The Cowardly GOP Presidential Field

Cowards. All of them.

In three consecutive Republican presidential debates, members of the partisan audience have displayed obnoxious and callous attitudes in response to questions directed to the candidates. In the first, a portion of the assembled conservatives cheered an accounting of the convicted murderers put to death by the Texas penal system. During the second, vocal members of the audience shouted “Yeah!” to Wolf Blitzer’s questioning whether uninsured Americans should just be allowed to die without medical care. Then, in this week’s debate, the crowd jeered a videotaped soldier who declared himself as gay before asking if the candidates would support the recent elimination of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” as military policy.

Pundit efforts to characterize these outburst as typical of the Republican, conservative or Tea Party constituencies are blatant stereotyping, cynical and unfair. Anyone who has any experience speaking or performing to an audience knows that a few people can dominate audience reaction without being representative of it. No, it is not the Republican constituency that was exposed by these incidents, but the contenders for that party’s and the nation’s leadership. The failure of any one of the assembled candidates, nine in the first two debates, ten this week, to clearly and emphatically condemn the offensive reactions and the “thinking” underlying them suggests that none of the candidates possess the integrity, courage, confidence and values required to be a trustworthy leader of the United States.

Each of them had a duty to confront and reject these embarrassing audience responses. There were 28 opportunities, among all the candidates in the three debates, to do so. None were taken.
After the third debate, Rich Santorum tried to retroactively show some character by telling Fox News,

“I condemn the people who booed that gay soldier. I have to admit I seriously did not hear those boos. … But certainly had I, I would’ve said, “Don’t do that. This man is serving our country and we are to thank him for his service.”

Sorry, Rick…too late, and not good enough. I call this kind of tactic “The McCain,” after the supposedly courageous Arizona Senator only decided to oppose South Carolina’s support of the Confederate flag as its state flag after he had lost the 2000 state presidential primary and the nomination. It’s easy to oppose the wrongful sentiments of a potentially hostile audience a day later, in the safety of a TV studio. Did you “not hear” the previous outbursts, Rick? My guess: after the media had weighed in about the ugliness of the disrespectful and bigoted response to the gay soldier, you saw an opportunity.

The audience responses this week and in the earlier debates didn’t create opportunities. They created ethical obligations for responsible and ethical leaders to reject the sentiments expressed by the audience, and to explain why they were inappropriate. The fact that not one of the candidates met those obligations on the scene is smoking gun evidence that their instincts are to pander the worst instincts of the electorate rather than to lead them to their better, wiser natures.

President Obama, who recently declined to serve as “speech police” when Jimmy Hoffa Jr. explicitly defied the standards of civility the President had piously urged on the nation eight months ago, has failed in this respect as well. The Republican contenders, however, are arguing that their leadership would be an improvement over his. Based on their conduct so far, their argument is a weak one.

39 thoughts on “The Cowardly GOP Presidential Field

  1. I really don’t believe that your public speaking experience is quite the same as being on a national stage with 10s of millions of viewers. I do believe it is possible to get into a “trance” of some kind. In addition, most are not in a position to act as “big daddy” to discipline their unruly and uncouth little “children” in that setting. In a way, “res ipse loquitur,” and people can see these hooligans for what they are, and recognize that they are simply a distraction, not a model of citizenship.
    How about commenting on Rick Perry’s obvious personal threat and near-assault of Ron Paul on the debate stage during commercial break in the previous debate? Why hasn’t that received more attention? How can such pugnacious thug-like behavior be tolerated in a Presidential candidate?

    • I’ll buy the trance theory—creative!—once. Maybe twice. But if anybody gives a damn, they conclude that the audiences will be doing this, and they are ready.the third time, if only to protect the party and everyone else who is mde to look bad by these boors.

      I didn’t see the Perry-Paul exchange…I’ll check it out.

    • I thought there was a video—no, just stills. I think they are ambiguous. I’ll wait to hear what, if anything, the candidates say about it. Here’s Mediaite:

      “Admittedly, the photo does look like it captures a somewhat heated exchange, and the two did go at it pretty hard last night, but for all we know, they were discussing the relative merits of My Little Pony and Thundercats. The AP caption cuts against the idea that it was anything to freak out about:

      “Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, left, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, talk during a break at a Republican presidential candidates debate at the Reagan Library Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Simi Valley, Calif.”

      “There’s also a second photo in the mix, which carries the same caption, apparently taken shortly after the first. Did Perry “menace” Paul off of his podium, or did he just really need a Tic Tac? Only Ron Paul knows for sure. Granted, Paul fans have reason to be suspicious of how the media treats their guy, but no reporter is going to pass up a juicy commercial-break dustup. In any case, accusing Perry of “assault” and “menacing” based solely on these photos is beyond ridiculous. …They say a picture is word a thousand words, but they often don’t speak for themselves, no matter how much we want them to. We’ve reached out to both campaigns to find out what really went on during that commercial break, and are awaiting a response.”

