Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Republican debate: hypocrites on parade

Oh sure, imperialists on parade too, just like the Democrats. But more than that.

Before I start, one note on Wolf Blitzer and CNN (and, make no mistake, although citizens were "asking" questions during the second half of the debate, they were pre-selected by CNN, which means they were as much CNN questions as the first half): in four hours of debate (2@ for the Democrats and Republicans), the word "Palestine" was not mentioned once, despite its obvious centrality to everything going on in the Middle East. "Israel" was mentioned once in the Democratic debate, and five times in the Republican debate, but only by candidates, never in a question, and always almost in passing in references to "our allies," never in any kind of actual discussion of the situation. "Lebanon" was mentioned once briefly in an answer in the Democratic debate, never in the Republican one. Sure, they didn't have time to discuss every subject, but Wolf certainly found time to make the pressing questions of "English as the official language of the U.S." and "belief in evolution" central "discussions" in both debates. Israel/Palestine/Lebanon? Not important enough, obviously. Cuba, another matter on which the next President might actually have something important to say or do, particularly given the attention given to the "succession" in Cuba? Not one word in either debate.

On to what was said. First, the only decent thing said all night - Ron Paul's answer to the (somewhat bizarre, but typical) question, "What is the most pressing moral issue facing this country today?" Paul's answer: "I think it is the acceptance just recently that we now promote preemptive war." But Paul the great "libertarian"? Forget it. "Don't ask don't tell" is a "decent policy" according to Paul (and every other Republican candidate). Build a fence across the U.S.-Mexican border? He's for it, among other things, to enforce border security (as if more terrorists have snuck across the U.S.-Mexican border than the U.S.-Canada border). The "liberty" of individuals" in Paul's world evidently doesn't allow them the liberty to live wherever they want. Roe v. Wade? That Supreme Court ruling "ruined it for the whole country." Yes, how unfortunate that states no longer have the ability to ban abortions. Apparently "libertarianism" only applies to the relationship of the national government to the individual (or perhaps only to the relationship of the national government to the states), and not to the relationship of state governments to the individual. Some libertarian.

As for the rest, their hypocrisy was most evident when it came to discussions of capitalism. No, that word wasn't mentioned, god forbid, but it certainly came up. For example, when the candidates were asked "do you have a problem at this time with these oil companies making these huge profits?" Responses? John McCain: "Sure, I think we all do. And they ought to be reinvesting it." Romney: "With regards to big oil, big oil is making a lot of money right now, and I’d like to see them using that money to invest in refineries." Gov. Gilmore [Ed. note: who?]: "I agree that if you make profits in the open marketplace that that’s an appropriate thing to do. I also believe that they should be going in, putting this additional money into additional drilling, into additional exploration." In fact, under capitalism, not reinvesting the money in refineries limits supply and increases profits, so not only are companies wise to follow that course, they might even be obligated to do so and could be sued by their shareholders if they didn't.

Or consider this answer from Tom Tancredo on whether conservatives can be conservationists:

REP. TANCREDO: Yeah. The — I think that that’s absolutely imperative, and I think so because frankly, you’ve got a conservative model to pick from. I mean, you know, Teddy Roosevelt after all put the stamp on that — the whole issue of conserving the environment, creating the national parks system. There is nothing anti- conservative about doing anything like that.

And you know what else you can do in order to foster that, you do it through conservative principles. You make it profitable for people to do exactly that — to put — to make conservation an issue that is — it hurts people in the pocketbook, or they can profit by getting involved in conservation. That’s one way the free market really works perfectly. We’ve seen it happen all over the world.
Of course this is nonsense. National parks are not "profitable," any more than schools or roads. And on the related issue, putting a tax on, say, emissions, is not the "free market" or "capitalism" or "conservatism"; it's the antithesis. The "free market" produces Hummers and lots of roads and as little unprofitable public transportation as possible. Global warming cannot be addressed by capitalism and the "free market." Look up "tragedy of the commons" for an explanation.

Every single candidate asked ducked the question of why Americans can buy drugs less expensively in Canada or Spain than in the United States; they all wanted to talk about their solutions for health insurance. Duncan Hunter did claim it was all about American companies reclaiming the R&D investment from Americans who can afford it, rather than Mexicans who can't. That's not true (most of their budgets that need "reclaiming" go into advertising and marketing, not R&D), but even if it were, his answer "we need to be able to buy our health care insurance across state lines," is just bizarre, and has nothing to do with lowering the cost of drugs.

And as to why the Republicans lost in 2006? You'll hear a lot of answers, but you'll search hard for anyone acknowledging that it had anything to do with Iraq.

And the final hypocrisy? Interminable talk about faith and Jesus Christ, mixed in with talk of "not taking any options off the table" with specific reference to launching an unprovoked nuclear bomb on Iran. That's some "faith" you've got there, guys.

Update: I forgot my favorite moment, Tom Tancredo claiming that "Bilingual countries don’t work." Really, Tom? Been to Switzerland lately? Canada? Belgium? Which "bilingual country" that "doesn't work" did you have in mind, exactly?

Of course, there was also Mitt Romney claiming that Iraq had not allowed in IAEA inspectors. Shades of George Bush, and just like George, no one called him on it. Not the other candidates, and not Wolf Blitzer. Romney even repeated it twice, just to see if anyone was paying attention! Evidently, they weren't.

Update 2: For those looking for more material on Ron Paul and what he really stands for, either to read yourself or to pass on to friends who might be infatuated with him, I recommend this Daily Kos diary as a good source.

Update 3: From the comments, a link to another hilarious debate pseudo-transcript.

Why stop here? There's more...

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