On Wednesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, eight Republican candidates met on stage (beneath an actual Air Force One airplane) in the fourth debate of this election cycle. The previous three have taken place in the early primary and caucus states of South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Iowa, respectively. This one is notable in the addition of Governor Rick Perry, who was not a declared candidate when the previous debates took place. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty dropped out after the last debate, when he finished in third place in the Ames, Iowa ridiculous straw poll. Missing are the candidates Fred Karger (the openly gay Republican) and Buddy Roemer.
I watched the debate, mostly for my first real glimpse of Rick Perry. I only know him as the wacko extremist who suggested that Texas secede from the Union, which I believe should be an automatic disqualifier for president. Seriously. This is how desperate the Republican Party is for a winning candidate. Since entering the race about three weeks ago, Perry has gotten perhaps more than 80% of the press attention. Some of his wackier views have been aired in public as well as the salacious rumours that his wife had drawn up divorce papers after supposedly catching him in bed with another man. There has not been any concrete evidence that this is true and no one has come forward (yet), but his reputation in Texas apparently seems to be that he is an equal opportunity adulterer. He has been known to sleep around. Would this be ironic if the "family values" party that spent an entire decade and $100 million investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton before settling on a lie regarding an out-of-wedlock blowjob to impeach him. In 2000, fellow Texan George W. Bush campaigned on a promise to "restore honour and dignity" back in the White House (which we can all agree was an epic fail). So, the Republicans who claim that family values and sexual fidelity matter are actually willing to support an adulterer to be the next president?!? Wow, what a strange turn of events.
I guess this proves that Nietzsche quote is true. He famously warned to be weary about staring into the abyss too long or chasing after demons, because you may become the very thing you once sought to destroy. So, after spending all that money and an entire decade trying to destroy the presidency of Bill Clinton, the Republican Party has now become what they once hated. However, while Rick Perry might have an insatiable sexual appetite, there is nothing about his political views that could be mistaken for Clinton.
However, it is strange that Rick Perry was once a Democrat. In fact, as a recent ad by Congressman Ron Paul has pointed out, Perry was a Democrat who was the campaign manager for Al Gore's 1988 presidential campaign. I haven't found information on when he switched to the Republican Party, but some articles I've read online seem to think it happened between 1990 and 1994. Texas had flipped from Democratic to Republican in the late 80s and early 90s that Perry supposedly jumped on the bandwagon so he could be in the majority party. I saw this happen in my home state of Georgia when Zell Miller endorsed George W. Bush's reelection after he had endorsed Gore in 2000.
Perry displays the common traits of someone who is "born again." These types become fanatical in their new identity and end up condemning the very people who are just like the way they used to be. I never understood this denial of one's past. I have an uncle who is this way. Once he became a born again evangelical Christian, he has been a non-stop pain in the ass to the rest of the family regarding the church that he was raised in. Because of his born again beliefs, my uncle views our church as a cult even though deep down, he has to know that its a lie. The church he's a part of now is far more controlling of how he conducts his life than the Community of Christ would ever be. That's the absurdity of extremists: complete denial of their past and a persecution of the kind of people they used to be. Hypocrites!
The above photo shows the eight declared candidates for the Republican nomination in 2012. This photo was taken in the Reagan Library's faux mock-up of the Oval Office. Interesting that every single candidate is wearing a dark suit (they must have got the same memo) and are standing in the same order as where they stood on the podium. First Lady Nancy Reagan is in the middle of them all, wearing her trademark Dragon Lady Red! Seeing this picture of Nancy has me wondering...what happened to her mid-section? Her pants are kind of high up. She looks like Steve Urkel!
The debate was pretty much The Mitt and Rick Show. I was actually impressed with Romney. He's getting better at this and he looks more and more presidential. I thought he did a pretty good job. The other Mormon, Jon Huntsman, improved a great deal from the last debate, where he had made his debut. He came off as the most reasonable of the candidates and I especially liked how he said that being extreme on science is not the way to win voters. He's definitely trying to elevate a party that has been sinking in the quicksand of lunacy since the Bush years. That's the trouble with ideology. People who are ideologues only get more and more extreme, which alienates them from the moderate middle.
My impression of Perry after watching the debate is that he sounds too much like George W. Bush. I don't understand why he's currently the "frontrunner" according to polls. It is truly amazing that after what our country has gone through the past decade, that there is still a sizeable chunk of the American populace who believe that more of the policies Bush enacted will be just what gets our country out of this mess. Don't people understand HOW we got into this mess? Perry said in the debate that "Keynesian economics" does not work and it should end the debate once and for all. Uh...actually, I think we have enough evidence that Reagan's trickle down economics / supply side theory does not work. We can and should retire that ridiculous scheme once and for all. As I learned in Economics 110, even Nixon had said "We are all Keynesians now." Perry got a D in Economics (disclosure: so did I, unfortunately. Capitalism never made much sense to me, though).
