Let me confess I was a bit under the weather last night. I watched the debate in a daze. I should have skipped it and got some sound sleep.
First let me say that we all experience now and then what is called in my neck of the woods, a brain fart. So Rick Perry poked his finger in the air and declared he would, as President, eliminate three cabinet level departments of the federal government: the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce and the Department of... .... Oops. He couldn't come up with the name of the third Department!
Talk about awkward! I doubt even Herman Cain's accusers experienced that degree of awkward.
But I'll give Perry a pass on that. Like I said. Old guys get brain farts every now and then. Where I can't give Perrry a pass is the cheap imitation he does of a conservative politician. Ron Paul recommends cutting five Departments of the federal government, so Perry decides to cut three (five is too libertarian!).
Bottom line: Even Perry's hair had a bad night.
If this debate is any indication, we conservatives/libertarians are in deep trouble in 2012.
I continue to believe that these frantic debates are hurting the chances of a Republican to unseat President Obama. As the Republican candidates flit around the stage chasing rabbits loosed on them by hostile questioners, Mr. Obama is gadding about the world in private jets and huge limousines acting Presidential, all the while being fawned over by the American mainsteam press. This just can't turn out well.
First, let's discuss CNBC...My God! CNBC is a business news channel, ain't it? Consider these questions:
JIM CRAMER (The host of "Mad Money"): "... I'm on the frontlines of the stock market. We were down 400 points today. We're not going to be done going down if this keeps going on, if Italy keeps -- the rates keep going up. Surely you must recognize that this is a moment-to-moment situation for people who have 401(k)s and IRAs on the line and you wouldn't just let it fail, just go away and take our banking system with it?"
CRAMER (again): "Italy's too big to fail. It's great. I'd love it if we were independent. It would be terrific to say, 'It's your fault. It's your fault. It's your problem.' But if this goes, the world banking system could shut down. Doesn't that involve our banks, too?"
Jim Cramer personifies crony capitalism, that detestable attitude on Wall Street that assumes the stock market is the be all and end all of life in America, that those who work on Wall Street are God's gift to the common man, and that, by God, the federal government better take care of these financial gurus when things go south! It is obvious from his questions that Cramer believes government's function is to use tax money to bailout markets and states that have gotten themselves into trouble by misreading reality. He want's government to prolong their fantasy. Why? Because, of course, Wall Streeters are our modern day Samurai, our glorious and honorable warriors on the front line of prosperity. It's total garbage!
JOHN HARWOOD: "Ronald Reagan raised taxes when the deficit got too big, George W. Bush supported TARP and the auto bailout when he thought we might face a great depression -- second great depression. Does that -- examples like that tell you that good, effective leaders need to show the kind of flexibility that Governor Romney has shown on some issues?"Even allowing for the fact that Harwood was playing off of his previous question which suggested Romney was a waffler, the question is disingenuous and could have been asked without the pandering preface.
HARWOOD: "Governor Romney, when you were at Bain Capital, you purchased a lot of companies. You could fire the CEO and the management team or you could keep them. Would you keep a CEO -- are you persuaded by what Mr. Cain has said? Would you keep him on if you bought his company?"More blatant pandering here.
CRAMER: "...I want to talk about a high-quality problem our country has.Cramer just doesn't believe we can solve our own problems without government help. After the debate, Cramer criticized the Republican candidates who see no need at all for government intervention in the economy. What rot!
I just came back from North Dakota. We have made the largest oil discovery in a generation there. Not only is it a -- the find a big step toward creating energy independence, it stands to create as many as 300,000 jobs. But what the guys tell me up there is that they can't handle the rush without federal help. Would you favor incentives, incentives to get workers and businesses to where the jobs are to support this boom?"
Now to the candidates...
As usual, Santorum and Bachmann were about as exciting as drowning goldfish.
Huntsman was 90% puff. His sensible caution against starting a trade war with China was the other 10%.
Romney was his usual slick, confounding, satisfy everyone self which so frustrates conservatives/libertarians. Consider this exchange:
Romney went on to do a pretty decent job of explaining what profits are and why they are good for business in particular and America in general. This answer gives me hope that Romney might not be the liberal troll that guys like me like to hate.CRAMER: Governor Romney, do you believe public companies have any social responsibility to create jobs, or do you believe, as Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, the most important, most influential conservative economist of the 20th century held, that corporations should exist solely to create maximum profit for their shareholders?
ROMNEY: This is a wonderful philosophical debate. But you know what? We don't have to decide between the two, because they go together.
On the other hand, why didn't he tackle the question on a philosophical basis? Why didn't he simply say that profits are the reward of successful trades in the free marketplace, that profits are private property and that, as such, any question as to how profits "should" be used is to be answered only by those who own them.
My fear is that Romney couldn't say this because, at his core, he doesn't believe it. My fears were confirmed when Romney embarked on his "punish China" diatribe. China is a cheat, a currency manipulator and all the rest. We ought to report China to the world body that is in charge of keeping the playing field level. And if that doesn't help, we ought to impose a tariff or two or three on China to keep that rogue country on the straight and narrow. More rot!
Ron Paul could have given a philosophical answer to the question on profit. Last night he was his usual steady, libertarian proponent of property, freedom and peace.
Herman Cain was as convivial, engaging and all over the map as usual. The problem is he's got this huge albatross around his neck and I'm afraid the women and the media who put it there are not going to go away.
Which leaves Newt Gingrich. Those of you who believe that good ole' Newt is the smartest candidate and for that reason the best candidate consider the answer below that he gave to Maria Bartiromo who asked: "Would you like to try to explain... ...in simple speak, to the American people, what you would do after you repeal the president's health care legislation?" Newt answered:
Let me just say it very straight. One, you go back to a doctor-patient relationship and you involve the family in those periods where the patient by themselves can't make key decisions. But you re-localize it.If you understand what the hell this gobbledygook means and why the hell I should entrust the puddin' head that said it with the office of the Presidency in 2012, kindly inform me. My inquiring mind wants to know.
Two, as several people said, including Governor Perry, you put Medicaid back at the state level and allow the states to really experiment because it's clear we don't know what we are doing nationally.
Three, you focus very intensely on a brand-new program on brain science because the fact is the largest single out-year set of costs we are faced with are Alzheimer's, autism, Parkinson's, mental health, and things which come directly from the brain.
And I am for fixing our health rather than fixing our health bureaucracy because the iron lung is the perfect model of saving people so you don't need to pay for federal program of iron lung centers because the polio vaccine eliminated the problem. That's a very short (inaudible).
"Brain science"! "Iron lung"!!
As I said earlier, we are in deep doodoo come 2012. Lord, shoot me now and get it over with!