Monday, January 7, 2008

Saturday Debate Notable Quotes

Reading the transcripts from Saturday's ABC debates (findable here and here until the New York Times makes them subscriber-only), the following quotes stood out to me:
We have been responding. The president set a whole different mind- set. It was let's anticipate, let's see if we can prevent another attack. That led to Afghanistan. It led to Iraq. It's led to the Patriot Act. It's led to electronic surveillance. It's led to changing our intelligence services. All that is very, very good.
--- Rudy Giuliani, endorsing USA-PATRIOT, domestic spying, and torture
CHARLES GIBSON, MODERATOR: . . . in 2002 the president said we have a right to a preemptive attack, that we can attack if this country feels threatened. And on that basis -- WMD -- we went into Iraq. We have cited the threat of a nuclear Iran to leave the military option on the table. Do you agree with the doctrine, Senator McCain, if you were president, or would you change it?

JOHN MCCAIN: I agree with the doctrine . . .

RON PAUL: Of course, the excuse is that 9/11 changed everything, but the Bush doctrine of preemptive war is not a minor change. This is huge. This is the first time we as a nation accept as our policy that we start the wars. I don't understand this. And that all options are on the table to go after Iran? This -- this is not -- this is not necessary. These are third-world nations. They're not capable.
So John McCain endorses aggressive war, and Ron Paul again demonstrates his incoherence. In fact, I'm now officially waiting for Paul to say, "Who am I? Why am I here?" in the next debate he's in.
But we're going to have to move our strategy from simply being a respond to military threat with military action to an effort that says we're going to use our military and non-military resources -- non-military resources, combined with other nations who are our friends, to help move the world of Islam towards modernity and moderation. It's something that former Prime Minister Aznar of Spain spoke about.

The new mission for NATO and for other nations is to help provide the rule of law, education that is not through madrassas, agricultural and economic policies that can be instilled in various Islamic countries so the Muslims are able to reject the extreme and the -- and the terrorists.

We can help them. Our military is going to be needed. We do need -- I agree with what the mayor said; we need to add to our military by at least 100,000 troops, but the answer is to move now to a second phase, a phase of helping Muslims become so strong they can reject the extreme.

--- Mitt Romney, advocating the invasion of more Islamic nations to bring them democracy at gunpoint

I served on the Intelligence Committee in the Senate. I was the floor manager for the Republicans on the homeland security bill. So I have a bit of a different vantage point than some of my colleagues on this.

The question had to do with preemption. Preemption didn't just appear one day as a good idea. After the Cold War, we had one big enemy and one big weapon against us. When we kind of took a holiday from history in the '90s and let our military slide and our intelligence capabilities slide, the world was changing. We now have multiple enemies. We now have terrorists and various groups, al Qaeda, rogue nations in different stages of developing nuclear weapons. We must be prepared for the different kind of weaponry that we're facing. We could be attacked with a biological weapon and not even know it for a long period of time. This is a different world.

So instead of mutually assured destruction, which we lived under for a long time, it's now a world where preemption has got to be an option under the right circumstances.

--- Fred Thompson, also supporting aggressive war... but "only go in where we should and where we're able to." (In other words, only beat up the LITTLE kids.)
You made a statement about European nations; they all get health care. Well, somebody -- some people here in New Hampshire have been to Canada. I don't think they want that system.
--- John McCain, demonstrating his ignorance of very basic geography

And then -- we should operate that for two, three, four years, change behavior, and then we should take that system, with a tamper- proof ID card which would be used for people coming into this country. And what we should do with the people that are here -- first of all, right now our priority should be, since you can't throw out all 12 million people, whether Governor Romney would like to do that or not, or anybody else would, you just can't do it. It's not physically possible to do. I would focus on the illegal immigrants that are here who have committed crimes. They should be given priority. That's a number we can deal with. That's a number we can throw out.

Then what I would do with the people that are here, when you had a good system place -- and I believe my plan is the best plan for doing that, and these are the kinds of things I achieved in the other jobs that I've had in my life, as mayor and associate attorney general -- I think what you would do then is you would say to the 12 million people that are here, come forward, get a tamper-proof ID card, get fingerprinted, get photographed. If they don't come forward, then you throw them out of the country.

The ones who do come forward would have to pay taxes. They'd have to pay fines. If you pay fines, it is not amnesty. They would not get ahead of anybody else.

They'd be at the back of the line. But then they could eventually become citizens so long as they could read English, write English and speak English.

--- Giuliani, demonstrating a little bit of common sense on immigration- absent from all other Republican candidates

But there -- so we could talk about issues, but the biggest difference I think -- and it's going to be true for me and others who talk about it -- is that this is a time when America wants change. Washington is broken. That was the message coming out of Iowa. I've heard it across the country. Washington is broken. Not just the White House, not just Congress -- Washington can't get the job done on immigration, on lowering taxes, on fixing schools, on getting health care, on overcoming radical jihad. They want change.

--- Romney, asked why people should not vote for Obama, gives the answer why they SHOULD...

Senator Obama does not have the national security experience and background to lead this nation. We are facing the transcendent challenge of the 21st century, and that is radical Islamic extremism. In his recent statements on various foreign national security issues I've strongly disagreed, but I am -- can make it perfectly clear that it requires a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience and a lot of background to have the judgment to address the challenges that our nation faces in the 21st century.
--- ... and John McCain points out again how being a POW for seven years gives him expertise on foreign policy and diplomacy. Tell us, John, when you were in the Hanoi Hilton, did Mao Tse-Tung, Charles de Gaulle, Anwar Sadat or anyone like that drop in to discuss the state of world affairs?
I think we ought to have the strongest possible military that nobody else on Earth wants to ever even think about engaging in battle.
--- Mike Huckabee has apparently forgotten we HAD the strongest military on Earth in 2001, and it didn't stop the terrorists then.

