Republican Presidential Debate Quickly Turns from Bad to Ugly

Image from the APImage from the Associated Press

Watching the Aug. 11 Republican Presidential debate was as uninspiring as watching half-dazed mice chase one another’s tails around a maze in search of cheese. On the brighter side, the candidates did put enough lies and fumbles on the record to hurt each of their chances of becoming President. And Michele Bachmann did receive some well-deserved smack-downs.Read on for candidate-by-candidate sum ups – but, first, the good, the bad and the ugly:

Good: Marriage equality was the only topic where liberals could see some light. Jon Huntsman openly supports civil unions, while Ron Paul stands unopposed. The rest, of course, are diametrically opposed to allowing a significant swath of society the right to marry.

Bad: Predictably, the candidates derided Obama on the economy and jobs while some of them tried to (unsuccessfully) spit-shine their own jobs record. Most of the GOP pool seeks to cut tax rates for the rich even more, leading to further imbalance in the American economy. None of the candidates seemed to realize we have a current President, referring to him only as “Barack Obama.”

Ugly: Every last lectern had a Republican behind it who raised a hand to say they would “walk away from” any plan to increase revenue – even if revenue and cuts were at a 1:10 ratio ($1 in tax reform for every $10 of spending cuts). How’s that for compromise? Even uglier are those on the panel who reject the rights of rape and incest victims to self-determination.

Candidate Summaries:



Moneyed Mitt Romney

Big flub: Mitt Romney’s job creation record in Massachusetts was dismal, but he won’t own up to it. During the debate he claimed that three out of four years of his term saw state unemployment below the federal level. He also claimed that he turned around job losses after taking office.

The Daily Beast reported last month on the former governor’s stint in office:

“Romney’s jobs record was nearly flat, ranging from a small gain or a small loss depending on how you measure. A comparison of annual employment totals for the year before he took office and 2006, the final year of his term…shows a loss of 13,800 jobs—a 0.4% decrease from a baseline of 3,259,300 jobs in 2002…Over the same period, job growth was 4.4 percent nationally.”

GOP bonus points: Romney tried to grab some social conservative votes by saying he supports a federal amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman because “a child needs a mom and dad.”

Obama bombs: Romney tried to stick it to the President by saying everything Obama did in the economic recovery was wrong; for instance, Obama made it “harder for banks to lend.” Mitt, banks are lending-challenged because they lost assets and investor confidence to toxic sub-prime mortgage securitizations. I suppose Romney’s suggesting that we should repeal financial reform to make way for banks to repeat the cycle of risky investments, predatory lending and economic implosion.

Romney also incorrectly implied that Obama hasn’t had a job (presumably other than elected office). I suppose Mitt thinks you have to lay people off in order to be gainfully employed? In fact, Obama litigated employment discrimination, housing discrimination and voting rights cases for nine years and lectured at the University of Chicago law school for 12 years.


Wacky Ron Paul

Ron Paul thinks his anti-tax stance can align him with Republicans, but he doesn’t have a follow-through plan.

Policy: In a nutshell, Paul advocates “a lot less” regulation and lower taxes, which he thinks will “invite capital back in.” Yet, when he was asked how he could get such a plan through a divided Congress, he was visibly stumped. Lots of dead air there.

Why he won’t be the nominee: Republicans won’t put this guy on the ticket because he supports big cuts in military spending and would leave definitions of marriage, including polygamy, to the states.

WTH moments: The “what-the-heck” moments you can count on Paul for: (1) He wants to “phase out” the Federal Reserve (which supervises and regulates banking institutions and helps maintain the stability of the financial system) and (2) He said the debt ceiling cuts “weren’t cuts at all.” Go figure.


Not-A-Chance-In-Hell Herman Cain

Policy: Herman Cain thinks he can cut tax rates for the wealthiest from the already low Bush tax cut level to a flat 25%. Moreover, he wants to permanently eliminate the capital gains tax and taxes on repatriated profit (earnings made overseas and deposited in the U.S.).

Foot-in-mouth moment: When asked if corporations wouldn’t just pay dividends with the money saved instead of creating jobs, Cain said:

“So what, it’s their money. People receiving dividends might be happy with it…I’m not concerned with what they do with that money if they bring it back.”

Immigration paradox: In his own WTH moment, Cain wants “high fences and wide open doors” simultaneously as a solution to immigration. Seems like the double-pandering is a way to angle for the disenfranchised Latino vote.

If you’re easily encouraged, Cain said he “knows more now” than in the last debate when he had no firm plan on Afghanistan and wasn’t aware of the Palestinian right of return issue.


Maniacal Michele Bachmann

Policy: Michele Bachmann claims her economic plan can turn the economy around in three months. “It isn’t that difficult,” she said. Her promised short-term results are a real mind-bender because her plan includes shrinking the economy by cutting revenue and cutting spending – in short, stopping the lifelines that are keeping public sector jobs afloat.

Girl who thinks she’s wielding a big stick: As expected, Bachmann was high on her contrarianism. She bragged about opposing (clean air) cap and trade legislation “with everything that was in me,” giving Nancy Pelosi “a run for her money.” She also boasted of being “the tip of the spear” in battling all things Obama, including “Obamacare,” saying “fighting very hard against Barack Obama” was what “qualifies” her as a representative of the people.

