When Republicans Debate

FOXNews actually allowed Ron Paul to take part in last night’s debate, and his presence was even acknowledged by many of the candidates”€”if only as a foil to set off their “patriotism.” (And being that “€œThe Colbert Report”€ has been off the air for some time now (returning recently without writers), I appreciated the new source for GOP self-parody.

Thus after Paul questioned whether Iran should really be considered an immediate threat, Mitt saw his opening and gleefully announced, “You’ve been reading the press releases of Ahmadinejad!”

Thus after Paul makes a perfectly reasonable argument that we should stop treating Israel as our “stepchild””€”i.e. giving them aid in return for our right to oversee Israel’s border policy, international relations etc.”€”and stressed that the Jewish state is entirely capable of defending itself, both Giuliani and Huckabee chimed in that this is a betrayal of our “special relationship” with Tel Aviv.

Big, bold, and meaningless, rhetoric triumphed. This is particularly depressing in the second case since Paul was arguing for the strengthening of Israel’s national sovereignty”€”no matter.        

Although some of Paul’s foreign-policy answers were a bit on the messy side, he generally got the point across that our empire is breaking the bank: we”€™re borrowing money from China so we can give foreign aid to Pakistan. And he was able to muster perhaps his best response of the year to Carl Cameron’s smug question whether he’s “€œelectable”€ in the Republican Party. Paul reminded his colleagues that if a congressman such as he becomes persona non grata in the GOP, then they can pretty much kiss all that “€œlimited government,”€ “constitutionalism,” “fiscal responsibility” stuff they all like to talk about goodbye.    

It was a cry in the dark. 

On FOXNews, one doesn”€™t prove one’s foreign-policy cred through an evocation of realism but through, in the words of Bluto Blotowski, “a stupid and futile gesture.” Thus Rudy defined his great foreign-policy acumen by recounting his many PR stunts as mayor: kicking Yassir Arafat out of town, publicly returning the money of a Saudi Prince, and the rest. These actions might have accomplished absolutely nothing, but on FOX, they prove you”€™re a man of high principle. 

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