Saturday, August 8, 2015

Your Guide to the GOP Candidates: Who should you Not Vote for the Most?

There were two debates on August 6 - a preliminary one between seven “second-tier” candidates, and then the main event between the ten candidates who are currently enjoying the greatest amount of support. 

The preliminary debate was between Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore. Pundits and viewers declared that Carly Fiorina - scandalously the only female among seventeen (!) contestants - was the overwhelming winner of the preliminary debate. Wouldn’t it be a blast if both contenders next year were women, assuring that our next president will be a woman! (Dream on)

The piece de resistance was the debate between the following ten contestants:
1. Donald Trump - Real Estate Tycoon; New York; Florida.
2. Jeb Bush - former Governor, Florida.
3. Scott Walker - Governor, Wisconsin.
4. Mike Huckabee - former Governor, Arkansas; former Baptist Minister.
5. Ben Carson - retired neurosurgeon; Michigan.
6. Ted Cruz - Senator, Texas; foreign-born. (What’s up with that? How can he run?)
7. Marco Rubio - Senator, Florida.
8. Rand Paul - former senator, Kentucky; Ophthalmologist.
9. Chris Christie - Governor, New Jersey.
10. John Kasich - Governor, Ohio.

After watching and recording the entire two-hour sequence of questions and answers, I distilled a list of things/themes which all or most of the candidates did or said (my quotes are paraphrases of the questions and the replies). Remember that this group of ten men consisted of: one businessman; one physician, five governors or former governors, and three senators or former senator. 

Self-congratulation: At various moments during the debate and especially during the concluding remarks, these men patted themselves on their own backs about how good their policies had been for their state’s economy, proudly enumerating their qualifications, often quoting questionable and unverifiable data (e.g. Bush). Also, many sang that old song - “I come from humble origins” (Christie), “I grew up poor in Cuba, I am the American Dream.” (Rubio), “my grandfather worked as an humble immigrant,” etc.

Waffling: They all waffled a lot, changing topics whenever unable to answer a question. For example, when Ben Carson was asked whether he would have waged war against Syria’s Assad when that dictator used chemical weapons, as Obama said he would but then reneged, he answered something like this: I feel that we should upgrade our armed forces, which have been woefully neglected by Obama.
Donald Trump was asked this: You said that you have evidence that Mexico is sending us its murderers and rapists. What evidence?
His answer, more or less: It’s all the liberal media’s fault. And our government leaders are stupid idiots.
Another example: Ted Cruz was asked: You said you would destroy ISIS in ninety days. How?
His answer: It’s all Obama’s fault. He protects terrorists. Terrorists must be killed, not given jobs. We should act like Egypt’s El-Sisi (the current Egyptian dictator who has imprisoned and killed thousands of Egyptians).
Another example: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was asked why his state had not enjoyed any job growth.
His reply: It’s Hillary Clinton’s fault. Let the government get out of the way. Taxes should be lower. Obamacare must be repealed.
A final example: Mike Huckabee was asked what he thought of transsexuals soon functioning in the armed forced openly.
His answer was along these lines: That would be wrong. We must strengthen the military. Our B52s are older than I am.

Abortion and Gay rights: All ten candidates were strongly pro-life. Governor Walker was against abortion even when the mother’s life is in danger. Marco Rubio was reminded that he favored an exception for rape and incest, but he denied this. Every one of these men wanted to defund Planned Parenthood. Bush and Walker proudly announced that they had already done so in Florida and in Wisconsin. Bush is also proudly pro-life at the end of life. Also, Mike Huckabee persists in opposing gay marriage.

Obamacare: They all want it repealed, although Kasich did accept expanding Medicaid in Ohio. So he waffled a bit on this.

Immigration: all ten men want to build a wall (Trump) or a fence (Rubio). They are all against amnesty, but some (e.g. Bush) favor a path to earned legal status/citizenship

Terrorism and national security: All of these men favor “toughness.” If it takes war to beat Iran and ISIS, so be it. The only one who likes “toughness” but not war is the libertarian Rand Paul. So he had to waffle. Christie blamed him for terrorism. Paul defended himself, saying that he is against the government spying on US citizens (4th amendment). Christie replied that “Paul is blowing hot air” in senate committees. Paul countered that Christie doesn’t understand the bill of rights.
When asked what he thinks of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (= torture), Ben Carson replied that what we do is our business and that there is no such thing as a p.c. war. In other words, torture is okay.
Opposition to the Iran nuclear deal was unanimous. I would tear it up, said Scott Walker. What then? he was asked. Make the sanctions stronger, he replied. He also said that we should send weapons to assist Ukraine and the Baltic states against Russia.
Rand Paul waffled on this issue. He didn’t suggest tearing up the deal, but he did advise greater “toughness” towards Iran. Huckabee felt that Obama was endangering the US. Trump felt that the agreement was a disgrace and that the people in Washington are incompetent and don’t know what they are doing. Cruz said that we need a new commander in chief, someone like Reagan.

Inconsistencies: Trump was quizzed the most about this: Fifteen years ago, he was for socialized medicine, a single payer plan. How come he is now against Obamacare? In 2004 he was a liberal Democrat. In 1999 he was pro-choice. He gave money to everyone, including the Clintons. When did he become a Republican?
His answer: Obamacare is a disaster. I have evolved just like Ronald Reagan evolved. Now I’m pro-life. Due to Obama, I can now see the evil in the Democratic Party.

