Why the Recent GOP Debate Should Worry Republicans

Last week’s Republican Presidential Debate, aka, the Rick Perry Train Wreck, was a real ratings winner for Fox News. Some 6.1 million viewers tuned in. That’s almost a Jersey Shore level of numbers. Perhaps such a ratings success for a political debate is due, in part, to the fact that the GOP debates have had almost as many fights, verbal gaffes, and lusty displays of uncouth behavior as one might encounter during a night out with Snookie.

Despite those solid ratings numbers, grown-up Republicans have to look back on last week and worry. Perry, their leading candidate going into the debate, had such a disastrous showing that even conservative opinion leaders were bashing him, the Florida GOP audience offended many people when they booed a gay American soldier defending their freedom to safely boo with his service in Baghdad, and the Florida GOP straw poll winner was Herman Cain.

Cain may be a swell guy to have a beer and a slice of pizza with, but he is not remotely qualified to be President of the United States. Take a look at this clip from Fox News where Chris Wallace asks Cain about what his policy toward Israel would be if he became President and about “the Palestinian right of return.” In his stumbling response, Cain reveals that he does not have a clue what “right of return” is, even though it has been one of the central obstacles to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. It of course revolves around the question of whether or not displaced Palestinians have a right to return to live in what was once their homeland. That same week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel is “not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen.”

Netanyahu is apparently wrong about everybody knowing it. In that Cain not only did not know “it” was not going to happen, he doesn’t even know what “it” is. And GOP activists just made Cain a straw poll winner. In Florida, no less.

In another Fox News interview about his 9-9-9 economic plan, Cain would not reveal to Chris Wallace the identity of the “best economists in this land” who helped him come up with the plan. It’s a secret. And just how he arrived at the figures are secret. But trust him. He majored in math. And he really made good pizza.

Wallace was not buying what Cain was trying to sell, and pointed out that in November 2005, the bi-partisan Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform appointed by President Bush presented a report that included an analysis of the Fair Tax Plan. The panel found that in order to be “revenue neutral,” the Fair Tax plan would require a national sales tax of 34 percent on everything. Really, everything. And, in order to make the plan less regressive on the middle class and the disadvantaged, the federal government would have to send out monthly “prebate” checks to every family in America, regardless of their income level.

The bipartisan panel found that this plan would increase the tax burden on the middle class, create the largest entitlement program in the history of the country, and increase the size of government. Chapter Nine of the report shows that the Fair Tax plan would basically result in a shift of about $250 billion of the total tax burden away from the top 20 percent of American taxpayers and onto the lower 80 percent of American families. It would be a big tax cut for the rich and a big tax increase for the middle class. Calling it a Fair Tax is a pretty sharp work of irony.

The next Republican debate is scheduled for October 11 on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. It’s a badly needed chance for the GOP candidates and the GOP crowd to look more like level-headed New England grown-ups than some cranked up DeathMatch groupies.

It will also be a chance for Mitt Romney to get a little love and respect from a home court crowd. Romney’s reception by Southern Tea Party types has been decidedly cool up to now. But recent polls showed that among likely GOP voters in New Hampshire, Mitt is a heavy favorite with a huge lead over Perry.

And even though conflict is good for the ratings, the GOP should consider itself lucky if the debate crowd in the “Live Free or Die” state tones it down a notch and doesn’t cause another embarrassing backlash by cheering for the waterboarding of immigrant puppies or some such. Well, at least not this time around.

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  • Rick in Duxbury

    “lusty displays of uncouth behavior as one might encounter during a night out with Snookie.”
    Yeah, we need some SEIU and IBEW representatives to raise the civility of the discourse. Then Michael Goldman and Doug Rubin can explain why the election is basically a foregone conclusion anyhow, since everything is coming around nicely……

  • Barry Nolan

    Dear Rick,
    You are absolutely right that some on both sides have been quite uncivil. However, if you are part of a live national television event- and you cheer for the death of others – or you boo a soldier stationed in a war zone from the safe comfy climate controlled confines of auditorium – you have to be a pretty dim bulb – as dumb as Snookie even – to not understand that engaging is such behavior on live national television where everyone is dressed in at least business casual – will leave a very negative and very lasting impression on a larger audience. And those who do it deserve every bit of the opprobrium that is heaped on their pointy little heads.

