At this still-early point in the election campaign we've seen three
races in one party and two in the other--and each has had a different
- Iowa Democrats went for Obama
- New Hampshire Democrats went for Clinton
- Iowa Republicans went for Huckabee
- Wyoming Republicans went for Romney
- New Hampshire Republicans went for McCain
allow the Indepublicrat a moment to be amused by the prospect of having
a different winner in each state so far. What's next, John Edwards and
Rudy Giuliani in South Carolina? Bill Richardson and Ron Paul in
Michigan? Gravel and Hunter in Nevada? Anything goes!
Okay, enough of that.
The Republican race is legitimately up for grabs with no clear
frontrunner. In addition to the three winners so far, Giuliani's gambit
of focusing on "big states" hasn't even kicked in yet. If he wins
Florida, he just might go on to become the first President of the
United Big States of America.
On the Democratic side, the Indepublican has previously emphasized
that the focus should be on delegate counts rather than just the
popular vote, and Hillary Clinton's overwhelming support among
superdelegates continues to be a huge obstacle for Barak Obama or John
Edwards to overcome. With a padding of over a hundred delegates,
Obama's convincing win in Iowa only chipped into that lead by the
But with the momentum from Iowa, it seemed for a few days as if
Obama would be able to steamroll to victory no matter how many
superdelegates Clinton managed to wrangle. Obama's lead mounted all
week in all major New Hampshire polls, and into the double-digits in
some of them. On the ground, Clinton seemed to have been pushed to the
edge of desperation. She not only went negative but used her husband as
an attack dog, and rumors were swirling of a major staffing purge in
her campaign office. The last straw seemed to come at an event where an
overstressed Clinton broke down in a most unpresidential fit of tears.
"Stick a fork in her, she's done!" pronounced the pundits on the eve
of the New Hampshire primary, but as the precincts reported in, Clinton
leapt into the lead and held it all night long. According to CNN's exit
polling, women broke heavily for Clinton in New Hampshire, in contrast
to Iowa where Obama had the support of men and women alike. Many of
those New Hampshire women made up their minds in the last 48 hours and
were positively influenced by the humanizing sight of seeing Hillary
Clinton show actual human emotions. Turns out that crying jag was the
best thing she could have done!
And yet the media is hyping a "big win" for Clinton, ignoring the
fact there is often little or no effective difference in a primary
between first place and a strong second. Clinton and Obama both came
away with 9 delegates in New Hampshire while Edwards picked up 4
delegates for coming in a distant third. On the Republican side, where
there are fewer delegates up for grabs, McCain's win was good for 7
delegates, Romney picked up 4, and Huckabee ended up with 1. All other
candidates tied for last place, prompting Bill Richardson to drop out
of the Democratic race--and then there were five.
So here are the lessons we can take from New Hampshire:
- Do not, do not, DO NOT
ever trust the polls. They're an arbitrary and entirely meaningless
snapshot with a dangerous Oracle Effect--often changing the vote rather
than just predicting it. Plus they enable the media to trot out
countless "horserace" stories instead of focusing on the issues.
are full of crap. When they don't know something, they'll just make it
up as they go along. Even when they're totally wrong, there's no
- Sometimes a candidate just needs a good cry.
The Indepublicrat caught Ron Paul on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
last night, which turned out to be a much better platform for him than
a seat at the Fox News Republican candidate debate ever would have
been. Paul didn't have to compete for screen time with the rest of the
field, and the live studio audience seemed packed with rabid supporters
who laughed and cheered at all the most appropriate moments.
Where a debate moderator might have tossed in a few challenging
questions, Leno was almost fawning in his tone. And because Leno was
the one who railed against the unfairness of Paul being excluded from
the last debate before New Hampshire votes, Paul could just nod his
head in agreement without seeming bitter or petty. Finally, I'm pretty
sure Leno gets better ratings than the debate did, so it turned out to
be a huge favor that Fox News did Ron Paul by excluding him.
The Indepublicrat had never seen this candidate in a non-debate
setting, and hasn't really paid much attention to him in the campaign
so far, so it was an interesting experience to see him shoehorned
between "Stupid Headlines" and Shakira. Paul came off well, and
probably better than Romney or Huckabee would have if they were the
ones doing a consolation interview after being inexplicably excluded
from a debate.
But there was one moment that the Indepublicrat found slightly disturbing.
Leno asked for Paul's side of a debate fracas in which another
candidate accused him of blaming the United States for the 9/11
attacks. All Paul had to do to knock that question out of the park was
to say that no, the terrorists were 100% to blame for their own
actions, which is exactly what he said to thunderous applause. However,
he then went one step further, analogizing the situation to a murder
investigation, emphasizing the importance of looking for a motive, and
providing some possible examples, such as the presence of U.S. military
bases in the Middle East.
At the time of the 9/11 attacks, the American military presence was
primarily based in Saudi Arabia at the request of the government there
as a buffer against the ongoing threat of an expansionist Iraq. In
pre-9/11 tapes and propaganda, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden did in fact
refer to this presence as his primary complaint against the West, and
it certainly wasn't a coincidence that the 9/11 hijackers were
recruited from among his fellow Saudi nationals.
So what is the purpose for Ron Paul's diverting focus from the
attacks themselves and putting it on the pre-war presence of military
bases in Saudi Arabia? If this were viewed as a simple murder case as
Paul suggests, is he, like a district attorney, using motive to build a
stronger case against the terror organization? Or is he, like a defense
attorney, trying to build an affirmative defense to get them off the
hook? Is he blaming the terror victims in the same reprehensible way in
which a rapist blames his victim for wearing lipstick and a short-cut
Or perhaps he's pointing out that the terror attacks were especially
successful for Bin Laden, since they did in fact lead to the removal of
U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia--with their insertion into Afghanistan
and Iraq instead. Is the lesson that Bin Laden could cause casualties
on U.S. soil, achieve his objective of moving our army around at his
whim, avoid prosecution or punishment for his actions, and still not be
The statement was so brief and imprecise that it's impossible to
determine whether Ron Paul was fear-mongering, blaming the victim, or
proposing a program of appeasement. It's possible that a reasonable
alternative meaning was obscured by poorly chosen words, but as it
stands right now the Indepublicrat is seriously concerned about this
candidate's foreign policy priorities.
