May 3, 2007
America watched tonight as the ten would-be-Presidents took the stage tonight in the first republican presidential debate. When the dust settled it should have become clear to America, none of them care what Americans think. This country is clearly now in favor of ending the Iraq disaster. Seventy percent of the people in this country in fact have been consistently saying it needs to end now. What did these aspiring leaders do in response tonight? They nearly all wanted to go to war with Iran.
The only sane voice on the stage; the only true republican-conservative voice was Ron Paul. Paul of course was barely given any face time, about four questions in an hour and a half by my count. The media is still trying to shape who will run. In 2004 they torpedoed the Howard Dean viability. In 2007 they are already deciding who will make it. Paul represents traditional conservative values of not policing the world and not having an out of control government. He spoke passionately against a national ID card program, out of control spending, and bloated government in those brief opportunities he was afforded. The other nine men however did not represent conservatism at all. Instead it was 90 minutes devoted to casting platitudes toward Ronald Reagan and trying to sound like they wanted to blow up the world more than the next guy.
It was frightening to watch as at one point the response to the question about 70% of Americans wanting an end to the Iraq debacle was essentially that they did not feel that was what America wanted. Say what? The failure of Chris Matthews to follow up on the lunacy of that statement was stark. Instead of speaking to the American people about what THEY want will be upheld by their elected leader, they launched into saber-rattling against Iran. The message could not be clearer. The republicans tonight, sans Paul, could care less what Americans actually want. They used the typical right-wingnut talking points and lies about Iran. Once again Paul was the only voice of reason when he pointed out that during the cold war we faced down a country with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons we were able to emerge victorious without the preemptive war policies of this faux republican administration but now we are talking about invading another country, in case there is a chance that a third-world country might be able to get their hands on one?
On social issues it was obvious that Rudy Giuliani is going to have plenty of problems winning this primary. His answers were all over the place, decrying abortion but not committing to restricting choice. Perhaps what is more telling about where these people stand is not what was discussed but what was not. Gay marriage was not even broached. Education was not discussed. The economy was not discussed. This was an hour and a half about who was the tougher guy. John McCain jumped off the deep end when he stated that he would “follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell.” As he delivered that line he broke into a macabre smile that was very unsettling. The fear fest was palpable as they all tried to deliver the consistent message that only they, the same republicans that were in power when we were attacked, are the only ones that can save us. The same republicans, whose hands are stained with the blood of our soldiers over their complicity for the past five years, are the only ones who you should trust to now invade Iran. Disgusting to his core Giuliani refreshed his ridiculous notion that if the democrats win, we would be “on the defensive” in the war on terror. Shut up. Blowing up Iraq and turning what was not a terrorist state into one, is not “being on the offensive”, it is patently stupid.
The hypocritical moment of the night though came when the question was asked about whether Scooter Libby should be pardoned. The same republicans who bemoaned the “rule of law” when President Clinton lied under oath in a civil proceeding suddenly reversed themselves. One candidate claimed prosecutorial misconduct for even interviewing Libby. Another said that “no crime was committed.” One said that Libby was convicted for having a “poor memory.” Apparently they forgot what they stood for when Clinton faced impeachment. The concept is simple. The prosecutor was conducting an investigation into a federal crime of outing a covert CIA operative working to protect us from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We are talking about treason folks. In the course of that investigation Scooter Libby LIED to the prosecutor while under oath. Because of those lies, the investigation was damaged to the point that Fitzgerald ultimately could not charge anyone. That is why it is illegal to LIE under oath. The stench of hypocrisy was overwhelming from everyone but again, Ron Paul. Paul correctly pointed out that the true issue is that Libby’s lies protected people who used faulty intelligence to justify this failed war. Kudos again to the only true conservative on stage.
The stupid question of the night was when Matthews asked them if it would be a good thing for Bill Clinton to be living in the White House (assuming Hillary wins). Beyond a softball, from the king of softball; this question was designed so the candidates could spend 30 seconds each mocking the last president that the American people actually approved of, despite his moral failings.
Overall tonight was a stark reminder that the Republican Party has been hijacked. They have often tried to float the lie that the democratic party has been overtaken by sinister forces on the left but this band of neo-con wannabes have bought into the failed philosophy of the past six years, wrap themselves up in a flag they did not actually fight for, and pretend to call it “conservatism.” There is nothing conservative of about nation building. There is nothing conservative about invading countries because you think they might one day, possibly acquire one weapon. There is nothing conservative of about out of control spending and an economy that squeezes the middle class into the working poor. No, these were not conservatives tonight on display. These were people that drunk the kool-aid for far too long now. They ignore the will of the American people, brazenly talk about more war, and ignore the true core issues for Americans such as healthcare, jobs, and education. The only reference to healthcare was the tired, 15-year old attack on Hillary Clinton’s idea for national healthcare. To these men it is better to turn a blind eye to the uninsured and call sane policy, socialism.
Except Ron Paul. He was the only person tonight who truly spoke from the heart about his beliefs, not sound bytes prepared beforehand. He spoke about limited government, eliminating the IRS, and the need to stop trying to police the world. He spoke on behalf of the need of government to respect the privacy of Americans. He spoke about the Constitution, a forgotten document in today’s Republican Party. He spoke about restoring habeas corpus. It is unfortunate for him that the corporate media machine has decided that he will be the Republican Party’s Dennis Kucinich. I dream of a day when the battle for the White House is not generated by the media. People like Kucinich and Paul honestly serve their country and honestly believe in their core values. They are not pre-packaged. I was hoping tonight that I would see the republicans respect Americans, instead of the memory of Reagan, another failed and compromised president. Amidst the rhetoric about blowing up other countries and recycled lies there came one ray of hope in Ron Paul. The one true conservative left in a party devoid of true conservative values.