Jewish World Review Nov 25, 2011 28 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
Newt Shocks by Endorsing Mercy
By Roger Simon
And it was not just any candidate who actually endorsed mercy, but the Republican front-runner, Newt Gingrich.
"I'm prepared to take the heat," Gingrich said Tuesday night, explaining that he would not deport illegal immigrants who had been in the United States for 25 years or so and had put down roots. He said he did not want to break up families.
It was a new Newt. Gone was the haughtiness and disdain that had marked his previous performances. In the two-hour CNN broadcast, he complained about the debate format only once. Once! And he delivered his lines with steely confidence and a bulldog set to his jaw.
It was as if he truly believed — for the first time — he might actually win the Republican presidential nomination.
What else but newly found confidence could explain Gingrich's sudden championing of lawbreakers in a party known since the time of Richard Nixon for being the law-and-order party? (Except when it came to breaking into Democratic National Committee headquarters, that is.)
And Newt instantly paid for it. Even before the debate was over, Michele Bachmann had blasted out an email that began: "Newt Gingrich's Open Door to Illegal Immigrant Amnesty."
Even Rick Perry, who had come under attack in previous debates for being squishy-soft on undocumented immigrants, emphasized on Tuesday police, aircraft and "strategic fencing" to stop illegals from infiltrating.
Perry promised that "within 12 months" of his taking the oath of office, illegal immigration "will be shut down, and the border will be secure!"
In other words, what no U.S. president — Republican or Democrat — has been able to do in U.S. history, Perry would do in a year.
No matter. Debates are times for fantasy. Why else would the public put up with them?
Still, Mitt Romney, who had been the front-runner before Gingrich knocked him off his perch, played things very, very carefully.
"If I am president of the United States," Romney said solemnly, "my first trip will be to Israel."
Wow. Don't climb too far out on a limb there, Mitt. There might be some wood-pulp war with Canada that might require a trip to Ottawa first.
And it was Romney, in fact, who just plain fibbed right at the beginning of the debate.
CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates to introduce themselves very briefly, giving the example: "I'm Wolf Blitzer, and yes, that is my real name."
It got a laugh, and so Romney decided to be very daring and go for an unrehearsed joke.
"I'm Mitt Romney," he said, "and yes, Wolf, that's also my first name."
Except it isn't. His first name is Willard, and his middle name is Mitt. If he would produce his birth certificate — and I seriously doubt he can — it would prove that.
Ashley Parker of The New York Times, who covers Willard Mitt for a living, pointed out that on "internal campaign memos, he's frequently referred to by his initials — W.M.R."
Case closed. A man who cannot tell the truth about his own name has only a reasonable chance of becoming president.
Herman Cain, clearly rattled that he's no longer the flavor of the week, gave a lackluster performance, hedging almost all of his answers, saying that everything from providing military support to Israel to humanitarian aid to Africa would "depend upon priorities." Well, what doesn't?
Not that this saved Cain from a savage email from Bachmann that began: "Throughout his campaign for president, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain has demonstrated unfamiliarity with basic foreign policy questions and shown he is not serious when it comes to securing America's borders."
What's more, the pizza sometimes sticks to the top of the box.
The rest of the evening was the usual melange of statements designed to grab some attention in a field destined to be crowded at least until after the Iowa caucuses in early January:
Perry promised to "privatize" airport security, perhaps forgetting that such privatized security made America so vulnerable to terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
Rick Santorum said he would use profiling to identify terrorists, and "obviously Muslims would be people we would look at."
Romney said that there has been a "failure on the part of the president to lead with strength" and that Barack Obama has been "friendly to our foes and disrespectful to our allies."
Even Jon Huntsman, who got a job from Obama as ambassador to China, said the White House had a "trust deficit" and bashed the president for intervening in Libya.
True, Libya was a victory in which not a single U.S. life was lost, but that was the tone of the evening: Obama has been an inept president who endangers the nation.
"This administration in particular has been an absolute failure," Perry said, when it comes to gathering intelligence.
Osama bin Laden? And the killing thereof? None of the Republican candidates mentioned that.
Which is why Ron Paul may have summed things up best.
"All this talk," he said, "is just talk."
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate