It may not be what you think.
The most astonishing thing about the latest Republican debate was the roster of questioners from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
It was an all-star cast of scandal-ridden Republicans from administrations past.
First came Ed Meese, Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General, who was up to his eyeballs in Iran-Contra. I didn’t even know that Meese was still alive.
Then came Paul Wolfowitz, one of George W. Bush’s chief neocons, who pushed the Iraq War within hours of 9/11.
And finally there was David Addington, Cheney’s counselor, who played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame and who justified waterboarding.
Watching these scandalabras was like having a recurring nightmare.
OK, on to the candidates themselves.
A lot of the pundits scored the debate a victory for Newt Gingrich, but he seemed more pompous than usual to me. And aside from his defense of immigrant families that have been in the United States for a long time, he didn’t say much that was new.
The real winner, to my mind was Ron Paul.
I didn’t agree with him on a lot of really big things, like his idolatry of the free market and his urge to destroy the welfare state.
But he was right on the money about ending America’s “needless and unnecessary wars.”
He stood up for all of our civil liberties and opposed the Patriot Act.
And he was great when he called the war on drugs “a total failure” and came out for medical marijuana.
It’s time the pundits took Ron Paul seriously. The Iowa voters sure are.
The most outrageous comment of the whole debate, by the way, belonged to Mitt Romney. In defending his stance that that the U.S. should not “cut and run” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he cited a revealing and hideous example: “Indonesia back in the 1960s.” Said Romney: “We helped Indonesia move toward modernity with new leadership.” That new leadership was the dictator Suharto, who killed between 500,000 and one million of his own citizens with the help of the CIA.
A little follow up from Wolf Blitzer would have been nice there.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Police Use Excessive Force against Occupy Movement."
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