Even more audacious, Ron Paul said in the debate that he wanted to abolish the minimum wage and he believes that doing so would actually help the poor!!! Is he for fucking real?!? You know what will happen if the minimum wage gets dropped? Corporations will slash pay as low as they can get away with. In a country with high unemployment, this will create a vicious job market because there will always be someone who is willing to work for less pay than you. A guy I know who was let go from That Place That Shall Not Be Named exactly one year before me is still looking for a job. In the two years of his unemployment, his salary demands have fallen because he is so desperate for a job. A year ago, he told me that he would not accept a job for less than $35,000 a year. Now, he's considering applying to Taco Bell!!! Economic desperation has a way of eliminating our unrealistic demands / expectations. If the minimum wage gets banished, I would fear what might happen to our country. It would get brutally ugly really quick. That Ron Paul would even suggest such a thing tells me that he is just as corporate bought as Mitt Romney. I don't understand the Ron Paul cult. I may agree with some of his foreign policy ideas, but his domestic policy views are too scary to contemplate. He's essentially Ayn Rand's bitch.
In this debate, Michele Bachmann seemed a little subdued. I was actually impressed with her performance at the Iowa debate (not that I agreed with anything she said), but this time she has shown herself to be insignificant. In the past week, she has lost a couple of key campaign staff. I believe she has gone through five Chief of Staff already in her campaign. High turnover rate tells me that there is something wrong with her leadership or management style. If people don't like working for you, how can you accomplish anything? By contrast, during my internship in D.C. in 2000, I learned that John McCain had the highest staff loyalty rate. People stuck by him for years and he had the best rate among Senators according to a Capitol Hill newspaper. That also says something about a person when people stick by you for years.
Bachmann still harped on Obama's handling of the Libya crisis. It makes me wonder what her views are regarding Bush's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were. The Libya thing is viewed as a foreign policy success for the president. Limited engagement worked in disposing of a dictator and saving a rebellion from slaughter. At least Perry did credit Obama for the success in nabbing Osama Bin Laden. However, it was interesting that when quoted about his being against foreign adventurism, he would not bring up Bush's invasion of Iraq or criticize it. Instead, he made it sound like the war was Obama's doing. What a sleazebag.
As for the rest, I have no idea why none of them won't drop out. They are just pathetic. Herman Cain is a non-starter. He keeps touting his CEO experience, as though Godfather's Pizza was truly something to brag about. Its not even among the Top Three Pizza giants (that would be Pizza Hut, Domino's, and Papa John's). Rick Santorum is not even worth discussing. And once again, Newt Gingrich showed his arrogant professor mentality, by scolding the moderators for trying to instigate a fight among the candidates by bringing up statements that the candidates have said about their opponents elsewhere. What a pansy-ass group of politicians! They won't confront their opponents directly on the stage, but save the pot shots on the campaign trail. Even Huntsman refused to take the bait when asked which candidates he means when he spoke about extremists. His answer as pretty good, though. Lofty and high minded, without naming names.
The one truly shocking moment of the debate occurred when applause was heard after Perry spoke about how he does not lose sleep at night for executing over 230 death row inmates. Damn, those conservative Republicans are heartless! They applauded that?!? That reminds me of something I read about Rick Perry. An opponent had learned that Perry had executed an innocent man, so he wanted to use it in a campaign ad. When he did a poll on that, he was stunned to learn that people supported Perry even more after knowing that he had executed an innocent man. As one person told the pollster: "It takes guts to kill an innocent man." Damn, these fuckers need to go to hell.
The other night, I actually had a dream where Newt Gingrich appeared in it. That would be a nightmare, except in the dream, I had hounded him about the way he had treated his wives and I was relentless to the point where he was forced to quit the Republican race for president. I woke up from that dream quite happy and wishing I had that kind of power in real life. Gingrich is a douchebag. If he still thinks he has a realistic shot at the presidency, he is far more delusional than Bachmann or Cain.
So, there you have it...the Republican Debate, Part 4. The pundits all seem to agree that its a two man race at this point: Perry versus Romney. I'm clearly in the Romney camp, though I support President Obama and intend to vote for him next year. However, if he ends up losing, I would much rather see a Romney Presidency than a Perry or a Bachmann one. Based on essays I've read online, though, Bachmann's star appears to be fading fast since the high point of winning the Ames straw poll. A lot of it has to do with the teabaggers preferring Rick Perry as their dream candidate. Romney benefits if the teabaggers split their votes between Perry and Bachmann, but if its a two person race, it becomes a lot tougher.
That brings us to the Quitter Queen. Sarah Palin had released an ad that looked a lot like a typical candidate ad. It ended with, "See you on September 3rd." The ad was played in Iowa for the upcoming Tea Party gathering. After threatening not to come (I've read that it was either a conflict regarding appearance fees or a conflict in which Palin did not want Christine O'Donnell to also be invited), she did appear at the rally and continued her tease. She did not announce any plans for a campaign, which means her supporters are growing restless and in danger of abandoning her. Its amazing that they don't realize she is nothing more than a Grifter trying to fleece them out of their money. She has no intention of running but she needs to stay relevant and garner media attention. She's past the do or die time, though. If she does not get into the race, it'll be too late for her. I want her in the race for the amusement factor.
In an interesting aside, Palin did run in a half-marathon over the holiday weekend. I bet this news was taken well by comedians everywhere. Palin seems to do everything half-assed, so why not run a half-marathon? Her half-term governorship gave her plenty of experience.
Tomorrow's post will hopefully be about Bend Institute. For today, I wanted to write about the absurd drama known as the Republican Debate. Albert Camus couldn't write better absurdities than what the Republican party has become.