Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rudy Shows His Teeth During Debate

Ten -- yes, count 'em, 10 -- Republican presidential hopefuls gathered a year and a half before the 2008 general election and answered questions from a panel of Fox News personalities. From what we saw, there was very little substance or difference between most of the candidates.

Mitt Romney was the most telegenic (although we felt he stumbled on several answers), John McCain appeared the most informed (although looking old) and Rudy Giuliani seemed the most fiesty (although most anxious, too). The rest were just along for the ride. All in all, it wasn't very exciting, nor could it be this far out from the first primary and with that many people on stage. The only real fireworks came when Giuliani pounded Texas Congressman Ron Paul -- who really is a big "L" Libertarian -- after Paul played the moral equivalence card when asked if American "brought on" the 9/11 attacks by enforcing U.N. resolutions passed against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait.

On defense for much of the evening, Giuliani switched gears nearly an hour into the debate, challenging Rep. Ron Paul's suggestion that the U.S. bombing of Iraq had contributed to the terrorist attacks of 2001.

As mayor of New York at the time of the attacks, Giuliani said sternly, "I don't think I've ever heard that before, and I have heard some pretty absurd explanations."

His rebuke to Paul drew some of the loudest applause of the night from the partisan audience.

You can watch the exchange here.

Tom Maguire over at JustOneMinute pokes the hole in Paul's "argument," which is really nothing more than Birchism in a modern suit.

Well - the specific use of the word "invited" came from the moderator, but Ron Paul twice went to the moral equivalence argument with his ruminations about what the US might do if China were putting bases in the Gulf of Mexico. And what a great question! Does anyone else remember Jack Kennedy blowing up some buildings in Moscow as a response to the Cuban missile crisis? Maybe Ron Paul could expound on that.

But the best one-liner of the night came from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, who said of our big-spending elected representatives, "We've had a Congress that's spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop."

The AP dutifully notes that Huckabee "did not mention that until January, Congress has been under the control of Republicans for a dozen years." The AP might have been better served to point out that the Republicans also controlled the White House for eight of those years, and the Democrats four -- and neither one of them did much to control Congress' porking, even though a veto every now and then would have helped.

Huckabee's point wasn't that Republicans or Democrats are to blame -- it's that the Washington "insiders" are. As a governor who has never served in the U.S. House or Senate he was attempting to differentiate himself from many of those on stage who have. That, AP, was his point. The quality of political "analysis" among the mainstream media is simply horrid these days. That's why, I guess, we have the Internet.

But back to the GOP race: A New York City mayor with national stature, tough foreign policy stances and moderate social positions leading the ticket and a Southern governor/former preacher as his veep?

Giuliani-Huckabee '08?