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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

September 6, 2007


The Fox GOP Debate

Ten minutes. That's how much time Fox News Channel spent of their scheduled one-hour debate with the Republican presidential candidates on the not-yet announced candidacy of Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee Senator and Law and Order actor.

MODERATOR (as moderate as a Fox News anchor can be, I guess) BRIT HUME: So the question is: Who has made the smart moves here, you guys who are here and who have been out on the trail all this time or Senator Thompson?

MADMAN: That's question number one? Not the Iraq war; not President Bush's trip to Asia and continuing stupid and truthless statements; not poverty in America; not health care; Hume wants to know how frightened the announced candidates are of Fred Thompson.

But of all the responses about Thompson, my favorite came from Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a true Libertarian candidate and the only one with guts enough to denounce the Iraq war:

PAUL: Well, I welcome him to the race because, very specifically, he will help dilute the vote for my benefit... because he will be pro-war and I'm the anti-war candidate representing the Republican traditional position.

Well said, Rep. Paul.

While Rep. Paul stated the obvious, the other GOP candidates took the opportunity to kiss the collective asses of New Hampshire Republicans while getting a few laughs. Some of the responses seemed so ready and so scripted that one has to wonder if the questions weren't available to the candidates before the "debate" began.
In all, the opening question took up over ten minutes of the available time.

Next up was the immigration issue, one that has taken a back seat recently. For the past few weeks, with so much going on in Iraq, the resignations of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Bush brain Karl Rove, and the Photo-Op trip to Asia and Iraq by President Bush, one might think that any one of those subjects would be higher on the list of American voters, and questioner Chris Wallace. In fact, the issues that the average US citizen rate in importance, in this order, are:
1) The Iraq War
2) Health Care

In excess of 15 minutes were taken up by questions which provided no insights or answers to the question of immigration. However, Fox News did manage to put reporter Carl Cameron in a New Hampshire diner to ask a question of the candidates - sort of.

POLICE LIEUTENANT ROGERS (from the diner): Well, we're overwhelmed in the street. I mean, just the crimes are getting more violent. They're out of control. We can't communicate with these immigrants. My concern is these illegal immigrants get here, you know -- what makes you think that they're going to follow any of these rules put in place?
They're not. Either you can build all the fences you want. If you don't man them, they're going to go over them, they're going to go under them. They're still going to get in here.
What are you going to do with the illegal immigrants that are already here? How are you going to handle that problem? There's millions of them.
The opportunities I've had to deal with the situation -- you call INS; they won't even come down and talk to you. They're just understaffed, undermanned. What are you going to do about that?

Listening to this "question", one shouldn't help but notice the racist undertones by the LT. Rogers. The "question" wreaked of "you people" and "those people" tones which must have made some good old southern boys teary eyed as they reminisced for the good ol' days of "separate but equal". The "question" wasn't even clarified for those of us caught in the headlights left with our mouths agape watching the debate. Instead, Cameron said this:

CAMERON: So we're going to spin this one back to both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and ask the lieutenant's question: How can you not call it amnesty?

Many of the candidates stated the obvious truth that one can't "fix" immigration without first controlling the borders. Of course, other than the usual rhetoric of telling us what must be done, not one single candidate would tell us all how they would do it. Even Rep. Tom Tancredo, the guy who can't live without Mexican food, but can live without Mexicans, noticed his colleagues hypocrisy:

TANCREDO: Well, I'll tell you. I'd like to see more than rhetoric. I wish that I could feel in their hearts that that's exactly where they were going. And it's got nothing to do with disliking people who are coming into this country. It's got everything to do with the rule of low.
Does anybody understand that?

Recently I was in Miami, Florida. The Cuban-American population is more dominant there than all other separately identified populations combined. Even looking for an English language FM radio station in English took some time to find. It appeared that two out of every three stations were broadcast in Spanish. And that makes sense. After all, with the "wet-foot, dry-foot" rule, which basically states that any Cuban refugee who can get their feet on US soil will be allowed to stay. and the nearest place, of course, is Southern Florida. But does that make them different than those who come from Mexico looking for the same opportunities here as their Cuban counterparts?

