Benjamin Franklin once said that he opposed any action that would lead to the debasement of the common people I now know what Franklin meant by watching the second ridiculous debate co- sponsored by YOUTUBE and CNN. CNN had 5000 questions from the YOUTUBE site and managed to pick some of the most stupid and banal inquiries that one could dreg up.
First, the first half hour of the debate revolved around one topic: immigration and the status of illegal immigrants. That time followed an hour of semi racist blather from Lou Dobbs who has decided that his ratings can be increased by waving the red meat of alien hatreds and security fears at Mexico. Lou was so much nicer when he was on television praising the innate right of the very wealthy to make more money and avoid paying taxes. Now he has adopted a populist agenda, appealing to some of our worst instincts of xenophobia. The CNN debate featured one questions after another on the topic; poor Tom Tancredo could not hide his anti immigrant glee. They finally have taken my theme to heart he pined. Indeed they did, except in a strange way for the Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee. When Romney attacked him for providing tuition assistance to long stranding students whose parents were illegal immigrants, big Mike took the moral high road on the need to help reward those who had tried to so hard to make something of themselves. He then remained silver spoon Romney that he, Mike, had paid his own way through college. Mitt had gone on Dad’s enormous automotive executive salary and bonuses.
Romney not to be deterred decided to take on Rudy on the same issue, saying he made New York City into a sanctuary city. Rudy was waiting for that—he accused Massachusetts of having five such cities and that Romney, who employed illegal to do his gardening, ran a “sanctuary mansion.” McCain tried to interject some reason into the debate, but since he co- sponsored the discredited reform bill on the topic he was not too willing to challenge the nativist crowd whom host Anderson Cooper let exhibit the manners of a fraternity house rush.
The only candidate up there with a sense of heroic- bearing is John McCain who spoke with moral fervor on the issue of torture, which he had experienced in Vietnam. When Mitt tried to waffle on the matter, McCain hit him so hard that Romney’s hair almost got mussed. The difficulty with McCain is that he has made the war in Iraq into such a cause that he is far out of step with the American people, although one is never quite sure where the Repbluclican party elite is. One gets the impression that they are actually supporting Bush II without saying so. Does the country really want four more years of war in Iraq? McCain last night seemed to link up our efforts with the West stopping or not stopping Hitler in the 1930s. I guess they don’t teach much history at West Point.
Ron Paul remained a single voice of reason by simply saying that the federal government should not get involved in nation building abroad and nationalizing such issues as abortion at home. When a random Tubite asked if women who got abortions should be jailed, Thompson seemed to agree and so did some of the others. So much for the party of liberty, jail pregnant teenagers and their doctors. Paul took the tar baby and simply said it was the states’ problem. He used to be an obyn doctor.
The worst question came from a person who wanted to know what their attitudes were on the death penalty, a legitimate request, but he insisted in framing it “What would Jesus do?” Frankly, I may be alone but it seems to me to a question that stinks of blasphemy in the old religious sense of the word. Do you really want to ask what a teacher of forgiveness who was himself killed by the state would think about crucifixion? Did not anyone see Gibson’s film? Ugh. Preacher Huckabee simply deflected the question—Jesus was too smart to run for public office. That ended the stupidity.
Most strange was an old retired Brigadier General from California who had served his country and state over forty years in the military. It turns out the old general was gay, and he wanted the candidates to explain why gays had to hide their orientation to serve their nation. Any one up on that platform who was going to take him on was crazy –that should have just thanked him for his long record of service. But Mitt, who once said that he welcomed gays in the military, now decided that it would impede morale in the armed forces, a lame argument that Colin Powell made when he opposed Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The problem for Powell was that the segregationists made the same argument against mixing the races in the armed forces in the 1940s when President Truman simply did it.
So what would Jesus do? If he saw this debate, he would have probably have welcomed more the rule of the Roman Empire, or he would have reiterated his initial wisdom “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God what is God.” But then again Jesus did not have the YOUTUBE opportunities. He had to wait for St. Paul’s epistles to get the good news out.