Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Mythbusters Needed at GOP Debate

MythBusters, the Discovery Channel series that proves or debunks long-standing scientific theories, will end its14-year run at the conclusion of the current television season. One can only hope that among its planned segments is a feature inspired by Ben Carson’s hypothesis that the Egyptian pyramids were grain storage facilities, not burial tombs of the pharaohs. 

Okay, enough of the tongue in cheek. Wednesday was a day of myth-busting among Republicans, if any were in fact listening. 

Let’s start off as I did, fascinated by an NPR interview with Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey and once an Environmental Protection Agency administrator in President George W. Bush’ administration. Interviewed on The Takeaway radio program, Whitman bemoaned the opportunities her party has failed to capitalize on in the areas of environment and climate change, women issues including the right to choose, and acceptance of minorities. 

Teased she might be a good presidential candidate, Whitman acknowledged, “My party wouldn’t have me in the door, I’m too far out there,” as the only ones voting hold extreme positions. For revealing insights into the state of Republican politics, listen to this near seven-and-a -half minute interview:

John Kasich and Jeb Bush, and even Rand Paul, tried to instill some reality into the mythology of GOP politics Wednesday night during the main presidential debate, but succeeded very little given the war-mongering, bloodthirsty, anti-government live audience that favored no increase to the minimum wage and massive deportation of 11 million illegal aliens.  

Kasich even raised the specter of the blessed Republican icon, Saint Ronald, granting amnesty to five million illegal immigrants, but the Reagan touch did not extend to him even after his impassioned argument to think about the families that would be disrupted and the impracticality of rounding up and shipping 11 million people across the border. Bush fared no better. Donald Trump’s get-them-out-of-here approach carried the day, as did Ted Cruz’s admonition, “If the Republicans join Democrats as the party of amnesty, we will lose.”

Similarly, Paul didn’t win his argument with Marco Rubio about huge investments in the military. Paul said it would not be the conservative thing to do. To much applause Rubio countered, “I know that the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.” Regrettably, no one asked which country is the strongest these days if the U.S. isn’t. 

What is it with Texas politicians who can’t remember all the government agencies and departments they want to eliminate? Like Rick Perry who couldn’t recall the third department he wanted to axe four years ago, Cruz had a problem listing the five departments he would eliminate. He twice said the Department of Commerce along with the IRS, the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Perhaps fittingly, he left out the Department of Education. 

Unfortunately, the moderators from Fox Business Network and The Wall Street Journal didn’t follow up by asking if he envisioned any oversight at all on such endeavors as nuclear power facilities or fair housing opportunities, or the collection and auditing of taxpayer money under his revised tax code. 

Try as he might, Bush failed to gain traction, though he was consistently the only one to tie in attacks on President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner. He was playing the long game, but who knows how much longer he can linger at low single digit poll numbers. 

Carly Fiorina came on strongest as the non politician, far surpassing the belligerent Trump and the wishy-washy Carson. She had command of concepts and specific tactics. The scowl on her face transmitted a sign of resoluteness. She was ready to tangle with Russia’s Putin, a reality sure to come to pass if she were to implement all the military buildups in Central and Eastern Europe she advocated. 

I didn’t notice anyone sweating during the debate. Perhaps the Milwaukee Theatre was cooled to the 67 degrees Fahrenheit the candidates wanted. Or maybe the podiums had small fans in the alcove under the lectern? During their last debate I observed a fan in the podium at the far left of the television screen. It was “strategically” aimed at crotch level. I’ll resist making any editorial opinion on the significance of that positioning …