And now over to the Democrats...
OBAMA: What I said was that we should do everything in our power to push and cooperate with the Pakistani government in taking on al Qaeda, which is now based in northwest Pakistan. And what we know from our National Intelligence Estimates is that al Qaeda is stronger now than at any time since 2001, and so back in August I said we should work with the Pakistani government. First of all, they encourage democracy in Pakistan, so you've got a legitimate government that we're working with, and secondly, that we have to press them to do more to take on al Qaeda in their territory.

What I said was if they could not or would not do so, and we had actionable intelligence, then I would strike. And I should add that Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean, the heads of the 9/11 commission, a few months later wrote an editorial saying the exact same thing. I think it's indisputable that that should be our course. . . .

EDWARDS: If I know what -- if I as president of the United States, know where Osama bin Laden is, I would go get him. Period. This man is the mastermind of a mass murder in the United States of America. He is public enemy number one, as al Qaeda is. . . .

RICHARDSON: If we have actionable intelligence that is real, and if Musharraf is incapable -- which he is, because here's a man who has not stood up for his democracy, he is virtually in a situation where he's losing control -- then you do take that action. . . .

CLINTON: Secondly, I think it's imperative that any actionable intelligence that would lead to a strike inside Pakistan's territory be given the most careful consideration, and at some point probably when the missiles have been launched -- the Pakistani government has to know they're on the way because one of the problems is the inherent paranoia about India in the region in Pakistan, so that we've got to have a plan to try to make sure we don't ignite some kind of reaction before we even know whether the action we took with the missiles has worked.

Four candidates, essentially the same position.
CLINTON:You know, Senator Obama has been -- as the Associated Press described it, he could have a pretty good debate with himself, because four years ago he was for single-payer health care. Then he moved toward a rejection of that, a more incremental approach. Then he was for universal health care; then he proposed a health care plan that doesn't cover everybody.

I think that's relevant. I mean, I think that what we are looking for is a president we can count on, that you know where that president is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And I think that, you know, there questions that, you know, should be asked and answered from each of us. And I'd certainly have no problem with whatever scrutiny comes my way.

OBAMA: Well, I think the Associated Press was quoting some of your folks, Hillary, so let's talk specifically about health care, since you mentioned that.

--- Clinton takes the low road, oblivious to the irony involved in a Clinton accusing anyone else of flip-flopping... but Obama counters well.

We do have a philosophical difference. John and yourself [Hillary] believe that if we do not mandate care -- if we don't force the government to get -- to -- if the government does not force taxpayers to buy health care, that we will penalize them in some fashion. I disagree with that because as I go around town hall meetings, I don't meet people who are trying to avoid getting health care; the problem is they can't afford it. The costs are too high. And so, as a consequence, we focus on reducing costs.

Now, this is a legitimate argument for us to have, but it's not true that I leave them out. Your premise is they won't buy it even if it's affordable. I disagree with that.

--- Obama hits the nail right on the head.
But you know, what ever happened to experience? Is experience kind of a leper? (Laughter.) What is wrong with -- you know, what is wrong with having -- (scattered applause) -- what is wrong with having been like myself -- 14 years in the Congress, two Cabinet positions? I mean, I've gone head to head with the North Koreans. We got the remains of soldiers back. We persuaded them to reduce their nuclear weapons. What is wrong with being a governor and going to a state and giving health care to kids under 12 and creating jobs and balancing budgets? What is wrong with being a secretary of Energy who has made America or tried to make America a land of clean energy or as a governor -- my point is this: We want to change this country, but you have to have -- you have to know how to do it, and there's nothing wrong with having experience.
--- Bill Richardson, wondering why nobody loves him
So it's time to bring our troops home and to bring them home as quickly and responsibly as possible and unfortunately, I don't see any reason why they should remain beyond, you know, today. I think George Bush doesn't intend to bring them home, but certainly I have said when I'm president I will. Within 60 days, I'll start that withdrawal.

--- Wait, Hillary, what happened to your statement that you wouldn't commit to withdrawing ANY troops during your Presidency?

I bring the troops back within a year. I don't want in five years because I did, in another debate -- some of you said you would keep troops -- you wouldn't say -- you wouldn't get them out by 2013. I don't want in five years to have to look at an eight-year-old today -- an eighth-grader -- an American eighth-grader today who is serving five years from now in Iraq. I don't want to hear about a death of an American.
--- Richardson calls the other three candidates on the statement I just mentioned.
You know, what we need is an energy revolution in this country. Not some of the bills that the congress has passed. We need to go to 50 miles per gallon fuel efficiency. We need to have 30 percent of all our electricity renewable. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2040. And we need the American people to sacrifice a little bit.

--- Richardson, proposing the impossible for energy policy

That's why I have proposed specific tax relief now, immediately, so that we would offset some of the payroll tax, that we would immediately put some additional dollars in the pockets of American families, working families typically making $75,000 a year or less, to not only stimulate the economy, but also to balance out a tax code. And I would pay for it very specifically by closing tax loopholes and tax havens. You've got a building in the Cayman Islands that supposedly houses 12,000 corporations. That's either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.

--- Is this Obama advocating tax -cuts-? I'm liking him more and more... especially since the other three all focused on raising taxes...

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