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This Is What Democracy Looks Like
Friday-Sunday, May 4-6, 2007
Answers, Flip-Flops and Softballs
The First GOP Presidential Debate
"I hate abortion" but "would respect a women's right to make a different choice."
-Former New York City Mayor and present GOP presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani
"A different Choice." Interestingly put, to say the most. Giuliani was the only Republican to come out for a woman's right to choose to have a baby or not. Some might think that he will lose support and his edge in the GOP polls because of this statement, but I'm not one of them. Giuliani's support comes from his appearing as the take-charge face of 911. His support comes from there as well. Those whose only (or primary) issue is abortion weren't going to vote for him anyway, at least not in the primary. Those candidates, like Senator Sam Brownback (REPUBLICAN-KS), Rep. Tom Tancredo ((REPUBLICAN-CO) and Governor Mike Huckabee (REPUBLICAN-AR).
Speaking of Brownback, Tancredo and Huckabee, they were the only three who said they didn't believe in evolution. If one of these far-right, butt-kissing psycho's could get the other two to drop out of the GOP presidential sweepstakes, he would be guaranteed a large lion's share of the Religious Right's votes. Taking into consideration that the nation is about evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, this means that their vote could account for about 40 percent of the GOP primary electorate. Giuliani, a twice divorced, thrice married, former mayor of, as Jesse Jackson out it, Hymietown; the guy with the New York accented lisp; the guy who wears a New York Yankee hat and jacket as a matter of course; the guy whose own children might not vote for him, let alone work for his campaign, wasn't going to get those votes anyway. The main problem the more moderate GOP candidates have will be what would happen if all of these Reverends and Pastors, along with the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (to name just two) get their own vote out to make sure that one of the three actually gets the nod.
The big two, Rudy and McCain both came out in favor of providing funds for fetal stem cell research. They, like every single Democratic candidate, realize that throwing out perfectly good in vitro fertilized embryos isn't only stupid, but wasteful. In fact, by using, rather than throwing out, these frozen never-to-be people, we would actually be saving lives where there is no life to be sacrificed.
Let us also note the softballs served up to the GOP Gang of Ten, which included a gratuitous "What if Bill Clinton was in he White House again?" question by Hardball's Chris Matthews which allowed each and every one of them a cheap shot at the Hillary Clinton (get used to it if she gains the nomination on the Democratic side).
GIULIANI: We're the country with the greatest health care system in the world... we should fix it from our strengths. We shouldn't turn into socialized medicine. Those are the things that Ronald Reagan taught us. You lead from optimism.
MADMAN: No follow-up by anyone in the building.
MCCAIN: We have a new general, we have a new strategy (in Iraq).
MADMAN: Huh? Meet the new GOP leader, same as the old GOP leader. Again, no follow-up by anyone in the building.
MATTHEWS: Do you need anything beyond what the president has now to win the war?
MCCAIN: I think it's on the right track. The war was terribly mismanaged. The war was terribly mismanaged, and we now have to fix a lot of the mistakes that were made. Books have been written.
MADMAN: So, let me get this straight. All we have to do is sit back and let the President do whatever he wants - give him a blank check and carte blanche - and Iraq will somehow, miraculously "fix" itself. In this situation, where a President didn't bother listening to his Generals prior to the war (Eric Shinseki, Anthony Zinni, Tommy Franks, David McKiernan, Jay Garner, etc), then what in the world makes John McCain think that he, Dick Cheney, et al, are on the right track now? Sometimes that light at the end of that tunnel is another train, senator.
MCCAIN: If we withdraw they will follow us home.
MADMAN: Where did they get the Navy? Does anyone seriously think that anyone in Iraq is really going to follow us home and attack? Al-Qaeda already did that, without us losing a war in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter. And let's not forget that all of this happened as President Bush ignored his advisors who warned him including the CIA and anti-terrorism Czar Richard Clark while listening to the likes of Chalabi who had only their own self-interests at heart.
TOMMY THOMPSON: First, you have to support the troops.
MADMAN: Way to go out on a limb there, Tommy. Isn't it a shame that it took a Washington Post report to make anyone take notice?
ROMNEY: (regarding Iraq) You could have our neighbors get involved.
MADMAN: OUR neighbors? Let's get that Mexican army ready. Recruitment starts in LA tomorrow. It would be nice if one of the many GOP talking heads running for leader of the free world wouldn't confuse the United States with Iraq, a supposed separate nation.
MATTHEWS: How do we win this war if every dead terrorist is so easily replaced?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (KS): I think we win the war by standing up for our values...
MADMAN: Grab a seat, Sam... We'll get back to you.
MATTHEWS: Congressman Tancredo... imagine you're president of the United States...
MADMAN: That's as close as Tancredo's getting, too.
VANDEHEI: Governor Huckabee, this question comes from Curtis Waldman (sp) from Boca Raton, Florida. Thousands of reputable scientists have concluded with almost certainty that human activity is responsible for the warming of the Earth. Do you believe global warming exists?
GOV. HUCKABEE: The most important thing about global warming is this: Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the scientists, but it's all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the future generations than we found it. It's the old Boy Scout rule of the campsite; you leave the campsite in better shape than you found it.
