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Notes from the GOP presidential debate

June 13, 2011

I missed the first hour. Picked up during the discussions on raising the debt ceiling.

RAISING THE DEBT CEILING

Mitt Romney says we shouldn’t raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama does things Romney likes.

I honestly forget what the other candidates said because I continue to be stunned that the GOP thinks it’s acceptable to play chicken with the debt ceiling, using the world’s economy as a pawn. Neglecting to raise the debt ceiling would be truly catastrophic; fixing our federal budget is merely crucial. I don’t care what Tea Party activists believe, the hard reality is that refusing to raise the debt ceiling will have far graver consequences on America’s economic future than failing to fix our budget crisis.

PRAYER & PERSONAL FAITH

Santorum says Christians are excluded from public debate becuase they’re religious. I say he’s ridiculous and that no one talks about religion as much as a politician on the campaign trail.

Ron Paul says “you can’t teach people how to be moral”. Really? I thought my Mom taught me morals when she caught me chewing gum in the supermarket that she hadn’t paid for. She marched me up to the store manager and made me apologize and return the unchewed gum. I never stole anything again. I think she did a pretty darn good job of teaching me morals there!

Ron Paul also proves he can’t read. He claims the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”) means that governments can’t prevent anyone from expressing their religious views in any fashion, in any public forum. Wrong! If he’s right, then Scott Roeder couldn’t have been sentenced to life in prison for killing abortion provider George Tiller in Tiller’s church in 2009… because Roeder was expressing his religious views in public. The Establishment Clause means only that our Founding Fathers didn’t want national or local governments making laws that name a state religion, nor are they to pass laws that require citizens to do religious things.

Herman Cain backpedals like a pro – “When I said I wasn’t comfortable with a Muslim in my cabinet I was talking about a militant muslim.”  That’s good. No one wants terrorists in the Cabinet. And I’m frightened by the thought of someone this politically naive living in the West Wing.

On the other hand, Newt Gingrich appears to have just said we should re-enact McCarthy-era loyalty tests to ban any Muslims from serving in the government!  (update June 14, 2011: this is a zinger on which everybody in the mainstream media seems to be giving Newt a free pass! come on, people, Newt wants to impose loyalty oaths on federal employees…. this is scandal-riddled gold for your ratings! You should be teeing this one up for the second we all stop snickering over Weiner-gate.)

SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE

I’m shocked that I have to give Michelle Bachman some credit – she admits the President has no power to tell states what to do on gay marriage. But she preceeded that by saying she’s a qualified candidate because she took in foster kids.

Ron Paul comes closest to my view – government shouldn’t even be licensing marriage, it’s a church matter. Gingrich & Santorum want to force states to go through the Constitutional Amendment process to ban gay marriage nationwide.

Update: Oh! Bachman backpedals violently and says she supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage but she wouldn’t go around telling states what to do.

Presumably she means she wouldn’t tell states how to vote on a proposed Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And she hereby proves that a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage is just a sop to the conservative wing of the GOP – we don’t have enough states to pass a Constitutional ban on gay marriage, so we’d be exactly back where we are today, with some states allowing it, and some banning it.

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

Just about everybody wouldn’t upset the applecart again by pushing military gays back in the closet. Except Santorum, who thinks we should. And Gingrich, who wants to ban gays in the military again, but only if he can get the Joint Chiefs to back him up on that.

ABORTION – Bachman stresses again that she’s qualified because she has 3 kids and took in 23 foster kids. Pssst. Michelle, you’re not running for PTA president, you’re running for the U.S. presidency. And by the way, you didn’t answer the question…  Do you believe in exceptions beyond rape, incest and health of the mother?

IMMIGRATION – talk about a softball question! “How will you prevent illegals from using our healthcare, welfare and education systems?” John King tries valiantly to bring it back to reality – would you deny care to a 5-year old kid who needs E.R. care but who’s parents are illegals?

Ron Paul rants about the Catholic church…. but eventually gets down to reality – immigrants come to the U.S. – often illegally – because we have a better economy than their home countries have. But he stops short of the truth: the steep drop in illegal border crossings isn’t due to border fencing, it’s because our economy collapsed.

Herman Cain listed the 4 actual problems under the immigration “umbrella” but says the solution to part 4 is letting states deport illegals. Cain reveals yet again his political naivte – this is constitutionally impossible. Pawlenty tries to jump on that bandwagon.  And I’m left noticing there are few non-Caucasians in the audience. And even fewer people under age 50.

Gingrich (of all people!) finally says something sensible – send the National Guard to patrol the federal borders.

EMINENT DOMAIN – Ron Paul rambles again. I should be up there instead. The question is: “is eminent domain OK if it’s being done to reduce US dependence on foreign oil?” The correct answer is “No. But that’s not the way we solve our energy crisis anyway, so it’s a red herring. Instead we need to develop our own energy sources at home: wind, solar, biothermals, natural gas, etc.”

ABOLISHING ENERGY TAX CREDITS – there was so much wonkish policy-speak here that I have to believe none of the speakers really wants to say anything to reveal that they’re probably in the energy company’s back pockets on this issue.

TIME TO BRING TROOPS HOME FROM AFGHANISTAN? – Ron Paul is the only one on the stage with balls. He comes right out and says “bring ’em all home; the Commander in Chief tells the military what to do and sending our troops overseas doesn’t make us any friends.” The rest of the politicians onstage spend their speaking minutes licking the boots of the military man who asked the question. By the time we get to Pawlenty, his thanks to the Army Dad are almost public masturbation.

LIBYA

Bachmann wants to have her cake and eat it too – she blames President Obama for ceding leadership to France, but also says the U.S. has no vital interests there.  Michele, if we have no vital interests there, why should the President lead the military operations there?

Santorum continues to look like his head’s screwed on crooked. Somebody on his staff should be fired for not coaching him to split his eyesight time between the camera and the questioner, and not focus exclusively at the center of the auditorium, which is to his extreme left.

POLLING – Cain speaks sense “polls reflect reality because people don’t know many of us very well yet”

PICKING A VICE PRESIDENT, a.k.a. moderator John King plays gotcha politics

Pawlenty panders to the Tea Party segment by calling Sarah Palin “extremely” well qualified to be President, and thereby stretches reality past the breaking point.

Romney uses the question to claim President Obama has no foreign policy.  Aside: apparently Mitt Romney can’t see things he doesn’t like.

Ron Paul uses the question to allude to his platform plank to abolish the Federal Reserve. I’ve never heard him describe what he thinks should replace the Fed, so maybe he thinks the Veep should be in charge of monetary policy?

Gingrich goes all politician by using the question to flatter the audience. Romney’s handlers are the best in the group – he pivots and says “we need more jobs”, ending the night right where the GOP needs it, on the economy.

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