What we missed in the GOP debate

With last week’s GOP debate at the Reagan Library, I used the sliding button at the bottom of the YouTube window to move past all the candidates except Bachmann, Perry, and Romney, because they were the only ones I was interested in. Last night’s GOP debate under the auspices of the Tea party, though coming far too soon after the previous debate, sounds as though it might be interesting enough to watch the whole thing.

New York Magazine has a “best and worse” treatment of the debate which, though it’s coming from a liberal perspective, is also amusing and informative. Here are two items that stand out:

The Number of Times Rick Perry Said “At the End of the Day” In Two Consecutive Sentences: 3 — “At the end of the day, this was about trying to stop a cancer and giving the parental option to opt out of that. And at the end of the day, you may criticize me about the way that I went about it, but at the end of the day, I am always going to err on the side of life.”

Perry’s penchant for saying “at the end of the day” is almost as alarming as his George W. Bush-like profound love of Mexico and Mexicans. When a supposedly tough as nails, secession-talking Texan keeps using this Beltway expression, it strongly suggests that the tough conservative persona is a front, and that his real ideological compadres are William Kristol and Douglas Feith, the latter of whom he has sought out for foreign policy advice.

And then this:

Two Worst Demonstrations of Constitutional Knowledge:
2. Michele Bachmann claiming that a health-insurance mandate at the state level is unconstitutional.
1. Michele Bachmann saying that the only things she’d take with her to the White House are “a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and that’s it.” The Bill of Rights is a part of the Constitution.

I’ve been previously disappointed that Bachmann thought an individual mandate at the state level would be unconstitutional, a statement that showed a basic lack of understanding of the Constitution. That she repeated the same incorrect statement again last night is alarming, indicating that she has no one in her circle with constitutional understanding to set her straight. Her remark that the only knowledge she would need to govern the country are of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is also concerning.

(UPDATE: I take back the last comment. The insufferable Wolf Blitzer said to the candidates: “I want to go down and get your thoughts on something you would bring to the White House if you were the next president of the United States.” So they were supposed to give some quick snappy reply. Her answer was as good as any answer could be under the circumstances.)

I repeat that while I like Bachmann I am yet to be persuaded that she has the intelligence, knowledge, and leadership abilities to serve effectively as president or to be a viable presidential nominee.

However, in Bachmann’s favor, the New York Magazine article also has this:

Best First Half: Rick Perry
Best Second Half: Michele Bachmann

- end of initial entry -

Miles G. writes:

“When a supposedly tough as nails, secession-talking Texan keeps using this Beltway expression, it strongly suggests that the tough conservative persona is a front.”

Most Texans of that ilk are fake. The accent, the swagger, the clothes. They are posing as “Texans” the way they used to be (or think the way they used to be as per Hollywood). Having lived in Austin for years. I know that most Texans can speak and walk the way most Americans do. The Texas persona is as fake as Dubya.

Kristor writes:

Speaking of whether we can take Rick Perry seriously, have you heard that in his signature he dots the “i” in his first name with a little heart, like a 12 year old girl? Can that be right? Maybe he does this only in his autographs. But still.

Tex Atlanta writes:

LA: “When a supposedly tough as nails, secession-talking Texan … ”

Rick Perry a tough Texan? The former cheerleader who campaigned for Al Gore? A guy who has a female lilt to his voice? Who parts his hair in the middle and has it coiffed like a ’60s disco strutter?

LA replies:

I haven’t notice any female lilt.

Daniel L. writes:

Michelle Bachmann did not merely say that the individual mandate at the state level was unconstitutional; she proclaimed that anyone was believed otherwise was insufficiently anti-Obamacare to be the Republican nominee. I cannot view videos from this machine, so I must apologize for not providing a direct quote.

LA replies:

I’ll look for the transcript.

LA writes:

So far I’ve found this:

BACHMANN: … Plus, no state has the constitutional right to force a person as a condition of citizenship to buy a product or service against their will. It’s unconstitutional …


… whether it’s the state government or whether it’s the federal government.

That’s just bizarre that she would say this. She doesn’t know what she’s saying.

But now she continues:

The only way to eradicate Obamacare is to pull it out by the root and branch to fully repeal it. It’s the only way we’re going to get rid of it.

