A few days ago while channel surfing, I discovered “Me TV” the “Memorable Entertainment Network” which runs such classics as “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, “The Mary Tyler More Show”, “M*A*S*H”, and “The Bob Newhart Show” to name a few. So I faced a hard choice last night; memorable television or the Republican candidates’ debate. Unfortunately, I didn’t choose memorable television. I watched the debate.
The big story this morning of course, is the cat fight between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry. The two, who are vying for front-runner status, clawed each other incessantly about job creation, health care, and whatever else they could sound bite into the morning headlines. It was like watching two teenage boys trying to impress a prom queen.
The truth is, the debate was a big disappointment. Between the jabs and the arrows slung at opponents, none of the candidates meaningfully addressed getting Americans back to work. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a former 1st tier candidate, now relegated to fading (or faded) political star status, even had the temerity to promise she would reduce the price of gas to $2.00 per gallon—an ironic pledge coming from a self-declared Tea Partier who prides herself on her disdain for government intervention in anything that will help hard working American families.
Which brings me to immigration.
It seemed as if the candidates were going to successfully avoid talking about it until Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo walked onto the stage to raise the issue. Unfortunately, the substance offered on immigration by many of the candidates was befuddling at best. Romney and Perry babbled on about fences, boots on the ground (cowboy boots?), and no special deals for undocumented immigrants (i.e. no solutions either).
Translated, both Romney and Perry were steering hard to the right in an effort to win over that side in the primary. Neither front runner offered a single solution to fix the broken immigration system in a way that secures the border, safeguards our communities, protects the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers, restores fairness, and guards due process.
On the other hand, former Utah Governor John Huntsman showed heart when he decried the Department of Homeland Security’s “fortress mentality” and spoke of immigration as a “human issue”, declaring that we must find solutions to our broken immigration system. Interestingly, Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House who is at the back of the Republican pack, was the only candidate to actually offer specific solutions to fix the dysfunctional immigration system, suggesting, among other things, that we need a pathway to compliance for the undocumented and that mass deportation was not a feasible option.
For her part, when asked about immigration, Rep. Michele Bachmann lapsed into an incoherent ramble about narco-terrorism and the border, succeeding only in conflating and confusing two completely unrelated issues.
I am not sure who won the Republican candidates’ debate last night. But I am certain it wasn’t the American people.