Archive for September, 2011

Third in a series, the GOP Debate Awards following the Orlando debate:

Jon Stewart Media Criticism Award: Fox News. As with CNN and Wolf Blitzer, a seeming predisposition to set this debate up as a two person affair. As Stewart has critiqued, the press seems to have decided these are the GOP’s only two choices. Continually allowing the Mitt and Rick Show to run overtime, and also giving Perry the opening shot as though everyone else was following up.

New York Times Review of Books Ironic Flip-Flopper Award: Shared, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. With specific citations to hard copy and softcover editions, and allegations of flip-flopping flying back and forth on health care and social security, this was a classic example of politicians having to eat their words.

Grover Norquist Give Me My Money Back Award: Michele Bachmann.¬†Initially she claims no taxes should ever be paid. At all. Every dollar you earn is yours, not the government’s. But then immediately retreats…”Obviously we have to give money back to the government” (to pay her salary?)

Kurt Cobain/Jon Huntsman Weird Reference Award: Mitt Romney, quoting Bill Clinton who said he “didn’t inhale.” In this case the pot-smoking reference was used to attack Perry for inhaling the elixir of governmental power: Running, and winning, time after time.

Viva Pinochet! Award: Herman Cain, who continues to cite the “Chilean model” of social security, instituted under Augusto Pinochet’s one-party, dictatorial regime.

Thomas Jefferson Rolling-Over-In-His-Grave Award: Michele Bachmann. Misuse of Thomas Jefferson’s Danbury letter, containing the phrase “wall of separation” is nothing new. What was noteworthy here was her statement that TJ would not have objected to religion in “the public sphere” or “in a public school.” The reason Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote, and succeeded in passing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom — prior to the Constitutional Convention — was precisely to keep religious influence out of the schools. Those seeking details, look here.

Imperial Yellow Award: Tie (pun intended), for Jon Huntsman and Herman Cain, whose bright yellow ties led to their eventual decision to be running mates — or a signal to the Chinese, for whom yellow remains the sacred Imperial color, the equivalent of red for the communists.

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I have very little to add to Chris Matthews’ searing critique of Rick Perry’s speech today in New York. “Appeasement” carries with it enormous connotations best left to historians (and survivors) of World War II, not cowboy candidates bearing no foreign policy credentials at all. The exploitation and opportunism on Israel policy by Perry is part of a trend that has been going on for some years now, that another Texan — former Speaker Tom DeLay — was instrumental in launching. I wrote about this recently in POLITICO.

Either Perry and his speechwriters are ignorant or they are exploiting, in the worst way, the memories of a tragedy of global scope, and the worst human cataclysm of recent times. I am not sure which would be worse.

For the record, Governor Perry, this is what “Appeasement” means:

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Following the Ames Awards, the next round of special recognitions for the GOP candidates.

The Jon Stewart Media Criticism Award: Wolf Blitzer and CNN. Stewart is not always on point, but his recent critique of the media coverage of the GOP field is spot on. It certainly seems like someone, somewhere in the editorial halls has decided this is a race between Romney and Perry. Tonight’s debate was taken up overwhelmingly with the Mitt and Rick Show, as they repeatedly exceeded and ignored time limits in going after each other on Social Security, jobs, immigration, health care, and so on. Here is Stewart’s critique from the last round; I’m sure he’ll be on it again tomorrow.

Can I Get An Amen? Award: Tie, between Rick Perry, with two Amens, and Al Sharpton for his Tweet responding to the audience’s reaction to a question about whether society should allow a sick person should to die, if they have no insurance. @TheRevAl “Let people die is cause for applause.”

Adlai Stevenson Highfallootin’ Rhetoric Award: Mitt Romney. Primarily for “patina of legality” (referring to illegal immigration) and “beneficence” towards immigrants. Confusion on Twitter about what this latter word means, or whether it was a mangling of “benefits.”

Very Odd Kurt Cobain Memorial Award: Jon Huntsman. For a Nirvana reference (“All Apologies”). Completely lost on the audience. Who, I say, is writing this poor man’s speeches?

Your Twitter Feed Is Still Making Me Sad Award: @JonHuntsman.

Senator Robert C. Byrd I Have the Floor Award: Newt Gingrich. Up against the moderator’s choice to allow the Mitt and Rick Show to dominate the entire debate, the Speaker showed he can still get the rhetorical wheels rolling at top speed. Newt simply keeps talking. He wasn’t necessarily going after anyone else on the stage; he just…likes to keep talking.

Bernie Madoff Award: Rick Perry. He’s not backing down on the Ponzi Scheme, and he’s probably got research on it. And it’s probably because people think he’s on to something.

Jackpot Award: Close finish, Herman Cain narrowly edging out Rick Perry, who was dealt four aces by Mitt Romney. The Herminator kept hitting the 9-9-9 straight jackpot. And he wants America to be less uptight.

Block That Metaphor Award: Mitt Romney. Please. Stop analogizing the economic disaster to putting quarters into a pay phone. It. Makes. No. Sense.

Amazing Shrinking Candidate Award: Michele Bachmann. Aside from her brief salvo at Rick Perry and the HPV vaccine, she was a nonfactor. Marginalized by the moderator, but also nonassertive. Even Santorum interrupted more.

Remember the Alamo Award: Ron Paul. The man may be fighting a losing battle, but he won’t quit–even taking the boos in stride. He was the only candidate (yet again) to address costs of military interventionism and its lack of a fit with traditional conservative principles.

Missing Man Award: Ronald Reagan. Apparently now a RINO, at least with this particular crowd. Mentioned once, by Newt Gingrich. One might consider why.

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A remarkable speech today from Prince Charles, rising to the level of real eloquence, in his recognition of the 10th anniversary. Amidst all of the other oratory here and around the globe, this caught my attention. It is not easily done, rhetorically, to speak about the human family and the greater meaning of tragedy. I would normally be skeptical of a future English monarch quoting President Lincoln. Not so in this case. To hear a figure of this position speak so frankly and critically about the ongoing wars, and the need to “break the law of cause and effect.”

This is a challenging speech. Well said. And well written, and well spoken. A good man, speaking well.

“And a light shall illuminate the darkness.”

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