Republicans Clash In Most Energetic, Combative Debate So Far

Last night's debate was definitely more combative than previous renditions.

Unlike the Clash Of The Pygmies in May, which included every candidate except the ones who were actually leading in the polls at the time, and the lackluster and poorly produced CNN Debate in June, last night’s Fox News debate in Ames, Iowa was actually interesting and entertaining to watch, thanks in no small part to a better format and the fact that the candidates actually engaged each other rather than competing for who could win the “I Hate Barack Obama” commemorative t-shirt. Most directly, last night stood in strong contrast to the CNN debate, thanks mostly to the fact that the format was much better. Rather than John King going “ummm” every three minutes and disjointed questions from people on television screens, we had Brett Baier, who may be the best hard news person at Fox News Channel, anchoring and a series of good, confrontational questions from Chris Wallace and Byron York. If Republicans were  looking for a debate that drew contrasts and, apologies to Michele Bachmann, separated the men from the boys, this debate did a better job of that than any of the others we’ve seen so far.

Enough with the preliminaries, though, we’re here to talk about the debate:

AMES, Iowa — A withering critique of President Obama’s handling of the economy was overshadowed by a burst of incivility among the Republican presidential candidates who gathered here for a debate on Thursday night and fought to stay alive in the party’s increasingly fractious nominating race.

The simmering animosity that has been building among some contenders broke into full view during the two-hour debate, with Representative Michele Bachmann defending her legislative accomplishments, her economic ideas and her experience to serve as president. She batted away the criticism, smiling at times and swinging at others, trying to prove she could take the heat.

While the first votes of the Republican nominating contest are six months away, a sense of urgency already hangs over the campaign. Several candidates face a far earlier test and are struggling to avoid being embarrassed at the Iowa straw poll on Saturday — the same day Gov. Rick Perry of Texas intends to declare his candidacy and join the Republican race.

Tim Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor who is seeking to rejuvenate his campaign, repeatedly assailed Mrs. Bachmann’s record. He stood directly at her side and accused her of “making false statements” and having “a record of misstatements.”

“The American people are going to expect more and demand more,” he said. His criticism was so stinging, quiet jeers could be heard in the crowd. He added: “If that’s your view of effective leadership with results, please stop, because you’re killing us.”

As the rest of the field looked on, Mrs. Bachmann shot back that Mr. Pawlenty pursued policies as Minnesota governor that sound “a lot more like Barack Obama, if you ask me.” She cited his support for cap-and-trade environmental policies and for individual health care mandates.

The debate, which took place in Stephens Auditorium on the campus of Iowa State University, came at a moment of increasing intensity in the Republican campaign.

While the eight candidates were united in their criticism of Mr. Obama, with a particular focus on his economic policies and unemployment, the crosscurrents in Iowa overshadowed the larger issues in the race.

Mitt Romney, who was positioned at the center of the stage, sought to stay above the fray as he stood silently and watched the Minnesota politicians engage in their unusually sharp back and forth. He brushed aside a suggestion that he had not played a leading role in the debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

“I’m not president now,” he said with a smile, “though I would have liked to have been.”

Mr. Romney, who has raised more money and built a stronger organization than any other candidate, seemed to relish in steering clear of the fight. He defended his health care record as governor of Massachusetts and often resorted to humor.

When Mr. Pawlenty served up a gentle dig at Mr. Romney’s wealth, offering to mow just one acre of Mr. Romney’s estate, Mr. Romney laughed it off, saying, “That’s just fine.” Later, when in a contrast to his previous debate performance, Mr. Pawlenty attacked Mr. Romney for his health care plan and compared it to the president’s plan, Mr. Romney simply joked, “I think I like Tim’s answer at the last debate better.”

(…)

Bret Baier, a Fox News anchor who served as the moderator, opened the debate by reciting a list of the challenges facing the country, from the downgrade in the nation’s credit rating, to the fall of financial markets, to the helicopter crash in Afghanistan that killed 30 American troops. He urged a civil conversation.

But the debate’s proximity to Saturday’s straw poll, a sink-or-swim moment for several candidates, led to the biggest display yet of combativeness among candidates who often evoke Ronald Reagan, but did not heed his 11th commandment, not to speak ill of fellow Republicans

What The New York Times calls “incivility,” I call candidates who were actually willing to engage each other a little (within the limited confines of the debate rules) rather than spending two hours repeating the same sound bites over and over again, Of course, there were plenty of areas where the candidates agreed with each other.  When Byron York asked each of them, in connection with a question about the budget deficit and taxes, whether they’d accept a deal that included spending cuts and tax increases at a 10-to-1 ratio, every single candidate said, stupidly, that they would veto such a bill. On the debt ceiling itself, Michele Bachmann continued to repeat the objectively false idea that Standard & Poor’s downgraded America’s sovereign debt because we raised the debt ceiling. And, when it came to marriage, the only sane people on the stage were Ron Paul and, thanks to his support for at least civil unions, Jon Huntsman.

The real news from the debate, though, was the clash between Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty:

Long simmering tensions between Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty boiled over Thursday during a Republican presidential debate in Iowa, as the two candidates engaged in a harsh back and forth over their White House qualifications.

(…)

Pawlenty, a former two-term governor, said Bachmann’s record in the House is “non-existent.”

“She has said she has a titanium spine,” Pawlenty said. “It’s not her spine we are worried about, it’s her record of results.”

He went on, calling her an ineffective member of Congress, naming several laws that President Barack Obama and Democrats have passed since taking 2009.