Hilary and Obama bashing: Incessant. Scott Walker said that Hillary has messed up the whole world. Ben Carson said that progressives are destroying the country and that Hilary is counting on the support of useful idiots.

The Universal Boogeyman: The Government and Taxes: Huckabee wants to eliminate the EPA, the IRS, the Department of Education. The federal government is the enemy. It keeps growing. Carson agrees. Let’s get rid of the IRS and change the tax system to a tithe system. Let’s have proportional taxes: You make $10 million, you pay $1 million; you make $10,000 you pay $1.000. Bush said that we can have 4% economic growth if we lower business taxes, repeal regulations such as Dodd-Frank, build the Keystone pipeline. Washington is what’s holding us back. Rubio agreed. We must lower taxes for small businesses (and for ALL businesses, he added).
Entitlement reform: Christie suggested reasonable solutions to make Social Security solvent (raise retirement age by one month each year for the next twenty years, withhold benefits from those making over $200K a year), but Huckabee disagreed: All we have to do is replace the income tax with a consumption tax. We should tax prostitutes and pimps too.

Race relations: Finally, at the tail end: Scott Walker was asked about the “black lives matter” movement and police brutality. His reply: We should train cops better in the use of force.
Ben Carson, the only African-American, was asked about race relations. His answer: It’s all the fault of the “purveyors of hate,” who make everything into a race war. We are the UNITED States of America. A great ovation from the audience followed. (Carson was the only candidate to receive several ovations during this debate).

God: Moderator Megyn Kelly concluded with a strange question, posed to everyone: Do you listen to God, and do you hear from him what to do? Some of the answers: Ted Cruz: God speaks to me through the bible and the scriptures. I am the son of a minister. Scott Walker talked about the blood of Christ. He follows God’s will, he said. Marco Rubio talked about God and veterans. He said that Democrats can’t even find God, that God blesses the veterans,  and all those incompetent V. A. bureaucrats should be fired.

Solutions: Not a scintilla of a solution was offered by anyone. It was clear to all ten that Hilary and Obama had never ever done anything right, but how to fix things? Not a clue.

* * * * *
Appraisals by pundits afterwards - ranging from right-wing extremist Charles Krauthammer to progressive Chris Matthews - agreed that Trump was somewhat the loser and that Rubio had done well. Some said Carson did okay in the end, as did Kasich. Not too many of them liked Bush.

But it’s silly to look at this debate as a sports event or a Miss America pageant. It’s not a matter of who won and who lost. Unlike these pundits, I don’t judge on the basis of external accouterments - participants’ clothes, hairdo or how nicely they smile. I judge almost exclusively by the substance of their POSITIONS. In other words, Who would I VOTE for? And: Who would be best for the country in the long run? Doing it that way, I come up with the following ranking, from best to worst:

1. John Kasich
2. Jeb Bush
3. Rand Paul
4.Chris Christie
5. Marco Rubio
6. Scott Walker
7. Ben Carson
8. Mike Huckabee
9. Ted Cruz
10. Donald Trump

1. John Kasich is a moderate Republican. He reminds me of old-style Republicans such as Presidents Eisenhower and Ford, or Senator Everett Dirksen. He accepted Obamacare for his state. He has a heart and compassion for the poor. He is not dogmatic on gay marriage.

2. Jeb Bush is far superior to his elder brother George W. How that man ever became President is beyond me. This Bush, however, is reasonable on some issues, including immigration and education (common core). He is also literate. Of course, he is wrong on many issues. He is anti-Union, dogmatically pro-life, etc.

3. Rand Paul is a libertarian and somewhat of an isolationist. Early on in the debate, he accused Trump of wanting to buy the presidency. Good point. He opposes America’s never-ending involvement in wars all over the world. He doesn’t want the NSA to spy on all of us.

4. Chris Christie has some common-sense when it comes to public policy. He doesn’t want to dismantle the government. His proposals for entitlement reform make sense. Coming from New Jersey, he can’t be a total wacko.

5. Marco Rubio is somewhat of a zealot. He opposes much of what the federal government does. He prays at the altar of unrestricted free-for-all capitalism. When he said that this election is not going to be about “resum├ęs” (the past), but about the future, pundits liked him a lot.

6. Scott Walker’s major claim to fame is that he is a rabid union-buster. He is anti-working class and he lets religion impinge on his views and decisions.

7. Ben Carson is utterly untrained in politics, especially in the international arena. He is driven by outdated jingoistic and religion-tainted ideas. He is simplistic and dangerous.

8. Mike Huckabee is a fundamentalist who would move America toward a theocracy. 

9. Ted Cruz is the 21st century Joe McCarthy. He is a warmongering jingoist, a xenophobe (sometimes the worst xenophobes are themselves foreigners!), he is dedicated to unfettered capitalism and social inequality. He is the most extreme candidate of this entire lot. He promises to overturn not just Obamacare, but everything else that Obama has done, he would criminally prosecute Planned Parenthood, rescind the Iran deal, and on and on.

10. Donald Trump is out of control. He will do anything to stay on the podium. Megyn Kelly asked him why he had called some women “disgusting animals, fat pigs, slobs, dogs” and other such things. Are you part of the “war on women?” she asked. His reaction was to attack her and to escalate. This candidacy should not be taken seriously.

So here you have it, folks. Of course, none of this is in concrete. These rankings will no doubt change.© Tom Kando 2015 leave comment here