Sunday, August 9, 2015
GOP candidate debate: sins of omission
In watching the GOP candidate debates, I was struck by how little the needle was moved on the issue meter. There were no surprises or taking back of the individual candidate positions enunciated before the debates. What was not said was also noteworthy. Especially ignored were alternatives to Obamacare and the effectiveness of the verification provisions of the Iran deal. In 2012, jobs and the economy were the overwhelmingly hot topic, though not quite as front and center in this debate. Perhaps the improving economy and jobs picture took winds out of those red sails.
The shades of conservatism were on display in spite of Donald Trump’s hogging more minutes on the clock than others. The Fox inquisitors put each on the spot to respond to and clarify their past statements that could be seen as controversial or defining of their deviation from the rest of the herd. Trump’s post- debate objection insulted a FOX news anchor. Both John Kasich and Jeb Bush made brief, but clear and convincing defense of such positions, Bush on common core and immigration, and Kasich caring about the poor in context of Medicaid expansion.
What the Fox questioners did not do is to ask the candidates to rebut Democratic positions at the top of the Democratic issue priority list, including environment, global warming, income inequality, voter suppression, and financial services reform. However, the candidates supported defunding Planned Parenthood, a guaranteed turn-off of young women voters.
The most glaring sin of omission concerned the Iran deal, condemned by nearly all on the stage. Rarely did the word “verify” pass their lips. Repeated charges that Obama was naïve to trust Iran completely ignored the entire text of the agreement which was about the verification process approved by all nuclear and non- proliferation experts in the world, hardly the naïve ones. Candidates like other anti- deal critics remained intentionally ignorant of the details. The exception was GOP’s amateur hour politicians citing the 24 day permission request for inspection. That had been defended by the nuclear experts as way to put a cap on delay tactics and clandestine nuclear development traces could not be destroyed in that time period.
Complained the candidates and others, the deal failed because Iran’s behavior toward Israel would not be changed. Those were never the goals. Stopping Iran from getting the bomb was. That without the deal Iran could have nuclear weapons in months was simply ignored. It seemed less important to the candidates than there was a chance Iran could have nuclear weapons in ten years. Do they really mean that short term nuclear proliferation was not a concern, but long term was? Or do they mean war now was the only alternative to keeping Iran from nukes? How is another mid- east war in US interests?
Another sin of omission was the mantra shared by all GOP candidates: repeal and replace Obamacare. Once simply kill Obamacare was the line. Promoting a replacement is at least an acknowledgement of the effectiveness of Obamacare in getting 11 million more insured. What was glaringly missing was with what they would replace it, including details of costs and who would lose/keep/gain affordable coverage.