“If that’s your view of effective results, please stop,” Pawlenty said. “You’re killing us.”

A stone-faced Bachmann shot back, accusing Pawlenty of having abandoned his conservative principles while serving in St. Paul.

She said he supported a cap-and-trade plan to cut carbon emissions and once expressing support for a mandate that individuals purchase health insurance, though neither idea became law during his administration.

“That sounds a lot more like Barack Obama if you ask me,” Bachmann said.

The two Republicans have engaged in long-distance sniping for weeks as both have raced across the state hunting for votes ahead of the potentially pivotal Ames Straw Poll on Saturday.

Going into the debate, there were many wondering (myself included) whether Pawlenty would continue with the jabs he’d been taking at Bachmann over the past several weeks, especially after he had backed down so quickly from his “ObamneyCare” comments in the June debate. The consensus, though, was that he couldn’t afford to back down at this point. This debate, and the Ames Debate, are Pawlenty’s last hope to revive a campaign that’s on the ropes. As the video compilation shows, Pawlenty was willing to take on Bachmann and draw contrasts between himself and Bachmann:

There were some odd moments too. Perhaps the oddest being when Byron York asked Michele Bachmann if she would be “submissive” to her husband if
elected President. The crowd reaction to the question was, overwhelmingly, negative, and Bachmann probably picked up a few points with her response:

I’m no Bachmann fan but I thought this question was rather unfair, especially since the biblical phrase from which it is drawn doesn’t necessarily mean what those hearing the question might think it means (although I can’t attest to what Bachmann’s church thinks about what it means, I do know what the Catholic Church teaches about it). In any event, York is likely to get a little criticism for that question, and it’s probably well deserved.

Anyway, on to the assessment of winners and losers.

Jon Hunstman: This was likely the first time most people watching the debate heard Huntsman speak for an extended amount of time and discuss what his positions on the issues is, I know it was for mine. It was, in short, an opportunity for Huntsman to introduce himself to the electorate and try to break out of lower  end of the pack. I don’t think he did a very good job at all. In response to many of the questions, Hunstman referenced his eight years as Governor of Utah. I can only assume that the claims he made about how the state performed under his leadership are largely correct but I don’t think he did or said much of anything last night to get grassroots Republicans in New Hampshire or elsewhere excited about his candidacy. In some sense, it almost seems like Hunstman’s entire campaign is based on the idea that Mitt Romney might eventually implode, but that doesn’t look likely to happen anytime soon. Perhaps the Governor be more aggressive at the next Fox debate, which takes place in Flordia where there are voters he might actually resonate with. For now, though, Huntsman is largely a dud.

Newt Gingrich: The former Speaker distinguished himself last night mostly by attacking the questions and the questioners for what he called “gotcha” questions rather than asking about the issues. Interestingly enough, it appeared that Gingrich’s definition of a “gotcha” question includes any question that asks him about something he might have said in the past. Other than that, Gingrich did okay I guess, but its really hard to take him seriously as a candidate when he has no real campaign staff and continues to fade in the polls. Gingrich won’t do well at Ames tomorrow, but he’s not going to drop out any time soon,. For Newt, this is now a vanity exercise and a matter of pride and hubris, so he’ll be around for awhile.

Rick Santorum: Santorum’s oddest comment of the night came in response to a question about Iran by pointing out, among other things, the manner in which the Islamic Republic treats its gay and lesbian citizens. While this is a legitimate concern, it’s rather ironic for a man who compares homosexuality to bestiality and doesn’t really think that gays should have a right to live their lives in peace to cite this singular sin by the Iranian regime as an example of its brutality. Beyond that, Santorum’s most memorable contribution to the night was the manner in which he kept attempting to inject himself into exchanges between other candidates and complain about how he wasn’t getting his fair share of questions. I’m not sure how that went over with the crowd and the viewers. What I am sure of is that Santorum’s paeans  to the traditional social conservative dog whistle themes, including his rather bizarre and legally incorrect idea that “morality” should somehow trump the Constitution, went over well with many on the right. Nonetheless, Santorum has never really caught fire either in Iowa or nationwide and, barring some kind of surprise, he’s one my short list of people who are possibilities to drop out after Ames.

Herman Cain: As with the June debate, Herman Cain seemed to stand out far less than he did in the first debate back in May. Additionally, now that he’s been campaigning for several months and has made headlines mostly by saying dumb things and displaying an appalling amount of ignorance about foreign policy, he seems diminished from the confident, bombastic guy we saw in May. I can’t really say that Cain either distinguished himself or made any major flubs last night, although he did falsely say that he never said that communities had the right to deny construction of a mosque when, in fact, he clearly did. More distressingly, he barely even mentioned his supposed change of heart about Muslims, and just came across as the vanity candidate he probably is at this point. Along with Santorum, I’d put Cain on the short list of people who might not be around for very long after Saturday.

Ron Paul: What can you say about Ron Paul that hasn’t already been said? He hit all the traditional themes of his campaign and the crowd was clearly behind him based on the responses when he spoke (a sign, by the way, that his performance in the Straw Poll could be surprisingly good). People call Ron Paul nuts, but what he really is is an idealist. I don’t always agree with what he says, but you can’t deny his committment to his ideas, and you can’t say that his responses are poll-tested or politically correct. At least when he’s around, the debates are entertaining.

Tim Pawlenty: Pawlenty is a man on his last political rope at this point and he needed to come in to this debate and show that he still had a fire in his belly. As I noted above, he did score some pretty solid points against Michele Bachmann., and the points he made about her lack of a real record of accomplishments is no doubt one that other candidates will start hitting as we get further in this process. However, Pawlenty once again didn’t really go after Romney very much, which would seem to be a better target for him given that he’s unlikely to change the mind of a committed Bachmann voter. On some level, I have to wonder if Pawlenty wasn’t, in part, auditioning for the VP slot last night by showing that he was perfectly capable of being the attack dog, which is the traditional role of a Vice-Presidential nominee. Of all the guys on the stage, Pawlenty is arguably the most prepared to be President since he has more Executive experience than any of the others save Huntsman, but he’s never caught fire with the voters and I don’t think he lit a spark last night.

Michele Bachmann: I don’t think Bachmann did as well as she had in the June debate, but that’s mostly because nobody had bothered to confront her the first time around. This time, Pawlenty went after her directly and Jon Huntsman directly criticized her position that the debt ceiling should never have been raised in the first place. While this is unlikely to change the mind of a committed Bachmann supporter, it has revealed areas in which she is vulnerable (i.e., her sparse record of accomplishments in politics and her irresponsible pie-in-the-sky policy positions) that I’m sure we’ll see candidates like Romney and Perry pick up on in the future. For the purposes of this debate, though, Bachmann handled herself well. Her exchange with Perry and her response to Byron York’s bizarre “submission” question showed that she’s not easily thrown off her gain, and that skill will serve her will in the future.

Mitt Romney: As in June, Mitt Romney came into this debate as the putative frontrunner. While Fox didn’t follow CNN’s lead and place Romney in the center podium again, it didn’t really matter because, once again, none of the candidates really choose to engage Romney directly. This allowed Romney to mostly stay above the fray and look on bemused as his fellow candidates labored on. Once again, he was the stable, sure technocrat sending the messages “Hey, I’m here, I know how to do this, and, unlike the rest of these guys, I can win.” This is likely to change in future debates, especially with Rick Perry entering the race but, for now at least, Romney walked away as the clear winner last night, and for the most part probably looked for better to the average voter than the other candidates on the stage.

For the most part, this was a much better, and certainly more entertaining, debate than the one’s we’ve seen so far. As with other debates, of course, it did little to actually advance public debate and served mainly as an avenue for candidates to spout their talking points. However, it also was one of the first times voters have been able to see any of the candidates try to draw contrasts between themselves and the other candidates (which is, in the end, what a primary race is supposed to be about). The final impact of the debate will be hard to judge, though. It’s not likely to influence the outcome of the straw poll, which is mainly an reflection of organization and enthusiasm. Moreover, the fact that we already know that a candidate is entering the race on Saturday who will quickly be vaulted into the top tier, if not second place, it seemed almost as incomplete as the minor-candidates-only debate in May. Let’s see how Bachmann, Romney, and Perry handle each other, because I think that’s the race we’re going to be looking at for the next several months.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Is it sad that the only three people I’ll even consider from the GOP field are longshots at best, and one of them wasn’t even at Ames?

    (For the record: Huntsman, Paul, Johnson)

  2. hey norm says:

    These folks are desperate.
    They know that come Saturday, and Rick the Apostle’s entrance to the race, most of them are done. Add to that the presence of the Narcissism Bus, which will take all the oxygen out of Iowa, and this was a last gasp.
    PERRY/PALIN ’12 !!!
    or is it
    PALIN/PERRY ’12 !!!

  3. steve says:

    Popular consensus seems to be that Perry won by default. A right wing, evangelical from Texas. What could possibly go wrong with that choice?

    Steve

  4. Jay Tea says:

    @steve: Well, we’ve had 2.5 years of the community organizer from the Chicago Democratic machine with a zero record of management or any kinds of accomplishments… you wanna make the case that Perry would be worse?

    J.

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    Perry will be the nominee. He’s just the right mix of bigotry, ignorance and religious mania to attract the drooling morons, but unlike Bachmann he’s capable of hiding it after securing the nomination. So it will come down to a contest between civil-rights hostile, corporate toady Obama and civil-rights hostile, gay bashing, uterus violating, christian theocratizing corporate toady Perry.

    There’s little I like about Obama, but with this alternative he’s getting my vote.

  6. jan says:

    Let’s see how Bachmann, Romney, and Perry handle each other, because I think that’s the race we’re going to be looking at for the next several months.

    I agree, in that I think these will be the last three candidates left standing for the republican primaries. That is, unless some other dark horse jumps in at the last minute. There have been rumors circulating that Paul Ryan is giving it more consideration. It’s purely speculative, but perhaps that’s why Ryan asked Boehner not to select him as one of the House members for the super committee.

    BTW, Doug, your analysis of the debate was detailed and unbiased.

  7. Ben Wolf says:

    There were some odd moments too. Perhaps the oddest being when Byron York asked Michele Bachmann if she would be “submissive” to her husband if
    elected President.

    The Bible also commands a woman be veiled when praying. Do you think she has a scarf?

  8. Tlaloc says:

    Ron Paul: What can you say about Ron Paul that hasn’t already been said? He hit all the traditional themes of his campaign and the crowd was clearly behind him based on the responses when he spoke (a sign, by the way, that his performance in the Straw Poll could be surprisingly good). People call Ron Paul nuts, but what he really is is an idealist. I don’t always agree with what he says, but you can’t deny his committment to his ideas, and you can’t say that his responses are poll-tested or politically correct.

    This. Honestly if we had two presidencies, one to deal with internal matters and one to deal with foreign affairs, I’d vote for Paul for the latter in a heartbeat.

