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Archive for September 5th, 2007

The Fox News Republican Presidential Debate in New Hampshire

Posted by Ryan on September 5, 2007

This evening I watched the last “Thompson-free” Republican debate between the eight noteworthy declared candidates. Brit Hume, Chris Wallace, and Wendell Goler were the moderators. All but Chris Wallace tried to stay out of the business of trying to create the headlines, rather than just the candidate’s position. But it was not nearly as bad as the CNN or the MSDNC moderators. No Wolf or Chrissy to inject their own fame into the debate. Fox News asks the deeper, probing questions that Republican primary voters are interested in.  Here’s a transcript.  That’s why the Dems are scared of Fox. Carl Cameron was at “Young’s Restaurant” in New Hampshire where he had some folks ask questions of the candidates, too. It wasn’t great, but it is a medium that has potential, not like the YouTube fiasco.

I divided the debate into the seven topics chosen by the moderators and have some personal comments about the highlights of each section:

#1: Fred Thompson: The candidates were asked right off the bat what they thought of him, as Fred is a lingering presence, scheduled to officially announce on Leno later this evening. McCain was the only one who really took a jab at him. Oh, the others got digs in, but McCain chose to play up Thompson’s lazy stereotype. Typical of Smeagol in this case.

#2: Illegal Immigration:

–Giuliani apparently did not have “the luxury of political rhetoric” in 1994 when he all but declared NYC a sanctuary city. I wasn’t impressed with that cop out.

–McCain was all about addressing failures, bringing up Katrina, Iraq and what he still refuses to call amnesty, even falling back on the last refuge of a trapped politician by citing what the “dictionary” says. Poor Smeagol.

–Mike Huckabee inferred that racism plays a major role in people’s opinions about the issue, but he missed the mark with me. Thumbs down on that one. Who’s a racist: those who realize that the vast majority of illegals are Mexican and should therefore recognize that trying to solve the problem starts with Mexico, or those who want to keep a permanent underclass of low-paid Mexicans working in the fields or in unworthy jobs?

–Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo are very strong on enforcement and really want to confront this problem. It is Tancredo’s only stand out issue. Hunter was good too and has accomplishments.

#3: Family Values and Social Issues:

–Larry Craig was briefly dealt with by Brownback and Hunter. Hunter had a great flag-waving line about public service and his father’s line, “What did you do for America today?”, while contrasting the Republicans with the Democrats on this issue: Republicans lose their job for indiscretion, Democrats get committee chairs.

–Romney and Huckabee dealt with abortion. Romney sees it as a state issue, while Huckabee wants a Human Life Amendment, using the miner’s analogy of how though we didn’t know them, we all hope they’re OK. Sanctity of human life kudos.

–Libertarian Ron Paul stepped in to chat about guns. Did you know that guns could have prevented 9/11? Sure, in the mind of Ron Paul. If the feds stepped out of gun control, and if the airlines let guns on the plane in the late 1990s when gun control was just behind the lock-box in public concern, then maybe the hijackers would have thought twice about hopping on those planes. Quite a stretch. I love this guy, he should do stand-up!

–Brownback got a question on gay marriage. Since marriage is a “foundational institution” gay marriage as a “vast social experiment” is not done in a vacuum and European nations who’ve tried it have huge numbers of single moms and broken families. I thought it was a good, well-articulated response.

–Although this was asked later in the debate by a PoliSci Major at Young’s Restaurant during desert, Giuliani was asked about being a moral leader and leading by example. This was an obvious dig at his crazy personal life with numerous marriages under his belt. Giuliani stuck to his public record. I think that a candidate’s private life has some bearing on their public attitudes. Giuliani’s socially liberal positions are probably rooted in this.

#4: National Security/Iraq:

–Smeagol let out a little Gollum on this one, revving up with “I know war” and blasting Romney for Romney’s insistence that we wait until Petraeus’ report next week before claiming the Surge is working for sure– you know, waiting for all the facts before positing his opinion. Suddenly the mantra, “It’s working [my precious],” responded McCain (I added the brackets).

