Sunday, December 4, 2011

Huckabee's Presidential Forum

If you were watching College Football last night like a normal human, you probably missed Mike Huckabee's Presidential forum on Fox News, with 3 State Attorneys General: Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli, Florida's Pam Bondi, and Oklahoma's Scott Pruitt, all of which are Republicans asking: Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul, Perry, Santorum, and Romney questions about their record and policy prescriptions. Each candidate got 12 minutes to answer their questions individually as a reasonable way to learn about their plans for the presidency. To save you 80 minutes of your life that you'll never get back, I summarized their statements below, and added a little analysis of my own. The Forum started off with Gingrich.

Gingrich:
His first question from Pam Bondi, addressed his statement that we shouldn't deport all illegal immigrants and that some, particularly those who have been here for a long time and who have law abiding families should be allowed to stay. He emphasized the importance of border security and reiterated his statement saying that a community program involving immigration should have sponsor families as a humane way to enforce immigration.
Analysis: Newt Gingrich: Not as heartless as you thought.
Gingrich was then asked by none other than Ken Cuccinelli, about climate change and his original support for a carbon cap and trade system. Gingrich, annoyed by the question, hammered home his opposition to cap and trade, while Cuccinelli pressed Gingrich on his nonconservative positions.
Analysis: Can Newt attack the media for leading questions, when he's questioned by a Republican State Attorney General?

Gingrich then responded to questions about the 10th amendment saying that the federal government has very limited powers, in the smarmy, intellectually dishonest way that he always does.
Analysis: Gingrich didn't trip over any of the questions, confuse any agencies, or say anything particularly damning. He actually looks relatively polished, and in comparison to the other candidates he stands out as the one with the greatest knowledge about government in America. Too bad he's such a dick.

Santorum:
First Question from Pam Bondi, Does the PATRIOT ACT violate civil rights? Santorum "No."
He goes on to say that terrorism either didn't exist or wasn't part of American foreign policy prior to 9/11. He goes on to talk about family, divorce issues, how he dislikes welfare, and some other typical social conservative platforms.
Analysis: Santorum supports federalism and state's rights to make laws independent of each other, except that we shouldn't have 50 definitions of Marriage and Abortion should be illegal even if a state wants it. I'm convinced that Republicans violate the 10th amendment more than Democrats do.
Note on the Forum: The panelists asked a lot of questions about the founder's intent, I guess to persuade and enhance revisionist originalist arguments.

Perry:
Cooch asked Perry on what grounds did he have the authority to stop the President's healthcare bill via executive orders, and continuously pressed him on this issue. It actually seems that Cooch hates the federal government, particularly the presidency, more than he does Obamacare. I think Cuccinelli would have thought the Articles of Confederation to be too oppressive. I know that this was a joke on SNL a few weeks abo but, Rick Perry is bad at talking. If the question he's asked doesn't have anything to do with Texas, Perry struggles.

Biggest Confusion: Every question Perry was asked, asked if a given program should be done at the state level instead of the federal government, which he unanimously said should be a state responsibility. Then he said that Madison was his favorite founding father, whose Federalist papers argued against the Articles of Confederation, and supported a stronger national government. This is getting tough to watch. In his definition of strict constructionism he held up an upside down constitution and said to read it without interpretation. That seems fitting for the Perry Campaign.

Bachmann:
Crazy, crazy, crazy.......

Paul:
"The PATRIOT ACT, if it would have been called the repeal of the 4th Amendment it wouldn't have passed and that's essentially what that does." Paul goes on to argue that national police forces won't prevent terrorism. There is a responsibility of intelligence agencies to protect borders but national policies don't address the motivations of terrorism, which Paul argues are driven by U.S. Foreign Policy. 6 minutes in, no mentions of the Fed, though he did say we need "Sound Currency."

Analysis: Paul was marginally patronized by the panelists, which is nothing new. He answered in a consistent way as he always does. For better or worse, it seems that he will continue to be an also-ran.

Romney:
Note Romney and Huckabee have a lot of bad blood going back to the 2008 race. It's not an accident that Romney went last.
First question was on EPA regulations of energy companies. Did not see that coming. Romney said that opponents of hydro-fracking were on the fringe, and he would limit the regulatory environment of the EPA. The panelists must have gotten their questions from Huckabee as they all go right at Romney's jugular questioning his healthcare law and flip-flops. Romney also said that his healthcare law didn't bring down costs in Massachusetts. Why? Either don't say that or lie. There's no reason to bring up issues with your policies when you aren't asked about them.

Analysis: Romney seems to want to convince people that he is a conservative Republican by invoking Bush whenever possible. Not a winning strategy. He also is the only candidate arguing that the federal government has any responsibilities other than social issues and national defense. On the one hand that is a reasonable mainstream view. On the other hand, there's no evidence that Republican primary voters hold reasonable or mainstream views.

Final Note:
The candidates tonight invoked the Declaration of Independence's Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness as if they are advocating for removing themselves from some sort of dictatorial regime. The one thing to note is that Romney is running a national campaign, while everyone else is running to the right. Gingrich is in this nice niche where he is more knowledgable and reasonable than everyone else save Huntsman, but to the right of Romney. If Iowa were tomorrow, I'd predict Gingrich to win. Since there is still a month to go, I'll save myself from any embarrassing predictions.

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