Republicans Debate, Anarchy Wins

Cross-posted from Jimmy Zuma’s blog at Tucson Sentinel.

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There were clear winners and losers in the latest Republican debate, held at the Reagan Library. But before we score the candidates, it’s worth noting the two über winners. The first was Ronald Reagan. While I remember Reagan as the affable con artist who decided kids were properly fed if their school lunch included ketchup, the candidates invoked him some two dozen times.

The other big winner of the night was the political model known as Anarchy. The elephant now has a circle-A tattooed on his butt. One after another these candidates proved that the Republican Party no longer stands for conservative principles like small government. It now stands for dismantling government altogether.

From ending all regulation (Paul) to ending progressive taxation (Cain) to ending Social Security (Perry) to ending Medicaid (Perry again) this group of candidates is running on a platform of ending a federal role in government. (The party was previously on record for wanting to end Medicare, product safety regulation, the EPA and the Department of Education.)

Rick Perry even talked about “cutting off the head of the snake.” It was an odd analogy. He’s running to be the head, isn’t he? But enough meta-analysis, here’s how the winners and losers stack up.

Biggest winner: Rick Perry
Perry didn’t win the debate. But he did perform well enough to solidify a two person race. He made the biggest gaffe of the night, calling Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme.” But otherwise, he answered every attack credibly, accomplishing what he needed to.

Perry also got the biggest applause of the night, when the moderator noted he’d executed more prisoners than any other governor. Apparently revenge is pretty darn popular in the R-party these days.

Best performer: Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney won the debate. He gave the best performance and was only one of two candidates (with Huntsman) who seemed presidential. He made no major gaffes and successfully answered attacks from Perry—obscuring his record on health care (he used to be for it) and deflecting his record on job creation (he wasn’t very successful at it.) Most notably, he deflected the factual criticism that his private sector experience was as a corporate raider.

The One Trick Pony who got put out to pasture: Michele Bachmann
No better analogy fits Michele Bachmann than the tired, old ride-pony that limps around the same corral all day. Supporters are abandoning her in droves. In the debate none of the other candidates showed any interest in her. Even the moderators didn’t seem to be interested in asking her a question. But every time they did, she’d shout “ObaaaamaaCare!” no matter what the question or what the topic.

At one point, she didn’t speak for twenty-two minutes. It was a pleasant relief.

Running for Vice President: Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich never thought he could be president. For Newt, running for president is a way to pay the bills. Now, he is positioning himself to be someone’s vice president. He doesn’t care who. But neither Romney nor Perry would ever choose him. Running for VP at the debate simply shows that neither would even take his calls.

Best qualified: John Huntsman
If we have to have a Republican as our next president (and it looks like we probably do) John Huntsman is the best of the lot. He’s an old school conservative who eschews signing pledges because “they can limit your ability to govern.” Huntsman is the strongest on governing experience, the deepest on foreign policy and the most compelling on cooperation. He was Obama’s Ambassador to China and a successful governor of Utah. And he respects both science and literacy.

Of this motley lot, Huntsman is the only one who believes in government. But he’s too moderate to win the nomination.

Former Oddball: Ron Paul
Ron Paul gave up his oddball role to accept the position of cranky-drunk uncle. Consider this bit of circular logic. Paul posits that we should get the government out of the business of regulating drugs. He argues the government does a bad job because of influence by drug company lobbyists. So we should let the drug companies regulate themselves. Scratching your head yet? He also spoke out against federal air traffic control.

In the last election Paul suffered from having repulsive supporters. And, well, his girly-shrill voice doesn’t help. Realistically, he could only be president on Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

Current Oddball: Herman Cain
Cain’s major platform is a consumption tax. He’d impose a nine percent sales tax on top of whatever your state now charges. He’d then lower individual and corporate taxes to an alliterative but otherwise nonsensical nine percent as well. He also argues that we should replace Social Security with “the Chilean model.” As the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson noted, “I covered Chile. That model is privatization. He just doesn’t want to use the word.”

Can anyone else imagine the Republican Party taking its cues from Latin America? Cain also doesn’t know he can’t win.

No longer a candidate: Rick Santorum
Like most Americans, I can’t remember a word he said. His campaign is so bereft that he had to do his own spin room.