Given the opportunity he
had to generate mainstream appeal with his late night appearance, it's
unfortunate that Ron Paul struck out on such a softball pitch.
The Indepublicrat is glad for the arrival of 2008, because it seemed
presumptuous to discuss the upcoming Presidential election when it was
still only 2007. Although primary and caucus voting is earlier and more
front-loaded than ever before, we're still at the very beginning of the
process at a time of infinite possibility. In an ideal system, the
election at this point would be like the start of a professional sports
season where every team has a 0-0 record. The unfortunate reality is
that the race is more like a college sports season, where some teams
start with a higher ranking before a single game is played, but this
flawed version of democracy is the best that we've got to work with.
While 403 candidates
have filed with the Federal Election Commission so far, only 23 of
those had the name recognition, connections, and/or organizational
skills to raise at least $200,000 and mount an effective national
campaign. From that group of 11 Democrats and 12 Republicans, official
dropouts already include: Republican Sam Brownback, Republican James
Gilmore, Republican Tom Tancredo, Republican Tommy Thompson, and
Democrat Tom Vilsack. That leaves 18 candidates with even a longshot
chance of occupying the Oval Office this time around.
Almost certainly, the single best potential President of the United
States was a person who decided to forgo the grueling election process
entirely. He or she may be a cab driver with superlative people skills,
a software engineer with exquisite attention to detail, a sharp-minded
nuclear scientist, or a barista with an uncanny grasp of human nature.
Of the group that registered, odds are that the best candidate was to
be found among the 385 we never got to know rather than that select
group of 18 that will soon be whittled down to the 6 or 7 who are now
receiving the lion's share of media attention.
At this point in the race, not a single state--Iowa and New
Hampshire included--have held a primary or caucus in which party
delegates are apportioned. However, the two major parties both include
"superdelegates" in their nomination counts. These important partisans
will get to vote on the convention floor and have, in many cases,
already made their endorsements public, which allows us to score the race as follows:
For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton is leading the delegate race with
77 endorsements among superdelegates in Congress. Barack Obama comes in
second with 31, while John Edwards trails with 16, Chris Dodd lags with
10, and Bill Richardson limps into 2008 with only 7. Joe Biden only has
one superdelegate in his corner, U.S. Senator Thomas Carper, who really
couldn't be expected to choose anyone else over his fellow Deleware pol.
The Republican race for superdelegates is much closer with Mitt
Romney (33), John McCain (29), Rudy Giuliani (25), and Fred Thompson
(22) all within striking distance of each other. Duncan Hunter and Mike
Huckabee trail with 7 and 4 votes respectively.
But even though these are the only hard numbers we have at the
moment, these votes are "soft" in the respect that superdelegates are
not committed to follow their endorsed candidates and may shift their
votes at any time between now and the nominating conferences this
summer. And some candidates who have gotten little or no support from
the "professional" delegates on Capitol Hill--the Indepublicrat is
looking at you, populist ousider Ron Paul--will surely do better once
voting is opened up to the general public.
Welcome to 2008. Let the games begin!
Larry Craig is gay, and there's nothing wrong with that. Or perhaps he's bi-sexual, bi-curious, or merely confused. None of that matters because a government official's sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or ethnicity are of trivial importance as long as they are competent in their job. Does Craig participate in policy debates on the Senate floor? Does he keep abreast of the issues? Is he productive as a member of various subcommittees? Does he show up for voting on bills? If so, his orientation shouldn't matter.
Larry Craig didn't want anyone to know that he was gay, and there's nothing wrong with that either. Public figures should be allowed to have private lives, especially when they are off the clock--as long they're not doing anything that interferes with or distracts from their public duties or brings shame to government institutions. More about that distinction later...
Larry Craig, a member of a conservative party and representing a predominantly conservative constituency, had a predominantly conservative voting record that included votes against gay-favored issues. The Indepublicrat also doesn't see anything wrong with that. There's a whiff of hypocrisy on the surface, but that's what it means to be a politician, especially in a deliberative body such as the U.S. Senate where votes are cast in blocks, or along party lines, or as traded favors for support with other more important votes. Gay Republicans like Craig can't be faulted for choosing party loyalty or re-election viability over a sense of obligation to people who merely share a sexual orientation with them.
Larry Craig was so intent on projecting a heterosexual image that he kept his true orientation secret from his family and only sometimes engaged in anonymous gay sex at times and in places that nobody was likely to ever find out about. This summer he was caught in a sting operation targeting men engaging in
anonymous gay sex in an airport men's room. Rather than face a public trial for lewd public behavior and invasion of privacy, Craig
plead guilty to the lesser included offense of "disturbing the peace"
and paid a nominal fine to close the matter.
This incident was bound to come out in a way that would tarnish the office to which the senator was elected, and that can't be ignored. If he'd been more straightforward about what had happened, if he'd owned up to doing something wrong, and if he'd promised to not let it happen again, Craig could have expected a minor rebuke by his peers and a fifteen-minute crapstorm in the media--which he could have weathered by maintaining a sense of humor about himself. Not only wouldn't there have been any serious talk of resignation, but the whole thing would probably have died away into a minor footnote by Craig's next election. Instead he lied, denied, stonewalled, made promises, and then broke them.