      I’ll wait for the response too.

      • Grabbing my wrist and having a finger shaken in my face, enough to bring my body-guard into close range, is something I would likely characterize as assault; somewhere between mild physical and intense verbal, but assault nevertheless. And why do you expect the mainstream press, that has virtually ignored Ron Paul’s top-three tier standings to say anything negative against their establishment candidate?

        • !. Because juicy trumps bias every time. Journalists loved Clinton, but they loved his scandals more. They would be all over something as juicy as one candidate assaulting the other.
          2. The media, even the conservative media, is no fan of Perry’s. Why would they protect him?
          3. The liberal media hates Perry. Why wouldn’t they cover an “assault”?
          4. Why would Paul keep quiet?

          • 1) If the media did their job and paid attention to this, the way they ought to, just as they also should be investigating Operation Fast and Furious (i.e. treason by Atty General, possibly C-in-Chief), it would give too much attention to the only legitimate, truthful, consistent, and honest candidate in the lot.
            2) Perry has been anointed by the establishment powers-that-be to be the winner of the Republican nomination (viz. earlier meeting this year at Bilderberg), and his sociopathic past history, known to Texans, but not the general American public, must be protected. He’s there as a lightning-rod to take up all the dissatisfied public, the “Tea Party” contingent, if you will, (and Perry knows what to say to them), and as a tool of the establishment powers behind the scene. He’s recently taken to saying, in part, what Ron Paul has been talking about for 30 years, but take a guess as to who’s legit. and who’s the fake.
            3) See #2. This liberal-conservative, right-left paradigm must be preserved, so as to distract the American public from recognizing that nothing really changes, no matter which party is in power. Or, to be accurate, that we march inexorably down the path of continually lost individual freedom and the lost rule of law with successive administrations, regardless of party.
            4) Dr. Paul is actually a gentleman, and is thereby an anomaly in politics. He still believes that his message will prevail, as indeed it should, if American people listen to what he says, and learn what he has done, and believe the real polls, instead of the cooked poll numbers put out by the mainstream press. He does not really relish getting down in the mud with the likes of Perry, Romney and Bachmann.

            • It better not prevail, or we’ll be nuked by Iran. Paul’s isolationist foreign policy is irresponsible and disqualifying—though he shows integrity in this regard by not slugging Perry.

              I think you’re reading a lot into the photos, I really do. And I detect nothing but hostility to Perry in most of the media. I think if something like this happened, we’d know for sure.

              • Paul’s positions should be considered in the context of what the current foreign policy costs… the destruction of the United States by overwhelming debt that can never be repaid. I don’t for a moment anticipate that the practical application of his policy would immediately remove troops from all 800 foreign bases… it would be a gradual process. The time to stop being the world’s policeman (i.e. create a cover for oil interests in Iraq and drug interests in Afghanistan that even those where I am in Ukraine understand completely) has come. But only Dr. Paul is willing to stand up to the military-industrial complex (the last President to attempt that was JFK, and we know what happened to him).

                • “(the last President to attempt that was JFK, and we know what happened to him).”

                  If Paul is attacking conspiracy theory nut jobs as his followers that’s enough reason not to vote for him.

                  • I think you misunderstood the comment. My intention was to state that an attempt to dismantle the military-industrial complex, about which we were warned in Eisenhower’s prophetic farewell speech in 1960, was considered a direct threat, and was dealt with accordingly when JFK attempted to pare it back. I believe Dr. Paul is well aware of the potential threats on his life, even as he espouses a similar view, whose aim is to attempt to rein in the excessive spending that will be the undoing of the American republic. It is possible to move in the direction of downsizing, and still maintain national security in its true sense (not the drivel we are told by the MSM), but to do so does indeed represent the kind of threat that Kennedy presented in the 1960s when he wished to do something about it then.

            • The second you say “Dr. Paul” and then go on a conspiracy theory rant about polls becing controll by the mainstream press, you mark yourself as a loon.

                • Oh my. My typing today is horrible. Becing? Controll?

                  Contra-Peter, I don’t refer to a former coworker as Engr Smith when, he is now in middle management. While the Dr is technically his title, I find it to be misleading in this context. It is attempt to given Paul more authority then he deserves. It’s not like he has a PHD in economics or history. He was a medical doctor…40 years ago.

                  • Yes, you are good at flagging bogus appeals to authority. A medical doctor has no more presumed expertise in government theory than, to take a wild example out of thin air, an Academy Award-winning actor has in the area of political science.

