For two hours in New Hampshire seven Republican presidential hopefuls -- six men and one woman -- railed against President Barack Obama writing him off as a one-term candidate. Former Governor Mitt Romney was first out of the box followed by the vapid and abrasive Michelle Bachman, the darling of the Tea Party movement, who followed suit. It got hilarious when the vainglorious and utterly scrupleless Rick Santorum lauded quirky Sarah Palin as eminently qualified to be the president of the United States.
In the end it was, as William Shakespeare wrote, an exercise "full of sound and fury" and a unified attack on Barack Obama with virtually all the seven calling his presidency a failure. It was a well-scripted exercise in fear-mongering, half-truths and posturing bereft of much substance. Arrogant swagger, especially from Santorum and Bachman, the so-called debate lacked any piercing questions on real hard issues or basic inquiry. Moderator John King of CNN did not challenge the candidates and the event was chummy and cordial.
President Obama must have been grinning ear to ear. If that's the best that the Republican Party can come up with then he's in a comfortable place. Newt Gingrich who could only talk about Ronald Reagan and General somebody or the other. And Michelle Bachman who says that America has lost respect all over the world because President Obama never leads from the front and without batting an eyelid spoke about how she was not going to ask permission from any country before attacking it if there was actionable intelligence.
And when a soldier or former soldier asked a question everyone started to genuflect to the holy grail of American politics -- the U.S. Military. Santorum was reluctant to close one of the 856 US military bases around the world arguing that under President Obama the United States is less safe and that the threat is "asymmetrical and not in one place" so we need to be able to respond. What a hypocrite.
Of course, there was the usual romanticizing of war and the beating up on President Obama for his stance and position on Libya. Romanticism, in the realm of politics, is a perspective opposed to political liberalism. Political romantics and military strategists advocate war as a means to a nation's and a country's "honor," and "glory," and promote the notion of "war" in religious terms as a battle between "good" and "evil."
The Republican hopefuls used this political romanticism and stooped to the usual ideological manipulation of symbolic linguistic terminology to exploit national sentiments. At the same time it was clearly designed to generate "war hysteria" as a device to create the illusion of the expression of national unity. However, the present-day "romanticism" of war in the United States is only a futile attempt to justify five wars that has been unjust from the very beginning.
Then this little chat about immigration. Border, border, border security. Republican talking points. Yep, yep Americans are dumbos nobody really knows about immigration so when you close the Mexican border, round up 20 million undocumented immigrants and we are good to go. Nary a word about meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform at the Congressional level. Just close the border; send troops (Santorum) and right-o! Any child born to undocumented immigrants in America should not be an automatic US citizen.
Now these guys -- five white guys, one black guy and a white woman -- were talking to a largely white audience and even the questioners (from the public) appeared to be thoroughly prepped and scripted down to their characterization of "Obamacare." The audience was 100 percent white -- New Hampshire does not have Black, Brown, Asian or Latino people. Nice.
It was red meat for the party's faithful not for independents or other liberals in the political realm. And Michelle Bachman said as much attacking liberals for "making big plans." Her solution for the growing the United States economy and creating jobs? Cut taxes, repeal corporate property taxes. And yes, cut more taxes. Santorum: Obama has put a stop sign against oil drilling. He forgot we lost three and a half million jobs in the last six months of Bush Administration because of his tax cuts for the rich.
Oh yes. They also want to slash Medicare, privatize Medicaid and repeal all of the laws -- as porous as they are -- that now help to regulate Wall Street and the financial sector -- the people and institutions that got us into the recession in the first place. But there some facts that cannot lie no matter that the Republican Seven were not held to a higher standard and breezed through some soft, flaccid and superfluous questioning from CNN's John King.
SOME OF THE NOT SO TRUE THINGS
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said that while President Obama didn't start the recession, "he made it worse, and longer." As stupid and ignorant a statement as they come. Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, chimed in with the Obama administration is "anti-jobs."
While it is true that unemployment is far worse today than President Obama's advisers initially predicted, it would be even worse without the stimulus bill that many Republican candidates derided, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The stimulus increased the number of people working by between 1.2 million and 3.3 million during the first three months of the year. Significantly, the stimulus, which passed with almost no Republican support, lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.6 and 1.8 percentage points.
Finally, the punditocracy -- CNN, Fox 5 News et al -- gave as expected Mitt Romney top marks but then added Michelle Bachman and Lo and Behold! Newt Gingrich as winners! Here's a group of people trying to influence the 2012 elections by positioning candidates as winners and losers to "help voters make up their minds."