  9. Ben Wolf says:

    @Tlaloc: I can’t help but like Ron Paul, even though some of his ideas (like returning to the gold standard) are nuts. But then again, are the supposed “mainstream” politicians who promote endless war, corporate looting and erosion of civil rights any less crazy?

  10. mantis says:

    Too bad Perry wasn’t there. I’m quite curious to hear him explain his belief that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. I’m sure that will go over well.

    The Constitution says that “the Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes… to provide for the… general Welfare of the United States.” But I noticed that when you quoted this section on page 116, you left “general welfare” out and put an ellipsis in its place. Progressives would say that “general welfare” includes things like Social Security or Medicare—that it gives the government the flexibility to tackle more than just the basic responsibilities laid out explicitly in our founding document. What does “general welfare” mean to you?

    I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term “general welfare” in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care. What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that. From my perspective, the states could substantially better operate those programs if that’s what those states decided to do.

    So in your view those things fall outside of general welfare. But what falls inside of it? What did the Founders mean by “general welfare”?

    I don’t know if I’m going to sit here and parse down to what the Founding Fathers thought general welfare meant.

    But you just said what you thought they didn’t mean by general welfare. So isn’t it fair to ask what they did mean? It’s in the Constitution.

    [Silence.]

  11. hey norm says:

    @ JTea…
    Zero accomplishments? What f’ing planet do you live on? You may not like his policies and that’s your right. But Obama has one of the most effective fiirst terms of any President. You need to get a clue.
    I wonder what OBL thinks about his zero accomplishments.

  12. Fiona says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to watch the show this time around. I won’t be voting for any of them. Besides, the dynamics of the race are going to change fundamentally when Perry tosses his hat in the ring tomorrow. I’ll tune in for the Romney-Perry show down, as I believe Perry will cancel Bachman out of the race.

  13. Jay Tea says:

    @hey norm: My apologies, Norm. I meant Obama the candidate, just to keep things on a level ground here. NOT looking to get into a debate over Obama’s dubious achievements in office, but I gotta admit I am impressed by his proving that the War Powers Resolution doesn’t apply as long as he doesn’t call it a “war,” but something bureaucratic like “kinetic military action.”

    J.

  14. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Last I look, Obama didn’t go about using the power of the state to murder innocent people and then cover it up. That’s a start.

  15. Moosebreath says:

    “When Byron York asked each of them, in connection with a question about the budget deficit and taxes, whether they’d accept a deal that included spending cuts and tax increases at a 10-to-1 ratio, every single candidate said, stupidly, that they would veto such a bill”

    Can we get a line on how long it takes Doug to forget this and instead post a “pox on both houses” commentary on the state of the budget negotiations?

  16. mantis says:

    but I gotta admit I am impressed by his proving that the War Powers Resolution doesn’t apply as long as he doesn’t call it a “war,” but something bureaucratic like “kinetic military action.”

    Nice to see Jay has arrived at the second half of the 20th Century. Maybe he’ll catch up to the present one day.

  17. jan says:

    @mantis:

    Great Daily Beast interview on Perry!

    While you point to his Constitutional perspective as being specious, I think he is merely observing and respecting the original intent of the Constitution. I doubt that Perry thinks of the Constitution as a ‘living, breathing’ document, as progressives tend to do. In the latter interpretation there is a tendency to interpret the Constitution at will, rendering opinions that will glove-fit current social leanings. Perry, though, continues to see the majority of governance and power being with the states. In other words he sides with state’s rights over a large central government parenting and patronizing the states with what they think is best.

    He goes on to say:

    Washington attaches strings to all these programs. They take away the incentive for innovation because they say here is a portion of your money back and here are the only ways that you can spend it. That on its face is bad public policy.

    And, he backs that up with examples of his own:

    Well, the counties of Matagorda, Bresoria, and Galveston in 1981 decided they wanted to opt out of this Social Security program. They have now very well funded programs and their employees are going to be substantially better taken care of then anybody in Social Security. So I would suggest a legitimate conversation about let the states keep their money and implement the programs.

    This reminds me of what Walker is successfully attempting to do in the state of WI. And what Mitch Daniels has done in Indiana.

    Perry has always seemed a little too Evangelical for my tastes. But, I was pleasantly surprised by his candid remarks in this interview. And, unlike you, see nothing that had me cringing that he was going to topple SS, Medicare out right. His statements all indicate that these programs are going broke, and that they are not necessarily sacred cows of rights established in the Constitution, never to be touched or changed.

    So I would suggest a legitimate conversation about let the states keep their money and implement the programs. That’s one option that’s out there……..And frankly if you want to see a great growth spurt in America, have Washington basically block grant those dollars back to the states and have the states come up with their own innovative ways to deliver health care, pension programs, whatever it may be: transportation, infrastructure, education.

    That’s not too dumb of an idea…….

  18. hey norm says:

    @ Moosebreath…
    If you ask me that is the headline of the debate.
    Beyond that was there any other discussion of policy? Did anyone say what they would do specifically to grow jobs? Did any of them say what they were going to do with the uninsured after they repeal but don’t replace Obamacare? Was there any discussion of how they are going to reel in exploding Health Care costs?
    Or were they just throwing out red-meat and dog-whistle words in an attempt to pander to Jan and Drew and JTea?

  19. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: Well, then, how about “issuing orders to kill without bothering to arrest, try and convict an American citizen?” That do it for you?

    J.

  20. mantis says:

    @jan:

    Despite your apologies for Perry’s arguments, the fact remains that he cannot explain what the Constitution means when it gives the federal government the power to tax, spend, and promote the general welfare of the United States. Not only can he not explain it, but in his book he simply pretends that the General Welfare clause does not exist in the Constitution.

    This reminds me of what Walker is successfully attempting to do in the state of WI. And what Mitch Daniels has done in Indiana.

    Really? Daniels and Walker have managed to take control of Social Security? Fascinating. Do elaborate.

    And, unlike you, see nothing that had me cringing that he was going to topple SS, Medicare out right.

    I didn’t say that. I said he believes they are constitutional. The president doesn’t have the power to “topple” Social Security or Medicare. Plus, Rick Perry will not be president.

    That’s not too dumb of an idea…….

    No, it really is a dumb idea. And political suicide. Give your social security money to the states so crazy ass governors can spend it on whatever they choose (i.e. you aren’t getting your money). Yeah, that’s a winning argument. You can just starve in your old age so your governor can spend money on pet programs! Real dumb idea.

    You’re right though, it is a great interview. It’s great to see Perry show how full of shit he is.

  21. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: War Powers Resolution dates to 1974, mantis. And every single president except Obama has gone along with it while denying it is binding — nice little fig leaf. Obama, though? What War Powers Resolution?

    J.

  22. @Jay Tea: I’d say we had eight years of a Texas governor management experience (as Bill Maher said: “He was ordered to go find oil in Texas, which he couldn’t”) prior to becoming President giving us a fairly good example that yes, it COULD be worse.

  23. CB says:

    Mr. Pawlenty attacked Mr. Romney for his health care plan and compared it to the president’s plan, Mr. Romney simply joked, “I think I like Tim’s answer at the last debate better.”

    BURN!

    honestly though, after reading some transcripts, i have a growing amount of respect for paul. i certainly wouldnt vote for him, but a part of me appreciates his dedication and sincerity. not to mention that his FP views are more informed and nuanced than he is ever given credit for. i can kind of see why his constituents consistently vote him in.

  24. hey norm says:

    So Jan…
    You think it’s a good idea to multiply the administrative costs of Social Security by 50 times?
    Medicare was instituted because no insurance companies would insure the elderly because they all have a pre-existing condition – they are old!!! So how do you and Rick the Apostle propose to deal with that?

  25. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea:

    War Powers Resolution dates to 1974, mantis.

    1973, but hey, you were close!

    And every single president except Obama has gone along with it while denying it is binding

    Sure about that, buddy? Really sure?

  26. Rob in CT says:

    I, like some others, have my Ron Paul moments. The problem, aside from the fact that he won’t win the nomination, is that if you combine his positions with those in Congress, the good stuff he’d do would get neutered and the bad stuff he’d do would sail through.

    You have to change congress – dramatically – to get good out of a Ron Paul presidency, IMO. Imagine him getting elected and trying to end the war on drugs, or reign in the “national security” establishment. I mean, hell, he could try (and as Pres he would have the power to at least avoid getting into any new wars, which would be a plus) but Congress would be a major stumbling block.

  27. WR says:

    @jan: Perhaps you missed the part where he said that SS and Medicare were unconstitutional. Or maybe this is just back to your insane vision of “dismantling” — apparently if a Republican president were to stop all payments for medical treatments and instead hand a rock to each citizen so he could hit himself in the head with it, as long as he called that “Medicare” you’d insist he hadn’t dismantled the program.

  28. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: So you’re agreeing that Perry has used the power of the state to murder innocent men, but you’re okay with that because you hate Obama? Great logic as usual

  29. An Interested Party says:

    …you wanna make the case that Perry would be worse?

    Ahh, but that’s the wrong question…a better question is, how does the right wing, evangelical from Texas beat the community organizer from the Chicago Democratic machine? I realize that the collective memory of many people in this country is short, but I don’t think it is so short that they are ready for W 2.0…

    By the way, why was York’s question so unfair? Bachmann has presented herself as a deeply religious Christian…does she not follow the tenets of the Bible closely?

    His statements all indicate that these programs are going broke, and that they are not necessarily sacred cows of rights established in the Constitution, never to be touched or changed.

    He, you, and anyone else is certainly free to run a campaign based on that, but if you think a winning strategy is to tell people that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid aren’t important programs that need to be sustained, but rather, should be turned into block grants for the states, you would be wrong…

  30. WR says:

    @hey norm: By giving tax cuts to rich people, of course.

  31. Jay Tea says:

    WR, your comment was even more obtuse than normal. But let me make it clear: Obama has issued orders that an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, is to be killed on sight. He has never been convicted of any crime, but he’s still a “shoot on sight” target.

    Personally, I don’t have too much of a problem with that. But I guess expecting any kind of consistency from you is asking a bit much.

    J.

  32. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: Whoops, typo on my part. Thanks for the correction on the year.

    But yeah, every single president since then has complied with it, at least to some slight degree. (One of Bill Clinton’s was really, really bogus, but I give him points for trying.) And each time, they’ve said they are acting “congruent to, but no in compliance with” the WPR, carefully avoiding officially acknowledging that it is binding.

    Obama and Libya? We’re STILL dropping bombs, several months later (I think — the media likes to pretend it isn’t happening), and there’s not been an authorization even introduced.

    Obama’s defense? It isn’t combat, it’s “kinetic military operations,” so the law doesn’t apply.

    J.

  33. sam says:

    @mantis:

    Rick Perry: I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term “general welfare” in there were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care.

