For those of you tuning into the debates expecting high entertainment, there isn’t much to report. But for those of you looking for edifying moments that pin down the candidates and the issues in an understandable form, there isn’t much of that either. This third of the recent trifecta of the quick turn-around face-offs is a reminder that debates are thankfully only one of the avenues we use to arrive at our conclusion of who to vote for. I love irony, but not this much: I can safely say that the high point of the evening was former Governor Johnson’s (and why again is he still running?) remark about his neighbour’s dogs creating more shovel-ready jobs than Obama. The now nine candidates (far too many for this venue; the number needs to be winnowed as soon as possible) have been arguing with each other, but not really debating to reach a conclusion. (Full disclosure: I was on a formal debate team early in my academic background.)
In that respect, I would have to say that the winners of the debate last night would have to be Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, as they seized the subjects and made their points in a sharp, succinct manner that was clear, easily understood, and engaging.
Romney still portrays himself as a quasi-wonk with an entertaining style, yet he persists in changing the point of the questions and attacking the others (almost exclusively Perry) about points that bear no relationship to reality. He will often state positions that Perry is supposed to have taken in his book, which aren’t there. (I’ve perused the book again since the debates have started up, and I can’t find what he’s talking about. If anyone can pin down these sections, let me know.) Perry is starting to respond with attempted quotes from Romney’s book, and Perry at least seems to make an effort to be accurate in this rapid forum, such as citing a line from Romney’s hard-cover edition that was later deleted from his paperback. Romney is so comfortable with the idea of enjoying the others attacking the front-runner that he was taken off guard when Cain criticised him about Romney’s stance on the tax code. Romney tried to waffle on the question about Obama’s ideas being socialist, talking about European countries having parties that mirror those positions (that’s the transitive property at work here, Mitt – the ideas are socialist).
Rick Perry did himself no favours in this debate, handing in a mediocre response involving a hypothetical crisis in Pakistan (he introduced India into the topic, but he must be careful on that score), and stumbling through an attempt to explain Romney’s waffling on a variety of issues. Perry needs to up his dosage of vitamin B complex, it would seem, as he wearies of the rapid-fire banter as time goes on. He could have better handled the question of state college tuition rates for established children of Illegals (his stance would work better in the general election), but took a step to clarify it by stating that the bill passed the Texas legislature by 177 to 4, showing the enthusiasm for the idea in a place where actual reality impinges on the topic. (Incidentally, how many other states have this programme? My wife, who works with many college students, reminds me that Oregon requires a mere one year of residence, and then a student of any extraction, no matter what the country, is eligible for in-state tuition rates.) Both Romney and Santorum tried to attack him about subsidizing college education for Illegals, but Perry passed up the chance to explain that the students are not receiving any money, only paying rates lower than students who are not residents of the state (along with requirements that the student attend high school in Texas for at least three years, graduate from high school, and be in the process of acquiring US citizenship). Perry’s book also explains his stance about Romney’s copping to Obama’s Race to the Top school initiative, as it says that Texas education is doing just fine (or better) without it, the book explains the strings attached to the federal programme, and he states categorically that Texas’ education of its children is not for sale.
Johnson is as bewildering and uninspiring as ever. Bachmann did nothing to help her cause, as she perplexingly responded that a taxpayer should keep “every dollar” of his income, and she gave up a very weak excuse for her Gardasil comments at the last debate (saying in effect, ‘I made a point of quoting some unknown woman several times on several different networks, but it wasn’t me who actually said that Gardasil causes retardation.’). As last time, Paul and Huntsman added nothing new.
Santorum had some interesting moments, advocating a strong American presence in areas of the world that have an impact on our national interests, stating that public-employee unions should be disallowed from bargaining for wages and benefits (agreeing with figures like FDR and Samuel Gompers), and putting a good spin on the subject of the now-defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for homosexuals in the military (it shouldn’t be an issue – one’s sexuality and how that is dealt with should be a private matter, for both homosexuals and heterosexuals). But he came off poorly in his strident argument with Perry about education for children of Illegals, and both Bret Baer and Chris Wallace had to intervene to call him off before he began practically speaking in tongues.
We can now turn to the regular aspects of the campaign before showtime comes again next 11 October on Bloomberg at 1700 PT.
Update: Bryan Preston of Pajamas Media provides a more detailed argument of the unique situation in Texas as it pertains to education of the children of Illegals, and much more:
He goes on with an excellent explanation of the problem, including:[B]eing an economic powerhouse and sharing 1,200 miles of mostly river border with a corrupt, failing state wracked by a drug war have made Texas more of a magnet for illegal aliens than ever before. . . . [I]llegal aliens cost Texans hundreds of millions of dollars per year, in everything from K-12 tuition to medical costs. Illegal aliens also skew the state’s educational and crime statistics. The porous border increases the threat of drug violence and terrorism, as Hizballah is known to be operating in Mexico and may be aiding the drug cartels. Border cities like Laredo and El Paso live with the ever-present threat that Mexico’s violence may spill over the border, as it has a few times already. The costs to the state are enormous, and the federal government has for decades left us to fend for ourselves. In a post-9-11 world this is unacceptable, but neither President Bush nor President Obama took border enforcement as seriously as the issue deserves. President Obama has gone out of his way to insult Texans and loosen border enforcement to appease the likes of La Raza.
In 2001, the Texas legislature and Gov. Perry passed the Texas DREAM Act. There were only four dissenting votes in the legislature, but the measure has now become a football in the presidential campaign. The Texas DREAM Act is not like the national DREAM Act that the Democrats keep pushing, and which deservedly keeps failing. . . . The Texas DREAM Act deals narrowly with a subset of the illegal aliens living here who were brought across the border as children by their parents, and who have been here for years and stayed out of trouble. Having grown up in Texas, they are essentially Texans and only know the Lone Star State as their home. Texas’ DREAM Act gives them in-state tuition rates at Texas public colleges and universities. The fact that they shouldn’t be here because their parents broke the law and continue to break the law is countered by the fact that they are here – the question then is, what does the state do about that? With no national will to deport en masse, and with no Washington will to do anything but decrease border enforcement for political reasons, what do states like Texas do?
Read the whole thing.There aren’t any perfect answers to the border but there is an obvious answer: Enforce the entire border as a national security priority.