(By Andrew MacKie-Mason)
I caught part of the three hundredth 2012 Republican debate tonight (Fox News, South Carolina). Just a few quick thoughts:
Santorum's falling over himself to run further and further to the right. In one notable moment, when asked a question about foreign policy related to Syria, he answered almost completely from the "what's best for Israel" perspective. There seemed to be absolutely no consideration of the fact that sometime in the next five years Israeli interests could diverge from American interests. Either that, or he's trying to become President of the United States of America and Protector of Israel. I understand the commitment that many on the right have to defending Israel – they're a strong ally and most of the time our interests align. But blind, naive commitment in foreign policy does no one any good. Santorum also said that the federal government should be able to detain Americans indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism, subject only to a mere preponderance of the evidence standard. In other words, Santorum supports doing away with the meaningful rule of law.
Of course, Romney supports doing away with the rule of law entirely. According to him, anyone arrested on suspicion of being a member of al-Qaeda – American citizen or no – should have no due process rights. Because apparently, alleged treason is the same as treason. Romney also thought that there are too many laws regulating election finance. Screw Citizens United – corporations and the super-wealthy should be able to give unlimited amounts directly to candidates.
Rick Perry, meanwhile, defended the marines who urinated on corpses. Well, he didn't quite defend them. "They should be punished." But don't call their acts "despicable." That might hurt their feelings.
Ron Paul had some decent substance – for instance, suggesting that we should apply a Golden Rule to foreign policy (that got quite a negative reaction from a supposedly moralistic, Christian party) – but bad performance. It took him forever to stumble through a relatively simple explanation of what was wrong with the Obama approach to capturing bin Laden (we should have tried legitimate methods first before invading another country's sovereignty), and he sounded far too defensive.
All in all: nothing impressive; nothing new.