MADMAN: In other words, if I close my eyes and ears, I can't hear the scientists or see them. If I can't hear or see them, then there is no problem. Dismissing what you don't believe, regardless of the overwhelming proof and the multitude of REAL scientists who are warning you in favor of what you want to believe is Bushism at its finest.
MATTHEWS: Would the day that Roe v. Wade is repealed be a good day for Americans?
GIULIANI (after the other GOP candidates all agreed with this softball): It would be okay.
MADMAN: Get ready for the Rudy Giuliani flip-flop machine. One gets the feeling that the Rudy limo in South Carolina and Georgia will be flying the Stars and Bars and the Israeli flag in New York City and Skokie, Illinois.
ROMNEY: Well, I've always been personally pro-life, but for me there was a great question about whether or not government should intrude in that decision. And when I ran for office, I said I'd protect the law as it was, which is effectively a pro-choice position. About two years ago when we were studying cloning in our state, I said, look, we have gone too far; it's a brave new world mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us; and I change my mind.
HARRIS: Governor, with respect, some people are going to see those changes of mind as awfully politically convenient.
MADMAN: Let's put aside the old "flip-flop" thing that seems to be all the rage among the big three (Rudy, McCain and Mitt) for a second. Romney changing his mind is more politically convenient and politically expedient as any decision any one of these three have made since their decision to run for the GOP presidential nomination. In fact, two years ago, if we're to take Mitt's word for it, would have been just about the time when he decided to run for the White House. What a coincidence!
ROMNEY: I believe states should have the right to make this decision, and that's a position I indicated in an op-ed to the Boston Globe two years ago.
MADMAN: Now wait a second here. If it's a life in South Carolina, then isn't it a life in New York? There is no more hypocritical position one could take then to say, "Well I'm personally against abortion; but I followed the law without trying to change it; but I changed my mind when it became politically expedient; but it's okay in some states and immoral in other states. Where should I stand when come campaigning in YOUR state?"
And more Rudy on the abortion issue:
GIULIANI: I supported (public financing of abortions) in New York. But I think in other places, people can come to a different decision.
MADMAN: Ah... King Rudy, the Flip-Flopper Find your throne and take your seat atop it. It's the one with the big hole in the middle.
And if you want proof of Matthews' softball capabilities, just check out these two "questions":
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Senator McCain. We're in the house of Ronald Reagan. Every cab driver in America knew what Ronald Reagan stood for: defeat communism abroad, reduce big government at home. Can you, Senator McCain, restore that kind of unity of purpose?
MATTHEWS: Governor Huckabee, the question is, how do you unify the country the way Reagan did, a good portion of the country?
MADMAN: Why wait for the GOP candidates to invoke the Reagan name and claim its legacy for their own when Matthews will do it for you? And why not ask McCain, whose positions have changed almost as much as Giuliani's in the past few months, "Can you...?" instead of "How would you...? When it comes to answering the hard questions, Matthews is missing his heater and relying on the junk. (You baseball fans will appreciate that one.)
Of course, there were moments that made one think. For example, this one segment from Rep. and doctor Ron Paul (TX):
PAUL: I believe that when we overdo our military aggressiveness, what it does it actually weakens our national defense. I mean, we stood up to the Soviets. They had 40,000 nuclear weapons. Now we're fretting day in and day -- night about third-world countries that have no army, navy or air force, and we're getting ready to go to war.
MADMAN: Paul is a Libertarian. He also voted against the Iraq war. Of all the GOP hopefuls, he appears to be the only one who hasn't reversed his stances on the issues. Whether you agree with this guy or not, at least you know where he stands.
And this gem from Tancredo:
TANCREDO: Yeah. Karl Rove would certainly not be in the White House that I inhabited.
MADMAN: A White House with Tancredo and Rove. I just got a chill up and down my spine. If you thought that it was easy for Rove to manipulate a guy like George W. Bush, imagine what Rove could do with Tancredo at the helm. I just got a shiver up and down my spine.
VANDEHEI: Governor Huckabee, a Politico.com reader wants a letter grade; he wants to know A through F, how would you rate the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war.
HUCKABEE: I think it's too early to give them the grade. You don't give a student a grade in the middle of the exam. We're still in the middle of the exam. Let's wait and see how it turns out, then we can give the president a grade.
MADMAN: The grade's an "F". Even if this were merely a midterm (meaning that we have at least another four years of this crappy war), it would still be an "F".
VANDEHEI: But a teacher will usually give you a heads-up maybe midway through that semester. (Laughter.)
HUCKABEE: My teachers never did. I don't know where you went to school, but in Arkansas -- (laughter) -- we didn't get a grade until it was over, and usually we didn't want to take it home. (Laughter.)
MADMAN: And just where does Arkansas lie in the education ratings of the 50 United States? Is it up from the 50th position yet?
So many softballs and so little time. This debate, if one could call it that, lofted more gopher balls into the stands than Major League Baseball's Home Run hitting contest during their All-Star break. There are real questions that need to be asked and Chris Matthews isn't the guy to ask them. Shouldn't Fox News be looking to sign him already?
In response to, "Using that logic, one could actually blame American slavery on Africa!" Victoria Brownworth writes:
Well, theoretically, that's true since it was black slave traders in Africa who sold their fellow citizens with no qualms whatsoever and are still doing it today. There is actually more slavery today (see Anti-Slavery International) than ever before in history.
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