Three thoughts off the bat:
- This debate was called “The Republican Commander-in-Chief Debate” and I’m going to say right now: If this is the best the GOP has to offer, they better start kissing Huntsman’s ass or Obama can simply kick his feet up and let this circus implode.
- NJ in the #CBSNJdebate seriously should have meant nut job, not “National Journal”
- The audience cheered assassinating American citizens who support acts against the US and Michele Bachmann endorsing China’s economic/social model because “they don’t have food stamps.” Where the hell do these people come from?
Herman Cain was lost because he couldn’t use 9-9-9. For real. He said he disagrees with torture but would let “the people on the ground” decide what torture is and isn’t. His biggest blunder was declaring that we still don’t know if Pakistan is “friend or foe” and that the U.S. should cut off military aid to Pakistan. Cain said if he were in charge, the mission and goals of victory would be clear for Afghanistan. Moderators punted by not asking him what those thresholds would be and how would they be determined. Regarding Pakistan: Where did we find Bin Laden again, and we have cut off aid. Obama did that.
Newt Gingrich was a patronizing asshole. He said the Arab Spring is in danger of turning Anti-Christian and if that happens, we should intervene. Gingrich made a bizarre point about following the “Reagan/Thatcher/John Paul II plan” against Iran. WTF? He attacked moderators for not knowing the rule of law regarding presidential authority with assassination and endorsed a “review panel” with the power to direct assassinations of anyone who is “against the United States.” That’s right, a death panel. He summed it up with “You kill people who are trying to kill you.” He also said we don’t currently have a reliable intelligence force. Like the one that found Osama Bin Laden, amirite?! </sarcasm>
Michele Bachmann seemed to rail in the batshit for just a few seconds when talking about foreign aid. She said eliminating all foreign aid is simplistic and wouldn’t work. And then…. we got to nukes. Bachmann claimed that Obama supports Occupy Wall Street, but not Israel, and that places Israel in danger of “World Wide Nuclear War” with everyone but us. She forgets that Obama HAS increased aid to Israel and has gone so far as to approve secret arms sales to Israel that were denied by the Bush administration. But facts are hard. Bachmann wants to reform TriCare (military’s health care program) by “modernization” - essentially, privatization. Oh, and she endorsed torture as well and said the CIA is being run by the ACLU. Finally, she praised China for not having food stamps or AFDC and that the US should be more like China. Even though she spent the last debate fear-mongering about China.
Mitt Romney endorsed torture and assassinating American citizens. He didn’t seem to see any controversy associated with it. Also, he endorsed cooperation with the Arab world while simultaneously endorsing torturing its people and reducing foreign aid. Romney suggested getting into a trade war with China, not spending money to intervene in foreign affairs unless we spend money to help Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and said we must link public sector pay to the rates of private sector pay. So university professors at public universities should make as much as those at private ones? How about soldiers making as much as Xe/Blackwater missionaries? Romney echoed bits of what others said and didn’t really seem to have any clear policy ideas other than “repeal Obamacare.” One minute, he wanted to be diplomatic with other countries. The next, he’s okay steamrolling in with tanks. The best part was watching Romney as Perry fumbled through answers. A picture says a thousands words:
Rick Perry made a few cracks about his massive brain implosion last debate. That was about as good as his performance ever got. Perry wants to start all foreign aid at zero, which would include Israel, then quickly added that Israel would “obviously” get a boost in foreign aid later on in the debate. He was completely incapable of answering a question when it was asked, always choosing to address the previous question and irritating moderators who asked him to answer the question. Perry generated more word salad than a filibuster by Sarah Palin. He went back and forth on endorsing torture. Then we got to the assassination of American citizens. Perry chided Ron Paul for objecting based on the Geneva Conventions and international law. He said “war is lawless” and that he would support that view “until the day he dies.” He also praised the economic models of France and Germany, forgetting about the whole Democratic socialism and parliamentary system of government thing. His attitude summed up via gif:
Ron Paul had his best debate ever. When you listen to him talk on foreign policy, you forget about his harsh anti-abortion stances and non-support of civil rights law. When the other candidates were endorsing torture and assassinating Americans, Paul kept insisting (rightly) that you cannot do that and expect to be seen as a beacon of democracy or to have any moral ground when expecting other countries to obey the same laws. He said torture is illegal, immoral, impractical, uncivilized, and un-American. He pointed out that the others were endorsing giving authority to the president and a panel to assassinate people when “we don’t trust them to even run our health care” and exclaimed, “You better look at that idea real carefully!” He also pointed out the US keeps supporting then overthrowing dictators and that’s “costly foreign policy” to continue.
Rick Santorum acted as Newt Gingrich’s echo chamber. His standout fail was when he claimed the US must “follow the Geneva Convention” and endorsed waterboarding in the same sentence. He also proclaimed the use of torture unearthed vital information and it works, completely disregarding numerous published reports to the contrary. Again, facts are hard. Santorum had a Tom Clancy moment talking about how US intelligence shows there’s numerous dead “terrorist scientists,” “scientists” and “computer virus threats” in Russia and Iran, so the US should not be afraid to intervene. Y’know, the SAME intelligence service he agreed is incompetent. He was out of his element because he couldn’t talk about social wedge issues. Santorum was itching to scream, “NUKE THE GAY ABORTIONS!” but managed to keep it in check.
Jon Huntsman was, again, the adult in the room who reminded the others on the playground you can’t beat people up and take their lunch money just because you don’t like them. Huntsman had one of the best lines in a debate thus far when he disagreed with everyone but Paul and said we should come home from Afghanistan, saying, “I don’t want to be nation-building in Afghanistan when this nation needs to be built at home.” He also said a trade war with China was a stupid idea because it would adversely affect businesses in the US. Huntsman was the only person to recognize a military veteran for his service when said veteran asked a question about supporting torture. Huntsman said he did not and pointed to it setting a bad precedent. Huntsman and Paul should have debated foreign policy because each of them has a clear, articulate vision for US foreign policy. In other words, they know shit. Huntsman’s low was endorsing the Paul Ryan plan for deficit reduction. He’s smarter than that.
So there you have it. It’s somewhat terrifying for anyone but Huntsman or Paul to be taken seriously, especially on foreign affairs.