Craig insisted that he wasn't gay despite overwhelming evidence. He feigned innocence despite his signed plea agreement. He set a date on which he promised to resign, then chose to stay on indefinitely. He mounted a legal challenge to his own plea agreement on unprecedented grounds. He made an embarrassing spectacle of himself, his party's leadership, and the Senate as a whole.
The American people don't like to be so blatantly lied to. In a situation where he's been outed due to his own actions, Craig could have been up front about it like this: "Why yes, I am gay, and so what? It doesn't affect my ability to represent the fine people of Idaho in the Senate and to cast votes on issues that the fine people of Idaho care about, such as making gay marriage illegal or preventing gays from openly serving in the military." Or he could have been private about it: "I'm not saying whether I'm gay or not because it doesn't affect my ability to represent the fine people of Idaho in the Senate,
and you should all be ashamed of making such a big deal out of it."
Honesty and a bit of damage control might have saved Craig's political career, but instead he staked out a laughably implausible position and made things a hundred times worse for himself. Larry Craig got himself into a bit of trouble in that airport bathroom, but he really messed up once he got back to Washington.
The existence of questions like these invites others from deeper and deeper into the lunatic fringe of conspiracy theory, such as: "When you were a promising young Ivy-League student, were you ever approached to join a secret society with current or former members at the highest levels of the Federal government, and if so what power do they still have over you today?" Normally the Indepublicrat would cringe at such a question, but he or she has to take a second glance when the question provokes an unusual or extreme response. This week a student at the University of Central Florida attempted to ask just such a question during a forum with 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry, and got slammed to the ground and tasered for his troubles.
The Indepublicrat wasn't in the room for the start of this question, but it seems that the student wanted to know: a) Why John Kerry didn't contest the results of the 2004 election in states where voting irregularities were alleged; and b) Whether John Kerry was a member of the Skull and Bones society during his time at Yale, as a number of prominent political figures have been including his then-opponent in the race, with the implication that the Skull and Bones leadership might have influenced his decision not to press the issue of possible election fraud.
These questions were bandied about in the media and on blogs years ago, but in this context they are friendly questions for the speaker, since Mr. Kerry is not acknowledged to have ever been a member of Skull and Bones. The question marks the questioner as a supporter of Mr. Kerry's, grasping for any chance that the election could have swung in the other direction, and showing his intention to give Mr. Kerry a chance to present himself in a favorable light.
In the background of the audio, Kerry seems thrilled (or at least as emotional as he ever gets) to answer these softball questions and you can hear part of his response even as his questioner is screaming for help in the back of the hall. As the police move in on the student, Kerry even tells them, "That's all right, let me answer his questions." This comment could only have been meant as a request for the officers to leave the student alone. Kerry later can be heard describing the question as an important one and expressing a wish that the student was available to join him on stage as well as a more wistful wish that the student had the power to swear him in as president. Clearly, from Mr. Kerry's position at the front podium, this student's questions were welcome, appropriate, and non-disruptive. He's not the one with an interest or desire in suppressing or discouraging such a question, so what's really going on here?
As he's being hassled by the cops, the student naturally expresses outrage and surprise. He wants to know whether he is being arrested and what he has done wrong. These also are legitimate questions for the officers and do not seem intended to cause disruption or threaten public safety. In fact, since Mr. Kerry is answering the student's questions at the time, a greater disruption is caused by not allowing the student to listen to the response. The student then asks for help, apparently addressing Mr. Kerry. This is also not unreasonable, since Mr. Kerry had already attempted to intervene on his behalf, but this time Mr. Kerry either does not hear the call for help or chooses to ignore it. Realizing that he is on his own, the student then offers to leave the hall of his own accord if the officers allow him to do so--a reasonable and cooperative concession that would have allowed the officers to restore decorum without escalating the matter any further. When this request fails, all the student can do is beg the officers not use their taser on him since, at this point, the officers haven't allowed him to leave or explained why he is being detained.
Since zapping the student causes him to scream in pain, the intent must have been something other than trying to quiet him down. Since the officers refused to allow him to leave the hall under his own power, the intent in subduing him must have been something other than a need to protect the speaker or other participants in the room. Therefore, the intentional infliction of incapacitating pain could only have been meant as punishment for something he had done or said--and what else could it have been but the fact that the first rule of Skull and Bones is that nobody is allowed to talk about Skull and Bones?
The Indepublicrat invites viewers to watch the right side of the screen during the opening part of the video. Stationed directly behind the microphone at which questioners address Mr. Kerry are two uniformed officers, already waiting to pounce. As our young victim-to-be speaks about voter fraud and contesting the 2004 election, the officers look off-camera for a signal that it's go-time but no, apparently there's no signal yet for them to attack. Behind the officers stands a mysterious man in a suit who actually gives that signal, and watch the timing. The moment the questioner mentions the Skull and Bones Society, the man in the suit makes a slashing "off with his head" gesture and the officers move in. As the officers start to take the questioner away, Mr. Off-With-His-Head yanks the microphone--the implication being that he has the power to end all further questions from everyone else as well, in case there was any thought of a Skull and Bones follow-up.
If the student wasn't disruptive, inappropriate, or insulting--certainly not the point that would justify a police dogpile, tasering, and handcuffing session--then who would have an interest in trying to shut him up? Does the Skull and Bones Society have that much influence on college campuses other than Yale? Do they have power over public events and the willingness to abuse that power so flagrantly? Where will they pop up next?
The Indepublicrat has therefore reconsidered his or her previous stance on whether Skull and Bones membership is a relevant campaign topic. All current candidates of both parties should be questioned about their connections to this group and their knowledge of its secretive agenda.
This video shows the incident from an alternate angle and follows the student and officers out of the auditorium.