    If you believe otherwise – I urge you to attend the upcoming NH debate and cheer lustily for some form of cruelty, death or indifference towards “others”. And please let me know if you plan to do it – because I would like to Tivo it.
    Sincerely,
    Barry Nolan

  • Lou

    Just a curious thought. Since when is Barry Nolan qualified to comment on politics or news?

    Onetime Evening Magazine (ie…”fluff”) TV host has been inserting himself in politics ever since his embarrassing crusade against O’Reilly and his resulting dismissal from Comcast.

    You might try an article on Recipe’s or kitchen hints…or celebrity news/gossip.

    With THAT you might have some credibility.

    I wonder if Boston Mag will allow this comment….?

  • Barry

    Dear Lou,
    Thanks for the memories and the career advice. I will give it some thought. Meanwhile, what do you find to be factually wrong? The ratings? There’s a link. The clip of Mr. Cain in his own words responding to a question from a Fox News host? Watch the whole awkward clip. The analysis of the Fair Tax by President Bush’s bipartisan Panel? Read the whole dismal report. Or the First Amendment?

    Sincerely,
    Barry Nolan

    • Lou

      What’s wrong with the analysis is that it’s shaded by your political leanings.

      You can’t seem to get out of your own way.

      WHy is Barry Nolan writing about Politics? WHy is Bos Maggie printing it?

      Should I go ask Mayor Menino about Lady Gaga’s latest fashion?

      Should I ask Bill Weld for a better recipe for Johnny Cakes?

      The point is credibility.

      After your O”Reilly stunt, are you going to go write on Cain’s locker….or some other Jr. HS stunt?

  • Barry

    Dear Lou,

    I ask again, what is factually wrong? As in what is not true? The fact that Mr. Cain did not know what “the right of return” was – even after recently expressing a great deal of criticism concerning the administrations understanding of the problem? Or the analysis of the Fair Tax proposal – that was performed over the course of 10 months by a bipartisan commission appointed by President Bush? Or the fact that Mr. Cain refuses to disclose who those mysterious “best economists in the land” are who helped him develop his 9-9-9 plan? You can read or watch all of that for yourself with the links provided. It is actually true stuff about things that happened in the real world.

    As for Mr. O’Reilly, he just recently proclaimed that he was the most powerful person in the entire country – after President Obama. May I suggest that you Google the term “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” and give it a quick once over. He is still a buffoon. Age has greyed him – but not enlightened him.

    Regards,
    Barry Nolan

  • MJ

    Lou– by your analysis, Ronald Reagan shouldn’t have been governor of CA, much less POTUS. Arnold Schwarzenegger shouldn’t have been governor. Does Barry have less credibility than two bad (Republican) actors? Barry Nolan isn’t running for office–he’s just a private citizen opining on issues important to all Americans. He’s entitled to his opinion & you’re entitled to rebut them, although it appears you can’t.

    • Lucy in the Sky

      i think lou already pointed out the problem he has with the commentary. it’s partisanship and credibility, something you do not wish to address.

      barry is a private citizen with opinions…but definitely a partisan….he looks for every opportunity to speak from high upon the mountain….but do his opinions have any credibility?

      *Or the First Amendment?*

      you are free to have your opinions…anyone can have opinions…they are free and worth every cent. the question is are your opinion worthy of anyone paying attention

      apparently other aspects of your life have shaded any of your opinions and people should be wary of that.

      i believe comcast saw that you weren’t in a position to be seen as an insightful analyst or commentator….thats why they sent you packing.

      you have a problem with others seeing the same thing?

      **As for Mr. O’Reilly…*

      u feel entitled to criticize bill O, yet no one is allowed to say the see, observe and judge your behavior?

      pot…meet kettle.

      as far as bufoons go……

      buf·foon
         /bəˈfun/ Show Spelled[buh-foon] Show IPA
      noun
      1.
      a person who amuses others by tricks, jokes, odd gestures and postures, etc.

      this sounds like what you did at (was it) the new england emmys?

  • Mookie Blaylock

    “Cain may be a swell guy to have a beer and a slice of pizza with, but he is not remotely qualified to be President of the United States.”

    And Obama was?

