and then chain them up to the wall for later use. Ms. Bachman used the occasion to formally declare her candidacy, for which she had filed the papers that morning. WOW, whatta girl – GOT to love her sense of timing.
OK, I watched the entire thing, as I said earlier. Twice. I couldn’t believe that I was actually hearing what I was hearing. You know that you’re in deep doodoo when Michelle Bachman, who is a loon to match her state’s bird, actually sounds sane. I think that what I found both the most personally repugnant and disturbing was Mr. Cain’s remarks on Muslims. He doesn’t believe in Sharia law, for example. He says that there have been attempts to “sneak” Sharia law into our Constitutional law framework in Oklahoma and New Jersey, and that while he makes a distinction between “good” Muslims (the ones that aren’t trying to kill us or suborn our legal system), there are too many “bad” Muslims who would like nothing better than to do just that. Mr. Cain wants to give some sort of loyalty test to a Muslim that he wouldn’t ask – like how committed are you to the Constitution and the rule of law. In other words, take a loyalty pledge. Wow, sure sounds like Muslimophobia to me. Does this oath come with a HEIL CAIN, I wonder?
Ron Paul, fortunately, didn’t deviate from his tired old shtick about get RID of Medicare, get RID of Medicaid, get RID of Social Security, NO health care for any illegal immigrants, secure the borders by any means necessary, get rid of marriage licenses, get rid of special tax statuses – in fact, get rid of taxes altogether (This is Ayn Rand’s philosophy filtered through the Libertarian Party. Objectivism doesn’t work very well in the real world, by the way.). Then, he got loonie about the Roman Catholic Church – seems that the illegals are upset with them because the Church isn’t really helping. Herman Cain agrees with him. A baby born here in the US of illegal parents is NOT a citizen, should not be allowed access to anything including health care, and they all should be expelled from the country. Mr. Cain said that nobody would be denied care, but the solution to the problem is to secure the borders (guess that means shoot on site and bury the mistakes). Tim Pawlenty agreed and went even further: Send the National Guard in to secure the borders no matter how it needs to be done, since the states would do a better job of it. He also made the point that border security is something that the FedGov has failed at, so make sure the National Guard is there. Something else he wants is to forbid “birthright” babies by law, by appointment of conservative Federal judges appointed by conservative Republicans. Newt thinks that the force necessary to control the borders should come half from Homeland Security and half from the National Guard. One thing that I did agree with him on was that it was insane and futile to run the 20 million illegals out of the country in a heartless way (not to mention extremely expensive). Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich quickly jumped in to push back on Romney, siding more with Cain over the issue of Islam. Gingrich invoked Faisal Shahzad, the so-called Times Square bomber of 2010, who is a U.S. citizen from Pakistan.
“Now, I just want to go out on a limb here,” Gingrich said. “I'm in favor of saying to people, 'If you're not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period. We did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists,” Gingrich continued. “And it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered after a while, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say no.” Cain’s and Gingrich’s religiously intolerant comments on American Muslims supplied some of the night’s biggest applause lines.
If that alone doesn’t make you ill, maybe you need to listen to the entire thing. Believe me, there’s a lot worse to come.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who spoke next, appeared to brush aside Cain’s concerns about Sharia and his suspicions of American Muslims. “Of course, we're not going to have Sharia law applied in U.S. courts. That's never going to happen,” Romney said. "We have a Constitution and we follow the law.” Romney then appeared to defend American Muslims, even if he didn’t mention them specifically. “We recognize that people of all faiths are welcome in this country,” he said. “Our nation was founded on a principle of religious tolerance. That's in fact why some of the earliest patriots came to this country and why we treat people with respect, regardless of their religious persuasion.” Yah, but you’d make them sign a loyalty oath – which, if you know anything at all about the Muslim culture means absolutely NOTHING to them. They answer to a higher authority who says that lying to infidels is OK. Kinda like McCarthy forcing the words “UNDER GOD” into the Pledge of Allegiance on the grounds that a Commie wouldn’t say the words and thus would be CAUGHT OUT, RED-HANDED. Of course, it didn’t work that way – but that’s a column for another time.
All the candidates went after the President in various ways. All the candidates went after the Vice President in various ways. The seven competitors repeatedly deflected the questions to attacks on President Obama. Tim Pawlenty called the Affordable Health Care Plan ObamNeyCare but was smart enough to refrain from any direct criticism of the Romney plan while the two stood on the same stage. He said he was merely
quoting Obama, who had previously said that he had modeled the federal law on the one in Massachusetts. while standing next to Governor Romney.
Biggest surprize all night was the announcement by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., that she has filed paperwork to begin her campaign. She had previously indicated that she would not make a formal announcement until later this month. The newer energy in the party was represented onstage as well, particularly by Bachmann, a tea-party favorite and the lone woman among the seven. She noted that she was the first House member to introduce legislation to repeal the health-care law and the Obama administration's financial regulatory overhaul. "I fought behind closed doors against my own party" on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout in 2008, Ms. Bachmann added, describing the George W. Bush administration's initiative as "a wrong vote then" and saying: "It's continued to be a wrong vote since then. Sometimes, that's what you have to do. You have to take principle over your party." Ms. Bachmann has attracted considerable grass-roots support during her recent visits to Iowa, and she is likely to make the first-in-the-nation caucus state the centerpiece of her strategy to win the Republican nomination. She also claims something of a home-court advantage, having been born in Waterloo.
"This president is a declinist," Pawlenty said. "He views America as one of equals around the world. We're not the same as Portugal, we're not the same as Argentina. This idea that we can't have 5 percent growth in America is hogwash. It's a defeatist attitude. If China can have 5 percent growth and Brazil can have 5 percent growth, then the United States of America can have 5 percent growth." Well, pumpkin, you’ve got that backwards. Get rid of the tax loopholes that encourage folks to LEAVE the US and take their jobs with them because they can hire what is basically slave labour to maximize their profits, and make it financially attractive to re-open the factories here, and we’ll have, reasonably, at LEAST 5% growth a year, although I’d bet it would be something more along the lines of 10 – 15% growth a year. Get OUT of the way, you ReThugs, and at least let us try.
Well, this was only the warning shot across the bows, so to speak. I found it interesting that not ONE of these clowns said anything about regulating the banking industry, or pursuing the banks for the robosigning foreclosure fraud and scandal, and, when it was brought up that Governor Romney was pro-choice before he was pro-life, everybody was reasonable nice about the subject. It was pretty obvious that all of them had been warned to BE NICE, BE REASONABLE, MAKE YOU POINTS NICELY, PLAY NICE, and DO NOT UPSET folks with the idea that there just MIGHT be some dissension in the ranks. Even Representative Santorum didn’t give his infamous gay speech that starts out with the contemptible phrase “I’ve got gay friends, and I love them all. I just condemn their lifestyle.” This, I’ll add, is the man that is absolutely convinced that gay marriage is going to lead to folks wanting to marry sheep, the family dog, a horse . . . Some of *MY* best friends are straight people, and I would never demean them with that phrase.
It’s going to be a pretty interesting season. Eventually, I think, the field is going to be some combination of Romney and Bachman, or Pawlenty and Bachman. Either way, unless the President drops dead before the election, I don’t think that any of the current crop of wannabes is going to be able to defeat him.
It’s going to be fun to watch, too. Just imagine a President that wears magic underwear coupled with a Vice-President that thinks that all women that have an abortion should summarily be shot (and she’s a woman!).
As Chris Matthews would say, HAH!