Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Analysis of The Iowa GOP Debate



This is the first post from new writer Maria Wilson. She will be without internet access for a little while and doesn't have time to set up an account and wanted me to post this while it was still relevant. We look forward to more of her writing as the year progresses.

Thursday night was the Iowa GOP Debate in Ames, Iowa, an event in a state that has been known to make or break presidential campaigns. The debate consisted of those who have officially tossed their hat into the ring: Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. The debate was interesting, to say the least, and simply a reiteration that almost any Republican president would be devastating to the social progress that the Obama administration has strived to make. Most of the candidates came across as petty, starting fickle fights with each other and blaming Obama for literally every problem under the sun. I feel like if the debate went on for much longer, someone would eventually blame Obama for the Joplin, Missouri tornado and Steve Carrell’s departure from The Office.

Two candidates were able to rise above this, I believe. There must be something in the water in Utah, because the only two candidates that stood out as genuine presidential hopefuls were Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, both of the Beehive State. Both men were able to convey their stances on issues while avoid the derogatory sparring that occurred between other candidates. Romney, especially, was excellent in his response to the many attempts to break his cool, salesman fa├žade, where most of the attempts to rouse him regarded his health care reform during his time as Governor of Massachusetts. As he seems like the only candidate that has actually ever attempted to implement a solution to solve the healthcare crisis, he earns my respect on this issue. However, that respect was lost the instant he began to call for the repeal of “Obamacare,” a move I found very ironic, considering much of the recently passed healthcare reform was partly based off of his Massachusetts plan. When it comes to social issues, Huntsman has my support most of all. Though he said that he did not support gay marriage, he said that he supports civil unions. This certainly isn’t the ideal position for a potential leader of our country to have, but it separates him from the other contenders. My support also goes toward him for his excellent record as the former governor of Utah. Additionally, as the former ambassador to both China and Singapore, Huntsman has experience in foreign policy that he could bring to the Oval Office.

Thus, to this liberal, it is clear that Romney and Huntsman are the only reasonable Republican candidates for the President of the United States. Unfortunately, though, neither of these candidates will likely receive the nomination, and prejudice is to blame. Both are Mormon, and to the extreme right that has been gaining strength, this seems to be the equivalent of being a Satan worshipper. This is only the Republican Party’s loss, though, because I believe that these two are rational and intelligent, and out of all of the potential candidates, they are the only ones with the experience and leadership to lead our country, if Obama were to lose.

Michele Bachmann stood out from the rest of crowd…literally. Her shiny silver outfit starkly contrasted the drab black suits of the men. Fashion aside, though, Bachmann is considered by many to be the most popular candidate for the Republican nomination. Though a woman president, or even Republican candidate, would certainly be a step forward, it would be about one hundred steps backward for our nation if Bachmann was elected. She has shown herself time and time again to be the absolute worst of the Tea Party and an absolute bigot. (I recommend this video, where my favorite comedian Kathy Griffin recounts her tale of calling her out on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLXJ_7I7uXI) She is essentially Sarah Palin, minus the fun “you betcha” accent and plus some actual debating skill. I had hoped that America had learned its lesson for keeping “crazies” like her out of political office in 2008, but this lesson obviously hasn’t been learned, as Bachmann has a huge support base. Possibly the most awkward moment of the debate, though, came when she was asked if she would be submissive to her husband if she would be elected President. The crowd instantly booed this question, and I was booing it as well. It was extremely sexist, and even Bachmann doesn’t deserve a question like that. I quite enjoyed the sparring between Pawlenty and Bachmann. Pawlenty accused Bachmann of having no real legislative spine and having no actual results on the promises she has made (which is a very apt analysis), and Bachmann accused Pawlenty of abandoning his conservative principles in his time as governor. She finished her list of Pawlenty’s “liberal” actions (which in reality were just acknowledging that carbon emissions need to be cut and healthcare needs to be reformed) by telling Pawlenty that he sounds like Barack Obama. If being a reasonable individual that might not be entirely blinded by bias is a bad thing, I don’t want anyone to be right.

Ron Paul and Herman Cain were the entertainment of the evening. Paul is always good for a laugh, and his ramblings on immigration and Iran did not disappoint. My personal favorite moment, though, was Cain’s call for a giant wall on our borders to keep out illegal immigrants, while maintaining “wide open doors.” Because, obviously, in this time of a huge deficit, the first thing we need to do is build a replica of the Great Wall of China.

Who am I missing? Oh yes, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. This is no coincidence, as I repeatedly forgot they were even present at the debate. Though I’m sure they spoke at some point, their views were indistinguishable from anyone else’s, and I can’t help but wonder if either candidate is taking their campaign entirely seriously.

All in all, the GOP candidates are underwhelming to anyone outside of their loyal base. They repeatedly used Obama as a punching bag, while none of them were able to provide real solutions to our country’s problems. All of them acknowledged that they would not even consider accepting a 10-to-1 spending cut to tax increase ratio. It is clear to this liberal that the only chance at getting out of this deficit has to include compromise from everyone, which would probably include minutely raising the taxes of those that own private jets. (*gasp!*) Having any of these candidates as President would put a great leader out of office and lead us down a very dangerous path back to the Bush years.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stephen Colbert Is A Genius


Between the debt ceiling debate and the Republican primary, it's hard not to feel like the American political system has become a parody of itself. Thanks to Stephen Colbert, this may actually become true.

A Super PAC is a political action committee with the right to spend unlimited money on campaign ads and propaganda for or against any political candidates. Thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, our electoral process is now more influenced than ever by shady, semi-anonymous corporate interests and fringe groups. If you don't think this is scary, not long ago - during the Wisconsin recall elections - the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity group sent notices to Wisconsin Democrats about absentee ballots, helpfully reminding them to turn in their ballots on August 11. The only problem was, Election Day was August 9. This is just the beginning of the kind of voter suppression we can expect to see over the next few years.

As viewers of the show know, Mr. Colbert has started a Super PAC of his own. When he first announced this a while back, I thought it was funny, but I was confused when he actually went through with it. I couldn't possibly imagine the purpose of donating to this cause. I figured he would let this play out a little more and then donate the funds to charity and move on to skewer some other part of our political system. Instead, he used the funds to purchase television ad space in Iowa, where this advertisement is playing now.

Colbert has made a living, like most satirists, commenting on the political scene and twisting it through comedy. From the beginning, he took it a step further than many by creating a full time character that was the limit of moronic conservative punditry (was, until Glenn Beck came along). Now he has done something that I'm not sure any satirist has done before. He has become part of the system he is parodying, much more so than his short-lived bid for President in 2008. This isn't just satire. This is Gonzo satire (I can't help thinking that Hunter S. Thompson would love this). It is entirely possible that Rick Parry (with an A for America and IowA) could come out on top in the Ames Straw Poll, which has an inexplicable influence on primary elections. Given Colbert's influence, and ColbertPACs essentially unlimited funds, I would not be surprised if Rick Parry wins a few states in the upcoming primary. And I would love it if that happened. It may just take a joke for America to realize what a joke our democracy has become.

To become a member of Colbert Super PAC, go here: http://www.colbertsuperpac.com/