From this angle we can hear Kerry address the officers saying, "Hey, officers, can we--?" The expression is left unfinished, probably because it's clear to Kerry that the officers by this point are beyond listening to anyone on stage, either to let the student go or to get him out of the room any faster. Kerry instead turns to calming down the crowd, some of whom can also be heard asking what the student did wrong and demanding that he be let go.
Outside the room, when the student is finally told why he is being arrested, the winning answer is "inciting a riot". He's also told to calm down but dude, if you want someone to be quieter and less agitated the way to do it is not by a) zapping them with a taser; b) confiscating their personal belongings; or c) not allowing them to sit down and catch their breath! The student expresses a fear that his life may be in danger, either from the officers or by government agents they plan to turn him over to. This is unrealistic, even under these circumstances, but the officers certainly haven't done much to reassure this young man of their good intentions--and if they're willing to tase him for such a poor reason, there's no telling what they might do next.
The most important thing we get from this video is the charge--inciting a riot--which refers to the content of his speech rather than the method by which it was delivered. He wasn't accused of trespassing or resisting arrest either, which might be justified by his actions after the questioning, so we have to conclude that he was tasered primarily because of what he said. Possibly it was something he said before the start of the video, but from the clipped part we have available now, the only thing it could be was the reference to Skull and Bones.
Yet another update:
From yet another perspective this video finally shows the student's full question--or rather three questions: a) Why didn't you contest the election; b) Should President Bush be impeached; and c) Are you a member of Skull and Bones. It's admittedly a bit of a ramble, but still not enough to justify the response.
Here's the timeline:
0:11 - Kerry finishes prior question and gestures to student.
0:13 - Student thanks Kerry for coming to the event.
0:20 - Student begins his question on the election, referencing a book that Kerry states he has also read.
0:45 - Student is asked by someone off-camera to speed it up and get to the point.
0:57 - Student returns to his question.
1:23 - Student finishes asking his first question on the election and announces that he has two follow-ups.
1:37 - Student finishes the second question on the topic of impeachment, starts third question.
1:42 - Microphone is cut off in the middle of Skull and Bones question.
So what he's really guilty of is asking three questions instead of one and taking 90 seconds to do it -- or more like 70 seconds when his polite thank you and 12-second interruption are taken into account. After the microphone has been cut and the student is effectively silenced, the police grab him by the arms and try to pull him away. He asks if he's being arrested and significantly, at 2:06, he tells them that he just wants to stand and listen to the answer to his question.
This is the point at which it all goes wrong. This student clearly respects and admires Kerry and has delivered what he believes to be three well thought-out and researched questions at what may be the only time in his life in which he gets to address one of his idols directly--he's even brought a book from which he's quotes facts and figures supporting his question. All he wants, at 2:06 in this video, is to sit back and listen to the answers and everything is right in his world. Instead, he finds himself being surrounded and threatened by uniformed police officers who won't allow him to listen to the answers and won't tell him what he has done wrong or why they are arresting him. At 3:11 in this video he is tasered not once, not twice, but three times in immediate succession--even one of which should never have happened at all.
(The first video has the student's mic cut at 0:14 and the tasering at 1:59, bridging a sixteen second gap in this third video.)
The so-called Children of Llulliallaco, ages 6, 7, and 15, were sacrificed in the Andes over 500 years ago in an Incan ceremony intended to increase the harvest. Clearly the human sacrifice worked, to the extent that there were three fewer mouths to feed that year and more food to go around for everyone else.
In 1999, the mummies were discovered in an ice pit 22,000 feet up the side of a volcano. They were studied for the scientific and historic insights they could provide to help us understand Incan culture and the preservation of human remains in a low-temperature, low-oxygen environment. This weekend they've been placed on display in an Argentinian museum for the first time.
Now the Indepublicrat asks which is more cruel, the murder of these children or the exploitation of their bodies 500 years after their deaths? Indigenous groups have been trying to stop the museum display and allow these children to finally be buried with the dignity and respect that all people deserve. The Indepublicrat urges support for this cause.
Fox News hosted this Republican presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire. Brit Hume moderated the debate.
MR. HUME: Let’s get started. Senator Brownback, Mayor Giuliani, Governor Huckabee, Congressman Hunter, Senator McCain, Congressman Paul, Governor Romney, and Congressman Tancredo, tonight you are all sharing this overcrowded stage for a inconsequential debate while Fred Thompson is in Los Angeles making a high-profile appearance on Jay Leno. Is he really that much smarter than the rest of you? Governor Huckabee?
MR. HUCKABEE: Well, Brit, I could have been on Jay Leno tonight. I had it in my day-planner and everything, but then I remembered this debate here. Fred told me that between the two options I should cancel Leno and come here--and then he snatched up the Tonight Show slot for his candidacy announcement. So yeah, I guess he is a bit smarter than me.
But even if Fred were scheduled to be here tonight, I don't think he'd have showed up. He's from Nashville, after all, like that musician, George Jones, who's gotten the nickname "No-Show George" because he often fails to show up for his own concerts. People from Nashville are notoriously unreliable, which is why I'm going to start referring to Fred Thompson as "No-Show Fred". Also because I'm just kind of cruel that way.
MR. HUME: Congressman Paul? Don't you feel like a bit of a chump, working for votes as hard as you have while Fred Thompson's doing better in the polls for doing absolutely nothing?
REP. PAUL: Actually, I welcome Fred to the race because he will help to further dilute the pro-war vote allowing me, as the only anti-war Republican in the race, to gain valuable ground. Fred Thompson, you've fallen right into my evil plot to rule the world! Muah-haha-haha!!!
I estimate that if just seventeen more pro-war candidates enter the race, I'll be the Republican nominee, and with the formation of three pro-war political parties I will become President!
