A lot of the debate was the same old stuff, but there were some new elements added and these are the things that I will talk about today.
Huckabee managed to redeem himself a bit in my opinion this debate. The religion questions are where he always shines. The moderator (there were four journalist moderators, and I don't even know all their names much less remember who asked what) talked to Huckabee about some article or ad that the Baptist convention had put into a paper (I think it was the New York Times?). It talked about wives submitting to their husbands, and the moderator was asking about these kinds of views in light of electability. Huckabee did such a great job of answering this. He started out by saying how he thought it was interesting that religion is off limits until he gets asked all the questions about religion (totally true), but then went on to say that since the moderator brought it up he would answer. He then said that anybody who knows his wife knows that there's no way that she's just going to let Mike Huckabee do whatever he wants to do, so submission is not like that. He then went on to talk about that passage in the Bible and said how it tells us to submit to one another, the wife submitting to the husband and the husband to the wife. He said that the biblical view of marriage isn't that each side gives 50%, it's that each side gives 100%, and that this particular passage is directing us how to have a successful marriage and how to truly love each other. This answer, I thought, was perfectly done - and I ended up happy that they posed the question.
I would tell you how many times in the debate that Reagan was invoked, but I don't think that I even now how to count that high. Reagan, Reagan, Reagan, Reagan, Reagan. Now, I'm a pretty big fan of the man -- but if these people can't figure out how to be conservatives for real instead of invoking the name of past success and popularity in order to get elected then I don't think I want to have anything to do with any of them. I think that they all must have licked their fingers and stuck them to the wind, finding that many people in South Carolina still admire the Reagan record or something because there wasn't this much Reagan talk in New Hampshire.
The moderators asked each candidate about the recent fiasco with Iran and the speedboats... asking them if they agreed with the pacifist-like decision made by the commanders on the boats not to take defensive action. Each candidate, in turn, stated that they trust the commanders to make decisions like this. We got the same statement from everybody that we have the finest military in the world, the best trained, etc... and that the commanders are there just to make these types of decisions... yada yada. Some of the men sounded very sincere (Fred Thompson being the one who spoke most emphatically on this, I thought), but they all said it. Until they got to Ron Paul. Ron Paul got the question and then started to rant and rave about "all this talk about going to war with Iran" and how the government is looking for any excuse. He went on like this for quite a while until the moderator said, "Congressman, what exactly are you responding to? All these other candidates said that they supported the pacifist decision made by the commanders." Mr. Paul (who, apparently has some hearing problems judging from this and past debates) said, "What? I can't hear you. You're going to need to speak up." And the moderator repeated his phrase to which Mr. Paul said, "Well, I didn't hear any of that. But..." and he went on to rant some more. His response to all this actually drew laughter from the crowd and I felt a bit sorry for the congressman until I remembered that he probably couldn't hear their laughter anyway.
Both Romney and Huckabee are trying to blame their state courts for all the negatives in their records, which annoys me quite a LOT. The moderator questioned Romney on his state's health care plan (which he touts frequently as wonderful) and the fact that the plan covers abortion services. Romney said that he has a perfect pro-life record, and that the fact that HIS health care plan that HE is taking credit for covers abortion is because the courts ordered it. Huckabee blames some of his tax hikes on the state court in Arkansas, saying that the state court ordered his administration to improve education (or something to that effect), then he turned around and tried to take credit for improving education. But which is it? Does he deserve credit for education improvement but not blame for a tax hike then? And why doesn't anybody pose to these goobers the idea that there is a separation of powers here and that the court doesn't have legislative power? Why is nobody questioning the leadership skills of the men who are willing to hand over their executive powers to a state court? I find this to be somewhat troubling about both of them.
I got a good chuckle out of the fact that Giuliani is trying to claim that he is the mostest truest conservative available... Okay, he didn't say "mostest" or "truest." But he did try to claim that he was the most conservative. Of course, he then had to try and explain away his "sanctuary city" record... He said that New York City did report every illegal immigrant who had committed a crime, but he thought it was important that illegal immigrants felt safe to report crimes so he wouldn't allow law enforcement to report illegals who had not committed a crime. Huh? If they're illegals, haven't they all committed a crime? But perhaps Rudy is just talking about committing violent crime...
See, I think this is important. The fact that we are all talking about illegal immigration in these terms is not good... If they're here illegally, they have already broken our laws. I know that it has been argued that their lives are so bad and they're just trying to do better for their families, etc... and that might be true. But that's like saying that the guy who is living on the street and freezing -- so he goes into a building and steals a coat isn't REALLY breaking the law. Well, he is. He's still stealing from that store - and the fact that he was really darned cold doesn't make it less of a crime. And if you want it to be less of a crime, then you have to rewrite the law. But if you rewrite the law, then you will have all kinds of people stealing coats and saying, "Yes, but I was really cold so I didn't break the law. The law says that if you're REALLY REALLY cold, it's okay to take the coat." Our attitude towards illegal immigration has had the same effect on the issue as rewriting the law would. It's not really looked at as illegal anymore. So they come in droves.
Do I sound like I lack compassion? Hmmm... well, I suppose I could sound that way. But who is feeling compassion for the people who are living in horrendous conditions elsewhere and are waiting their turn to get here? Who is feeling compassion for the people who want so badly to live here but the government says, "No, you can't come. You don't have a corporate sponsor." I knew a family from Korea who was here for a period of three years, having been transferred here by his company. They loved it here and wanted to stay. The husband tried for over a year to find a different job who would corporately sponsor them to stay and couldn't find one. So they couldn't stay. They left last spring to go back to Korea for a year and then on to China for three more years. They didn't want to go. I have compassion for them, too - but I wouldn't conceive of telling them to just stay here illegally!
So those are the highlights of the South Carolina debate. Overall, I have a frustration with the candidates for all their "we need to..." statements. Romney is going to fix the housing crisis. McCain is going to go into the community colleges and somehow help people get better jobs. It's frustrating that the only person decrying this kind of thing is Ron Paul because he, while being right on these issues, ends up hurting that cause more than helping it with his other stances.
Watch the debate for yourself on YouTube.