Part One: A Bevy of Buffoons
Although most of them don’t know it, the grand burlesque show known as the Tea Party drank its last cup of wacky tea last evening. If there was any lingering doubt in the minds of the average American voter that the Tea Party is way-out of touch with the rest of us, it was all cleared up after last night’s ‘performance’ on CNN. Surely many Americans may have thought that it was some kind of spoof like a SNL lampoon. Reality never entered the picture nor the script. And with live and loony Tea Party advocates screaming in the audience, the sheer buffoonery of it all was made crystal clear.
I’m tempted this morning to ‘visit’ a few right-wing Tea Party blogs to read what these insular scholars are discussing about the performance last evening. Yet I resist the urge to save my sanity. Herman Cain was one of their early heroes. Cain last evening proposed eliminating the EPA as his way of ‘growing the economy.’ If he couldn’t eliminate it, then he would replace the current watchdogs with the ‘people who have been hurt most’ by the EPA. I suppose he refers to the polluters. Yes, that’s what Herman Cain said.
Michele Bachmann proudly pointed out her ‘No’ vote to raising the Debt Ceiling and the audience roared its approval. Gulp!
Ron Paul was booed by the same crowd when he suggested that the Defense Budget was bloated and that spending money on foreign wars was a terrible waste of our tax dollars. Yes, they booed him.
That came after Newt Gingrich scared the hell out of the audience by suggesting that the Boogieman was still lurking just around the corner.
Of course The favorite of the Tea Party, Rick Perry, proved why he is their favorite. He would give Social Security back to the states because it is a ‘state’s rights’ issue. Yes, he said that. No, I’m not joking. And the audience wildly applauded that inane statement.
All of the dullards at the podium became silent when they were asked about the prescription drug benefit — a trillion dollar program championed by former President George W. Bush. What program? Huh? Dunno.
Perhaps the most bitter, dare I say poisonous, sip of tea of the evening came when host Wolf Blitzer asked a hypothetical about an young, uninsured man who slipped into a coma. [Dr.] Ron Paul suggested that it was his choice not to insure himself. “Are you saying society should just let him die?” Blitzer asked. The audience responded with shouts of “Yes!”
The Grand Old Party. Excuse me, the Once-Grand Old Party.
Well, that’s the raw story. If the average American voter chose to tune in last night, then they learned a valuable lesson if they did not already know it. A lesson that most of us learned way-before the first cup of bitter tea was poured two years ago: idiotic extremism has no place in our American culture. If one of these people [not Romney] is the GOP candidate for president, then they will go down to defeat in 2012 in massive numbers. Americans do not tolerate blatantly nasty people.
Part Two: Thoughtful America
One can only imagine the gaggle of goons babbling away this morning on Fox and Friends about the ‘great’ debate on CNN. Yet, would we expect anything different? Rather, I turned on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in an attempt to educate myself on the real issues facing our nation. I am seldom disappointed. Instead of the set of bobbleheads on Fox, there were these guests on MSNBC: Economist Dr. Jeffrey Sacs, Columbia University; triple Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman; and economist, financial adviser and investment banker Steven Rattner. That’s a brain trust.
Rattner presented a series of charts, as is his style. One showed the downward trend in Federal spending on Research and Development here in the U.S. from the high of 1.9% in the mid 1960’s to the current level of 0.7% today. He said that in the past several decades, the Government has been more interested in consuming rather than investing its money on R&D. All of the guests compared that pathetic policy with the R&D investments in countries like Chin, India and Brazil. Another chart was from the American Society of Civil Engineers who reported on America’s crumbling infrastructure. They estimated in 2009 that it would cost $2.2 trillion just to bring bridges, roads and the like just back to 1988 levels. Yes, 1988. And what we hearing from the reactionary right?
Thomas Friedman chimed in on that topic asking, what will America need to thrive in this world and how should we adapt our unique formula for success?” He answered by listing his ‘five pillars of success’ which he wrote in an OpEd in the NYT in July:
1. educating the work force up to and beyond whatever technology demands;
2. building the world’s best infrastructure of ports, roads and telecommunications;
3. attracting the world’s most dynamic and high-I.Q. immigrants to enrich our universities and start new businesses;
4. putting together the best regulations to incentivize risk-taking while curbing recklessness (not always perfectly);
5. Government-funded research to push out the boundaries of science and then let American innovators and venture capitalists pluck off the most promising new ideas for new business.
[Imagine, if you will, what that silly set of GOP candidates would have said about any of these ideas.]
The statement was made that we chased the losers of the Cold War [al Qaeda] for the past decade rather than the winners, China, India and Brazil. We ‘put our feet up’ after the war and relaxed while 2 billion people around the world were unleashed.
So, what do thoughtful Americans think about this material for a debate question? Or would we rather debate the ‘theory’ of evolution?