Editor's note: For an opposing view on the GOP presidential candidates, check out Karl Miller's column.
COLUMBIA — How can anyone take the current crop of Republican presidential candidates seriously? I have not seen more non-specific solutions from the GOP since the Clinton years. No more proof is needed than the first “official” 2011 Republican presidential debate held in New Hampshire and what has followed.
The debate opened with a not-so-simple question: How would the candidates reduce the unemployment rate in the private sector?
Herman Cain repeated the old and worn-out line of reducing taxes and regulations, using his economic “train on the tracks with no engine” argument. Cutting taxes and regulation would be hooking up that train to an engine without fuel or a timetable to which to adhere.
Tim Pawlenty stated that if China can have a 5 percent economic growth, why can’t the United States? He then bashed the president for “his” oppressive regulations and taxes.
If the former governor wants to see oppressive taxes and regulation, he should look at China.
All the candidates champion state's rights and keeping big government off our backs, but they said little in two hours except for bashing Obama, demanding tax reductions and limiting regulations on business.
Isn’t the reduction of regulation what got us into this mess in the first place?
CNN correspondent and debate moderator John King eventually lowered the standards and tone of this very serious debate, asking the candidates “Mild or spicy?” “Blackberry or iPhone?” No Android or Windows 8? The list continued.
What was going on at CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader to consider including these time-consuming and absolutely meaningless questions? Do the candidates really think Americans are this stupid or uninterested?
What I heard was not a return to Reagan-era tax and regulation policies but a repeat of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign platform in 1964. State’s rights, fiscal responsibility, national debt and the American dream. Sen. Goldwater lost the election on that platform to Lyndon Johnson, who escalated the war while increasing taxes and business regulations.
Something else seemed confusing during the debate. Since 2001, the people standing on the stage supported armed conflict in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Today, they do not want to become involved in any conflict unless it directly affects the U.S. interests.
President Clinton’s humanitarian interventions in the former *Yugoslavia and protecting a “no-fly zone” in Iraq proved to be successful without American loss of life. President George H.W. Bush protected Kuwait from the hostile takeover by Iraq, not because of economics, but for humanitarian reasons. Yet, the 2012 GOP candidates would have nothing to do with such actions, unless it was to protect America’s vital interests. Read: oil.
We saw front-runner Mitt Romney backpedaling from his successful Massachusetts universal health care. We heard Michele Bachmann declare that if there was a military conflict during her presidential watch as commander in chief, she would first consult with the “commander in chief.” Who are these people? The GOP now sits in the same seat as the Democrats did when they nominated Michael Dukakis in *1988.
I agree with Arizona Sen. John McCain, who told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour that the Republican Party is putting politics above humanitarian needs. He said the GOP used to be “willing to stand up for freedom for people all over the world.”
Finally, it appeared that the GOP is simply forgetting about the real, struggling Americans, who were just left out of the conversation except to say that the president is the only person at fault for the economy and joblessness while “those who cannot be taxed” are deserving of tax breaks. Really?
If the GOP does not find a candidate who refuses to coddle the extremes, is willing to speak his or her mind and can develop a true plan of attack, they have no chance of winning the 2012 presidential race.
David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.