CNN delivered an early Thanksgiving turkey tonight, by offering up a national security debate that offered up the greatest hits of George W. Bush and four other reasons to be glad you didn’t watch the CNN National Security debate.
1). Rick Perry Would Strengthen National Security By Privatizing The TSA And Getting Rid of Unions – Each of the GOP candidates except for Ron Paul voiced support for the Patriot Act, but Rick Perry had the most novel solution. He thinks that national security would be strengthened if we privatized the TSA and got rid of the unions. Rick Santorum wanted to profile for terrorists, and Ron Paul pointed out that Timothy McVeigh did not look like a terrorist. (Only Paul and Huntsman did not mouth the rhetoric of George W. Bush).
2). Herman Cain Thinks We Can Pick Out The Terrorists By Looking At Them – Herman Cain relabeled profiling “targeted identification,” and thought that we can profile by using the intelligence gathered on the people who wanted to kill us before to profile future terrorists. (What if the terrorist is someone who doesn’t look like a terrorist?)
3). George W. Bush’s Greatest Hits Live!!! – Republican candidates warned about terrorists detonating a nuclear weapon in a U.S. city (Gingrich, Bachmann), that America can’t cut and run (Romney), that we have to fight them there or they will end up on our shores (Santorum), regime change in Iran (Gingrich). The Republican Party doesn’t want voters to remember George W. Bush, but when it comes to foreign policy, the neo-cons still rule the day. Bush may be gone, but his failed foreign policy lives on in the 2012 GOP field.
4). Mitt Romney Wants To Raise The Price of Gas By Sanctioning Iran – Mitt Romney admitted that his whole get tough on Iran sanctions would raise the price of gasoline, but he argued that it is worth it because we can’t let Iran have a nuclear weapon. (I want to see Mitt sell that one in the fall if he is the Republican nominee).
5). Newt Gingrich Calls For A Humane Immigration Policy And Doesn’t Get Booed – How desperate are Republican primary voters to find a credible challenger to Mitt Romney? Newt Gingrich called for the American government to find a way to keep illegal immigrants in the country without giving them citizenship. Gingrich said that the Republican Party can’t be the party of family, and at the same time break law abiding families that contain people who are here illegally. Gingrich wasn’t booed. In fact, he was cheered. Romney delivered all of the hard line GOP talking points on immigration, and Gingrich’s ovation was still larger than Romney’s.
Winners and Losers:
1). Newt Gingrich – Gingrich has perfected the art of tossing red meat out to the Republican audience. He started early with his defense of the Patriot Act, and he did something most GOP primary voters love. He disagreed with Ron Paul. Gingrich also offered up lots of the kind of tough talk and use of force foreign policy that Republican primary voters can’t get enough of. If Newt can keep the momentum going, he is going to present a formidable challenge to Mitt Romney.
2). Ron Paul – At one point it looked like Ron Paul might have a stroke on stage as the Republican frontrunners were stumbling all over each other to stomp on individual liberties in the name of national security. Paul always shines in these national security/foreign policy debates because he usually the only candidate there who is completely opposed to the neo-con point of view.
3). Jon Huntsman – Huntsman did his usual solid job. He knows foreign policy. He knows national security. He got a rare one on one showdown with Mitt Romney, and he looked strong. He had one of the few moments in one of these debates where Mitt Romney was put back on his heels.
4). Michele Bachmann – It is too little too late for Bachmann, but she had a good debate tonight. She avoided the crazy answers, and showed off her knowledge of Pakistan. None of it really means anything though, because Bachmann is done as a candidate. However, she did show brief flashes that there is a bit of knowledge behind the crazy.
1). Herman Cain – Herb is showing why he should have never been considered a frontrunner. His weak performance in this debate matched his recent brain cramp on Libya. The idea that we can keep our nation more secure by profiling the people who look like the terrorists who have attacked us in the past bordered on standup comedy, and all of his other answers were forgettable. It looks like it is all over for Herman Cain.
2). Mitt Romney – Romney had a bad night. He was exposed as an empty suit by Jon Huntsman, and if you closed your eyes you could almost hear George W. Bush delivering Mitt Romney’s answers on national security. Maybe it was the fact that there was a foreign policy debate just over a week ago, but Romney seemed redundant and completely lacking substance tonight. Romney’s whole campaign is based on attacking Obama, and when that is taken away, it is clear that this is the exact same candidate who lost to John McCain in 2008.
3). Rick Perry – Rick Perry’s answer to the India/Pakistan/Afghanistan question was to get them to trade together. Perry wants to improve the TSA by privatization and getting rid of the unions. He also managed to deliver an unclear answer on a question about border security that ended with a pledge to close down the border.
4). Rick Santorum – It doesn’t matter what Rick Santorum says or does, he has no chance. Santorum’s war against radical Islam stance harkened back to his days in the U.S. Senate when he was referred to as Sen. Rick Santorum (R-God).
These debates keep getting worse. We are still weeks away from Iowa and the candidates are now in full blown repetition mode. Once again, CNN tried to pad their coverage with filler. They did not ask the first question until 13 minutes after the program went on the air. The debate was such a dud that CNN did something they said that they wouldn’t do. Halfway through the program they asked non-security questions.
Debates that feature little substance and even less candidate interaction make for painful television.
CNN decided to celebrate Thanksgiving early by offering up this total turkey of a debate.