                    • If we had Dr. Penn to refer to, your example would be spot on. While appealing to random authority are horrible, implying relevant credentials that don’t exist is a step worse. The issue is that people who don’t know Paul’s history aren’t going to assume he was a medical doctor.

                      Maybe Dr. Jeong (of ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Hangover’ fame) will get into politics so you can use him as an example.

                      Becing. Is that C a K sound or an S sound?

                  • Well, hey, how are those economics PhDs doing for ya lately? Recall Harry Truman’s statement, to the effect, “Just give me a one-handed economist,” because their advice is always, “blah-blah-blah, but on the other hand.” Regarding medicine, economics “the dismal science,” and now law: the disciplines are entirely different. Medicine derives much, although not all, of its power from analysis, diagnosis, design of a solution, monitoring, and recognition when the diagnosis is incorrect, so that an alternative can be sought. In the legal arena, the teachings are aimed at attempting to convince and persuade other parties of a given conclusion, regardless of its truthfulness, or underlying soundness. You think we should have a country led by lawyers? It’ll get you where we are today. And yes, Dr. is an appropriate recognition because it shows the origin of his thinking during formative years.
                    And, by the way, the last generation of PhDs in economics have been Keysian school, again giving the results we have today. If you want to understand the basis or our predicament, you have to study and understand Austrian econoimcs.

                • Off subject but I thought you may like this.

                  When I was in High school my father was called in a conference with my guidance counselor, the head guidance counselor and the principal who had a PHD in education and liked to be called “Doctor.” Well my father , who was a full bird Colonel in the Marines at the time, came from work for the meeting wearing his uniform. My father had asked for the meeting because I had gotten in a fight and had been suspended but the other boy who had attacked me hadn’t been and he wanted to know why. Well as the meeting went on it became clear that the reason was the other boy was the star full back and I was seen as just some long haired punk. At one point the principal addressed my father as “Mr Aitken” and my father corrected him, he has picked up on that he liked to be called Doctor during this during the meeting, to which the principal relied “I’m not in the Marines” My father let it slide but when he next spoke he addressed the principal as Mister “so and so” instead of Doctor, to which the principal replied ” Its Doctor “so and so” and my father came back with ” Doctor? Well I aint fucking sick.”

              • Every time I hear someone call me a “conspiracy theorist,” I believe i have as much right to retort that the speaker is a “pedophile,” since the purpose of such epithets is stop any rational discussion, or inquiry into the topic at hand. It demonstrates only the intellectual bankruptcy of the speaker.

    • I dont but the trance excuse one bit. Ive been performing on stage since I was eight years old and while you leanr to ignore the actions of the audience you never are not aware of them. They all heard that idiot in the audience and chose not to say anything. For Santorum to state otherwise and expect us to beleive it makes me wonder what kind of idiots does he think we are.

  2. Both sides are guilty of this kind of behavior. When’s the last time anyone actually watched a presidential nominating convention? The fact that they are and have been for about a decade mostly for show and air time makes the regular and highly vocal negativity toward the opposition all the worse.

    The ugly homophobic reaction aside, how long were we incensed by Maxine Waters’ comments, of any of the supposedly off-mike comments made by our beloved vice president, etc.. This proves to me that incivility is only noticed when it is exhibited by Republicans or conservatives.

    • It’s hard to be ‘incensed’ by Biden. He’s like the nation’s blundering and forgetful, but loveable uncle. He doesn’t make me angry, just confused. Why would Obama pick him?

      • Because he was an “old hand.” I continue to be incensed because the media spent all its time slamming Palin as unqualified and McCain as irresponsible for picking her. Obama picked Uncle Billy to be his back-up at the Savings and Loan, and nobody raised a peep.

  3. To be fair, I’ve never seen a more untrustworthy lot of candidates. Every one of them is a snake or a fool, and I’m not sure which is more dangerous. That they don’t speak up is just indicative of their rusty ethics alarms.

      • Dr. Paul is a fool to think any of his utopian policies are possible. His radical Libertarianism and blind faith in the free markets are irresponsible and unrealistic.

      • Unfortunately, none of the physician-pols have been among my favorites, and some—like Frist and Dean—are among my all-time least favorites. Paul’s in a separate category, as an idealist who is, as I measure him, unhinged from the practicalities of real life. Once any politician argues that the US should have stayed out of World War II, the official Libertarian cant, I stop listening. It’s an irresponsible position. Phillip Berrigan has the same position, by the way.

        It may not mark one as a fool, but it is certainly foolish.

