The Republican Debate in Iowa

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The Republican debate that occurred tonight in Iowa on August 11th of 2011 on the Fox News network was a much better debate than the previous one, and to my progressive dismay; the panel, which consisted of Brett Braier, Chris Wallace and others, asked some really informative and provocative questions. There just weren’t that many softballs thrown down the middle in this one. I’m not a Republican, but I did enjoy this debate through the eyes of a progressive, which is not always easy to do.

One of the most intriguing things that I saw tonight was the rhetoric of Tim Pawlenty, as he literally went after Michele Bachmann with a vendetta like vengeance; a characteristic that he’s not really known for politically. Unlike many of the Fox News pundits, I thought that Pawlenty gutted Bachmann to the lengths that I have not seen before. I felt that Pawlenty really took the fight to Bachmann; making her titanium spine look more like one dimensional Paper Mache!

Apparently, Mrs. Bachmann has pulled Tim Pawlenty’s manhood card one time too many, because he was on her like bigots on Obama. He basically called her a legislative failure, who talks a good game only to emerge with lackluster results that suggests that she routinely gets played like one. I can’t recall anyone going after Bachmann so pointedly. She must have been in total shock! I think Pawlenty’s points made more sense, and he was the victor, in my book, over Bachmann. Like Sarah Palin, she is just a rhetorical, one-trick pony who can only facilitate one specific type of audience.

The next big battle was between Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. As I’ve always said, even in my book The Fear of Being Challenged, that I feel that Ron Paul is the smartest candidate in the Republican Party and the entire conservative ideology, and one of the reasons for Paul’s spirited, free thinking that clearly separates him from the rest of the conservative, drone flock are his self-imposed, broken shackles from religion, and I would also add his freedom from some hostage based, Tea Party ideology. Ron Paul is his own man, and his views reflect that, which is reason number one why he won’t win the nomination. The conservative brand seems to love more of the same, and Ron Paul, unlike his son Rand Paul, is not their tackling dummy.

Now Ron Paul and Rick Santorum went at it heatedly and repeatedly over issues like the wars on terror, state’s rights, and a nuclear Iran. To his credit, Santorum did make some good points of his own, but overall Ron Paul took him to school in the end. I’m not a fan of Santorum, but he does have intellectual potential. What hems up Santorum is his wedge-pledge ode to the religious right, which was showcased bluntly as Santorum tried to justify forcing rape victims to have children by their attackers. As irrationally mindless and as selfishly irresponsible as Santorum’s ‘no abortion under any circumstances’ motto is, it is undeniably aimed at satisfying the religious right, and that is where Ron Paul finds his opening to easily hurdle Santorum.

So forget that I am a progressive, and just see me as an Independent voter, and with no partisan strings attached, I cannot understand two things. Number one, why is Rick Santorum, who is actually a very adroit thinker politically, getting into bed with Right Wing zealots who treat the ‘Separation of Church and State’ like an alien abduction report? Why would anyone resort to being the tail, when they are noticeably miles ahead of the head? Number two, why is Ron Paul even in the Republican Party at all? Ron Paul is too smart and too independent to be hogtied to the religious right, the Tea Party, or some other ideological Alcatraz! This man is literally wasting his time and energy preaching to a choir that is obviously taking their political queues from half-term governors and conservative, talk radio shock jocks.

Other than these fireworks, the rest of the candidates were fairly pedestrian and according to script. John Huntsman seems like a decent man with some decent ideas, but his ideology, like Ron Paul’s, is just too unbridled for the Republican lasso. Herman Cain is just another generic, conservative with an equally generic message of more of the same. Yes, he’s a conservative African-American, but he’s certainly no Colin Powell. He’s more like a slight upgrade from Alan Keyes. Newt Gingrich, who is supposed to be the godfather of conservative intellectualism, looks and sounds more like a fossil fuel that has been time warped into a clean energy future. It seems like he’d rather take on the media more than confronting his rivals, President Obama or anything else. And as for Mitt Romney, who I also believe is too smart for the Republican Party and is probably the most electable of the current candidates when it comes to a general election, he, like most of his other companions, cannot seem to free himself from the choking vines of the religious right, as his religious background could prove to be his undoing in regards to his hopes of becoming the Republican nominee more than his actual politics. I’m not sure that he can win the nomination or the presidency without bribing the Tea Party and the religious right with some Sarah Palin/Michele Bachmann type of running mate to politically pacify them into the voting booths in 2012! I’ll be very interested to see what Rick Perry can add to this dynamic, as the shadow of Sarah Palin still looms.

Bryian K. Revoner

Author of the book The Fear of Being Challenged: I Am the Realacrat