And there you have it, the Republican candidate pool. Yahoo is also looking for a new CEO these days. I wonder if they will choose someone who doesn’t believe in the internet.

 

Jimmy Zuma is a longtime advocate for disability rights and a strong voice from the left.  Jimmy blogs at Smart v. Stupid and his writing is published in the The Tucson Sentinel, DC Water Cooler, Open Salon and OpEd News.

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The Debate – It’s Down To Two

In case anyone had doubts, the first five minutes of last night’s debate made it clear that the Republican primary has come down to a Romney / Perry match-up.  The other six candidates were barely on the radar.

Santorum:  Why is he still there?  Why was he ever there?  He must know by now that he doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning this thing despite whatever words God whispered into his virgin ears.

Cain:  The man is simply ridiculous.  He tries so hard to come across as an ideas man but appears totally unaware that running a country differs somewhat from running a pizza empire.  Cain made it clear that he wants to privatize Social Security.  He denies this and says instead that he wants the US to follow the Chilean model.  What is the Chilean model?  It’s the privatization of Social Security.

Gingrich:  This is the Republican’s real ideas man.  His major problem is that those ideas belong to a nasty prick who is overloaded with excess baggage – none of it good.

Paul:  Yawn.  His ‘we-don’t-need-government’ shtick has gotten old.  Last night he claimed that Americans don’t need the FAA and that air safety would best be served by handing it over to the private sector.  How does anyone take this kook seriously?

Bachmann:  It was over for Bachmann the day Perry announced his candidacy.  There are only so many Tea Party votes available and Perry’s got the majority of those locked up.  And by the looks of her poor performance last night, Bachmann is understanding that her claim to fame in this primary will be that she won the Iowa straw poll.  Bye Michele.

Huntsman:  If there was anyone Dems should have feared from this Republican field, it was Jon Huntsman.  The man has the smarts, the experience and the demeanor to be a credible president.  His ideas on matters both fiscal and social show him to be a solid conservative but unfortunately for him, he lacks the extremist Tea Party mentality to win the primary.  At any other time, a conservative expressing a belief in science (evolution and climate change in this case) might have been forgiven given his or her greater credentials.  In this era of Republican insanity, not so.  Which brings us to…

Romney and Perry:  If there is a second Republican for Dems to fear in a general election with Obama, it’s Mitt Romney.  Much like Huntsman, Romney has the intellect and background to appeal to independent voters.  But despite his efforts to make himself more palatable to the crazies, his hard right turn on issues still leaves him a couple of notches short of Rick Perry’s lunacy – a lunacy, by the way, which Perry solidified with his reaffirmation last night that Social Security is a “big lie” and a “Ponzi scheme”.  While that view might win him favor with an idiot base, it’s going to cause him major headaches in the general election.

Jonathan Chait explains the differences between Romney and Perry.

The media seems to consider Romney the winner. Pardon the condescension, but they’re not thinking like Republican base voters. Romney approaches every question as if he is in an actual debate, trying to provide the most intellectually compelling answer available, within the bounds of political expediency. Perry treats questions as interruptions. What scientists do you trust on climate change? I don’t want to risk the economy. Are you taking a radical position on social security?  We can have reasons or we can have results. His total liberation from the constraints of reason give Perry a chance to represent the Republican id in a way Romney simply cannot match.

In this way Perry eerily apes the style of George W. Bush, who was also mocked for his intellectually vapid debating style, but who succeeded in rallying Republicans behind him. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I suspect the Bush-Perry debating style broadcasts a subliminal message of strong leadership. Romney feels compelled to bind himself to the parameters of the question before him. Perry ignores them. It is, in a sense, an alpha male move. I am not going to lower myself to your premise about scientists. I am going to declare my principles.

A Perry win, I think, gives Barack Obama the best hope of winning in 2012.  Given the disastrous Bush legacy, can Americans possibly put a Bush clone in the White House?

In any case, the low point of last night’s debate had to be the spontaneous applause from the conservative audience when the subject of the high number of executions under Perry’s watch came up.  Andrew Sullivan summed up the moment perfectly.

Here’s why I find it impossible to be a Republican: any crowd that instantly cheers the execution of 234 individuals is a crowd I want to flee, not join.

