Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Florida debate redux

I've mostly confined my blogging to Stinque, but I thought I'd drop by and share some peronal observations about last night's Florida GOP presidential debate, mostly just to point out what I felt were the event's most risible moments. Haven't been able to find a transcript online yet, so I'll quote from memory.

Hands down, the biggest howler of the evening belongs to Newt Gingrich who, when pressed on his lobbying business with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac insisted that he had not been hired as a lobbyist, but rather as a "historian of Washington." I haven't heard such a hilarious euphemism since South Carolina governor Mark Sanford was said to be "hiking the Appalacchian Trail" when he was, in fact cavorting in Argentina with his mistress. Newt is amazing in his shamelessness and ability to argue that black is white and up is down.

An eye popping moment, for me, at least, came when Mitt Romney, attempting to fend off Newt Gingrich's criticism of the favorable tax treatment he receives under current law noted that under Gingrich's tax plan he, Mitt Romney, would have paid no taxes at all. Not a dime. It's obvious and shouldn't have shaken me, but for some reason it did. Really gets to the essense of just how unfair the tax proposals floated by the GOP really are.

I did enjoy the moment when Brian Williams asked Mitt Romney to predict what people would be talking about "tomorrow" when his tax records were released. Among the things Romney said people would be talking about is just how "complicated" the tax code can be. I suspect that was Romney's way of saying that people will be surprised at the lengths to which his accountants have gone to game the tax code and shelter as much of his wealth from taxation as possible.

Ron Paul's insistence that Iran's threat to block the Straits of Hormuz is merely as response to a previous U.S. act of war (the blockade) shows just how outside the mainstream of the Republican party that guy really is. It's mind blowing to see stuff like that said on the GOP stage. These arguments will be missed when Paul is no longer able to run his Quixotic presidential campaigns (guy's age is starting to show).

Meanwhile, Ron Paul's ludicrous claim that the Community Reinvestment Act caused the 2008 financial meltdown shows just how childish his economic views can be. The CRA as root cause of the crash simply fails the laugh test on every conceivable level. But for a free market absolutist like Paul, everything bad that happens in the economy must be the fault of some "market distorting" government policy somewhere.

OK, that's it for now. I've got much more that could be said, but have run out of time.