And this is why I’m running for the presidency of the United States, because 2012 is it. This is the election that’s going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not. This is it.

Why? I just have to say this. It’s because President Obama embedded $105,464,000,000 in Obamacare in post-dated checks to implement this bill. We are never going to get rid of it unless we have a president committed to getting rid of it. And if you believe that states can have it and that it’s constitutional, you’re not committed. If you’ve implemented this in your state, you’re not committed. I’m committed to repealing Obamacare.

This points to the strongest reason for supporting Bachmann. As I’ve said over and over, the transcendent issue in this election cycle is the repeal of Obamacare. If it’s not repealed, we’ll be stuck with this freedom-destroying law forever. Bachmann understands this, and is committed to the repeal more than any other candidate.

On other issues, no matter who is elected, we’re going to have a president who is in favor of spreading democracy to Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere, who believes in accommodation to Islam, who is in favor of our present legal immigration policy that is rapidly turning us into a non-European country and all the rest of it. The one issue that we can and must have an effect on in this election is the repeal of Obamacare. So this is a point in Bachmann’s favor.

But a further problem is, is she electable?

And now here is a highly critical comment about Bachmann’s grasp of the Constitution, by Avik Roy at Forbes:

I can’t leave the subject of Bachmann without bringing up the fact that she repeated her eccentric claim that it’s “unconstitutional” for states to impose health insurance mandates. I don’t know a single constitutional scholar, left or right, who believes this; states have long been held to have this plenary power (which is used, for example, to impose auto insurance mandates). Does Bachmann think auto insurance mandates are unconstitutional?

For all of Bachmann’s lectures on the importance of adhering to the Constitution, this one is a head-scratcher. In the South Carolina Palmetto Forum, Bachmann said, “I believe that it’s inherent in the Constitution” that states couldn’t impose insurance mandates. Princeton professor Robert George, trying to be helpful, asked, “So to say it’s inherent sounds like there’s not a particular provision you can point to?” To which Bachmann responded: “Well, I’m sure you could enlighten me as to that provision.” That is, she doesn’t know.

So: on the most important issue related to the constitutionality of Obamacare, Bachmann isn’t aware of what the Constitution actually says. If there were a more significant indictment of Bachmann’s candidacy, I don’t know what it would be.

All right, so Bachmann doesn’t have a grasp of the Constitution. But what recent president has had a grasp? So we’re choosing among the available candidates, and on the transcendent issue in this election, it remains the case that Bachmann is the strongest and most reliable.

I don’t have a set position that I am arguing for here. I am thinking about the candidates, just like everyone else.

LA writes:

Reader D. Edwards sends this from the Washington Post:

Rick Perry signs ‘Rick’ with a heart over the I
By Alexandra Petri

That’s it.

Race over.

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli, Rick Perry just signed a former Romney supporter’s handmade Perry poster—with a heart over the I. Well, over the whole word, to be fair, which includes the I. The point is, it’s a giant heart. He signed his name with a giant heart! And she found it endearing!

It’s over.

Asked if Mitt Romney would do that, the woman paused. “No,” she said. Mitt Romney would never do that.” [cont.]

So he signed a campaign poster with a heart, and we’re supposed to believe that this tells us something significantly negative about him? I don’t think so.

Alexis Zarkov writes:

Bachmann holds a Master of Laws degree from William & Mary Law School of Law. As such she should understand that the state legislatures have general police powers, and Congress doesn’t. This is a very basic idea in law, and one has to wonder what else doesn’t she know. Imagine how you would feel if your doctor didn’t understand the distinction between a virus and a bacterium. That being said, she has company among the opposition. Nancy Pelosi when confronted by a reporter from CNS (Cybercast News Service), who asked if the Obamacare bill was constitutional replied, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” Perhaps we can forgive Nancy as she has no legal training. But six-term Senator Patrick Leahy, who is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, was equally confused when asked the same question. He thought Obamacare must be constitutional because the states can mandate auto insurance. They should have ducked the question by saying it’s a technical matter that requires expert opinion. Since Obamacare is one of her big issues, Bachmann should be fully informed on all the legal aspects of the legislation. Surely she has staff attorneys who can write background material for her to study. I’m not impressed by Bachmann.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 13, 2011 02:54 PM | Send

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