    Gee, quelle surprise, the wannabe Secessioner-in-Chief is ignorant of US History. Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798:

    In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed – “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen”. The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

    Keep in mind that the 5th Congress did not really need to struggle over the intentions of the drafters of the Constitutions in creating this Act as many of its members were the drafters of the Constitution.

    And when the Bill came to the desk of President John Adams for signature, I think it’s safe to assume that the man in that chair had a pretty good grasp on what the framers had in mind.

  34. Rob in CT says:

    Libya is indefensible, IMO. A poor choice and a really, really bad decision-making process, plus failure to have Congress rubber-stamp it.

    But yeah, I do think Perry would be worse for the country. YMMV.

  35. mantis says:

    Obama has issued orders that an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, is to be killed on sight. He has never been convicted of any crime, but he’s still a “shoot on sight” target.

    Without saying I agree with the policy, I’d like to point out that there is a difference between a citizen convicted of a crime he did not commit and a treasonous citizen actively engaging in war against the United States from a foreign country.

  36. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: It’s said that “tough cases make bad laws.” While I would be quite delighted to see al-Awlaki get greased, the precedent it sets — a president having the power to authorize the summary killing of an American citizen — troubles the hell out of me.

    J.

  37. Jay Tea says:

    @sam: I can avoid that mandate by choosing to not be a sailor.

    How do I avoid ObamaCare’s mandate? Apart from the obvious “die” and “renounce my citizenship and leave the country,” of course.

    J.

  38. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: So you are in favor of Perry using the power of the state to execute innocent citizens and then cover it up? I know you like to change the subject instead of answering questions, but you’re not fooling anyone.

    Oh, that’s probably not true. I’m sure you’ve convinced yourself you are a brilliant debater.

  39. Gustopher says:

    @mantis:

    I’d like to point out that there is a difference between a citizen convicted of a crime he did not commit and a treasonous citizen actively engaging in war against the United States from a foreign country.

    With the former there was a legal proceeding where the citizen had the opportunity to defend himself?

  40. sam says:

    @Jay Tea:

    @sam: I can avoid that mandate by choosing to not be a sailor.

    How do I avoid ObamaCare’s mandate? Apart from the obvious “die” and “renounce my citizenship and leave the country,” of course.

    Not really relevant. The question is about the scope of federal power. The coiffed one’s contention was that the founders did not envision the power of the federal government creating “a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care”. The seaman’s act shows that assertion to be false. (And as far as an individual mandate goes, see the Militia Act of 1792. BTW, protesting that this act was passed under the militia power and not the commerce power misses the point, which being that the founders did too think the government could compel you to buy a product–in the case of the Militia Act, a whole bunch of products–so there.)

  41. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: Every now and then I have to remind myself that you are almost incapable of writing intelligently. First, at 11:47 you didn’t specify who the subject of your accusations. Next, at 1:08, you make it clear that it’s Perry you were accusing. At 2:10, you figure that since I haven’t answered your question, I obviously take the side you assign me. Note that at no point did you offer any more details than apparently Rick Perry ordered some poor innocent bastard assassinated, then organized a grand conspiracy to cover it all up.

    On the other hand, I gave the name of the guy Obama’s ordered killed, and mantis demonstrated that he either knew of his case or I had given enough details for him to pick up on what I referred to.

    It’s like you think we all read the same fevered rantings from Democratic Underground and Daily Kos, and are up on all the latest left-wing talking points. Sorry, we’re not.

    I am responsible for a great many things. Your inability to write coherently is not one of them.

    J.

  42. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: It’s not my fault if you run away from the subject at hand so often that you can’t remember what the topic was.

    As for Rick Perry, it’s not about assassination, it’s about execution. It’s about executing a man for the arson deaths of his family based on fraudulent evidence. It’s about Perry’s refusal to stop said execution when there was overwhelming evidence that the man was indeed innocent. It’s about his firing the members of a panel investigating this after the fact and replacing them with Perry loyalists.

    But you don’t have to worry, Jay. We all know you’re not responsible for anything. I mean, who would trust you with any kind of responsibility?

  43. Terrye says:

    Say what you will about Santorum, he did point out that Bachmann’s claim that we were downgraded because of the debt ceiling hike were ridiculous. He also said that it would be crazy not to raise the debt ceiling considering the fact that it mean a 42% cut in spending.

  44. WR says:

    @Terrye: Yes, I will give credit to Santorum for that. But what a sad day for the Republican party when “Man on Dog” is the sanest one on stage.

  45. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: Oh, OK. Perry “has used the power of the state to murder innocent men.” That’s MEN, plural.

    Now it turns out that we’re talking about one guy. One guy that was convicted of murder by arson and executed. A quick Googling says that you are probably talking about Cameron Todd Willingham, who was probably wrongfully convicted.

    I presume you’re fully aware that under Texas law, the governor’s ability to intervene in capital cases is limited to issuing a 30-day stay of execution, one time per case? He has no authority to offer clemency or issue pardons. (I read up on this over the George W. Bush/Bird case.) So there was nothing Perry could have done to stop Willingham’s execution, short of storming the prison and breaking the guy out.

    Now I see why you didn’t do anything more than parrot your talking points — you were either too stupid to know the details, too lazy to look up the details, or too arrogant that you didn’t think someone else would look up the details.

    By the way, who do you blame for the murder of Brian Terry? Consider that YOUR chance to do some homework.

    J.

  46. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea:

    While I would be quite delighted to see al-Awlaki get greased, the precedent it sets — a president having the power to authorize the summary killing of an American citizen — troubles the hell out of me.

