Having watched all except two of the Republican debates, I am beginning to lose interest. The only real question last night was who would be most on attack. In reality the answer was Santorum on health care versus Romney, but that was too late to either help Rick or to have that much of an impact on Mitt. It might be a nice mental exercise to think what would have happened had that attack occurred with the same ferocity in Iowa, but "what ifs" matter little now. After last night, barring something unexpected Romney will win Florida and thus be near impossible to stop from the nomination.
Unless and until someone confronts him about his outright lies.
During the debate numerous fact-checking organizations blasted out tweets etc that it was not a blind trust.
A few reminded people that Romney had attacked Teddy Kennedy in 1994 for his blind trust.
Yesterday to deflect criticism about having voted for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Massachusetts primary, Romney tried to say he had never voted for a Democrat when a Republican was on the ballot. Except in 1992 the Republican primary was the same day, with George H. W. Bush being challenged by Pat Buchanan.
Sometimes Romney is as lawyerly in his answers as was Bill Clinton. Except Clinton did it with far more skill. Mitt's approach is to keep talking - fast - not answer the question if he can pivot to his talking points.
There was NOTHING on education, other than Romney again mentioning that when he was governor, even before he was governor, he wanted English only and English immersion.
I did not hear regulation of the banking sector specifically addressed - only in passing as the issue of Fannie & Freddie was brought up.
When Ron Paul is the most sensible person on stage - as he was in his answer about how his religion would influence him as president - I fear for this nation. Even as I do not believe that any of the four would defeat Obama unless the European economy totally collapses - which is why I think the European community will continue to struggle through rather than allow things to unravel, because they are comfortable with Obama and more than unsettled by the prospect of any of the Republicans - even the tone of the campaign that would be waged against the President by either Gingrich or Romney would damage this nation.
A few more perhaps not so random thoughts below.
Few of my students will have watched last night. They have a test today, and will have focused on that, even though they had the period to study yesterday and have had the study guide for several days. For which I suppose I can be grateful, because I am not sure I can offer a cogent explanation for Gingrich's performance. Except of course that Newt is well known for imploding in various ways. Erratic is perhaps the kindest word that can be used for him.
It might have been interesting to see how many of my students could take apart the remarks made WRT the Declaration of Independence. I found myself tweeting in frustration at the misinterpretation.
While there is no doubt that in 1776 those in Philadelphia knew they were moving to a new nation, the Declaration itself did not establish a nation. Read carefully, starting at the beginning and note what I bold:
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
13, not one United States, States (the legal term for an independent entity) capitalized and united not.
Note also the end, lest you think that a mistake, at the beginning of the final paragraph:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of Americaand that that paragraph does speak of "United Colonies" and says that they
are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
States, plural. There was as yet no formal basis for a unified government. The Articles of Confederation was being worked on simultaneously with the Declaration, the committee for the former beginning in June, and not sending it to the newly independent states for their consideration until November 1777. It was at that point practically in effect, even though the unanimous ratification necessary for it to be official was not achieved until March 1, 1781, less than 8 months before Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
The language about unalienable rights in the Declaration is aspirational, an espoused principal, but has no more legal meaning than do Jefferson's words that when the people are subject to despotism
it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security
Article III of the Articles states
The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare . . .
There is no provision for the dissolution of the Confederation, and the Preamble do our governing document, the Constitution, reminds us that the union continues - in order to form a more perfect union.
God makes no appearance as "God" in either the Declaration or the Constitution.
What does appear in Article VI of the latter is the statement about no religious tests, in the same article in which we are informed that ratified treaties are included as the supreme law of the land. The Treaty with the Bey of Tripoli was negotiated by the administration of George Washington and ratified without dissent in the administration of John Adams, by a Senate including other Founders, and declared that the United States was NOT a Christian nation. Nor can we say the nation was founded on "Judeo-Christian principles" since the formulation of "Judeo-Christian" is a 20th century invention, that few of the Founders had ever met a Jew, and that at least one state - Maryland where I teach - barred Jews from state public office by its Constitution - after all, the Act of Toleration for which many praise Maryland had actually required execution for anyone who denied the Holy Trinity, even though that was never enforced.
I am frustrated at times by how poor the understanding of our founding documents many in public office or seeking it seem to demonstrate. Is it deliberate distortion for political advantage, or sheer ignorance? Either way, it tends to poison our political discourse, as i heard last night.
In the past hearing such drivel would make me even more determined to make a difference by continuing to teach, to have my students learn to read accurately, to think more acutely.
Now? I seriously wonder whether my efforts are spitting into the winds of a hurricane, or something of even less effect.
This is a ramble.
Because today is the natal day of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, I was up past midnight, posting my tribute diary as the new day began, and tending it for a while. Perhaps I am cranky because I am tired. I acknowledge the possibility.
Perhaps the thoughts I offered via twitter last night and in this post are but rambling connections of words.
It is not merely the words offered by the Republican contenders, but the responses from the audience.
Last night a man named Abraham, a Palestinian-American who is a Republican, asked a question and asked to have his existence recognized. The candidates treated him with disrespect, probably because they are still into Muslim bashing. The only thing is this - the vast majority of Palestinians in this country are Christian. Most Arabs in this country are Christian - Maronite, Melkite, Coptic, Antiochian Orthodox. Most Muslims in the country are not Arab. In their desire to pander the candidates seemed not to recognize this. Were he Muslim, the name would have been Ibrahim, not Abraham.
The candidates complain about those who would divide us by class, even as they continually seek to divide us by race or religion or ethnic origin, sometimes directly, often with dog whistles.
Were my wife not tied to Washington DC by the job she enjoys at the Library of Congress, by her passion for pre-civil war history and culture, I would be so inclined at the end of this school year to take my pension and social security and go elsewhere - perhaps in the US, perhaps to another country where at least health care is guaranteed - something that as I age concerns me more.
Perhaps it will be better for my mental health if the Republican contest does come to an early end.
For now, I must continue to watch, to try to help my students understand what is happening in the country which we will be leaving them.
Listening to last night's debate, I feel as if i owe them an apology.
Off to school.