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« Bird Flu Redux? | Main | Iowa Also-Rans Commit To Change »

Idiotic Question

I'm listening to the Republican debate, and wondering why they put up with this bullshit (yes, I don't use that word often on this family...sort of... blog) from the MSM. Why do they allow Democrat media types to frame their debate?

The most egregious case of this is the question that just came up--why shouldn't people vote for Barack Obama?

WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD ANY REPUBLICAN CARE ABOUT THIS QUESTION IN A REPUBLICAN DEBATE?

Romney responded with a bunch of blather that had little to do with the question, and Thompson came up next. I was disappointed.

It was a "I'm not doing no hand shows" moment, and he blew it.

The first words out of his mouth should have been, "Let me preface my answer with the statement that this is a foolish question for a debate that only Republicans are really interested in. It might be a perfectly fine question a few months from now, in a general election, if Obama in fact becomes the candidate, and I (or one of these other gentlemen) are debating him, but Republicans, or at least smart ones (and I don't know that many dumb ones) don't care why I or anyone on this stage thinks that they shouldn't vote for Barack Obama. They're trying to pick a Republican candidate. Now, having said that,...[then go on to the response he actually gave].

But instead, he just returned to Republican principles, but I think he missed an opportunity to bash the press again, which a lot of Republican activists would have loved.

One other thought overall. Mike Huckabee is one slick-talking, two-faced socialist son of a bitch. I'll have to go through the transcript to make the case, though. He's a combination of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, in Republican clothing.

Must be something about people who were born in Hope, Arkansas, and became governor of the state. If the campaigns of the other Republican candidates are worth anything, there is much fodder here for anti-Huckabee ads that will amply and convincingly demonstrate this.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Here are some related thoughts to the latter point from Jonathan Adler (though more calm than mine, though they weren't in the wake of the debate):

It's interesting that Huckabee is now stressing a limited government message, as it has not been a significant part of his platform up until now. Rather this is a guy who celebrates farm subsidies, disavows free trade, and likes the idea of a national smoking ban, and his campaign manager has disparaged the limited government ideology that motivates many Republicans in New Hampshire and elsewhere. That he can deliver such a message effectively is no surprise he's a very smooth talker. The question is whether his newfound embrace of limited government ideals is sincere. I have my doubts.

I have no doubts. It is clearly quite insincere, to anyone who has observed his actual governing (and other campaign statements) as opposed to his mercurial and chameleon-like campaign rhetoric for New Hampshire.

[Update a little later]

Here's an example that struck me, too:

"The right to live our lives...the way we want to, and not have the government tell us how to do it."

Is this the same Mike Huckabee that wants the government to tell us how to eat?

Yes, that one really jumped out at me.

[Another update]

The Romney team, at least is loading the guns. An example:

Gov. Huckabee, January 2007: "Well, I'm Not Sure That I Support The Troop Surge."

MSNBC's NORAH O'DONNELL: "We have a Rudy Giuliani, who supports the president's plan on Iraq. We have Governor Mitt Romney, who also supports a troop surge. How are you different from any of those candidates."

HUCKABEE: "Well, I'm not sure that I support the troop surge, if that surge has to come from our Guard and Reserve troops, which have really been overly stretched." (MSNBC's "Live," 1/24/07)

One other comment, from several people, with which I agree, and should add to the glossary: "Getting into the weeds": an argument too abstruse for simpletons like Charlie Gibson to follow.

Nice for now that Thompson doesn't have to do it.

[Update a few minutes later]

Not that it's news, but McCain speak with forked tongue, too:

"'There are jobs that American workers simply won't do,' McCain said. 'As long as there's a demand for workers, workers are going to come across.' An amnesty program is vital to any immigration legislation that includes a guest-worker program, he said. 'Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens. That has to be a component of it,' he said. 'How can we have a temporary worker program if we're not allowing people who have been here for 30 years to hold jobs here?'" (C. T. Revere, "McCain Pushes Amnesty, Guest-Worker Program," Tucson Citizen, 5/29/03)

McCain maintains that anyone who says he supported amnesty is "lying."

[Another update]

Jim Gerachty notes another missed opportunity by Fred:

Thompson says he's [Obama] adopted the views of every liberal interest group in the country. He mentions the NEA.

Fred! Fred! Somebody on that stage was endorsed by the New Hampshire NEA! Mention it, mention it!

He didn't mention it.

The person being referred to here is Huckabee...

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 05, 2008 05:35 PM
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Comments

I agree that Huckabee is essentially a pro-life democrat. I think he is pandering to all of the socially conservative democrats who do not like their party becoming the urban elite party.

On the other hand, many social conservative "republicans" may really be fascists who believe in government power, in general.

