January 08, 2012

Through A Glass Darkly: The Republican Debate

I think Diane Sawyer is cute, always have thought so, and to think she's got the neurons to hang in there with an intellectual/creative guy like Mike Nichols. She's even cuter than George Stepho-etc. thinks he is, and that's very cute indeed. Looking at Diane was the only mitigating factor in the hour of life otherwise wasted watching the Republican "debate" last night. Sometimes, when I have subjected myself to a heinous experience like watching Republicans compete for Luddite of the Year Award, I get an inkling about Barack Obama's actual strategy, and it starts to look pretty clever. If you don't vote for him, then this is what you're looking at.

There are five pasty-white boring guys left now on the Republican side: Huntsman, Paul, Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Perry. I guess that's six; somehow it doesn't matter. Ron Paul, increasingly, seems like a set of attitudes, borrowed from sources as diverse as Ayn Rand and Noam Chomsky, about how the world ought to work. He thought the Supreme Court decision of Griswold v. Connecticut, which was a 9th Amendment case about privacy rights, and specifically the constitutional right of a couple to use contraception in defiance of Connecticut's "blue law" to the contrary, was a Fourth Amendment search-and-seizure case. Then building on his error, Ron restated that that's one of the reasons he's against the Patriot Act. Here's the alarming part: Rick Santorum, who won some sort of distinction as the stupidest man in Congress when he represented Pennsylvania as a Senator, analyzed the case correctly. Of course, Rick Santorum believes that the states ought to be free to ban contraception if they feel like it, because the "right to privacy" is not in the Constitution.

Mitt Romney, sitting on his razor-thin lead and enjoying no real base of support in the modern Republican Party (a contradiction in terms, I realize), declined to answer the question directly from Cutesie George: does Mitt support the right of states to ban contraception? Well, gee, Mitt said. No state wants to ban contraception, so why talk about it?

That's how weird the Republicans have become. Their leading candidate cannot answer definitively that contraception is a good idea and ought to be available to people. What on Earth is the objection to contraception? Are the Republicans at the point where they think that the biological destiny of each and every ovum to become a (full-grown Christian) human must not be interrupted on pain of a murder charge? Does even God think that every spermatozoa has a soul?

Okay, to be fair, what these antiquarians are squirming to avoid is the recognition of any right to privacy under the 9th Amendment in the first place, because that's the foundation for Roe v. Wade, and that's the real quarry they're gunning for. They all want (Huntsman may be the exception) the unfettered right to a first-trimester abortion overturned, and they know they're only about one vote on the Supreme Court away from the prize. If Huntsman can figure out a way to relate the abortion issue to his years as an Ambassador to China, we'll get a clearer picture of his position.

Romney's the kind of Republican mannequin who would have been a shoo-in for the party's nomination even four years ago, but the ideological miasma of present-day Republicanism is getting in his way. He doesn't actually have any opinions or principles. You can tell he doesn't care if gays get married, if women get abortions, if people copulate with aardvarks on the street. They're all stupid issues, the government should let people do what they want sexually and socially, and he knows it (although now I think we need an Aardvark Rescue movement). He just wants the fricking nomination. He's a Republican like his father before him, and apparently you have to make a lot of dumb statements now with feigned passion in order to get this band of lunatics to let you sail under their banner. Thus, he's unable to attract more than 25% of their support, which must represent the magnitude of the vestigial sanity in the Republican Party.

Rick Perry continues to impress me as perhaps the dumbest person ever to vie for national public office. I don't know why he keeps showing up. It's over, Rick. Mitt Romney misses him most of all, because when Rick was considered tenable, it kept the attention away from the truly awful Rick Santorum and the quirky insurgence of Ron Paul. If Mitt could have maneuvered the race into a final match-up with Rick Perry, so that just the two of them would have been debating, the idiocy of Rick Perry would have become so patent and painfully obvious that Mitt would have won by acclamation. As it is he has to stagger through these debates with the idiosyncratic Ron Paul and the sanctimonious Rick Santorum offering stark contrasts to the empty-suit nothingness that is Romney's position on everything.

The debates do accomplish some things. In the first place, I'm beginning to see that Ron Paul is essentially a Human Bullet Point Announcer. His ideas are civil libertarian, highly idealistic (unrealistically so, in some cases), jarringly impractical (Medicare, access to health care in general), regressive (private ownership rights as superior to civil rights for minorities), and enlightened (the closing down of the American empire and its ruinous cost). The man behind all these ideas seems a little sketchy when you watch him in action, and as I've said, I don't know how he would function as an actual chief executive. The world could very well end on his watch.

I think Obama, of course, will just keep doing what he's doing, tuning in occasionally to watch, and relish, the Republican Circular Firing Squad as it moves from state to state, like the freak circus it is.

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