Streaming Thoughts on Republican Foreign Policy Debate



Bachmann chides Gingrich for having a heart.


First things first:  My fashion review of the Republican presidential candidates’ debate was picked up by GQ, in the form of a friendlier, albeit, more in-depth breakdown of the Republican presidential candidates’ respective styles.  In reality, I’m sure GQ thought up the piece without my help.  But we’ll see what the Court of Appeals has to say about it.  Haha.  But seriously.

I turned the debate on around the beginning of the second hour; these were my thoughts as they came:

Paul Wolfowitz (!?!?!?) asks if candidates will continue PEPFAR, W. Bush’s AIDS-prevention program in Africa.  PEPFAR was, hands down, Bush Jr.’s biggest success as President, IMO.  Santorum says yes, and, with the biggest blunder of the night, justifies his position by reminding the room that before PEPFAR, Africa was a, “country on the brink”.  I am floored until this idiocy is immediately topped by Ron Paul, who goes OFF about how PEPFAR hasn’t done anything (it’s done a lot, see above), and how if we’re going to ship anything over to Africa, we should ship free market principles.  Oy.

Next question:  Will you cut defense spending?

All boots begin to shake.  Romney attempts to hide behind his podium.  Suspect pools of liquid pool at the feet of candidates Cain, Bachmann, and Perry.

Gingrich is ready to bomb Iran as a last resort to replace the current regime, and cannot wait to turn the U.S. into a sea of oil fields.  Huntsman impresses by acknowledging the importance of economics in forming military policy.  Audience reaction:  Crickets.

Perry is asked if he would compromise with Democrats over a budget.  First he tries for laughs with incredibly clever “super committee was a super failure” line, then rambles about how he was commander-in-chief of the Texas national guard (misleading) and makes several awkward pauses for applause that never comes.  Blitzer repeats question, Perry answers in affirmative.

Oh shit, Santorum’s been talking for three minutes while I finished that last paragraph.  Oh, nevermind, I didn’t miss anything.  (He also answered yes.)

What should be done about Social Security entitlements in light of looming budget concerns?  Gingrich mentions his new Social Security platform but I am distracted by a series of interpretive dance moves involving making half circles with his arms that accompany his answer.

Bachmann just answered a budget question by saying we really need to balance the budget.  Bullseye.

I come back and we’re talking borders.  Perry says lock it down.  Paul agrees but goes further:  Reform immigration services without making citizenship so easy it becomes a perverse incentive for illegal immigration; cancel the war on drugs; blah blah bl- wait, what?  Something I agree with?  Mercifully, Wolfowitz follows up:  Do you mean legalize drugs?  Paul actually admits he wants to give sick people access to medical marijuana, at least.  Goes on to say we should treat drugs like we treat alcohol, which, he asserts, is an extremely deadly drug.  Damn you, Ron, just when I am about to put my respect for you to bed you go and say something I actually agree with.

Cain says there are four parts to his answer to the border question.  John Stewart and I begin to drool.  1. Easy, 2.  Can he do it?  3.  No way he gets all four, no way he gets all four, no way he gets all four.  4.  Nails it.  Damn!

Gingrich is more open-minded about granting amnesty to tax paying, productive, illegal immigrants.  I spot a black guy in the crowd wearing a bow tie and think about Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Bachmann and Romney take shots at Newt’s absurdly liberal, “I will not destroy a family over something a grandparent did 25 years ago” amnesty policy.  Oh Newt, such a softy.  Perry essentially agrees with Gingrich.  Romney feels ashamed of his (five seconds) earlier comments and changes his mind.  Interesting note:  Throughout this portion of the debate, candidates refer to long-term illegal immigrants as “citizens” – technically inaccurate but a huge improvement over “illegals” – the term preferred in the previous debate.

What are the interests of the United States in the region surrounding Syria?  If you read the blog that I kept while I was in the Middle East, you know this is a topic of particular interest to me; this is more than I can say about any of the answers to the question.  Perry says we need a no fly zone and an oil embargo; Romney makes a good point that a no fly zone in Syria would be like a “no penises zone” in theaters playing the new Twilight movie – kind of a non-issue.

Final question of the night:  What national security concerns do you foresee that no one has asked about?

Santorum is worried about a domino effect with socialist regimes in South America.  Oh for fuck sake.

Paul says the biggest threat is an over-reaction on our part.  THANK YOU.

Perry says that China is, “not a country of morals”.  I just can’t take it, please let it end.

Romney agrees with Santorum and Perry.

Cain says cyber threats – not a bad answer, IMO.

Gingrich believes the three great threats are:  HERE WE GO:  1.  Terrorist WMD in a major city.  Ok.  2.  Electro magnetic pulse (?).  Maybe he’s improving.  Can he do it?  Here it is:  3.  Cyber attack.  Ok, maybe he forgot and just went with Cain’s answer.  Oh well.

Bachmann thinks there are terrorists in her home town.

Huntsman refuses the question – China is in as much trouble as us (probably true) – and poses his own, how can we have effective foreign policy without a solid domestic situation.

All in all a solid night.  I most regret the fact that the statement I most agree with (Gingrich’s heartfelt statement that law-abiding, productive individuals should not be punished for an illegal immigration that occurred decades in the past ), and which was actually one of the policies with which most candidates seemed to agree (only Bachmann expressed strong disagreement), will be harped on repeatedly in coming weeks as a sign of Newt’s weakness on immigration policy.  But then again, I guess that’s why it’s not my party.



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