Still clueless: And Bachmann’s still sticking with the fallacy that refusing to raise the debt ceiling was the “right answer.” Undeterred by her previous verbal missteps, she said that the Standard and Poor’s downgrade proved her position right – that raising the debt ceiling was the wrong thing to do. In fact, the S&P rationale proved the Republicans wrong – a large part of the S&P decision hinged on Republicans’ refusal to compromise on tax increases.

And dangerous: Not part of tonight’s debate, but I don’t want you to miss Bachmann’s recent remarks on abolishing Medicare:

“What you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the [Medicare] system…But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off.”

Bachmann also doesn’t believe in reading Miranda rights to terrorists, essentially saying that being accused of being a terrorist is tantamount to being proven guilty. Ron Paul called her out on that.

Shoot-down: Pawlenty relentlessly attacked Bachmann, exposing her for breaking her no-tax-increase pledge in 2005, when she voted to increase taxes on cigarettes by 75 cents per pack in Minnesota, which resulted in $400 million in revenue for the state.


Out-of-Left-Field Jon Huntsman

Jobs: Jon Huntsman claims he did a great job creating jobs in Utah. He didn’t mention that he created approximately 124,000 of those jobs by scooping up funds from the Obama stimulus package. Huntsman’s job record while in the private sector is questionable – he helped ship 10,000 jobs overseas.

Wolf in sheep’s clothing: Huntsman claims that the EPA is running a “regulatory reign of terror” that prevents factories from building in the U.S. I take this to mean that he wants our nation to have a tolerance for pollution equal with China, where “rapid industrialization is turning water supplies into black toxic soup.”

Why he won’t get the nomination: Being an anti-environmentalist won’t carry Huntsman to a Republican primary victory. He endorses civil unions and approved regional cap and trade – any one of which is equivalent to a GOP blackball.

You can still tell he’s a Republican, though, by his obstinacy and lack of prudence. He said if elected President he would “not talk about anything else” until we have secured the border with more (climbable) fences.

Not-Going-There Newt Gingrich

Do we need to remind Newt that he was responsible for the 1995 government shutdown that led to big Republican losses in the 1996 election?

Policy: Gingrich wants to repeal Frank-Dodd financial consumer protections as well as Sarbanes-Oxley and “Obamacare.” Then, he wants to implement Six Sigma across government.

Why we won’t be seeing Newt on the ticket: When asked why his campaign staff resigned en masse and his campaign is millions in debt, Newt snidely asked the panel to “put aside the ‘gotcha’ questions.” Crybaby.


Risqué Rick Santorum

Santorum is now a risqué term since the senator is the butt of a joke, pun intended.

Here’s why Santorum’s also dangerous:

  • He doesn’t allow for abortion in cases of rape or incest. He would rather impose the trauma of forcing a child to carry the product of incest than what he deems for someone else as the “trauma of abortion.”
  •  He argues that we should cut the corporate tax rate to 0% and thinks doing so will bring manufacturing jobs home from abroad.
  •  He reaffirmed his support for the war in Iraq, even though we’ve wasted trillions and still haven’t found the WMDs.

One grain of reality: While not redeeming, Santorum did stand out as the only GOP voice of reason on the debt limit topic. He countered to Bachmann that “not raising the debt ceiling is showmanship – not leadership.”


Too-In-Your-Face Tim Pawlenty

While his multiple Bachmann smack-downs weren’t amiss, Tim Pawlenty is too unlikeable to be a serious contender. He actually said that “Obama sticks his thumb in the eye” of countries like Israel by trying to broker compromise.

More Obama bombs: After accusing Obama of “lousy leadership and a lousy economy,” Pawlenty claimed he could increase GDP by 5% per year for 10 years – a “pie in the sky” target that he can’t back up with a specific plan. Still, he accuses Obama of having no plan on Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid reform, when Obama’s plan is to preserve benefits and make modest cuts to provider reimbursements to control health costs.

Get some free stuff: Pelt Pawlenty with some facts on Obama’s orientation to entitlement reform – he promised to cook you dinner or mow your one-acre lawn if you do.

Dangerous: Pawlenty, like Santorum, doesn’t support abortion in cases of rape or incest – just when the mother’s life is in danger (gee, thanks, for allowing women the choice to live). He supports criminal sanctions on doctors (but not on women). He’s also extremely proud of appointing “conservative strict constructionists” to courts, as if that’s an innate accomplishment. (Constructionists take the law text literally, with no interpretation, just as fundamentalists take the Bible literally. Very productive.)

Second and final grain of reality: Pawlenty did work some truth into his talking points. He said Bachmann’s record of accomplishment and results is “nonexistent” and that the Tea Party caucus vixen has a “record of misstating and making false statements.”

Let’s not downplay the Congresswoman’s greatest accomplishment (which Bachmann hailed during the debate): the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice act. If Bachmann hadn’t succeeded in circumventing efficiency standards, we could have taken a step toward a greener energy structure, saved $12.5 billion a year in energy costs, and shut down a dozen pollution-making coal plants.

But, thanks to Bachmann, we get to keep the regular-shaped bulbs. How’s that for progress?


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Edited By: Sherri Yarbrough