Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lincoln and Douglas are Still Dead

I didn't watch the Republican gubernatorial debate the other night- didn't really feel a need to. I haven't decided for certain yet which primary I'm going to vote in- vote for the best Democrat or the worst Republican- but I already knew how I felt about all three of the people seeking to be the chief executive of Texas.

That said, the Houston Chronicle's account of the debate is a bit interesting.

Gov. Rick Perry spent most of the evening defending his promotion of the Trans-Texas Corridor, toll roads and the spending of $380 million to attract businesses to move to Texas. Perry said he would not have done anything differently during his nine years in office.

I hope the Democrats have THAT little clip in hand for their fall ads. "If you hated the last nine years of Republican rule, how about four more?" Or better yet, "If this man has his way, someday all Texas roads will be toll roads- including the street on which you live."

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison again tried to square her “94 percent pro-life” voting record with her support for the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. She also took the brunt of anti-Washington rhetoric.

Dead campaign walking. In this environment, nothing other than "the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth" is going to satisfy the radical right organization that the Texas Republican Party has become.

Hutchison restated her promise to quit the Senate no matter whether she wins or loses the governor's race.

So what's keeping you?

Please don't say manana if you don't mean it...

Activist Debra Medina had to distance herself from statements she made last year that if efforts to promote states' rights fail, the nation may need a “bloody war” of secession. Medina said she is against secession. She said she wants the state to be able to nullify federal laws...

So, you don't support secession, you just support the thing that led to secession a hundred fifty years ago.

Debra, dear, don't be ashamed of your pro-secession views. Rick Perry shares them, remember?

But very few concrete ideas were offered by the candidates on how to resolve a possible $17 billion shortfall in the state's budget over the next two years or how to pay for an expected $300 billion in highway construction needed over the next 20 years.

And this is the fundamental point of the debate. The Republican Party has forgotten how to even HAVE ideas. They've lost their brains and have nothing left but their campaign reflexes- fight, and fight dirty.

It's ironic that almost the only idea of any solidity came from the teabagger outsider, Medina:

She offered one of the more direct proposals of the evening: replace the property tax with increased sales taxes — even if that means the sales tax rate would have to go to 14 percent.

I actually ran with this as my main platform plank when I sought a seat in the legislature as a Libertarian, back in 2006. I still think it's not a bad idea, provided you make most necessities of life tax-free and provide some mechanism to ease the pain on the poor.

But it's not really a Republican idea, and never has been, because it requires that one tax be raised to offset the abolition of another. No mainstream Republican has the honesty to admit the need to do this; instead, it's "cut taxes" forever, and to hell with balancing the budget or maintaining minimum services for the worst off among us.

It's sad that a pro-secession, lunatic-fringe teabagger candidate appears to be the most honest and most sensible of the Republican options. It's also not a little bit frightening. Right now the empty suits like Perry and Hutchinson are the only things standing in the way of an open (and possibly armed) revolt by the people who Debra Medina represents. If they don't come up with better policies- or, more to the point, better candidates- then the old Republicans will sink...

... and something new, and much more savage and ruthless, will rise in its place.

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