Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Different World

Watching the Republican debate just two days after the Democrats could only leave one with the feeling that while they were in the same place, they were not even inhabiting the same world. In spite of the rantings of fringe loonies like Ralph Nader (will the media please stop paying attention to this asshole), the two parties have rarely been further apart in my lifetime. Their views on almost every issue, big and small, is radically different. During the campaign, many of these differences will be muted, but when talking to their own, you see where the candidates are coming from and I found last night’s crew downright scary. I will try and assess how they did, but as I am not their target audience, my grades may not be reliable, and my campaign themes will obviously be filtered through my own viewpoint.

Rudy Giuliani: A- -- (Fighting Terror and Taxes) – That nosed out my other possible theme for Rudy, “Vote For Me or Die”. This was the scariest thing I’ve seen in weeks. I think I’d rather see Hostel II than watch him for an hour. Invading Iraq was right because it was part of the war on terror and we have to stay until they have an “orderly society”. The market will fix health care, just give everyone a 15K tax deduction and let them buy their own (ignoring the uselessness of that kind of tax deduction for most Americans who need health insurance). Oh yeah, and Free Libby. High point was lightning striking as he talked about abortion.

John McCain – B- -- (Tough Enough To Make the Tough Calls) – Restored his street cred by defending the Immigration Reform Bill against the onslaught from the others. Unfortunately, that’s not the right side among Republicans. Opposes a three state solution in Iraq, where he clearly plans on adding as many soldiers as is needed. Joined the general theme, not endorsed by Rudy, that the war was terribly mismanaged. I’ll be shocked if this helped him at all among the faithful.

Mitt Romney – B – (The Future is Bright) – I picked that as the theme because he kept coming back to it, whatever the subject, as if attempting to channel Ronald Reagan. First question was whether the war in Iraq was a good idea, he began by saying “that question is a null set” – way to reach out to the average guy, Mitt. In the answer to one question said “it’s going from a small bore to a large bore” – I assume he’s talking about guns, but he’s a pretty large bore himself. Almost as scary as Rudy. Not as certain he would free Libby. Believes Jesus is his savior, in case you were worried.

Duncan Hunter – B -- (Don’t Tread On Me) – Believes the Iraqis are almost ready to take over the war. Would use nukes against Iraq – to be fair, they all (except Paul, of course) wouldn’t rule it out, but he seemed to have no qualms at all. Only one to talk about jobs, linked with an attack on China’s economic policies. This guy is tough, I think he personally wants to help build the wall on the border. Right near the end he threw his big punch. connecting Rudy (on gun control), Romney (on health care), and McCain (on immigration) with Ted Kennedy – beautiful.

Ron Paul – C- -- (I’m The One Who Read The Constitution) – Look, he ain’t a Republican, he’s a Libertarian, and the Young Libertarian Club members who applauded his answers are irrelevant to the party. Did a dance on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and his answer on immigration seemed incoherent. My favorite answer: when asked about the greatest moral issue today, he said the theory of preventive war. Will definitely not be Rudy’s running-mate.

Tom Tancredo – C+ -- (Damn Furreners) – Immigrants have to forswear all foreign allegiances. Of course, he doesn’t really want to let any in, so that won’t be that big a problem. Seems to feel Iraq is Iraq’s problem, but I’m not sure exactly how that impacts his policy. Sometimes he seems sensible, mostly, he seems unhappy.

Tommy Thompson – D – (I’m The Thompson Who’s Running) – When asked about health care he seemed genuinely excited, having been Secretary of HHS; then gave an answer which was basically that people should stay healthy and that would lower health costs. He would send George W. Bush on a lecture tour of colleges to talk to young people about honesty, integrity, and the value of public service. Really. I swear he said that. With a straight face. I wasn’t on drugs, he really said that.

Mike Huckabee – C+ -- (I’m The Other Guy From Hope) – He believes in God. Said: “we have a tax system which literally steps on peoples heads” – so he doesn’t believe in good English.

Sam Brownback – B- - (I’m Not As Crazy As You Think) – Has a bill to divide Iraq into three sort of states (co-sponsored with Biden?), which McCain derided. His solution to the health care problem is to cure cancer in ten years – seriously. Believes party can’t nominate someone who isn’t pro-life. Oh yes, and Free Libby.

Jim Gilman – C – (I’m The One You Won’t Remember in Six Months) – Thought the Iraq War was a good idea because Saddam was unstable and we had to go into Iraq to stop Iran. Seriously, he said that.

