Those of my readers who didn’t catch tonight’s Republican candidates’ debate may be wondering what Ron Paul said. I imagine there’ll be a transcript online soon, but in the meantime here’s a quick summary. (Keep in mind that with ten candidates on the stage, each answer could only be a few seconds.)
1. (For Paul specifically.) Paul was asked to explain why his fellow Republicans are wrong on the war. Noting that 70% of the American people also oppose the war, Paul said that noninterventionism was the traditional American position; that it had worked politically for Republicans with Eisenhower ending the Korean War, Nixon ending the Vietnam War, and Bush defending a humble, anti-nation-building foreign policy; and that if the country does go to war it should be with a Constitutionally-mandated declaration of war and not for political reasons.
2. (For everyone.) Should the Constitution be amended to allow non-native-born citizens to be President? No.
3. (For Paul specifically.) Should the IRS be phased out? Yes, immediately; and to do it we need to cut back on spending and policy; no more policing the world.
4. (For everyone.) Should Roe v. Wade be repealed? Yes.
5. (For Paul specifically.) How can the small-government Goldwater side of conservatism be reconciled with its big-government aspects? Paul said we need to be consistently pro-liberty and that overdoing military aggressiveness actually weakens our national defense; we won the Cold War but now we’re worried about third-world countries with no real military.
6. (For Paul specifically.) Do you have any experience making important decisions in crucial situations? Paul said yes, but in medicine more than in politics; his most important political decision has been opposing the war.
7. (For everyone.) What’s your stand on stem cell research? Paul said this is one of the many areas where people think the federal government should either prohibit it or subsidise it, but the Constitution authorises neither.
8. (For everyone.) Name a tax you’d repeal. Paul said since he’d already repealed the income tax he’d now focus on the inflation tax: by increasing the money supply the government transfers money from the poor and middle class to Wall Street; the solution is sound money.
9. (For everyone.) Do you believe in evolution? This was by show of hands, and I couldn’t see whether Paul was one of the ones who raised his hand no or not.
10. (For Paul specifically.) Do you trust the mainstream media? Paul said he trusted some of them but trusted the internet more, and that government should not interfere at all with the internet or with freedom of expression generally.
11. (For everyone.) Do you favour a national ID card? Paul opposed it as inconsistent with a free society; the government is supposed to protect our privacy from itself and not vice versa.
12. (For everyone.) Should Scooter Libby be pardoned? No; he was instrumental in the campaign of misinformation that led to war.
13. (For everyone.) In the Terri Schiavo case, should Congress have acted or let the family decide? Although this question was for everyone, responses were cut off before Paul had a chance to answer.
14. (For everyone.) Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back in the White House? Paul said no, he voted to impeach him the first time.
15. (For everyone.) I missed what this question was, but it seemed to be about what further general policies the candidates would follow as president. Paul said he favoured the traditional noninterventionist foreign policy of Robert Taft; that he would protect privacy and oppose warrantless searches; and that he would oppose any violation of habeas corpus.
The best one-liner of the night, albeit unintentionally so, was from John McCain, who said (with regard to hunting down bin Laden): “I will follow him to the gates of Hell.” I believe it – and they’ll walk in together.