November 29, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Republican "debate" turns nasty

The Republican candidates really went at each other in St. Petersburg, Florida last night, and immigration was at the center of the sharp exchange between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Both of them have a blemish or two on their record, and if they were smart they would not have made that issue such a big deal. Only 35 days till the Iowa caucuses!

Today Rush Limbaugh pointed out that several of the questioners were not average citizens but highly placed campaign operatives for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, etc. CNN's Anderson Cooper admitted as much today, saying they should have screened those who submitted video questions, but it's too late now. "Clinton News Network," indeed!

Beyond the media bias, which is par for the course, the format of these presidential "debates" almost guarantees that cheap-shot jabs will prevail over thoughtful discourse over the issues. The YouTube video stunts in particular make a complete mockery of the whole process of presidential selection. To me, these wide-open free-for-alls do not deserve the dignified name of "debate." But in our society today, that's as close as most people will ever get to seeing a real debate. (I was a high school geek debater and member of the National Forensic Society, so I have a clue about what constitutes a proper debate.)

UPDATE: I found Mike Huckabee's flippant remark, "Jesus was far too smart to seek public office" to be quite tacky, bordering on asinine, and Andrew Sullivan agrees.

No "RINOs" in GOP primary!

The Virginia State Board of Elections has agreed to require all voters in next year's primary elections sign a loyalty oath, to minimize the likelihood that Democrats might try to mess things up. See Washington Post. Well, that ought to scare off any moderate who has been flirting with the idea of voting with the GOP! Actually, the proposal doesn't bother me too much, and as some say, it probably does signify a step toward registration by party in the Old Dominion. Selection of candidates should be the exclusive domain of party organizations themselves, and the less interference from non-members (and the government), the better. Ideally, the parties themselves should bear most or all of the cost of holding primary elections, perhaps funded by a poll tax. You heard it here first! *

I was intrigued that "Cat" has a different take on this action, angered by what she perceives to be a lack of faith by the GOP leaders toward The Base. She wonders, "Have they lost their minds?"

* UPDATE: OK, I didn't realize the 24th Amendment covered primary elections as well as general elections. So maybe they could charge a nominal one-time administrative fee for those who want to register as a party member. Nah, that probably wouldn't work either.

GOP senators meet in Richmond

Earlier this week, Republican state senators huddled in Richmond to choose their leaders for the next legislative session [in which they will have to get used to being a minority like in the old days]. The changes signify a shift toward the right, but not a decisive one. Sen. Thomas Norment (Williamsburg) will become minority leader, taking the place of Sen. Walter Stosch (Henrico), who will become the Republican "leader emeritus" -- a meaningless title for the sake of dignity. (He's one of the so-called "RINOs.") Sen. Kenneth Stolle (Virginia Beach) will become Republican leader pro tempore, and Sen. Stephen Newman, of Lynchburg, will become Republican caucus chairman. Finally, Sen. Mark Obenshain (Harrisonburg) and Sen. Frank Wagner (Virginia Beach) were assigned "whips" as well; these were symbolic gestures aimed at placating the right-leaning faction. See Washington Times. Senator Emmett Hanger (Augusta) will remain in his position as the Chairman of the Policy Committee of the Senate Republican Caucus.

GOP fear mongering?

David Brooks (via InstaPundit) took aim at the fear-mongering of many politicians on the Right, but I think he went a bit overboard. I agree that some people oversell the threat of uncontrolled immigration or Third World imports, but it is foolish to ignore the serious problem that exists. Perhaps Brooks is one of those "complacency mongerers."