–Libertarian Ron Paul, however, had the best exchange of the night with Mike Huckabee. Ron Paul brushed off the notion that our troops in Saudi Arabia had anything to do with 9/11, despite Bin Ladin’s own statement to the contrary. Ron Paul also said that we should leave Iraq right away, damning the consequences, to which Chris Wallace made the point about Paul letting “marching orders from al Qaeda” run our foreign policy in the region. Not too happy about being shown a mirror, Paul responded quickly with being tasked with getting his “marching orders from the Constitution” and that America has committed an invasion and should pay no more consequences (by the way, is Ron Paul being paid by the Democrats? He should be, giving their fringe free advertising). After a yawning interlude from Sam Brownback, Huckabee looked at Ron Paul and said that since we broke Iraq, we own it and have a responsibility fix it. To which Ron Paul responds with a wacked-out flurry of conspiratorial nonsense– I’m starting to get a picture of why his supporters support him. Paul said that the American people did not go into Iraq, but it was the neo-cons that hijacked our foreign policy and are ruining the party. Huckabee responded brilliantly: “our honor is more important than our party.” Bam! Ron Paul, like many Democrats, does not seem to respect our democratic process or have a basic understanding of our Constitution. We elected Bush, Bush appoints a congressionally approved cabinet, Bush got his authorization for war from Congress, which is just as legally binding as a formal declaration. Had Ron Paul been awake since 1945, he’d notice that little detail. By the way Bush got reelected with the first majority since 1988. These are not facts to be belittled the way Ron Paul knocks on them. But he’s Ron Paul… always good for a laugh. It feels good rooting against this guy.

–Hunter, Romney and Tancredo were all opposed to a quick withdrawal and had nuanced answers that saw Iraq as one theater in a global war. Much more in touch with a long-term strategy and reality. Romney got smacked down by a diner at Young’s Restaurant who has a son in the service and mocked Romney’s comparison of his sons serving in Romney’s campaign to military service. Romney handled it well, I thought, but the point was stinging. He also addressed the broke it-fix it debate saying that the debate’s not about “broken pottery” but about our future in the region

#5: Presidential Power and the War on Terror:

–Romney’s approach to wiretaps would be to use them within the law, but be aggressive and stay on the offense.

–McCain got his tailor-made “enhanced interrogation” question posed to Tancredo first, who’d use them in extreme, to which McCain would not. Simple, boilerplate, day at the office Q&A.

–Both Giuliani and Hunter would “absolutely” leave Gitmo open. Good for them! Our enemies should fear us, and our friends can take those S.O.B.s in Gitmo anytime they want. Yet, they remain at Gitmo. hmmm…

#6: Taxes and Spending:

–Finally a topic we can all agree upon. Cut ’em. Cut ’em deep. But, the Fox crew found the “tax pledge.” Uh oh! Not everyone on stage signed it, meaning that they pledge to cut or maintain current tax rates if elected! McCain did not, since he’ll “stand on his record” in the Senate, which includes 23 times voting for good tax cuts, but being against the 2003 tax cut that has propelled our economy. Not good. Giuliani tip-toed around the whole thing saying that the only pledge he’ll take is to uphold the Constitution, though his “intention” is to cut taxes. If he can’t pledge to cut or maintain tax-levels in a Republican primary, he’s not to be trusted on this issue. I know he doesn’t want to get trapped, but this issue is a ridiculous one to take that stand on. Bullocks in my view, bullocks.

–Romney defended his record in Massachusetts. I give him a little slack, having grown up in Massachusetts’ shadow.

–Huckabee had a Fair Tax orgasm. I haven’t studied this closely enough, but talk of reforming our tax code is always great in and of itself.

–Libertarian Ron Paul defended his intention to get rid of the IRS. OK. But also, the Federal Reserve. Meh, it has its purpose. But, wait! It’s Ron Paul! Let’s, in the middle of a War on Terror, eliminate the CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and possibly the FBI too! Liberty for security? Not in loony land of Libertarian Ron Paul! Let’s have al Qaeda run our foreign policy and put them on the honor system! Priceless.

#7: Iran Hypothetical:

–Seven candidates on stage: Iran should not get nukes and we should use everything at our disposal from negotiations, to economic ties, to calling in favors from our friends and allies, to threatening and even using force. Of course, nearly all of them scoffed at the idea of a hypothetical question as such, but did respond responsibly. Giuliani even harkened back to Ronald Reagan for guidance by winning “the Cold War without firing a shot, but with pointing a thousand missiles.” The point was echoed by Smeagol.

–Ron Paul: let Israel defend herself. Wow.

In sum:

I thought the debate was pretty good. We haven’t seen a Fox debate in a while. You always get better, more uncomfortable questions from Fox than from the other networks, and you get nothing from the Democrat debates– they’re all afraid of upsetting She Who Must Not Be Named in fear that she might look past them for cabinet posts after her coronation. But, it’s now time to start trimming the field. But who won? Perhaps Fred Thompson since we were reminded once again that the field, while good, is not exciting; we may need some invigoration with a new candidate who people seem to be willing to follow. But of the evening’s candidates I think that Romney probably eeked it out on style, being able to respond to attacks well and offering a nice, center-right message.

Posted in Election 2008, Politics | 9 Comments »

German Terror Plot Thwarted

Posted by Ryan on September 5, 2007

Al Qaeda is a brand name that any radical Islamic group of two or more radical Islamists use to get headlines.  Even so, they are deadly and proliferating in Europe, especially in Britain and Germany.  Three Islamists were picked up with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a bomb equivalent of a 1,200 pound TNT blast that would undoubtedly have been used against popular American destinations or hotspots in Germany.  That’s the same major chemical used in the July 2005 London bombings.  

These Islamists were arrested for terrorist suspicion and are currently being held by the authorities.  What we know is that they were aiming at Americans and they were probably trained in Pakistan.  So far, there is no Homeland Security threat stemming from this cell, as far as our government agencies can tell.  This story should develop as time goes on, but it is another indication of the dangerous pattern of radical Islamism coming out of Europe, as well as another indication that the War on Terror is not over by any stretch.  However, it goes to show that going on the offense is better than waiting for these attacks to happen.

AP photo.

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Larry Craig Redux

Posted by Ryan on September 5, 2007

Larry Craig’s reality:  I pled guilty, but it wasn’t for the sex charge, just the misdemeanor towards the cop, but I won’t bend to political pressure.  What?  You’re abandoning me?  OK, I will resign effective September 30.  Oh, wait, maybe not

This is why people hate politicians– self-centered, megalomaniacal, and inconsistent.  This is also bad politics.  Whereas a simple misdemeanor charge outside of Congress has never been used to expel a member of the Senate in its 220 years, Larry Craig is a political pariah for the Republican Party– a walking, talking, flip-flopping epitome of the number one reason why Americans gave the Dems Congress last year:  the appearance of ethical misconduct.  For that, the damage is done and he should continue with plans to step down at the end of the month. 

However, Craig’s buddy, Arlen Specter, asked him to fight on.  Arlen Specter represents what’s wrong with the Republican Party across the spectrum.  Specter is the destructive, hidebound, wimpy RINO incarnate.  He loves Chucky Schmucky Schumer.  He obviously doesn’t understand the Republican’s knee-jerk reaction to this.  It has everything to do with the appearance of impropriety in a perceived scandal-ridden party.  Craig already announced he’d leave, making this issue go away, making Idaho a sure-win for the Republicans next year: two things the Republicans are counting on. 

But, today Craig’s reconsidering.  In my opinion it’s too late: he’s been the butt of late night talkshow jokes and already said he’d resign!  He’s in the pop culture as the guy who hit on a cop in the public restroom stall.  He’s major political deadweight for the Republican Party.  He should do the right thing and continue with his plans to step down at this point.  Before he talked of resigning, my opinion may have been different, but it’s too late now for face saving.

Pic from the Constitution Club Blog.

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