    • Lucy in the Sky

      **Rimshot!**

  • Barry

    Dear Ms Lucy,
    And what in the posting do you find to be at odds with the facts? That Mr Cain did not know what the “right of return” was? That he would not reveal the identity of his world class economists? That a bipartisan panel found that the Fair Tax shifted $250 billion in taxes onto the middle class? What do you find in error?

    Regards,
    Barry Nolan

    • Lucy in the Sky

      i see barry will come here after every response and beat someone to death until they agree with him. (doesn’t bill o do that too?)

      nice touch

      the op apparently was having a problem with your analysis based on your past public statements and your current credibility

      personally i don’t care about your observations you posted….ur entitled to them. you know, first amendment, etc.

      what we are commenting on is if the validity of the person making the opinions.

      mr. nolan, what in this sentence do you find to be at odds with the facts?

      –that comcast saw you to be ill-equiped to continue to host a program as an objective host?

      is that something that is at odd with the facts?

      –That you did not know what your role was at comcast?

      –That your foolish actions proved you to now be unemployable?

      What do you find in error?

  • Barry Nolan

    Dear Ms. Lucy,

    You seem to have some difficulties grasping what actually makes a fact a fact. The facts cited in the blog have an existence that is quite independent of me and my opininon – and whether or not you like me or find me personally credible.

    Mr. Cain’s interview – in which he demonstrates that he does not know what a “right of return” is – exists in the real, physical world and is verifiable – you can click on the link and see if for yourself. It is not a figment of my fevered imagination.

    The same holds true for the analysis of the Fair Tax plan – it exists – you can read it – you can even try doing the math for yourself. The things in this blog that make Herman Cain and the Republican party look so bad to so many people are not things I simply made up.

    What you seem to be unable or unwilling to grasp is that independently verifiable facts are not made more or less true because it is me – or anybody else – that says them. They have an existence all their own. They exist in the real world – they are things that you can confirm for yourself. The Florida GOP crowd really did boo a US soldier stationed in Bagdhad. You can see it for yourself on video. Herman Cain really did refuse to reveal his economic experts to Chris Wallace – you can see it for yourself on video. The Bush appointed bipartisan committee really did say that the Fair Tax Plan transfers some $250 billion of the tax burden from the top 20% to the middle class. You can read the whole report for yourself – you don’t even need to use my link – you can go diving into Google and find your own copy.

    Not liking me does not make any of those things one whit less true. I hope that one day you will see fit to join the reality based community. Until then, good luck to you in that alternate universe.

    Sincerely,
    Barry Nolan

    • Bob

      I think Lucy got the facts exactly right.

      Just not the facts you want to discuss.

      Lucy wrote:

      mr. nolan, what in this sentence do you find to be at odds with the facts?

      –that comcast saw you to be ill-equiped to continue to host a program as an objective host?

      is that something that is at odd with the facts?

      –That you did not know what your role was at comcast?

      –That your foolish actions proved you to now be unemployable?

      What do you find in error?

      Dem the facts!

      Facts you fail to address….

      Are the facts in error…if so you are free to challenge them!

  • Barry

    Dear Bob,

    If you will note – the article above is not about me. It is not a plea for you to trust me more than you like your cable TV company. Or Bill O’Reilly. It is about true things that reasonable people may understandably be concerned about. It’s not about our relationship Bob. Sorry, but I’m just not that into you.

    And I might also note – that Comcast never alleged or suggested in any way that anything I said about Mr. O’Reilly was not true. In fact a Vice President of Comcast – Ken Botelho – and the former President of NATAS – Roger Lyons – both acknowledge in an e-mail that Botelho sent to me – that I was absolutely correct in saying that giving Bill O’Reilly an award for excellence in journalism would reflect badly on the integrity of the Emmys and the NATAS organization. Comcast just didn’t like it that I said demonstrably true things in a room filled with news people – on a night when the object was to celebrate the best practices and highest achievements of a free and open press.

    Comcast did not like the idea of someone saying demonstrably true things out loud. Apparently you feel the same way. As I basically told Comcast – too bad for you.

    Barry Nolan

    • lucy in the sky

      “If you will note – the article above is not about me.”

      wow….u really are dense, huh?

      this whole “blog” is about you and your perspectives.