Posted by kurt9 at January 5, 2008 06:02 PM

Huckabee is a fundie lunatic (who apparently doesn't believe in evolution, for a start). It would be a very poor reflection on America in general if this idiot ever got within shouting distance of the White House. In this respect at least, Bush is bad enough - Huckabee would be worse.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at January 5, 2008 06:15 PM

Fletcher, your insights into US society and history never cease to astound.

Posted by Jonathan at January 5, 2008 07:05 PM

I assume you're using the word "insights" facetiously, Jonathan...

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 5, 2008 07:12 PM

Fletcher, you know you are talking about the next Vice President just in case the Republicans win, don't you? So there's something like a 46% chance that he would be where you don't want him, ready to take over.

Nice place for a pro-life Democrat, I think.

Posted by Toast_n_Tea at January 5, 2008 07:50 PM

Fletcher, you know you are talking about the next Vice President just in case the Republicans win, don't you?

No, T'n'T, no Republican candidate will feel a need to take on Huckabee as a veep. I've no idea where this fantasy comes from, but it certainly can't be based on any informed opinion about the American electorate.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 5, 2008 08:09 PM

I'd vote for ANY one running for president before I'd vote for Hucakbee.

I'd even vote for Hillary. Both Hillary and Huckabee would be unmitigated disasters, but with Hillary in office we would stand a chance for a decent limited government republican in 4 years.

Anyone notice that they all sounded like 10 year old siblings stuck for a long drive in the family car.


Posted by Paul Breed at January 5, 2008 10:27 PM

I don't care if Huckabee is a creationist or whatever else his religious beliefs are. If he were to be an economic "conservative" (e.g. limited government, free markets), I would still vote for him, and I'm a hardcore atheist.

My problem with Huckabee is that he is not "conservative" on economic issues, but appears to be as socialistic or fascistic, depending on your definitions of these, as any democrat. This I cannot tolerate, whether he be religious or secular.

Posted by kurt9 at January 5, 2008 10:57 PM

Addressing the first of the ... five? six? topics in this post: they put up with it because they're still afraid of what will happen if they don't cooperate; it's game theory. When top-tier candidates start responding to questions from the MSM by explicitly (as opposed to subtly) ignoring or even denouncing them and then moving on to whatever they feel like saying instead, we'll know that the "debate" organizers/editors have truly lost influence. Sadly, we're not quite there yet.

Posted by Jay Manifold at January 6, 2008 06:22 AM

Another answer to your question about Obama is that the candidates in New Hampshire are competing for the Independent vote. The Republican candidates want to lure voters away from voting in the Democratic primary, Obama appeals to Independents more than any other Democratic candidate, and hence, the Republican candidates have a legitimate and immediate interest in contrasting themselves with Obama.

Posted by at January 6, 2008 07:01 AM

Kurt,
>If he were to be an economic "conservative"...

4 years ago I would agree 100%,however in the last few years I've also become concerned about civil liberties. The patriot act and military commissions act are scary tools.

Paul

Posted by Paul Breed at January 6, 2008 09:37 AM

Yes, Paul, I agree with you about civil liberties, the treason act, and military tribunals. This stuff bothers me as well.

The problem is that Hillary would continue this sort of stuff, but for different purposes. Hillary is president Dick (Nixon) in drag. Hillary is vindictive (like the Dick president, who used to sic the IRS on his opponents) and would use government power against her critics and opponents. She is not "happy go lucky" like Bill was.

On the civil liberties issue, I would prefer Obama to Huckabee.

Posted by kurt9 at January 6, 2008 01:00 PM

Rand & Jonathan:

Have you thought through what happens if a bible-literalist, young-earth creationist Bible-thumper gets into the White House?

Just some possibilities: Medical research in particular, and research in general, gets crippled even more than it was by Bush's ban on funding for stem cell research. As soon as possible, fundie nutters get appointed to the Supreme Court - and one of their first acts is to make sure that teaching of creationist rubbish masquerading as science gets exclusively taught, to the exclusion of real science, wherever the local mouth-breathers want it to be. After a few years, this cripples American science for decades. And along with that the American economy.

Also, various areas of the States are encouraged by his success to pass assorted liquor prohibition and "blue" laws - which, as evidenced by the attempts in the 1930s, don't work. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see contraception made illegal, either - after all, it was in Ireland for a very long time, under a government under the thumb of similarly repressive "Christians".

To see the possible end of this path, I recommend reading an old Heinlein story called "If This Goes On..."

No, I don't understand America. I really can't understand how what's supposed to be a 21st century gives creationists house room. It's the only Western country that does.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at January 6, 2008 01:54 PM

Oops, make that "21st century country".