MR. HUME: Senator McCain, Fred Thompson is a former colleague of yours. Did you notice even back then, when you were serving in the Senate together, how much smarter he was than everyone else?
SEN. MCCAIN: Well sure, Fred is a regular Mr. Brainiac when he's awake, but he needed seventeen hours of sleep each night just in order to function. That will be a real liability when he's running for the New Hampshire primary. New Hampshire voters expect to see the candidates a lot--and I mean really a lot. They'll call you over to paint the barn, and when you get there some junior senator will be pruning the bushes while a southern governor is cleaning the gutters. Then when you're all done with your chores you have to go next door and do it all over again. Fred's sleep schedule will never allow him to put in those kinds of hours.
MR. HUME: Governor Romney? The topic is Fred Thompson's brilliance contrasted with whatever is going on in your head. Comments?
MR. ROMNEY: You're right, Bret. Fred was smart to stay out of the race this long. But if he were really smart he'd stay out even longer. Like maybe until, say, a week or two after the Republican National Convention. That's a level of intelligence I'd really appreciate.
Also, John was only half right about the demanding toll of campaigning. In New Hampshire and in Iowa over this last year I've been asked to paint 462 barns -- but I've been able to delegate most of the work to the landscaping and painting crew who live in my tool shed.
MR. HUME: Mr. Mayor, your thoughts on Senator Thompson?
MR. GIULIANI: I like Fred a lot. He's such a great actor. In fact, he's the only one I can imagine as me in an upcoming made-for-TV movie about how I won the 2008 Presidential election. Can't you just see him, as me, giving the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress? They could even dig up the rotting corpse of Wilfred Brimley to play Senator McCain!
And Fred is so masterful at those grandstanding speeches on "Law & Order" that I can almost hear him now, portraying myself, as the only nominee with direct executive experience. That's something his Democratic opponent would have to get on-the-job, whether it turns out to be Chris Tucker as Barak Obama, , Ellen Degeneris as Hillary Clinton, or Huckleberry Hound as John Edwards. In fact, I think that's what the movie should be called: "The Executive Experience". Rated PG-13 for strong language and sexual themes!
MR. HUME: Thank you for those candid answers, five out of the eight of you. While I sneak off to watch more news coverage about Fred Thompson, continued questioning will be handled by my colleague, Chris Wallace. Chris?
MR. WALLACE: Thank you, Brit. Gentlemen, let’s talk about illegal immigration. If Fred Thompson were here, I'd go to him first on this issue, since he's sure to have the perfect policy that's fair, practical, and cost effective. But since Fred isn't here tonight...Governor Romney, in recent weeks, you have attacked Mayor Giuliani for turning New York into a sanctuary city for illegals. But you keep three dozen illegals living in your tool shed to do your landscaping while they subsist primarily on rainwater and grass clippings. Given that both of you have established sanctuaries of a sort, why should we believe that you would be any tougher on illegal immigration than Mayor Giuliani?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, Chris, first of all, I am shocked to learn that those people are illegal immigrants. All of them? Are you sure? Even Paco, Pablo, and Fernando?
MR. WALLACE: Yes, Governor. Our research shows that all of them are illegal immigrants. Guatemalans, to be precise.
MR. ROMNEY: Humn. Well, that's really not my fault, is it? In my experience, people usually don’t ask the Spanish-speaking transients living in cardboard structures on their property to show passports or ID cards.
But isn't that really a minor issue compared to Mayor Giuliani's sanctuary city? My sanctuary is three dozen people in a backyard of 30 acres, while Giuliani's sanctuary is all of New York City! When I am President, I will eliminate all federal funding to cities that provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, and we'll use the money saved to build border walls around the sanctuaries, keeping additional illegals from entering them.
MR. WALLACE: Mayor Giuliani, would you care to follow up on Governor Romney's threat to besiege, bankrupt, and starve your city?
MR. GIULIANI: Chris, you and the governor have me all wrong. The first part of my "sanctuary city" executive order required the police should report all illegals suspected of committing a crime or who have committed a crime--which by definition is all of them, or else they wouldn't be "illegals" in the first place. The city is only a sanctuary to the extent that the police are incompetent in rounding everybody up.
MR. WALLACE: Senator McCain, you have accused Governor Romney of flip-flopping on the issue of immigration reform. How is the governor guilty of flip-flopping on immigration?
SEN. MCCAIN: Look, immigration reform is an emotional and passionate issue for those of us from border states like Arizona. Until last year, Governor Romney and I agreed that folks in the Northeast, like Governor Romney, don't have the requisite expertise on the subject and should keep respectfully quiet while we Southwesterners come up with border control solutions. But now, suddenly, Governor Romney claims to be an expert on the subject--and that's what I called flip-flopping.
MR. WALLACE: Governor Huckabee, is it true that you consider people opposed to illegal immigration to be racists?
MR. HUCKABEE: Absolutely. I want to be very clear on this subject. People who oppose immigration are essentially good, honest, God-fearing, charitable folks who just happen to also be mean-spirited racists. In my experience, there's just no other possible explanation. And I'm sure even "No-Show Fred" would agree with me on this one.
MR. WALLACE: Congressman Tancredo, you have made illegal immigration a centerpiece of your campaign. Do you agree with Governor Huckabee that your position makes you mean-spirited and racist?
REP. TANCREDO: Hmm? What? Me? Someone finally realized I was here? Oh, joy! I'm sorry for drifting off like that but could you repeat the question?
MR. WALLACE: Certainly, Congressman. On the subject of immigration reform, are you a mean-spirited racist?
REP. TANCREDO: Well as you know, immigration reform happens to be one of the most serious domestic problems that we face in-- Wait, wait, what? Am I a what?!!
