Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taking Debate

The appeal of American politics is something like eating a lot of American food: it's probably best you don't ask why you go back for seconds. It's about the particular use of rhetoric, to be sure, but in some ways it is about a very unique and often contradictory system of politics where Democrats have a liberal social agenda but within a large government framework, and Republicans aim for limited government but a Big Brother approach to social issues.

Here are a few interesting sections from the January 7 ABC Republican debate, with the transcript available at this link.

1. Mitt Romney
"I don’t believe they decided that correctly. In my view, Roe v. Wade was improperly decided. It was based upon that same principle. And in my view, if we had justices like Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia, and more justices like that, they might well decide to return this issue to states as opposed to saying it’s in the federal Constitution. And by the way, if the people say it should be in the federal Constitution, then instead of having unelected judges stuff it in there when it’s not there, we should allow the people to express their own views through amendment and add it to the Constitution."
The idea of "unelected judges" puzzles me - the federal Constitution defines the selection process of judges. The only way it could be that you would have anything other than unelected judges would be ironically to change the federal Constitution.

The issue here is not whether you are for or against abortion rights - it's about the process of arguing a point and the larger implications towards the way the various branches of government function. It is by nature of a democracy that you don't have only judges you like; this seems like something you wouldn't have to explain to not only a potential presidential nominee but a current front-runner.

2. Rick Perry
"The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasure, both in blood and money, that we have spent in Iraq, because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal, leftist base and move out those men and women. He could have renegotiated that time frame.

I think it is a huge error for us. We’re going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light. They’re going to move back in, and all of the work that we’ve done, every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing because we’ve got a president that does not understand what’s going on in that region."
When you think that Iranians can move at the speed of light ("literally"!), you can guarantee I'll forget anything else you might have to say.

3. Ron Paul
"But I don’t know why a person can’t reserve a judgment and see how things turn out? You know, in many ways I see the other candidates as very honorable people, but I sometimes disagree with their approach to government."
Ron Paul's problem is not that he's not electable - it's that he doesn't look or sound electable. The actual content in the dispassionate black and white of print seems to hold more weight when the wrapping paper isn't the primary factor. And while he was talking about a specific approach to government, perhaps one of the best ways to approach government is to say that you're going to reserve judgement, and also to view your competitors as honourable people.

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