Whatever one’s thoughts on capital punishment might be, applauding the death of 234 people is downright creepy.

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It’s Perry’s To Lose

I think this is just about right.

The Republican “establishment,” such as it is, is quickly coming to the realization that the 2012 GOP presidential nomination is Texas Governor Rick Perry’s to lose.

As for the two obstacles in Perry’s way to winning the nomination…

Michele Bachmann:

Bachmann’s campaign peaked at (or just before) the Iowa Straw Poll.  Republican primary voters and caucus attenders love her energy and zest, but they worry she will be unable to defeat President Obama in the general election. “Electability” will be her undoing. Perry stands to pick up her supporters as her campaign deflates.

and Mitt Romney:

…a candidate the base of the Republican Party would rather not nominate if they have a viable alternative.

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Romney’s problem is four-fold: he’s politically “fungible” (to put it politely), he’s from the wrong region of the country (New England), he’s of the wrong religion (Mormonism) and he’s too closely identified with Wall Street (Bain Capital).  The Republican base would prefer to nominate a strong conservative, evangelical Christian from the Sunbelt who, at the least, shares their disdain for Wall Street’s reckless stewardship of the nation’s financial system.

What all this means is that it’s going to take some serious work and a change in strategy on the part of Romney to take down Perry.  I don’t expect Bachmann to be in the race beyond the next few debates.  At that point she’ll probably throw her support Perry’s way in hopes of becoming his pick for running mate.  Good luck with that, Michele.  Perry will probably go with a more establishment type Republican along the lines of a Rudy Giuliani to balance out his Tea Party persona.

As for Romney, his only chance is that Perry blows himself out of the water with either a dismal performance in the debates or the revelation of some dark and horrid secret from Perry’s past.  Short of that, it’s hard to see how, at this point, anyone but Rick Perry can win this thing – which I think suits Barack Obama just fine.  Given the nature of independent voters, an Obama/Perry match-up is a much more winnable affair than an Obama/Romney confrontation.

Keep an eye on the next few debates to see where this thing is going.  It might be over sooner than expected.

  • September 7:  NBC / Politico Debate
  • September 12:  CNN / Tea Party Express Debate
  • September 22:  Fox / Florida GOP Debate

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Why You Should Pray For A Rick Perry Presidency

You can now cast away any lingering doubts you might have had about Rick Perry.

What would America be like under a Rick Perry presidency? Well, if Rick Perry’s Texas is any indication, the country could look forward to 85 mph speed limits, hog hunting from helicopters and a security check “fast-lane” for concealed handgun carriers.

Any minor concerns you might have had about casting a vote for a man who…

  • drastically cut eduction funding as governor
  • is not quite sure about that evolution thing which know-nothing scientists keep talking about
  • believes climate scientists are in it for the money
  • prays for rain
  • thinks Medicare is unconstitutional
  • wants federal income tax scrapped
  • would work to make abortion illegal in all 50 states
  • would gives states the right to opt out of Social Security and Medicaid
  • prays for an end to EPA regulations
  • wants same-sex marriage made unconstitutional by redrafting the Constitution

…well, so what?  The ‘pork chopper’ law comes into effect September 1 in Texas!  That’s right, for $500 Texans can shoot an unlimited number of 400 pound hogs with semi-automatic rifles from low flying helicopters.  Nice.

I think it’s a fair trade-off.  You get a loud mouth, in your face religious, gay-hating, science-bashing, shit-for-brains president in exchange for the right to shoot animals from helicopters in all 50 states.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  And you can consider those security check fast-lanes for concealed handgun carriers as a bonus gift from President Perry.

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Steal Libya’s Oil – Another Wonderful Trump Idea

Donald Trump talking nonsense about Libya.

“You have all these rebels running around… Are they from Iran? Who’s gonna take over Libya? Who’s gonna take over the oil? So what do we get out of it and why don’t we take the oil? I mean, why aren’t we reimbursing ourselves?”

Just knowing that this guy is on your team should be enough reason for anyone to switch sides.  Trump should never have backed out of the primary.  He belongs right along side Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich, Santorum and the other rodeo clowns.

Wondering…do sane conservatives walk around with paper bags over their heads?  And if they don’t…shouldn’t they?

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