Posted by Fletcher Christian at January 6, 2008 01:55 PM

The amazing thing is not that the debaters don't call the media to task over this kind of thing. It's that the non-liberals have a long history of letting their liberal political adversaries and their lapdogs in the MSM get away with this kind of questioning.

Regardless, only a fool tries to answer questions like, "...and finally, are you still beating your wife?"

Especially when they don't try to show the question for what it is, a shot at the person being questioned. Asked by a person with an agenda.

Posted by Steve at January 6, 2008 02:01 PM

From Sullivan:

Huckabee as VP surely looks like a way to hold the GOP together, and offer a real contrast with a possible Obama movement on the other side. The key would be McCain's agreement to one-term. Huckabee is then the heir apparent, with more national seasoning, and can complete the task of turning the Republicans into social conservative populists. Both men like the power of the federal government, bait corporations, and back the Iraq war almost unreservedly. It's not my style of conservatism, but it is a logical next step to the past several years in Republicanism.

Whatever one might think of this statement, I personally think that the social conservatives are getting ready to bolt the GOP. Huckabee is the first prominent evidence of this trend.

Another observation I had from yesterday's debate, is that Romney is a very competent wonk. He is clearly not an ideologue who is willing to change his position as needed to solve real problems. He would have made a fine Democratic candidate. Pity, as Ted Kennedy says, that he is in the wrong party.

Posted by Toast_n_Tea at January 6, 2008 04:21 PM

Whatever one might think of this statement, I personally think that the social conservatives are getting ready to bolt the GOP. Huckabee is the first prominent evidence of this trend.

The issue isn't social conservatives bolting the GOP. It's about evangelical Christians, many of whom are brainless about economics, bolting the GOP, chasing a pied piper from Hope, Arkansas. Huckabee does in fact represent a real threat to split the GOP.

But then, there are many potential fault lines within the Democrats as well, as an Obama candidacy will almost certainly reveal. Particularly when the enraged (and in their (or at least her) minds, entitled) Clintons go after him.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 6, 2008 05:13 PM

Fletcher writes:

No, I don't understand America.

Well, at least, contra many previous comments, you admit it. It would be nice if you'd also admit that it's not America's fault that you don't understand it. I know where to put the blame, myself...

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 6, 2008 05:16 PM

But then, there are many potential fault lines within the Democrats as well, as an Obama candidacy will almost certainly reveal.

I can't think of any that are significant. Nothing compared to the fissure in the GOP that can very likely occur.

I agree the Clintons will be pissed, but they don't have a devoted following in the party which is going to rebel and split off. As Obama noted in yesterday'd debate, Bill balanced the budget but did nothing to build a real majority to effect progressive change. Democrats know this.

The best hope for the opposition (whether Clinton or the Repubs) is to discover some major hidden flaw in Obama. Given that many have searched very hard and come up with finding a steady consistency in the man, I will be very surprised to find a closet crook. Meanwhile didn't George Will just endorse Obama today? !!

Also, I think the intersection of evangelicals with social conservatives is at least half the size of the social conservative vote. Note that Catholic conservatives are also very much in the populist mode. Consider the Pope's social teachings on this matter. And the union of these sets accounts for probably the entire set.

Posted by Toast_n_Tea at January 6, 2008 05:54 PM

Debate Moderator: "Governor Gallavant, why shouldn't people vote for Barack Obama?"

Presidential Candidate: "If I thought the esteemed junior Senator from Illinois were the best available candidate for president, I wouldn't be running for president myself."

How hard is that?

Posted by McGehee at January 6, 2008 06:04 PM

I can't think of any that are significant. Nothing compared to the fissure in the GOP that can very likely occur.

That reveals more about the limitations of your thought processes than anything else.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 6, 2008 06:16 PM

Anyone think Huckabee will last long enough for a nickname of "The Huckster" to fit? His "truth squad" seems to have a hard time backfilling for him. It was the only campaign web site that played defense. Is he perhaps taking a cue from sitting politicians? Trying to emulate despised finger pointers seems like a strategy that while might be a tried and true evolutionary strategy, it doesn't strike me as fit in this case.

Posted by Sam Dinkin at January 6, 2008 08:03 PM

Sorry, Rand, I'm not really seeing the split that Obama will create either. His voting record is just about the same as Clinton's, and I have yet to see a significant policy difference between the two. In that area, the candidates of the party of change can only argue about whether their attempts to make change amounted to dimes or dollar coins. Rhetoric and character don't split parties...do they?

Posted by Math_Mage at January 7, 2008 12:37 AM

Rand, I am not sure whether any blame attaches anywhere. The only way to really understand a country is to live there, and preferably in several different places within that country. Alternatively, to deeply study it - and I don't have the time.

However, looking from outside, there are huge swathes of the USA where I would absolutely hate to live; where intolerance and backwardness hold sway. Yes, I am talking about the Bible Belt. Figuratively speaking of course, God help you if you don't conform. The area isn't called "flyover country" for nothing. I strongly suspect that the Top Gear programme on the rural South was pretty accurate.

And many Americans seem to have an astonishing lack of knowledge of anywhere outside its borders. I would be surprised if the average Brit didn't know more about America's geography than the average American knows about ours, for example. (Yes, I know Britain is much smaller - but how many of those millions of square miles are desert, mountains and prairie?)

I did, in fact, live for a few weeks, as a guest, in a fairly typical (I think) small (50k?) town that is a dormitory for NYC. I remember one thing very well. Walking into a typical food store, and finding the breakfast foods section, I couldn't find anything that wasn't at least 20% sugar. And the rest of the store (at least the food section) was similar. How did average Americans get sucked into eating this garbage? There is plenty of food there, but an awful lot of it is rubbish. And don't get me started on your TV.

And, to repeat myself, I REALLY don't understand how people who allegedly love their children can stand to have their children's heads stuffed full of rubbish masquerading as education. Get "educated" in some institutions in the USA, and some professions are forever closed to you.

Urban and rural America seem to be a lot more different than urban and rural Britain are.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at January 7, 2008 02:35 AM

However, looking from outside, there are huge swathes of the USA where I would absolutely hate to live; where intolerance and backwardness hold sway. Yes, I am talking about the Bible Belt. Figuratively speaking of course, God help you if you don't conform. The area isn't called "flyover country" for nothing. I strongly suspect that the Top Gear programme on the rural South was pretty accurate.

Of course you strongly suspect that. Based on this paragraph, you are utterly ignorant about it, and think that you can understand "flyover country" from watching television shows about it.

The reason they call it "flyover country" is that the political and media elite live on the coasts, and know it only from the air. Then they make slanderous and ignorant television shows about it to fool the rubes overseas.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 7, 2008 05:36 AM

Sorry, Rand, I'm not really seeing the split that Obama will create either. His voting record is just about the same as Clinton's, and I have yet to see a significant policy difference between the two.

The split isn't about policy--it's about power.

If Her Inevitableness doesn't get the nomination, she'll sabotage the Obama campaign so that she can try again in 2012. There's a war being set up between two identity groups--the blacks, and feminists, as well as the Democrat elites that have been keeping the former on the liberal plantation for all these decades. Obama does represent a new kind of minority politics, because he's not running as a victim. But if he becomes one, everyone will know who victimized him, and it won't be the evil racist Right Wing.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 7, 2008 05:40 AM

Fletcher, your views of the US are a caricature of who we are. Really.

Posted by Offside at January 7, 2008 02:16 PM

Fletcher, your views of the US are a caricature of who we are. Really.

Posted by Offside at January 7, 2008 02:16 PM

Rand, your nightmare is coming alive. Huckabee is doing very well in polls coming out of South Carolina.

Posted by Offside at January 7, 2008 02:17 PM

Rand, your nightmare is coming alive. Huckabee is doing very well in polls coming out of South Carolina.

Indeed. This is do-or-die time for Fred, and a conservative Republican party. South Carolina is the firewall. If you're going to help him, now is the time. This might be a modern version of the Battle of Tours. ;-)

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 7, 2008 03:00 PM

Offside and Rand:

OK. Maybe my views are almost as much of a caricature of typical America as Huckabee's views are of science.

In that case, kindly point me to somewhere on the Net where I may be somewhat enlightened. But in fact, I think that both of you ought to consider that outsiders often see more clearly than those in the middle.

As for "conservative Republican"; well, how much more conservative can you be than someone who takes many of his views wholesale and verbatim from a badly, and multiply, translated 4000-year-old book?

It all depends on what you take "conservative" to mean, of course. The worst of the Islamic fundie nutcases are often so described. In that case, it's an insult. What's the difference?

Posted by Fletcher Christian at January 7, 2008 03:29 PM

As for "conservative Republican"; well, how much more conservative can you be than someone who takes many of his views wholesale and verbatim from a badly, and multiply, translated 4000-year-old book?

It all depends on what you take "conservative" to mean, of course. The worst of the Islamic fundie nutcases are often so described. In that case, it's an insult. What's the difference?

In neither case does it represent what American conservatives (who in earlier times would have been called "liberals," in the classical sense) believe. Certainly Mike Huckabee is not a conservative in the modern American sense. He is a religious populist.

Posted by at January 7, 2008 04:58 PM

In that case, kindly point me to somewhere on the Net where I may be somewhat enlightened.

With an open mind, it would be hard to wander even randomly on the internet without becoming more enlightened than you are.

Posted by McGehee at January 8, 2008 07:30 AM


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