        • So, if Paul is “utopian” and “idealist,” it’s only because he has not forgotten the basis for our nation’s former rise to greatness, because he knows too much history, knows the intent of the Founding Fathers (through studying them) and because he’s willing to prescribe the medicine needed to attempt to cure the moribund patient. But you’re right, when so many people don’t realize the causes of our national disease, it’s too unrealistic to expect the American people at large to realize that such strong medicine is needed. I can’t say that I agree with all of his positions, but I am quite certain that he will stand by them. In contrast, all other politicians make promises that they intend to break.
          By the way, we haven’t had free markets, so the libertarian principles have no history of application in the USA, or any other nation in which government intervention in free markets pertain (i.e. all of them). So, go ahead, drink Obama’s (or Perry’s, or Romney’s, or whoseever’s) Kool-Aid. You’ll never know that the alternative plan of changing your voter registration to allow Paul a chance to oppose Obama will have made the difference in rescuing the Republic.

          • So, if Paul is “utopian” and “idealist,” it’s only because he has not forgotten the basis for our nation’s former rise to greatness, because he knows too much history, knows the intent of the Founding Fathers (through studying them)…

            Because he knows history, he’s doomed to not learn from history and repeat historical mistakes. That’s awesomely incoherent.

            I’m also pretty sure that there were free markets in the 18th and 19th centuries. The middle class wasn’t brought into existence until the markets became regulated.

            • The last statement’s a bit of an oversimplification; Hong Kong and Singapore have sizable middle classes despite being relatively unregulated (with regulation in South Korea and Taiwan originally often deliberately stacking the deck against workers and consumers), not to mention that a middle class had already begun to develop in the US by the 20’s. Really, neither regulations and unions nor capitalism and businessmen should be given sole credit for the development of “First World” living standards.

            • The sentence is coherent as it reads. Please read again carefully. The point is that, indeed those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, both as a generation of citizens, and the government they unknowing elect by NOT knowing it. All government is, like Leviathan, subject to self-expansion until that becomes its essntial purpose. The Founding Fathers knew this, and tried to protect against it, and created a perfectly good instrument to allow protection, if we only required our government and elected officials to follow it and not simply give it lipservice.
              You are correct about the relatively free (and minimally taxed and regulated) markets in the first 150 yrs of our nation’s history, and the wealthy middle class did indeed arise as a result. One of the great economic miracles in world history, actually. Beginning with the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, the establishment of the unconstitutional income tax in 1916 and further regulatory and redistribution programs, there has been a gradual decline in the direct relationship between individual labor and the incentivizing element of keeping what one earns. To be sure, limited regulation is appropriate when corporate greed is real, perhaps even when threatened, but nobody thinks about the unintended consequences of self-feeding and unchecked growth of governing and regulatory bodies, until you wake up one day, find that the carbon dioxide in the air you exhale has been declared a pollutant subject to regulation, and realize that the parasitic losses to operate government have overwhelmed the host.

              • The sentence is coherent as it reads.

                The sentence is coherent. The idea is not.

                Please read again carefully. The point is that, indeed those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, both as a generation of citizens, and the government they unknowing elect by NOT knowing it.

                Um, you have a reading/responding comprehension problem. You were responding to this comment: “Paul’s in a separate category, as an idealist who is, as I measure him, unhinged from the practicalities of real life. Once any politician argues that the US should have stayed out of World War II, the official Libertarian cant, I stop listening.” The arguement was that history shows the ideal position can not work. You responded that he knows history well, that’s why he’s an idealist. Essentially, that he knows what has worked and hasn’t worked, but ignores that. If you were trying to support the position that the history backs idealism, you should be attacking the contra-idealism examples, not state vague history studying.

                All government is, like Leviathan, subject to self-expansion until that becomes its essntial purpose.

                This is not fact. Please don’t state it like it is.

                You are correct about the relatively free (and minimally taxed and regulated) markets in the first 150 yrs of our nation’s history, and the wealthy middle class did indeed arise as a result

                So, you lied before to ignore an example that supports you? Codswollop.

                Beginning with the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, the establishment of the unconstitutional income tax in 1916 and further regulatory and redistribution programs, there has been a gradual decline in the direct relationship between individual labor and the incentivizing element of keeping what one earns.

                Hah! So, you’re saying that people are unethical and lazy? That they won’t work for the greater good. That doesn’t match well with the industrious individual of Ron Paul’s fantasy

  4. Tgt—‘s’ sound, of course.

    Don’t you think most people think of Dr. in a medical context first? I do, because I regard anyone who calls themselves “doctor” based on a non medical degree to be a pompous ass. I know juris doctors who like to be called “doctor.” What a crock.

    • I don’t assume medical doctor. I know enough other people referred to as doctor that I leave it open. For instance, I had a program manager who didn’t refer to himself as doctor, but people enamored with him did. Most people that have worked with him quickly came to the conclusion that he was a complete waste of space (for example, his emails were often unintentionally haikus, even when we were waiting on a yes or no response).

      On the far end of the spectrum was Dr. K. His last name was ugly, and since I’ve gone by Mr. K, I can tell you, it’s not as good.

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