I’m not sure which of these guys is looniest. I’m not sure he can organize effectively, not sure he can handle the pressure, not sure he even has the necessary focus to run a campaign, but if Fred Thompson can’t wipe the floor with these clowns, he just ain’t trying.


Blogger sam.gurka5 said...

There is a school of thought that Americans are not all that polarized. They may be evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and self proclaimed liberals and conservaties but the response to nuanced questions results in the vast majority of people falling within a very narrow range. When one asks about gay marriage, one gets a fairly stark yes and no contrast. When one asks about civil unions and allowing gay couples to exercise the same legal rights as "married couples", one gets a substantial majority in very close range of each other.

Having said that, I agree with your observation of the striking, and frightening, contrast. To my mind, the Democrats do not appear to be as left wing extreme as these guys are right wing extreme.

As a liberal and a libertarian, I was hard pressed to find fault with much of what Paul had to say. I'm not sure I buy the idea that all preventive wars are wrong, assuming that they are honest. It seems to me that the 1967 six day war was a justified preventive war.

Rudy is amazing, knowing him as I think I do. It is fascinating watching him try to appeal to a conservative electorate. Every issue has a tie in to 9/11. If you asked about health insurance, his reply would be that we can't have universal coverage because that would drain our resources from fighting the people who attacked us on 9/11. I think that, as a moderator, before you allow these people to throw "War on Terror" in our face, they should be forced to define it. Is it really a war on a tactic? Is it a war on 2 billion Muslims, both religious and secular? Is it a war on all terrorists including the Columbian druggies, the East Timor rebels, the Chechnyans?

McCain was a lot more McCainesque but he said my friends about 20 times too much. I tend not to trust someone who calls perfect stangers, my friends.

Mitt is the slipperiest thing I have seen in a long time. I have no idea what his core values are. My gosh, I bet he thinks The Big Love is an attack on religion.

Duncan and Gilmore are kind of irrelevant and Tancredo is just plain nuts. They should have stopped immigration before his family got here.

With all that mandacity and obfuscation, Huckabee and Brownback are a pleasure to listen to. I don't agree with almost everything they say but it feels good knowing they trully believe it.

All in all, one of the nights I felt I had to watch but certainly raised my blood pressure.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Barry Rubinowitz said...

I know that school -- the premise is that if a clear majority favors something, then we aren't really that divided. I would contend that a clear majority, say 55-60% may favor something, but if 40% are violently opposed to it, the division is very deep. Especially when you consider the geographic nature of these divisions. People are choosing to live among those who believe as they do, both socially and politically, reinforcing their own beliefs and not hearing the others. Redistricting has led to districts where there is no debate, just general agreement unless someone is a centrist, then he could be pushed out by the extremes. I am perfectly sure that if you had a poll of Israelis and Palestinians, you would find a majority who would agree on some general peace agrrement -- it does not mean there isn't polarization in that area. Those opposed to any settlement, on both sides, are sure they are right with a religious fervor which overwhelms the preferences of the majority.
Factor in the lack of participation in the political process by those in the middle and polarization is the clear result.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Barry Rubinowitz said...

As for the 1967 war, it was hardly preemptive. The arab states had formed a military alliance, talked about wiping them out, fired rockets from the Golan Heights, and lastly, blockaded the Straits of Hormuz, a clear act of war.
A better example was Bosnia, where we joined with others to prevent ethnic cleansing. I am sure Paul opposed that, as he would any military action which was not a direct response to an attack or imminent attack on the US.

1:40 PM  
Blogger sam.gurka5 said...

You have grossly miscontrued my comment so I will sight another example. If you ask people whether they are pro-life or pro-choice they are left with no room in between. I contend that I am both as are the vast majority of people in this country. The idea that supporting abortions makes one "anti-life" is preposterous. Alternatively, most people who oppose abortions do not assert a moral equivalency to aborting a 3 day old fetus and shooting a 25 year individual. The stark contract that is offered by "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are rendered meaningless when one asks the question "When does life begin?" For most people, it is somewhere between 3 and 6 months gestation which ultimately reduces this issue to a technical one and not a maoral one.

The point is that as one delves beyond superficial slogans and rallying cries, one finds that the differences are not nearly that deep or profound.

As far as where people live, this is hardly a product of social engineering. People feel most comfortable living amongst others who identify themselves as memebers of the same social, economic, religious, racial or ethnic group. This occurs without, and maybe even despite, the efforts of governments to gerrymander. There is little doubt that the result of this social phenomenon is a relative unanimity of thought within that community which can only be countered through greater exposure to those who are not members of your community (which is why affirmative action is such a good idea).

1:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home