Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meanwhile, in South Carolina

At last night's Republican debate, his opponents savaged Mitt Romney for refusing to release his tax returns, waffling on abortion, and not being eager enough to kill foreigners. Rick Perry pretty much said that Turkey is run by Islamic terrorists, and he flat out said that South Carolina is at war with the Federal government, while repeating his line about Obama waging a "war against organized religion." ("This guy knows how to start a war," said Will Wilkinson.) For good measure Perry said that Obama feels "disdain for our country."  Ron Paul called for the income tax rate to fall to zero. Rick Santorum sees nothing wrong with jailing people for "treason" on the President's say-so, with no need to present evidence, and he also accused Ron Paul of not being sufficiently pro-gun. (This is the Ron Paul who used to publish newsletters for survivalists.) And Newt, back at the top of his game, said that Obama hates work, "put more people on food stamps than any previous president," and is trying to create more dependency in America -- because, apparently, this somehow serves the interests of "elites." He also said that negotiations with the Taliban are wrong because the only thing we should ever do to our enemies is "kill them." A minute later the crowd booed Ron Paul for upholding the Golden Rule.

Romney, meanwhile, was practicing not answering questions, especially about his taxes, while saying that Obama has no plan to put Americans back to work -- other than the three or four he has presented to Congress, I suppose -- and that he has done nothing to open foreign markets to American goods -- which ignores both the three free trade pacts Obama has, in fact, signed, and also the anti-China rhetoric Romney had been throwing around 5 minutes before to excuse closing steel mills while he was running Bain Capital.

As Andrew Sullivan points out, the most interesting thing about the Republican debates is that George W. Bush never gets mentioned. Most of the candidates are offering nothing but warmed over Bush policies -- more foreign wars, more tax cuts -- but they don't even bother to ask how well those policies worked last time.

Republicans have a choice between the vulture-capitalist multi-millionaire who can't keep his own positions straight from day to day and lies whenever it suits his convenience (Romney), and a fabulous field of:
  • a belligerent idiot (Rick Perry)
  • a fundamentalist fanatic who opposes birth control and has already declared war on Iran (Santorum)
  • a libertarian crankpot who wants to set our economy back to the 1920s (Ron Paul)
  • a deeply corrupt megalomaniac who sees himself as the sole worthy defender of western civilization (Gingrich)
I feel such delightful sorrow for the voters of South Carolina, having to choose between them.

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