Congress was back in session this week following a summer break, so all eyes were on the lawmakers and what legislation they would be passing in order to help the country recover from the ecomonmic downturn…hang on, that’s not right. Oh yes, all attention was on the race to be the Republican Presidential Candidate for 2012 and the scheduling of a Presidential Address.
On the latter issue, it played out as follows: President Obama wanted to make another speech to Congress about Jobs – he asked to give it on September 7th, but this conflicted with a GOP Presidential Debate, so they moved it to the 8th. Sounds simple enough, but, as The Daily Show covered on Tuesday, this was turned into “Speechgate” by the media, with them describing the President as having “backed down”. Firstly, another speech on jobs will create no new jobs, particularly as no legislation is being passed through a divided Congress who all have a view on the 2012 elections as opposed to fixing the current situation. Secondly, what else should the President have done – insisted on his original date despite there being an existing event that night? That would have resulted in a news cycle all about how he was deliberately agitating the GOP and he would be putting Representatives Paul and Bachmann in a position to choose between their debate and attending the speech. Thirdly, the address now has to be at 7pm ET, which is 4pm on the West Coast, otherwise it would clash with the opening game of the NFL season and thus the majority of people in the US would be watching the Packers take on the Saints, rather than the President.
Today, the whole perceived drama has taken on a new twist, as many Republicans in Congress are threatening to boycott the speech anyway, believing it to be just a re-election ploy from President Obama. I would urge all parties involved to focus on what they were elected for – working to improve the country. Speeches and fighting are all very well for campaigns, but the Presidency is a four year term not three, and members of the House and Senate are elected for two and six years at a time respectively, not one and five. Stop campaigning, start governing.
The GOP Debate did indeed take place last night, with the candidates squaring off in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. As Rick Perry has been leading in the polls, many of the candidates looked to gain ground by aiming their attacks solely at him. Ron Paul questioned his Republican Credentials, pointing out his support of Hillary Clinton’s Health Care plan in the 90s and his use as Governor of executive order to pass laws mandating HPV vaccinations in their co-home state of Texas. Mitt Romney claimed that George W. Bush created more jobs as Governor of Texas than Rick Perry had in his tenure. Rick Santorum stated he was offended by Rick Perry’s vaccination program, though since Perry at one point
seemed unsure who Santorum is and referred to him as “the last individual”, I do not think that disappointment will have too much affect. Even Rick Perry tried to take himself down, by giving a modicum of praise to President Obama for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, though the majority of his adulation went to the SEALs who carried out the mission. However, there was a stoney silence in the room upon this small amount of credit being given to Obama. The only thing more sacrilegious Perry could have done would be to point out that, with his tax increases to combat the deficit and Immigration reform bills he passed, President Reagan would have been considered a RINO (Republican In Name Only) in the present day GOP.
There were, of course, shocking moments in the debate. The most grating was the audience applauding when Rick Perry’s record of having had 234 people executed in the state of Texas whilst he has been Governor. When he was asked if he worried that any of these people had been innocent, Perry replied that he was happy that people knew that if they committed a heinous crime in Texas, they would be put to death. Not only did this miss the point of the question, it also suggests that the death penalty is an effective deterrent, which research has shown it is not. Also, there have been questions about the mental health of at least 10 of the prisoners who have been executed during his Governorship, as well as 5 people who were minors at the time of their crimes. His record is something that should be debated and raises serious ethical questions about Capital Punishment, rather than people clapping the high number of executions.
In other craziness, Rick Perry also backed up his prior claim that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme, forcing Mitt Romney to say something sensible – that many seniors rely on Social Security, and it’s something that needs to be fixed, not eliminated. Ron Paul claimed that if there was no air conditioning in the barracks in Afghanistan and Iraq, US troops would come home – as if anyone who is making the decision about deployment is actually in either one of these countries. Michele Bachmann stated that not building a fence on the border with Mexico meant that the US was conceding its sovereignty – though she said nothing about the erecting one to stop the Canadians coming in through the north. Newt Gingrich decided that the Immigration system should be run by Mastercard or Visa to prevent fraud – while he may not realise that a lot of people have had their credit card details stolen before, I have to concede he does have a lot of experience in the personal debt field.
Oh and Hermain Cain was also at the debate, making the whole audience think about ordering a pizza.