Thursday, November 10, 2011

debates, cont.

Thinking about it again this morning, I'm not finished with the debate last night. I was thinking more about the question of what a "gaffe" is to me. A gaffe to me is watching a guy like Perry, who claims to be a conservative, breezily list off a bunch of executive departments he'd redline, just write off into oblivion. Uh, that's a little cavalier, don'tcha think, especially considering these departments contain things like the constitutionally necessary Census Bureau, and the National Nuclear Safety Administration, and the US Patent and Trademark Office, as Ezra Klein notes this morning? Sounds to me like we're talking about one of two proposals:

  1. you're going to defund major, necessary programs while laying off a bunch of people during a weak recovery in order to save a relatively paltry amount of money (didn't you just say that all of the budget is tied up in "entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and these other unfunded liabilities?").

  2. you're going to reshuffle the organization of agencies within the executive branch, moving everything in Education to another department, because... well, why? Who cares if the Census Bureau is in the Dept. of Commerce or the Dept. of State? What difference does it make whether or not the executive has a "Dept. of Education" if you're going to keep the agencies and bureaus within it? For that matter, the list of major issues facing the next president include the war in Afghanistan, chronic unemployment, slow economic growth, a collapse Eurozone, climate change, cartel violence on the border, illegal immigration, patent abuse, steeply climbing tuition rates, and high health care costs. What the f**k are you doing fiddlefarting around with the organization of the executive branch? How does that solve anything? Do you really not recognize that it would take an enormous amount of time and work to reorganize the bureaucracy of the executive, time that could be spent dealing the country's actual problems?

Or, for that matter, a gaffe to me is the Eurozone being on the brink of collapse, and every candidate dodging any question related to it. It must be nice, in a way, standing up on that podium and pretending to be president, but being able to dodge every difficult issue sent your way, just changing the subject to something you already have a canned answer for.

Of course, the one guy who doesn't get to dodge this question is the President of the United States. He needs to have an answer, or at least some first principles and a method to arrive at the answer. Our current president has had to answer a number of very difficult questions. Thinking back on the issues he's faced, and watching these guys all dodge the questions they're uncomfortable with, Sarah Palin style, and ramble on instead about how "a dollar should be a dollar" makes them all look like light-weights, clownish pretenders.

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