Dan Middleton’s Political Newsletter 8 September 2011

Hello all. What do you know? The rain has stopped! I think I even saw something people call “sunlight” filtering through the trees. But it seems to have gone away now, so it probably was my imagination.

Thankfully, I didn’t watch the Republican debate because of the nightmares it would have spawned to disturb my sleep, but I’ve been reading and collecting opinions about it, and it sounded to be absolutely what I expected: Rick Perry displayed his absurd beliefs which I wrote about yesterday (social security a “ponzi scheme”, global warming not supported by science, medicare unconstitutional, etc.) not with Romney-esque obfuscation and smarminess, but with defiant, blustering pride.

Jonathan Chait and Steve Benen are whip smart political commentators whose moderate, sensible opinions I find instructive and refreshing, were aghast at what they saw last night.

Benen was particularly disturbed by the night’s most noteworthy moment when Perry received the loudest applause of any of the candidates when he unabashedly embraced his alarming proclivity for enforcing the death penalty…234 and counting. I never have supported the death penalty because as was proven inIllinois a few years ago, people falsely convicted were put to death (Illinois has since abolished the death penalty). That Perry declared he was untroubled by enforcing the death penalty regardless of the highly probable likelihood that an innocent person will die, and that the audience heartily affirmed this callousness is another vivid reminder that the modern Republican Party has become defined by a cruel arrogance: knowledge, evidence, problem-solving are not welcome.

Benen quotes Chait’s take on Perry’s performance. Given the realities of the the Republican base, Romney is not going to fare well in the winner-take-all primaries the Republican:

“…Perry, stylistically, ruled the roost [in last night’s debate]. The media seems to consider Romney the winner. Pardon the condescension, but they’re not thinking like Republican base voters. Romney approaches every question as if he is in an actual debate, trying to provide the most intellectually compelling answer available, within the bounds of political expediency. Perry treats questions as interruptions. What scientists do you trust on climate change? I don’t want to risk the economy. Are you taking a radical position on social security? We can have reasons or we can have results. His total liberation from the constraints of reason give Perry a chance to represent the Republican id in a way Romney simply cannot match. […] In my view, Perry established his alpha male style, and that impression will matter more than any position or statement he’s made.
Romney feels compelled to bind himself to the parameters of the question before him. Perry ignores them. It is, in a sense, an alpha male move. I am not going to lower myself to your premise about scientists. I am going to declare my principles.”

If you want a complete, rather amusing description of the debate, you can get it here.

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