Of course it does. After all, those new Cuban-Americans, once gaining citizen status, vote Republican.

Among other answers were Rep. Duncan Hunter's, who represents a district on the US southern border in California. Duncan says that he has built the wall in the San Diego area and that, if elected, he would get the rest of the 800 mile or so wall to Texas completed in six months!

HUNTER: As president, I will complete all 854 miles in six months. That's my commitment. I'm going to build the fence. It's the law.

Ambitious little guy, isn't he? Well. Rep. Hunter, who's going to build it and how are you going to pay for it? Sure the bill was signed into law by President Bush last October, but less than 20 miles have been completed so far. Which other projects will take a back seat while your wall is being built? Get your overalls on, Rep. Hunter. You got some work ahead of you.

The third question was about, you guessed it - Senator Larry Craig, the Republican Senator from Idaho who supposedly propositioned an undercover policeman in a Minneapolis Airport bathroom. The next question to the candidates was the abortion issue. Somehow the folks at Fox News decided that made the jump from lude behavior in a bathroom to the issue of a woman's right to choose is a natural. In that way, maybe they feel they can somehow steal the moral high ground back - somehow.

Question Five was gun control and the stupid question of the night was given to Rep. Ron Paul by Wendell Goler.

GOLER: Congressman Paul, another gun issue for you, if you will. You have said that the 9/11 attackers might have had second thoughts if they'd felt that some of the passengers aboard the airplanes might have been armed.

PAUL: Well, first off, you're quoting me incorrectly.
PAUL: I said the responsibility for protecting passengers falls with the airline, not the government -- not the passengers. The airline's responsible for the aircraft and the passengers.
If we wouldn't have been dependent on the federal government to set all the rules, which meant no guns and no resistance, then the terrorists may well have had second thoughts, because the airlines would have had the responsibility.
But we assumed the government was going to take care of us. After 9/11, instead of moving toward the direction of personal responsibility and private property and second amendment, we moved in the opposite direction. We turned it over to the federal government. And look at the mess we have now at airports.
I mean, the airlines -- private industry protects their property all the time. People who haul around money in armored trucks protect their money all the time. But here is one example when the federal government was involved and they messed it up, and if we put the responsibility on the right people, respected the second amendment, I sincerely believe there would have been a lot less chance of 9/11 ever happening.

Whether you agree with Paul or not, you have to love it that he didn't let the Foxie's get away with putting words in his mouth.

The next question again came from the diner. The questioner asked about values, but not the kind of values these candidates believe in. Take a look at how Cameron got a New Hampshire state employee to "ask" the gay marriage question:

CAMERON: A lot of conservatives would like to see a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And we have a chance here to talk to Heidi Turcotte of Dover, state employees -- a state employee, Health and Human Services social worker. What do you think, should we be banning -- should there be a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

HEIDI TURCOTTE, N.H. STATE EMPLOYEE: Absolutely not. We're the state of live free or die, and people should be able to marry the person they love.

CAMERON: OK. So let's take that question from Heidi Turcotte -- and there you hear the reaction from Granite Staters, the "Live Free or Die" state -- and pose this to Sam Brownback.

Did anyone hear or see a question from Ms. Turcotte? I wonder what question a social worker might have asked the GOP candidates had she actually been given the opportunity to ask a question? Of course, this was a setup question to allow the candidates to state their no gay marriage amendment rhetoric in order to keep their Religious Right base in line. And, of course, it was structured by Fox News to give their candidates a softball to hit out of their very conservative ballpark.

The next question was asked about which GOP candidate would be better equipped to keep us safe.

GOLER: Senator McCain, Mayor Giuliani says his leadership after the 9/11 attacks shows he is the best candidate for national security, and you say nothing he has done shows any real experience in foreign policy or national security affairs. Tell me why, sir.

