Thursday, September 08, 2011

GOP Debate Reactions

I haven't had cable in almost a year, so my ability to watch live political theater is usually pretty limited. Last night I didn't have much to do, though, so I caught the debate through a live stream via politico. Here are my (belated) gut reactions, using combined transcripts from NBC and Roll Call.:

Ron Paul: Someone's senile paranoid grandfather has escaped from his spare room over the garage and thinks he's running for President. Quotes:
"With the airlines that are responsible for carrying their cargo and their passengers. I mean, why — why should we assume that a bureaucracy can do better? And look at the monstrosity we have at the airports. These TSA agents are abusive. Sometimes they’re accused of all kinds of sexual activities on the way they maul people at the airport."
So TSA should be abolished because its workers keep molesting people at airports. Wow, no poisoning the well here.
"We’re spending — believe it or not, this blew my mind when I read this — $20 billion a year for air conditioning in Afghanistan and Iraq in the tents over there and all the air conditioning. Cut that $20 billion out, bring in — take $10 off the debt, and put $10 into FEMA or whoever else needs it, child health care or whatever. But I’ll tell you what, if we did that and took the air conditioning out of the Green Zone, our troops would come home, and that would make me happy."
It's rare that a professional politician running for election makes a suggestion so totally divorced from any concept of reality or consequences. Ron Paul strikes me as the kind of guy who would watch The Little Mermaid and suggest that we should all just learn how to breathe underwater.
"I think this fence business is designed and may well be used against us and keep us in...And there's capital controls and there's people control. So, every time you think of fence keeping all those bad people out, think about those fences maybe being used against us, keeping us in."
Spoken like a man with a crazy newsletter, possibly hand-mimeographed.

Newt Gingrich: Football coach who thinks he's the quarterback. Not a good mix. Quotes:
"And if this president had any concern for working Americans, he’d walk in Thursday night and ask us to repeal [Obamacare] because it’s a monstrosity. Every person up here agrees with that."
How dare that bastard not ask us to repeal the legislation he spent most of his term fighting for and which our party keeps attacking via Congress and lawsuits? It must tell you he really hates Americans.
"We should make English the official language of government...We should insist that first-generation immigrants who come here learn American history in order to become citizens. We should also insist that American children learn American history. 
And then find a way to deal with folks who are already here, some of whom, frankly, have been here 25 years, are married with kids, live in our local neighborhood, go to our church."
Yeah, we can't deport the illegals we know... that's awkward! Those other guys, though, that's fair game.

Michele Bachmann: Comparable to someone who's already told everyone they're going to be in NASCAR and has ordered a celebration cake without bothering to learn to drive. Quotes:
"I was just last week down in Miami. I was visiting the Bay of Pigs Museum with Cuban-Americans. I was down at the Versailles Cafe. I met with a number of people, and it’s very interesting. The Hispanic-American community wants us to stop giving taxpayer- subsidized benefits to illegal aliens and benefits, and they want us to stop giving taxpayer-subsidized benefits to their children as well."
I like how when it comes to where she ate lunch, she'll give details down to the zip code, but when she starts discussing conversations which totally challenge the conventional wisdom of what the Hispanic community thinks about immigration and benefits, all we get is, "I met a guy." Way to bury the lead.
"But one thing that we do know, our immigration law worked beautifully back in the 1950s, up until the early 1960s, when people had to demonstrate that they had money in their pocket, they had no contagious diseases, they weren’t a felon. They had to agree to learn to speak the English language, they had to learn American history and the Constitution. And the one thing they had to promise is that they would not become a burden on the American taxpayer. That’s what we have to enforce."
Our immigration law worked "beautifully" until the 50s? Wow, how... WASPy of you. I'm going out on a limb and guessing you don't have a lot of Ellis Island connections in your family, Governor. Or, you know, that you don't read history books. One or the other. Incidentally, there's a huge difference between promising to do something (learn US history, for instance), and actually doing it. I say this as a descendant of immigrants-- some of who became Communists, and at least one of whom, yes, became a polygamist. Signing a piece of paper doesn't mean a thing.

