Well, at least he said “want”. But we all know that Romney was affirming his belief in the morality of altruism, the idea that an action acquires its moral worth by virtue of its being done for someone other than oneself, that one owes a moral duty to care for those who are “in need”. Maybe that’s why he sees Obama as a “nice guy”. I doubt that anyone would mistake Romney for a member of the Tea Party, no matter what he says he has in common with them.
Also during tonight’s GOP debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry stood by what he wrote in his book, that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and said, as I understood him, that he thought it should be phased out. In response, Romney said the above, and went on to promise to keep the program. How? Who knows. But, importantly, Perry, while reiterating his characterization of the program as a Ponzi scheme, even when offered another rebuttal, did not question what Romney described as being “at the heart of our party”.
Nor did anyone else present at the debate, not even Ron Paul. In fact Paul made a point of explaining how liberty is consistent with “compassion” because, in fact, the market would provide for everyone better than government does. And Gingrich, who actually used the word “socialism” this evening, made sure to modify it with “bureaucratic,” because I guess it would be too much to actually criticize socialism as such.
I suppose that was to be expected.
Cain seemed to me to be the most improved, in that he seemed to own much of what he said, and didn’t always resort to lists of three or four things that sounded memorized. (His answer to the immigration question was an exception. It sounded like the same thing he said last time.) The substance of much of what he said tonight was good, particularly with respect to health care, where he made explicit reference to expanding the role of the free market in specific ways. And I loved the quip, regarding his 9-9-9 proposal that, if 10% is good enough for God, then 9% is good enough for government. Oh, and he also says he’d abolish the TSA. Bonus points.
Santorum was questioned about his commitment to the poor, given his Catholicism. I hated watching him defend his record of advocating for the poor and defending welfare reform as altruistic — as “saving people’s lives”. I also didn’t like the fact that he said he was already tailoring his proposals to appeal to Democratic senators. Why not adopt Bachmann’s approach of pledging to help get Republican senators elected? When I hear Santorum say “get stuff done”, I hear “compromise”. Not surprisingly, he’s also for altruism abroad, saying we should be a “force for good around the world”. I think he’s out.
Romney promised to issue Obamacare waivers, but given what he says about the GOP wanting to help those in need, I do not count on him to deliver a full repeal of that horrible pile of junk. And Perry said he would repeal Obamacare “as much as it can be”. Huh? Bachmann promised to work for full repeal, which is good, and had stats on how many jobs it’s killing. Not as good as saying “health care is not a right,” but as good as one can expect.
I liked that Bachmann mentioned the welfare issue with respect to immigration (I guess Ron Paul didn’t hear her, because he said no one else did). I also like that she addressed the problem with the situation in Libya: we don’t know who the rebels are, and whether they’re interested in supporting an Islamic theocracy, both in Libya and elsewhere. She also mentioned the problem of a nuclear Iran. I think she may have misspoken with respect to Reagan’s tax cut/spending cut deal, but we all knew what she was getting at, and overall this evening she was quite good. Notably, no real “social issues” were raised with her. Yes, she’s for parents’ rights with respect to vaccination decisions, but one need not be religious to agree with her on that. Oh, and Bachmann pointed out something that bears repeating again and again: gas cost $1.79 per gallon when Obama took office! $1.79!!!
Huntsman, to me, seemed to be too conciliatory, to use too many vague platitudes, and to come up short on substance. He said he won’t pledge anything, and we should look at his record for an indication of what he’ll do. My guess is that his record doesn’t include dealing with Obamacare. I’d like to see a pledge to repeal that, at least.
Ron Paul said some good things, as usual, but his discussion of “compassion” conceded the moral issue to the altruist crowd and, more importantly, sometimes he misspoke in such a way that I wondered whether his age is starting to affect his mental abilities. He did not discuss foreign policy this time, notably.
Glad to hear that Perry hates cancer. But the answer is not to mandate vaccination, especially by executive order. Oh, and he should have just admitted that he did not know the name of a scientist who questioned human-caused global warming. Then he could have just gone on to the arguments about the economic impact (or even the immorality) of the regulations designed to compensate for it. As it stood, he was forced to dodge the “name a scientist” question twice. Oh, and I think he’s wrong about Keynesianism being dead. Until altruism is abandoned, there will always be those who believe that Keynesianism will work if we just tweak it a bit differently this time.
And I guess that’s what Obama will try to do tomorrow in his “Jobs Speech.”