Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Political update for October, 2011 - II

Read yesterday's post first.

So, after I mocked the debates yesterday for being boring, this last one turned out to be the most enjoyable one yet when I got around to watching it on my dvr. Partially, it was because there was lots of drama with a few of the participants bickering or trying to poke holes in each other, and, occasionally, there was even some substance (not much, of course).

As I wrote yesterday in my post-note, I thought Romney cleaned Perry's clock, actually embarrassed him. At one point Perry looked like he was ready to spit or hit Romney. Romney actually scolded him - told him he had a problem letting other people speak. And though some commenters today were saying that it hurt Romney too because he lost his cool a little ("Are you just going to keep on talking?" he asked Perry) and because he gently put his hand on Perry's shoulder at one point, I don't see it. Let's face it, when most people watch a debate, they think the people they like did better than they objectively (if there is such a thing) did and visa versa for those they don't like. And, I heard some of that today while the cable networks were playing the clips to death. But, most of those who prefer Perry to Romney have admitted their guy is just not very good at this, and that Romney won their battles, just not for any reason that would be to Romney's credit.

My Romney feelings are complicated. I did not like him personally in '08. I don't particularly trust him in that he appeared to me more likely to say what he thought the Republican base wanted to here. Many conservatives don't like him much for a similar reason - they believe he is a secret liberal, and for good reason. He campaigned like one when he was running for Senator in Massachusetts. I don't believe he's a liberal - although his transformation to a more conservative candidate 4 years ago may be somewhat manipulative. But, I give him the benefit of the doubt that at least he believes he is a conservative now. However, that doesn't mean I believe he is genuine either. I just doubt him. And, I don't really like the shots he gives people while playing the ingenue, such as when he (while smiling) mentioned that Rick Perry had a rough couple of debates so, of course, he was cranky.

Perry came into the debate wounded from the flap about a speaker who introduced him at a rally and then called Mormons a cult and suggested it was better to vote for a Christian than a good person. Conservatives are sensitive about being seen as bigots and many conservative commentators have rejected what Reverend Jeffress said. Honestly, I don't see what is wrong with what he said. Why can't a religious person say that this is my religion and if you don't agree with it exactly, then you are not part of the religion? Of course, someone else might disagree. I do. Perry does. Romney does. In fact, almost everybody does. But that doesn't change the fact that it should be okay to say it. The truth is - religion in America is, in some ways, becoming slowly secularized. That might not be to the liking of many, but I honestly think that is what people want - for candidates to believe in God and have a religion - but maybe not to be too serious about it.

Whatever my reservations about Romney, I would prefer him to Obama, while believing (along with many conservatives) that once in office, he will be relatively moderate, particularly about the culture wars, at least compared to Perry, Bachman, Gingrich and Santorum. And, unless there is some third party candidate I really want to vote for, I will likely vote for him if he wins the nomination. Unlike conservatives who think Obama is wrong about everything, I just think his economic policies are not only bad, but dangerous in the long run. Short of John Kerry, there are few people who have ever run for president I would not choose over him (even George Bush, bad as he was).

While I think those who are complaining about Romney touching Perry on the shoulder are just looking for something to criticize, and I thought some of his zingers were a little nasty, the most cringe producing moment of the debate came for me when Rick Santorum interrupted Romney repeatedly and then complained Romney was out of time to respond. Please. The closest competition for the moment was the Romney/Gingrich argument about where Romney got the idea for the health care mandate in Massachusetts - from a think tank, or, a think tank and Gingrich. And, taking third place, was when Romney was questioning Herman Cain about 9-9-9 and argued that citizens under Cain's plan would have to pay a state sales tax and a federal sales tax. Romney is a bright guy. No one denies that. And he certainly understands that the state tax would be there whether there was a federal sales tax or a federal income tax.  It was a cheap shot and one hopeful of fooling the audience (who, though, seemed to easily fooled).

My favorite parts of the debate were a number of remarks made by Ron Paul, where he gave answers that seemed counter-intuitive if you actually want to win the nomination, but were honest expressions of his political philosophy, and not geared to win him popularity. Once, the moderator (though he did little moderating) asked him if his suggestion that all foreign aid be done away with would include Israel. He said yes, and didn't really get boos (or applause) from an audience which was ready to applaud for any pro-Israeli remark. Although what he said was not what they, in general, might want from their president, they seemed to respect that it was a genuine reflection of his philosophy. Speaking about whether the candidates would negotiate for hostages, Paul also asked the panel if they condemned Ronald Reagan for doing just that. Other than a weak defense of Reagan by Gingrich, the other candidates all remained silent. None of them want to talk about the real Ronald Reagan, who was a mixed bag like almost everyone else. My point is, Paul risked getting booed again just by bringing it up.

Ironically, as opposed to the '08 campaign, when all the Republican candidates (including Romney) ganged up and sometimes mocked Paul, this time they seem to both respect and fear him. Of course, Paul's courage of his convictions will not help him win the nomination. And, I do believe that his eccentricies would lose him the general election were he nominated, particularly his foreign policy, not to mention that he refuses to try to be charming or beg favor with the media (he actually called Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity secret statists recently - that takes cojones if you want to win the Republican nomination).

My least favorite moment of the debate - when Gingrich pretty much called me and all other atheists immoral because we don't pray. Poor Newt. Still trying to rally the base. Probably didn't help that he called congress ignorant, but, while he might be smart compared to a lot of them in terms of reciting odd historical facts, they may be smarter in other ways - as with not running for offices they can't win and not pissing everyone off if you do.

Okay, now I got it all out of my system. Peace.


  1. You would vote for George Bush over Obama? Really? "Mission accomplished" Bush, easily the most incompetent and unqualified President since Herbert Hoover? U r killing me! I am no Obama fan, and disagree with most of his decisions, but despite my personal feelings, I can still see that he is more qualified than Dubya'. Over and out.

  2. Really. I voted for Bush b/c his opponent was John Kerry, not b/c I thought he had been competent. I would have done the same had Bush been able to run in '08 b/c his opponent was Obama. To me, Bush and Obama have been the two worst presidents in my lifetime, at least since I've been politically motivated at all. And while I reject the position of some conservatives that everything Obama does must be bad (as I rejected the liberal assessment of Bush), Obama's beliefs in big government (stated right in his inaugural address), his beliefs in how to handle our financial mess (Bush on steroids) and his belief in humbling America before the world so that they will like us more make him worse than Bush. There are some things he has done better than Bush, particularly in the area of foreign policy, but, some worse. None of this surprises me. Bush was elected b/c he was the son of a president and religious. Obama was elected b/c he was seen as the opposite of Bush and campaigned better than Clinton. These are not good reasons to elect a president.


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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .