Perry and Romney's Social Security back and forth:
Here is where the benefits and risks of the Tea Party audience come in. All Perry needs to say, to win the Social Security exchange — for now — is that Romney is slavishly defending the New Deal. "If what you're trying to say is that in the 30s and 40s," he says, "the federal government made all the right decisions, I'm going to disagree with you." Brilliant in the GOP primary. Is challenging every element of the New Deal brilliant in a general election? More than it used to be…
In the GOP debate tonight, Perry doubled down on his slimy insinuation that Ben Bernanke's attempts to stimulate the economy with monetary policy are treasonous. This time he used the classic demagogic method of asserting that we have no way of knowing that an outrageous smear isn't true. Of Bernanke's motive for intimating that further monetary easing may be coming, he said "we don't know if it was political or not" — i.e., whether Bernanke is motivated by trying to help Obama get re-elected. Never mind that the being accused of treason for following a given policy course by the leading presidential candidate of one party would constitute a perfectly good motive for trying to maintain the other in office. Or that Bernanke is a Republican, and a Bush appointee, and a student of the Great Depression whose entire corpus of published writings support a more radical course of easing than he's pursued. From smearing motive to charging treason — that's the GOP way.
The only thing that really, truly stuck with me from the Republican presidential debate was Rick Santorum misspeaking and saying “court the illegal vote” before correcting himself to say “Latino vote.” I sometimes find myself discussing with other people whether I identify as Hispanic, and the answer is that I’m really not that strongly identified with my one grandparent’s Cuban heritage but this kind of thing really does piss me off more than being offensive about other groups of people would.
Let’s start here with the moment I screamed at the TV. I’m sorry, but the audience cheering the idea of letting a thirty-year old who got sick without insurance die is appalling. You can dislike the moral hazard, you can bemoan the fact that people don’t take enough personal responsibility, you can even wish that society wouldn’t have to be on the hook when uninsured people get sick. But don’t take pleasure in that fact. Right now, there are thirty-year olds who don’t have jobs, can’t find work, and can’t afford insurance. Letting them die if they get sick is not “good”. It’s not even “freedom”. Applauding that is depressing.
No one stood out in my mind as tonight's clear winner. However, Perry did suffer from the onslaught on his vaccine mandate. He seemed shaken and many of his answers were simply incoherent. Huntsman seemed to lose the small bit of ground he gained in the last debate by missing opportunities to connect with the crowd and botching his attempts to be mean. Again, I thought Romney was steady and kept his head above water. I suppose that makes him the winner by default.
Mitt Romney was not as strong in this debate than he was last week but he's a long distance runner and was barely knocked off stride by his rivals. It wasn't a convincing win but a win nonetheless. In contrast, cracks are beginning to show in Rick Perry's candidacy, especially when he's forced to explain anything longer than a soundbite. The best news for Perry is that very few are watching these debates and his weak performance is unlikely to move his poll numbers that much.
Romney=jobs, Perry=anti-Washington. Anger beats hope every time. This crowd rightly wants somebody as mad about DC as they are.