Herman Cain: Desperate for someone to notice him, so he keeps squawking about business-themed solutions for everything. Unfortunately, most political issues cannot be solved by simply copying off Chile's playbook. Quote:
"I call it my 9-9-9 economic growth plan.Throw out the current tax code, a 9 percent tax on corporate income, our 9 percent tax on personal income and a 9 percent national sales tax. If 10 percent is good enough for God, 9 percent ought to be good enough for the federal government."
Yeah, let's pick random numbers out of a hat because they sound fun and alliterative and base government policy on them! Even better, let's pretend this makes sense by alluding to tithing. Way to sell the dream, sir. Still, I suppose 9-9-9 is better than 6-6-6-... unless, of course, someone turns your poster upside down. Be careful; this only has to happen once and you'll lose all the evangelicals.

Rick Santorum: Looked pained every time someone asked him a question. He doesn't really want this job, does he? Quote:
"I’ve done things. We’ve brought Democrat and Republicans together."
John Huntsman: Another guy that really, really, wants people to notice him, but has the unfortunate task of trying to make a reasonable, sane person seem exciting in a contest with a bunch of screaming chimps flinging their own poop at each other. It's also precious how he gets pissy at discussing homeland security and foreign policy because he prevents him from talking about jobs. Quote:
"we’ve spent about 15 minutes now on homeland security. The greatest gift we could give this country on the 10th year anniversary, Rick, is a Homeland Security Department... that doesn’t make us all feel like there’s a fortress security mentality that is not American... 
I’m guessing there are a whole lot of people tuned in around this country who are saying, why are we spending all this time talking about the smaller issues? We’ve got 14 million people unemployed. We’ve got millions more in this country who are so dispirited they’ve quit looking. This is a human tragedy that we’re talking about, moms and dads and families that completely go without. 
...While all these other issues are important, let’s not lose sight, folks, of the bottom line here. We’ve got to get back in the game as a country. We’ve got to make this economy work."
Mitt Romney: A vapid charmer. (He's welcome to use that as a campaign slogan, by the way. It's on the house.) If he was a little more cut-throat he might be able to get the charisma thing going, but as it is, he seems too nice, as in this quote where he had a great opportunity to slam his two biggest potential rivals, Perry and Obama, and winds up complimenting both of them:
"My guess is that Governor Perry would like to do it a different way second time through. ...we’ve each taken a mulligan or two. And — and my guess is that that’s something you’d probably do a little differently the second time. He just said he’d rather do it through legislation second time through... I think his heart was in the right place. 
Right now, we have people who on this stage care very deeply about this country. We love America. America is in crisis. We have some differences between us, but we agree that this president’s got to go. This president is a nice guy. He doesn’t have a clue how to get this country working again."
I have to say, I'm a little confused by this. Do Mormons just not know how to snipe at people? Is this another gap in the LDS educational system, along with evolution and archaelogy?

Rick Perry: Charismatic, even while saying crazy things. Kind of a scary combination. Reminds me quite a bit of George W. Bush with Josh Brolin's face (and I'm saying that as someone who never saw W.). I'm calling the nomination now-- I think Perry's it, with Romney as VP. It's going to be hilarious. Quotes:
you can secure the border, but it requires a commitment of the federal government of putting those boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air. 
We think predator drones could be flown, that real-time information coming down to the local and the state and the federal law enforcement. And you can secure the border. And at that particular point in time, then you can have an intellectually appropriate discussion about immigration reform.
So, we can't have a conversation about immigration reform until we've got predator drones buzzing over Texas. Way to push that issue back a few decades.
"The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at — at — at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense. I mean, it — I mean — and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell. 
But the fact is, to put America’s economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country is not good economics and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy."
So... you refuse to make any change in industry or business until we "find out what the science is"... while at the same time brushing aside scientific consensus on the grounds that scientists have been wrong about stuff before. Way to show some intellectual objectivity there, Governor. We can clearly tell you're just dying to get to the bottom of this great scientific mystery.