MR. WALLACE: I'm sorry Congressman, your time is up. We'll just have to take that as a yes and move on to Congressman Hunter. Congressman, you're such a minor candidate that I can't ask you any questions directly, but I am allowed to pass on questions from our viewers. Pat Scott from Leander, Texas, asks, "When you become the next president, how long will it take you to start and complete a border fence from California to Texas?"
REP. HUNTER: Great question, Pat Scott from Leander. As you know, I built a border fence around San Diego that has kept anyone from entering or leaving that city for almost two years now. It's actually a double fence with a road in between patrolled by robot sentries with infrared vision and laser guns. A similar fence from California extending it 854 miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Texas would take approximately six months to build, assuming we can get enough cheap Mexican labor for the job.
MR. ROMNEY: Guatemalans also do wonderful work.
REP. HUNTER: Thank you, Governor. I'll keep that in mind!
MR. HUME (returning to the stage): Thank you, Chris. I can take over from here. But first, let’s go to Young’s Restaurant and see what Carl Cameron and the local registered voters are having for dinner. Carl?
MR. CAMERON: It's meatloaf, Brit.
MR. HUME: Thanks, Carl. And now, back to our debate on illegal immigration. Mr. Tancredo is waving his arms but I can't hear a word he's saying.
REP. TANCREDO: I’d like to --
MR. HUME (blocks his ears): La-la-la, can't heeeeeeear you!
REP. TANCREDO: But--
MR. HUME: I'm told there's been some breaking news about Fred Thompson, so Wendell Goler will have the next round of questions while I go check it out. Wendell?
MR. GOLER: Senator Brownback, if you’re really itching for a question, I have one for you.
SEN. BROWNBACK: Okay!
MR. GOLER: Your colleague, Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, is making it difficult for the Republican Party to claim to be the party of family values. I know he's your friend, so what advice have you given him?
SEN. BROWNBACK: Well, I’ve told Larry that he should really stick with his first impulse. I mean, his first impulse to resign from the Senate--not his earlier first impulse to have anonymous gay sex in a public restroom. And the party leadership should stick with their first impulse, which was to continue ostracizing homosexual Republicans so that their only recourse is anonymous gay sex in a public restroom.
MR. GOLER: Congressman Hunter, another e-mail question has just come in for you. Scott Baker of Boise, Idaho, says, "For the sake of the GOP, should Larry Craig resign immediately?"
REP. HUNTER (looks around nervously): Why are you asking me? I don't know anything about having anonymous gay sex in a public restroom. Really, I don't! And I've never met this Scott Baker person either!
MR. GOLER: Thank you, Congressman. Governor Romney, you see ending abortion as a two-step process -- rolling back Roe v. Wade, which would leave it legal in some states, and then a constitutional amendment to ban it the rest of them. Why not do it all in a single step instead, like most of your opponents are proposing?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, I believe almost all of us in the room would say that we’d love to have an America that didn’t have abortion. (glares meaningfully at Giuliani) But the truth of the matter is that ending abortion is necessarily a two-step process. The first step is to end abortion while the second step is to make it impossible for a future Democratic administration to bring abortion back. That's why we need to overturn Roe v. Wade and also have a constitutional amendment to ban the Democratic Party.
MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, do you see any real difference between Governor Romney’s willingness to allow legalized abortion in some states in the period between the two steps in his plan and Mayor Giuliani’s effective support for a woman’s right to choose?
MR. PAUL: Wendell, I’m going to let them sort out whatever differences they have in a no-holds-barred cage match to the death! Muah-haha-haha-hahahahaha!!!
MR. ROMNEY: No thanks.
MR. GIULIANI: Not going to happen, Ron.
MR. PAUL: Ah well, can't blame a fellow for trying to take out at least one of the frontrunners.
MR. GOLER: Nice try, Governor. And speaking of frontrunners, Senator Fred Thompson -- in his godlike wisdom -- says the Virginia Tech tragedy might have been lessened if some of the students had been allowed to carry guns. He also says that he never felt safe in New York City because of its gun control laws. What do you have to say to him about either of these assertions, Mr. Giuliani?
MR. GIULIANI: Well, I would say to him that when I was first elected, New York City was the crime capital of the world. But by the time I left office, crime had been entirely restricted to Queens, the Bronx, and parts of Upper Manhattan. The rest of the city is a crime-free paradise even to this day.
MR. GOLER: And the idea of letting college students carry weapons?
MR. GIULIANI: I think states have a right to decide whether college students should be required to carry weapons and if so, what caliber.
MR. GOLER: Congressman Paul, you have said that the 9/11 attackers might have had second thoughts if the federal government allowed passengers to carry firearms aboard commercial airliners. What do you think such a policy would do to the travel industry of this country?
REP. PAUL: Well, first off, you’re quoting me incorrectly.
MR. GOLER: I’m sorry?
REP. PAUL: I said that responsibility for providing guns falls with the airline, not the government, and not the passengers themselves. The airline makes seatbelts available to all passengers. The airline makes oxygen masks available to all passengers. The airline makes seat cushions that double as flotation devices available to all passengers. So the airlines should make guns available to all passengers as well. They should be located under their seats or in the seatback pockets in front of them.
MR. HUME: Thank you, Congressman. Let’s check in once again at Young’s Restaurant with Carl Cameron. Carl what's going on down there?
MR. CAMERON: It's milkshake hour, Brit! Buy one milkshake, get a second at half price!
MR. HUME: Thank you, Carl. Well, in this country, any discussion of family values now has gone into what constitutes a marriage -- a man and a man, a man and a woman, a woman and a horse, three men and a trained bear, or what have you. A lot of conservatives would like to see a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage while allowing every other possible combination imaginable. Senator Brownback, should there be a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? And if so, why?