    Like I said, I’m not agreeing with the decision. I disagree with it, and like you, find it very troubling (as I did with the detention of Padilla). I was just pointing out the two situations are nowhere near equivalent.

  47. Jay Tea says:

    @mantis: I agree they’re totally different. Perry was legally very limited in what he could do in the Willingham case. He could do very, very little, and even that was of no real consequence. On the other hand, Obama is fully responsible for the policy, and any consequences.

    On the other hand, there are benefits to that precedent. If I were to become president, the Fox executives who canceled “Firefly” would be put on that list on day one.

    J.

  48. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea:

    I agree they’re totally different. Perry was legally very limited in what he could do in the Willingham case. He could do very, very little, and even that was of no real consequence. On the other hand, Obama is fully responsible for the policy, and any consequences.

    I was talking about the individuals in question: Willingham and al-Awlaki. They are not comparable, and therefore the actions of the executives in either case are not particularly comparable either.

    On the other hand, there are benefits to that precedent. If I were to become president, the Fox executives who canceled “Firefly” would be put on that list on day one.

    I doubt those Fox executives would be engaged in war against the United States, but I guess it’s possible. Or is that not the precedent you meant? Yeah, you meant your imaginary precedent. Imagination time is fun, isn’t it?

    I too lament the loss of Firefly. Such are the vicissitudes of the free market. It’s tough to justify an expensive show at 98th place in the Nielsen ratings for very long, even if it’s few fans really, really like it.

  49. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: But wait. He could have stayed the execution. He didn’t. There was a committee investigating. When they were getting close to some uncomfortable truths. he fired them and replaced them with cronies. Nice you checked this out on Redstate. There was a major article in The New Yorker last year which actually has facts in it. You might want to check it out.

  50. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: If you’ve got some kind of point, make it. I know you’re a lazy hack, but if you think I’m going to google Terry’s name so I can write your post for you, you’ve taken it new a new high.

  51. An Interested Party says:

    Let’s see what Radley Balko has to say about Rick Perry…

    The problem here isn’t necessarily that Perry presided over the execution of a man who was likely innocent. If Perry had shown some concern about what happened in the Willingham case, maybe set up an investigation into what went wrong, perhaps even attempted to suspend executions in Texas until he could be sure checks were in place to prevent the execution of an innocent, the way George Ryan did in Illinois—if he’d done any of that, he’d at least have shown some appropriate skepticism. He’d have shown that he’s at least cognizant of the fact that government employees in law enforcement and criminal justice are just as fallible and subject to the trappings of power, bureaucracy, and public choice theory as government employees in, say, tax collection or the regulation of business.

    Instead, Perry couldn’t even acknowledge the possibility of doubt about Willingham’s guilt. He justified his stubbornness by pointing out that Willingham also allegedly beat and was verbally abuse toward his wife, as if that were at all relevant to Willingham murder trial. (Unfortunately, lots of men beat their wives. Most of them don’t also burn their children alive.) More importantly, Perry’s pivot to a “Willingham was a bad man” defense glosses over the most alarming aspect of Willingham’s case, which is much bigger than Willingham: The state of Texas used completely bogus forensic evidence to convict a man in a capital case. (The state also used testimony from a fraud psychologist in the death penalty portion of Willingham’s trial, as it had in dozens of other trials.) If that was allowed to happen here, it has happened in other cases, and in other contexts. Worse, when the state’s forensics committee attempted to investigate Willingham’s execution, Perry replaced the committee members pushing for an investigation with new members more sympathetic to prosecutors.

    And he’s doing it again. In the Hank Skinner case, Perry has actively fought DNA testing that could confirm the innocence (or guilt) of another Texas man on death row. Skinner was at one point hours from execution before the Supreme Court intervened (the intervening justice was Antonin Scalia, believe it or not). In Skinner’s case, the prosecution actually began to conduct DNA testing on crime scene evidence, then stopped when the first tests confirmed Skinner’s version of events. Perry again justified willful ignorance in this case by simply noting that he’s personally convinced of Skinner’s guilt. As if there aren’t dozens of examples of what appeared to be clearly guilty people who were later exonerated by DNA. With Skinner, Perry is not only choosing willful ignorance over transparency, he’d rather risk executing another innocent person than possibly undermine support for the government’s power to execute its citizens.

    I understand the law and order instinct on the right. I also understand why people support the death penalty. But you can hold both of those positions and still be disgusted by Rick Perry’s actions in the Willingham and Skinner cases. In fact, I’d say that if you’re going to claim the banner of limited government with any integrity, you damned well ought to be.

  52. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: If you’ve got some kind of point, make it. I know you’re a lazy hack, but if you think I’m going to google Terry’s name so I can write your post for you, you’ve taken it new a new high.

    You mean like you did here? You hypocritical, lazy slug.

    Willingham was executed in 2004. Perry’s firings took place in 2009.

    Were they working on a time machine to go back and halt the execution?

    We’re not talking about coverups here, we’re talking about your original charge — that Perry “has used the power of the state to murder innocent men.” Some strong words — “murder innocent men.” “Murder” means deliberately kill, “men” is plural, as in “more than one.” Now you’re down to “Perry covered up the execution of a single innocent man five years after it happened.”

    And I repeat another point that you don’t want to address: under Texas law, the sole power the governor has in the case of executions is to issue a one-time 30-day stay.