      “Sorry, but I’m just not that into you.”

      how cute

      “And I might also note – that Comcast never alleged or suggested in any way that anything I said about Mr. O’Reilly was not true. ”

      no, they chose not to discuss mr. oreilly…they chose to discuss you and your childish manner that relflected poorly on them.

      “Comcast did not like the idea of someone saying demonstrably true things out loud.”

      apparently barry only sees facts wherever he looks….and anyone who disagrees with him simply has the facts wrong.

      “Apparently you feel the same way.”

      frankly i don’t think most people care about what you have to say…but it’s your blog, so youre always right.

      “As I basically told Comcast – too bad for you.”

      im still employed….how about you?

      too bad for you.

      time to grow up.

      Barry Nolan

  • Barry

    Dear Lucy,

    You have certainly made it clear that you think Citizens should obey corporations. That seems to be your principle argument.

    We will just have to disagree on that.

    But you have yet to point out a single mis-stated fact in the article. Despite your dislike of the facts – they remain there – true and ugly as ever.

    The GOP debate crowd booed a US soldier who had been deployed to Bagdhad.

    Conservative opinion leaders have been bashing Perry for his hapless performance.

    Herman Cain did not know what a right of return was in the interview.

    Herman Cain will not reveal the names of the world class economists who helped him come up with his 9-9-9 plan.

    A bipartisan panel appointed by Bush found that the Fair Tax plan would create a huge new entitlement program – while shifting $250 billion in tax liability from the top 20% of earners to the middle class.

    That is what the piece is about. Those are the facts. They are still there. They are ugly. And just like Comcast, you apparently get your knickers in a twist when people say true things you don’t like. But the fact that you don’t like them – doesn’t make them less true – and doesn’t make them go away.

    Thank you very much for giving me a good excuse for once again restating the facts of the article. I will be happy to do so every time you wish to suggest that we should all do what corporations tell us. Like most Americans – being told to shut up tends to have the opposite effect on me. Good luck with that job.

    Regards,
    Barry Nolan

    • FairTaxer Chuck

      The problem with referencing the “the bi-partisan Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform appointed by President Bush” is that it did not score The FairTax Act of 2005. The “national retail sales tax” used in the study was concocted by the members based on guidelines in the executive order forming the commission and does not did not follow the 133 page bill that existed in the House and Senate at the time. Please find the E.O., a copy of the 2005 FairTax Act (HR 25) and the report’s Chapter Nine national retail sales section to re-review your study. I believe you’ll come to a different solution than “The bipartisan panel found that this plan would increase the tax burden on the middle class, create the largest entitlement program in the history of the country, and increase the size of government.” Also, see Why the FairTax will work”, by Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff. (See: http://www.fairtax.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=9321&news_iv_ctrl=1521)

  • Barry

    Dear FairTaxer Chuck,

    First of all, thank you for writing about something that actually involves a factual dispute or policy issue. Glad to engage.

    On page 217 of the bipartisan commissions report – they specifically address the Fair Tax – as it had been proposed – and the commission finds a number of significantly flawed assumptions – involving deep in the weeds stuff that people can read for themselves with link in the piece above.

    One of the flaws in the Fair Tax assumptions is an assumption that there would be zero tax evasion with a retail sales tax.

    Using more realistic assumptions – the panel found that a revenue neutral rate for the sales tax would have to be 34% – and it that the tax would have to apply to everything consumers paid for – including their mortgage – legal fees – medicine – even a 34% tax on the interest fees you pay on your credit card.

    On page 222, the commission notes that in order to make it reasonably fair and progressive, the program requires a monthly cash grant program that would pre-bate a cash amount that would be about equal to the cost of buying life’s most basic necessities.

    The pre-bate program would be costly to administer and a truly massive government program that would be the largest entitlement program in the history of the country. And it would still shift $250 billion in tax burden from the top 20% to the already struggling middle class.

    Most of Mr. Kotlikoff’s argument in the article you cite is directed at Bruce Bartlett – an advisor for President Reagan. The rest of his argument is directed at the Republican controlled Treasury Department. Not exactly liberal economists.

    I certainly appreciate the appeal that a sales tax plan has – the idea of no more tax forms – it is very attractive. But the costs in so very many ways – seem far too high.

    Sincerely,
    Barry Nolan