SEN. BROWNBACK: The answer to that is yes, and because this is a foundational institution. Just as no person should have the right to marry a person of their same sex, no state government should have the right to allow gay marriage to exist within its borders. A constitutional ban is the only way to guarantee that no more gay marriages are ever, ever, ever performed in the United States of Family Values.
MR. HUME: Senator, thank you. I've grown a bit bored of this whole debate, but maybe Wendell has a few more questions. Wendell?
MR. GOLER: Yes, I've got one. Senator McCain, Mayor Giuliani says his leadership after the 9/11 attacks shows he is the best candidate for national security. You say nothing he has done shows any real experience in foreign policy or national security affairs. Tell me why, sir.
SEN. MCCAIN: Mayor Giuliani did a great job as mayor of New York City and inspired us after the tragedy of 9/11. I admire that and appreciate it. But I’ve spent my life on national security issues, not just a single day where I happened to be in the right place at the right time to mug for a bunch of cameras with concrete dust on my lapels.
I know conflict. I know war. I know how the military works. I know how the government works. I have led. I was once the commanding officer of the largest squadron in the United States Navy. I didn’t manage it like a mayoral bureaucrat; I led it.
MR. GOLER: That was my only question. Chris?
MR. WALLACE: Well, I guess I could ask Mayor Giuliani to respond and maybe tell us whether he's still planning a visit to Iraq by the end of the year, as he pledged in a previous debate.
MR. GIULIANI: I do hope to visit Iraq, but it would have to be without creating a great deal of publicity. The insurgents get CNN, I'm told, and we've seen from 9/11 that they especially have it in for New Yorkers.
But you know, New York City used to be a lot like Baghdad is today, only with even more violence and poverty. Then I came along and turned the city around. The crime rates fell 98% and we eliminated taxes altogether. Now everyone in New York City is happy, immensely successful, and looking at an average expected lifespan of 293 years. I'm not just any old mayor--I am the greatest mayor in the history of the planet! For me, the challenges of 9/11 were like a walk in the park.
MR. HUME: If this presidential campaign doesn't work out for you, maybe you could become Mayor of Baghdad.
MR. GIULIANI: Yeah! Maybe I will! From a distance!
MR. HUME: Well, it's time for me to sneak off again to watch some more of the nonstop Fred Thompson coverage airing on other networks. Wendell? Care to grill these losers on the topic of Iraq?
MR. GOLER: Okay... okay...Um... Governor Romney! You have suggested that U.S. troops in Iraq move to a support phase after the surge and then retreat to Kuwait and Qatar next spring. Correct me if I’m wrong, but even Hillary Clinton isn't as craven as that.
MR. ROMNEY: I don’t have a time frame that I’ve announced. What I’ve indicated is that the surge is apparently working. And if the surge is working, we must put an end to it before everything we tried before the surge is conclusively proven to be wrong-headed incompetence. At this point, we need to regain international sympathy by convincing the world that Iraq was unwinnable from the start, and this successful surge is doing just the opposite.
MR. WALLACE: Senator McCain? You disagree with the governor?
SEN. MCCAIN: I do, Brit. I say that the surge is working. The surge is working, sir. It is working.
MR. ROMNEY: That’s just what I said.
SEN. MCCAIN: No, you said it was "apparently" working. You're wrong because it is working. We are succeeding, and the great debate is not whether it’s apparently working or not.
MR. WALLACE: Congressman Paul, your position on the war is pretty simple: Get out now. But wouldn't that create a bloodbath among the thousands of Iraqis who have staked their lives in backing the U.S.?
REP. PAUL: Yes, I would leave, I would leave completely, and I would never come back. We need a new foreign policy that from now on we mind our own business and stay completely within our own defensible borders.
MR. WALLACE: So, Congressman Paul, you’re basically saying that we should take our marching orders from al Qaeda? If they want us off the Arabian Peninsula, we should leave?
REP. PAUL: No! I’m saying we should take our marching orders from our Constitution, which will be rewritten by al-Qaeda to ensure that we don't do anything to offend or provoke them ever again.
SEN BROWNBACK: Yo, Chris! Bring a few questions over this way! I'm dying over here!
MR. WALLACE: Senator Brownback? You're still here?
SEN BROWNBACK: Of course I'm still--
MR. GIULIANI: I have a comment on Iraq.
MR. WALLACE: Very well. What do you have to say, sir?
SEN. BROWNBACK: That's not fair! He's answered a zillion questions already and I've gotten, like, three!
MR. WALLACE: Wait your turn please, Senator Brownback.
SEN. BROWNBACK: I didn’t hear a question, so I’m going to start singing quietly to myself if nobody else minds. La-la-la, la-la-la-la, who let the dogs out? Woof, woof, woof--
MR. WALLACE: That won't be necessary. What do you have to say?
SEN. BROWNBACK: Thank you. Iraq is less a country than it is three groups held together by exterior forces. It’s the Kurds in the north, the Sunni in the west, the Shi’a in the south, and a mixed city in Baghdad. I think we need to recognize that reality.
We ought to now push for establishment of Kurdistan, Sunnistate, and Shi'alicious. Still one country, but separate states. Like New Hampshire and Delaware except that they'd hate each other. Now that’s a political solution!
MR. GOLER: Senator, if you do that kind of loose federation, how do you keep the Kurds in the north from fighting with Turkey? How do you keep the Shi’a from allying with Iran? And how do you keep the Sunnis from rebelling over having no oil resources?
SEN. BROWNBACK: I said it was a political solution, not a practical solution. But how good does it really have to be to improve over what we have now?
MR. WALLACE: Point taken. Governor Huckabee, the latest National Intelligence Estimate says that even if we continue the troop surge, levels of insurgent and sectarian violence will remain high, and the Iraqi government will continue to struggle to achieve national-level political reconciliation and improved governance. Governor, if that’s the best we can hope for, should we continue the surge?