The answers not only didn't talk about what any of the candidates would do to keep us safe in the future, but brought the question into Iraq. As President Bush has done, and is still doing, the GOP candidates have decided tat the best way to win is to use the Bush tactic of identifying what is going on in Iraq with the terror attacks of 911. As many Americans keep falling off that bandwagon (half of America believed that Iraq perpetrated the 911 attacks in 2003 - today that number is down to less than 25 percent), the GOP candidates must believe that the only way they can capture the White House is to: (A) Equate Iraq with 911, and; (B) Keep our troops in Iraq indefinitely, just as President Bush accidentally stated just days ago.

But that isn't all. Given the opportunity, Giuliani stated his greatness in the aftermath of 911. Even McCain said that Rudy did a good job after the attacks. But what none of the other candidates mentioned about Giuliani as New York mayor is puzzling. One would think that opponents would tell their would-be voters that America's Mayor refused radios that would have allowed the NYPD and FDNY the ability to talk to each other before the towers came down. And one might think that the knowledge of Giuliani's insistence that the New York City Office of Emergency Management was put in the World Trade Center in spite of the obvious, that the WTC had been, and would be the prime target of terrorists in The Big Apple.

And of course, this led to "The Surge". At the same time that Mitt Romney disagreed with the statement (most of Fox News questions were statements, no actual questions) that the former Massachusetts Governor would have the troops come home even before Hillary Clinton would, he stated that "The Surge" is working. Maybe it's a good thing for the GOP candidates to side with the President on Iraq. After all, it seems to side against the great majority of us "normal" Americans.

But it was Chris Wallace who was put in his place by Rep. Paul who wouldn't kow-tow to Wallace's manipulative question:

WALLACE: Congressman Paul, your position on the war is pretty simple: Get out. What about, though, trying to minimize the bloodbath that would certainly occur if we pull out in a hurry? What about protecting the thousands of Iraqis who have staked their lives in backing the U.S.? And would you leave troops in the region to take out any al Qaeda camps that are developed after we leave?

PAUL: The people who say there will be a bloodbath are the ones who said it will be a cakewalk or it will be a slam dunk, and that it will be paid for by oil. Why believe them? They've been wrong on everything they've said.
So why not ask the people... why not ask the people who advised not to go into the region and into the war? The war has not gone well one bit.
Yes, I would leave. I would leave completely. Why leave the troops in the region? It was the fact that we had troops in Saudi Arabia -- was one of the three reasons given for the attack on 9/11.
So why leave them in the region? They don't want our troops on the Arabian Peninsula. We have no need for our national security to have troops on the Arabian Peninsula.
And going into Iraq and Afghanistan and threatening Iran is the worst thing we can do for our national security. I am less safe, the American people are less safe for this.
It's the policy that is wrong. Tactical movements and shifting troops around and taking in the 30 more and reducing by five -- totally irrelevant.
We need a new foreign policy that said we ought to mind our own business, bring our troops home, defend this country, defend our borders...

During the Paul answer, there was applause for the second time about his stance on the war from a Republican audience. But that didn't deter Wallace who was still trying to paint the Congressman into a corner:

WALLACE: Congressman Paul -- and I'd like you to take 30 seconds to answer this -- you're basically saying that we should take our marching orders from Al Qaeda? If they want us off the Arabian Peninsula, we should leave?
PAUL: No. I'm saying we should take our marching orders from our Constitution. We should not go to war. We should not go to war without a declaration. We should not go to war when it's an aggressive war. This is an aggressive invasion. We've committed the invasion of this war. And it's illegal under international law.
That's where I take my marching orders, not from any enemy.

Wallace and the rest of the Foxies went to the rest of the candidates for their "support the surge" comments". But the one which troubled me the most is Former Arkansas Governor Mile Huckabee's:

HUCKABEE: We have to continue the surge, and let me explain why, Chris. When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me: If I picked something off the shelf at the store and I broke it, I bought it. I learned I don't pick something off the shelf I can't afford to buy. Well, what we did in Iraq, we essentially broke it. It's our responsibility to do the best we can to try to fix it before we just turn away.

In other words, as President Bush likes to say, if a Republican (other than Rep. Paul) becomes president, and with the rate of improvement in Iraq (as if there is any) we're there to stay.

And that's my last word. I just can't stand anymore.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg