Friday, January 25, 2008

GOP "Makes Nice" in Florida

It seemed pretty clear in last night's MSNBC Republican presidential candidates debate (WaPo) in Florida, that after seeing the negative reaction to the recent unseemly Democratic food fight, the GOP candidates decided on a civil, gloves-off verbal exchange... or as moderator Tim Russert commented after the debate, they seemed to have made a "nonaggression" pact.

And, it worked to Mitt Romney's benefit. Left unchallenged, he was able to unleash his considerable intellect and verbal skills even though it was obvious from the unfriendly eye-rolling faces of his fellow debaters (with the exception of Ron Paul who has too much class) that they were just itching to square off with Mitt but were restraining themselves.

Prediction: When Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee quit the race (which could be as early as after Florida next Tuesday) they will throw their weight behind McCain. Back to the "debate"....

With the focus on our free-falling economy, the candidates' solution was the usual unimaginative conservative mantra, cut taxes.... even deeper, and permanent tax cuts. Mike Huckabee goes so far as to propose abolishing the IRS altogether and installing a 30% sales tax.

Rudy Giuliani said of the current unpaid-for $145 billion giveaway stimulus package that doesn't make Bush's tax cuts permanent.... "What it does is okay, and I would support it, but it doesn't go far enough," with John McCain and Mitt Romney chiming in their similar aggressive views, even though McCain initially opposed the Bush tax cuts that he now pushes to make permanent.

Of course, everyone promised to cut spending.... a promise the voters have learned is as empty as their piggy banks. And, except for the only real constitutionalist in the field, Ron Paul, all strongly supported the invasion of Iraq and our continuing presence there which they equate to "winning" and "justifying" our sacrifices in blood and treasure.

This conservative macho-man posturing has so far penetrated the persona of the candidates that Romney, during a photo shoot with some African-American supporters last week, let out a Turretish "Who Let the Dogs Out?" followed with a couple of poodle-grade barks. Really. Will leave you to make of that as you will.

But all in all.... the debate left a better taste than the uncivil Democratic dust up. In fact Hillary Clinton's demeanor was so shrewish in the Democratic debate that Russert quipped afterwards that Hillary reminded you of "your first wife outside of Probate Court."

Still, the polite twilight-zone GOP debate made for some la-la land observations. The "Harvey the Invisible Rabbit" award goes to Huckabee who.... in the face of a just-released government finding that Saddam was only pretending to have weapons of mass destruction to keep Iran at bay.... offered this excuse for not finding WMD after the invasion of Iraq.... "Just because you don't find every Easter egg doesn't mean it wasn't planted."

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