Also, double points for saying this while having recently made giant cuts to your education budget. Exactly where are we going to get these scientists to decide these questions? Or are you just betting on the fact that killing the planet will make you rich before it makes you dead?

Bonus- Brian Williams & John Harris: trying way too hard to play "gotcha" games. Sorry guys, it just makes you look like dipshits. Quotes:
"Tell us which one of these people are saying crazy or inane things." 
"You yourself have said the party is in danger of becoming anti- science. Who on this stage is anti-science?" 
"Just recently in New Hampshire, you said that weekly and even daily scientists are coming forward to question the idea that human activity is behind climate change. Which scientists have you found most credible on this subject?"
Guys, it stopped being cute after the first time. No one's going to answer, they don't even bother to respond or get flustered, so all you're doing is wasting time and looking like twits. That's supposed to be the candidates' job.


Antigonos said...

As to making English America's official language, I have two reactions:
[1] Whatever happened to the "Americanization schools" that immigrants of my mother's generation [born 1906] eagerly attended and Leo Rosten so vividly captured in his "H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N" novels? Back in the pre-WWII years immigrants couldn't become assimilated into American culture fast enough [sometimes with hilarious results]. Why has that attitude become suddenly so un-PC that one almost has to apologize for it?
[2] It's worth noting that possibly the biggest gift the British gave to India was to make English the lingua franca of the entire subcontinent. Prior to the British, there was something like 400 different and mutually unintelligible languages scattered across India.

Friar Yid (not Shlita) said...

Like you, Antigonos, I admire my ancestors for taking the initiative to learn English and for insisting that their kids be educated (granted, they sometimes had to be pushed there by others-- my grandfather's teacher thought he was retarded the first day of school because he wouldn't talk. It turned out he only spoke Yiddish). My family, like millions of others, realized how important a component this was to integrating into America and becoming successful citizens. At the same time, the rhetoric from the GOP these days about how we need to preserve "American culture" as if it was something fossilized that needs to be kept tucked away in a museum or hope chest is a sentiment I just can't get behind. America is always changing. That's the whole point.

I don't disagree with the necessity and practicality of having a common language. But I have a real problem with the suggestion that people that don't speak English are seditious, that bilingual education is treason, or that anyone that doesn't Americanize "enough" is somehow less of a citizen than someone who throws their whole heritage out the window to blend in. I think the fact that during the peak immigrations years of Ellis Island so many people stopped teaching their kids about their native languages and other cultural practices was, in part, a symptom of widespread social shame and stigma, and I don't think it's an ideal model to impose on new immigrants today.

And of course, I find it hilarious that the party of limited government is advocating enshrining a requirement to learn English into law. What happened to letting "the market" nudge people in the direction they need to go?

Anonymous said...

Come on, this business of making English and "Official language" has nothing to do with practical considerations. Latino immigrants are like all the others, they learn English quite well. Those Latinos you may have encountered who claim not to know it? Unless they've just arrived here, they're probably pulling your leg, or, more likely, they see you as a potential hostile presence, and don't particularly want to communicate with you. Claiming not to know English is the most polite way to do this.

The whole "Official English" is nothing more than racist code to tell the Latinos that they aren't welcome. It's pandering to the paranoia of white men without college education who have lost the job sweepstakes as industrial work has been leaving the country. These guys might be in better shape if they voted for politicians who support labor unions and such, but they've been bamboozled into blaming the Mexican immigrants for their problems instead of the real reason, conservative political policy.

Personally, if I were in charges, I swing open the gates on the southern border as wide a spossble, and welcome the brown Latino tide. These are great people with excellent family values and a great work ethic. This country will be a far better place once whites are just another minority group.