    And here, I’ll throw your lazy, stupid ass a bone here: Brian Terry was a US Border Patrol agent. He was killed in a gunfight with Mexican drug cartel thugs, at least one of whom was carrying one of the guns the Obama administration arranged to be sold to them and smuggled across the border. To use your own language, he was a federal officer who was murdered by the ATF and all those who were involved with Operation Fast And Furious — which apparently went at least as high as Attorney General Eric Holder, and quite possibly Obama himself.

    Possibly, but doubtful. My money’s on Obama’s involvement being along the lines of “will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” and not too hands-on.

    J.

  53. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Standard Jay Tea response when he realizes one of his crushes is in serious trouble: whirl into furious attacks, then change the subject as quickly as possible.

    You might want to read AIP’s post above to find out about another apparently innocent man Perry is trying to murder.

    And perhaps the Terry case will be germane to any subject under discussion. It certainly isn’t here, nor is Awlaki.

    But thanks for letting me see that the insitutional right is scared about Perry’s vulnerability on the issue of enjoying carrying out the deaths of innocent people under his watch. The more you pretend to freak out, the more of you silly little insults you shout here, the faster you try to change the subject, the more obvious it is that you can’t afford to have people talking about this.

    Hey, if you ever get tired of pretending to be a political analyst, you might want to consider a job as a window. Really, glass is rarely this transparent…

  54. Jay Tea says:

    @WR: You ought to be giving rich thanks to Interested, because he did what you are utterly incapable of doing: making an argument.

    All you have are your talking points and ad hominem attacks. You’re the monkey flinging feces, hoping to buy enough time for someone with a clue to ride to your rescue. You start arguments and pray for others to come along and rescue your moronic ass.

    Know your place, lickspittle. And that place is “useful idiot.”

    Just be wary of the day you outlive your usefulness as a stalking horse.

    J.

  55. Adam says:

    Today, in an unprecedented, politically motivated move, Gov. Rick Perry added Arizona-style anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant proposals to the special session of Texas Legislature. The news was greeted with deep disappointment from thousands all across Texas, including law enforcement leaders, faith leaders, business owners and human and civil rights advocates.
    Unfortunately, Gov. Perry did not stop at calling for the abolition of the mythical “sanctuary cities,” but added provisions related to S-Comm, a failing federal program that is under investigation, and driver’s license restrictions that would increase the cost and time it takes to get a license for all Texans, immigrant or not. The governor has essentially endorsed Senate Bill 9 filed by Senate Republicans last week.
    Texas cannot afford to follow Arizona down on their costly, dead-end road. After passing SB1070, Arizona suffered the consequences of bad ideas becoming bad laws. The state became synonymous with xenophobia and racial prejudice. Boycotts have cost Arizona over $750 million and counting. This Arizona state law has consistently lost legal challenges based on the fact that it violates the Constitution of the U.S.
    Gov. Perry’s proclamation today and SB9 would divert law enforcement resources away from their real job: keeping all Texas communities safe. This phenomenon has been proven in Arizona by SB1070. The Governor and the Republican leadership in Texas are not prioritizing public safety when they push this divisive proposal against the advice of our trusted law enforcement leaders.

  56. Bart says:

    As an Independent, I don’t understand the political tenor of the country. First, Progressives have been turned into socialists by the right, totally dismissing the fact that the Progressive movement evolved, not as a socialist movement, but as a means of protecting the common citizen from the abuses of corporations and the wealthy that had most of the laws and policies weighing heavily in their favor in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

    It is obvious that the Progressive movement must be altered. It cannot go forward in its same form. The nation is going from 4.5 working citizens for every retiree, to 2.1 workers for every retiree by 2030. But the Conservatives want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. First, private retirement plans won’t work for the low wage, uneducated worker. Remember predatory lending anyone? Well, imagine a personal financial planner “selling” private retirement accounts to all workers. These guys are going to sell the financial vehicles that are giving them a kick-back, with little regard as to whether the financial instrument actually produces any benefit when the worker actually retires. Many financial planners are ethical, but for the ones that aren’t, they must be getting their predatory financial plans ready so they can hit the ground running when private plans come to fruition.

    Second, health care vouchers will not work unless Health care costs are first controlled. With health care increasing at two to three times the rate of inflation, the vouchers won’t pay for squat after ten or twenty years, and we’ll be doing all of this legislating all over again.

    Therefore, the Progressives have a point in protecting their programs. But theConservatives have a point because costs will need to be contained and controlled in the existing programs. But what this means is that the answer to our problems is in the middle. And the current presidential choices are quite unsavory. The presidential choices are on the extremes of the Left and the Right. Neither side wants to consider that the other side has a valid point.

    I can only hope that it comes down to Romney vs Obama. I have no desire to return to the Gilded Age. I like the notion of learning from history. There is a reason the Founding Fathers created our cumbersome system – so that the majority of answers will evolve through compromise, so that no small faction can produce undue influence upon the citizens of this country.

  57. Carl says:

    The mainstream media is doing a great job of selecting Romney and Perry as the top contenders in the GOP race, while dissing Bachmann and ignoring Ron Paul – – who both nearly tied each other for the top spot in the Iowa Straw Poll held on Saturday.

    Perry is almost a clone of George W. Bush. He is quite adept at pimping donations from super rich Texas donors and sucking up to the Christian right. This does not make him presidential material.

    Mitt Romney track record suggests he is more of a Job Destroyer than a Job Creator. According to Sinclair Lewis: When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.

  58. matt says:

    @Bart: What sucks is it’s already a pain to get a driver’s license in the state of Texas already. I really enjoyed standing in line for 4 hours to get my license (along with having my SS card my birth certificate and such)..