MR. HUCKABEE: We have to continue the surge. And let me explain why, Chris. When I was a little kid, if I went into a store with my mother, she had a simple rule for me. If I picked something off the shelf of the store and I broke it, I bought it. Well, what we did in Iraq. We broke it. Now we need to buy it, because it's too late to sneak it back onto the shelf and get out of the store before anybody notices.
MR. HUME: Go ahead, Mr. Paul. You wanted to respond?
REP. PAUL: The American people didn’t break Iraq. A few people advising this administration, a small number of neoconservatives, hijacked our foreign policy. They’re responsible, not the American people. If anyone should buy that mistake, it's the neocons.
MR. HUCKABEE: Congressman, we are one nation under God. That means if our neocon masters make a mistake, we all make that mistake together. We make that mistake as the United States of America, not the divided states of America.
REP. PAUL: No. When we make a mistake, it is the obligation of the people through their representatives to correct the mistake, not to continue the mistake!
MR. HUCKABEE: And that’s what we do on the floor of the --
REP. PAUL: No! We’ve dug a hole for ourselves and we dug a hole for our party! We’re losing elections and we’re going down next year if we don’t change it.
MR. HUCKABEE: Even if we lose elections, we should not lose our honor, because honor is more important than anything to the Republican Party. Even if we never get another vote again, we will still have our honor to keep us warm at night.
REP. PAUL: We’re losing -- we’ve lost over -- we have lost -- we have lost 5,000 Americans killed in -- we’ve lost over 5,000 Americans -- We've --I'm sorry, did you say that honor would keep us warm at night?
MR. HUCKABEE: Can't even speak, can you? Boo-yah! I just won the debate! I won! I won! (Balloons fall from the ceiling, and Mr. Huckabee is presented with a silver tiara and a sash that reads, "MR. REPUBLICAN DEBATE".)
MR. HUME: And that's a wrap! It’s certainly been a lively night. Let’s see if that’s reflected down at Young’s Restaurant, where Carl Cameron is standing by. Carl?
MR. CAMERON: Hi, Brit. During part of this exchange, I sort of asked our group gathered here what they thought of what was going on. And the consensus was that it was either some kind of debate or the pilot for a particularly unfunny sitcom. Then we changed the channel to see if Fred Thompson was on yet. Brit?
MR. HUME: Thanks, Carl. That's all the time we have tonight. We now return to our Law & Order marathon leading up to Fred Thompson's appearance on Jay Leno. Candidates, please note our next debate is in Orlando, Florida, Sunday, October 21st. We will see you there and if we're lucky maybe Fred Thompson will be there as well!
In most rounds, only a subset of the candidates were allowed to participate, and no candidate was allowed to speak on all fifteen and a half rounds.
Because the first primaries are still months away and polls at this point are meaningless, the Indepublicrat believes each candidate should have been allowed equal opportunity to get his message out to potential voters. However, the debate moderators showed a distinct bias toward so-called frontrunners, giving some candidates more than twice as many speaking opportunities as others. This bias only served to emphasize the "self-fulfilling prophesy" effect of media reporting on the horse race aspect of the campaign even during an event presumably intended to focus on the substantive issues and qualifications of the candidates.
By the Indepublicrat's roughest model, candidates already had a better chance to "win" or "lose" the debate before any words were spoken because some were given the opportunity to speak more often on a wider variety of issues while others were unfairly gagged. Assuming that all candidates answered the questions with similarly bland, forgetable, or middle-of-the-road answers, the scoring would be as follows:
- Rudolph Giuliani & Mitt Romney - tied at 9 opportunities
- John McCain - 8 opportunities
- Mike Huckabee - 6.5 opportunities
- Sam Brownback - 6 opportunities
- Ron Paul - 5.5 opportunities
- Duncan Hunter - 5 opportunities
- Tom Tancredo - 4 opportunities
Before joining the cast of the long-running crime drama in 2002, Thompson represented Tennessee in the United States Senate. Before that he played the CIA Director in the 1987 Kevin Costner film No Way Out, and before that his work on the Senate Watergate Committee helped drive President Richard Nixon to resign. Or in other words, Thompson has been bouncing back and forth between his acting and political careers for over three decades.
The Indepubicrat doesn't follow polls but has heard that Thompson performed quite well in them when his candidacy was still only hypothetical. It has yet to be seen whether people were casting a preference for the real politician or the one he plays on TV.
Our American Independent is Dr. Donald J. Grundmann whose website urges us to "take the red pill," just like Morpheus asked of Neo. Grundmann also asks us to swallow the idea that Robert Kennedy's assassination was perpetrated by a shadowy cabal including the Federal Reserve Chairman and the enforcement arm of the IRS, with a cover-up enabled by the media. This campaign site is a real trip down the proverbial rabbit hole!
The Independent Americans, on the other hand, include Ben Thompson of Minnesota, a pro-Jesus, pro-life, pro-guns, pro-family, anti-income tax, and anti-United Nations candidate who seems to be using the same free Tripod-hosted site that failed to propel him to national prominence during the 2004 election.
Among the true Independent candidates are two heavy hitters who have, between them, raised over $600,000 in campaign funds. Keith Russell "Mr. President" Judd doesn't yet have an official campaign website that the Indepublicrat can find, not even a four-year-old Tripod-hosted page, but Project Vote Smart reports that among his campaign planks is a kick-ass "Worldwide Battle of the Bands"--possibly funded by eliminating the Department of Homeland Security. And Daniel J. Imperato, who in addition to running an Independent campaign is also seeking nominations from the Reform Party and Libertarian Party.
And our final Independent candidate of the day is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who will, if he chooses to enter the race, bypass the primary stage by running as an independent candidate. This candidate will be one to watch because of his high profile and deep pockets.