Ha! Looks like Ron Paul has raised his profile considerably. As before, here – pending the official transcript – are my summaries of Paul’s answers in tonight’s GOP debate. Once again, these are paraphrases, not direct quotes:
1. You voted against the war initially and now want to withdraw; 70% of Republicans disagree with you. Are you running for the nomination of the wrong party? Answer: the Republican base has shrunk thanks to the war, so that 70% represents a smaller group of people. The important 70% is the 70% of the American people who oppose the war. In 2002 I introduced a resolution to vote yes or no on a declaration of war and Congress wouldn’t do it. I opposed the initial war because I knew it would be a quagmire. When Reagan sent the Marines into Lebanon he said he wouldn’t be intimidated into leaving but a few months ago, after the terrorist attacks, he did pull them out,. In his memoirs he explained that he’d changed his mind and come to realise he’d underestimated the irrationality of Middle East politics; we need the courage of a Ronald Reagan.
2. Name three programs you would eliminate? Answer: All these departments – Education, Energy, Homeland Security. The Republicans put in Homeland Security, a monstrous bureaucracy as inefficient as FEMA. But in order to cut taxes we have to change our philosophy about what government should do. We can’t cut taxes effectively so long as we still want to spend trillions of dollars on a massive welfare state, on policing the world, etc. Follow-up: You’d abolish the Department of Homeland Security in the middle of a war? Answer: We were already spending billions of dollars on homeland security prior to 9/11 and it didn’t prevent the attacks; inefficiency was the problem. Adding another huge, expensive, inefficient level of bureaucracy makes things worse.
3. You’re the only one on this stage who opposes the war. Are you out of step with your party, and why are you seeking its nomination? Answer: The Republican Party has lost its way. The conservative wing was always anti-interventionist: Taft was against NATO; Bush ran on a promise of a humble foreign policy, anti-nation-building, anti-global-policing; Republicans were elected to end the Korean and Vietnam wars; it’s the Constitutional position; the founders’ advice was to pursue friendship with other nations but avoid entangling alliances. We should negotiate, talk, trade with other countries; we lost 60,000 soldiers in Vietnam and lost the war, and now we invest there. We shouldn’t go to war so carelessly. Follow-up: Is noninterventionism still a viable position after 9/11? Answer: 9/11 was a response to our previous interventions. We’d been bombing Iraq for a decade; we’re now building 14 permanent bases there and an embassy bigger than the Vatican. If China were doing this in the Gulf of Mexico we’d be upset. Follow-up: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attacks? Answer: I suggest we believe their reasons are what they say they are; also bin Laden says he’s delighted our soldiers are over there where they can be targeted more easily. Giuliani intervenes: As NYC mayor during 9/11, I’ve never before heard such a shocking claim that we invited 9/11 and I ask Ron Paul to withdraw it or clarify whether he believes it. Paul’s reply: I believe the CIA is correct when it warns us about blowback. We overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and their taking the hostages was the reaction. This dynamic persists and we ignore it at our risk. They’re not attacking us because we’re rich and free, they’re attacking us because we’re over there. (Later on Tancredo also attacked Paul, saying that regardless of what our foreign policy was or whether Isarel existed, the terrorirsts would still attack us because they view it as a religious imperative. Paul did not have a chance to respond.)
4. President Bush says his tax cuts helped the economy stay strong after 9/11; in such-and-such a hypothetical terrorist scenario, would you do likewise? Answer: It’s definitely good to cut taxes, but we also need to cut spending because deficits are harmful. As for all this talk about torture as “enhanced interrogation,” it sounds like Newspeak. The President already has the authority to deal with terrorist attacks. In the wake of 9/11 we gave the President authority top go into Afghanistan; now bin Laden is sitting in Pakistan, our supposed ally, and we’re in Iraq instead. I don’t know why we’re discussing a hypothetical crisis instead of the actual one.
References to Paul in candidate interviews by Hannity & Colmes after the debate:
Warmonger Giuliani: Paul’s comment reminded me of the Saudi prince who accused us of inviting 9/11, and I returned his contribution. They’re not attacking us because of our foreign policy, they’re attacking us because of our freedom of religion and freedom for women; the recent Fort Dix incident proves it. I never expected to hear this from a Republican. If you’re confused about this, if you can’t face reality, you can’t lead.
Warmonger McCain: I thought Giuliani’s intercession against Paul was appropriate and excellent; we should never believe we brought on this conflict.
In the interests of timeliness I’m posting this now, while coverage is still running. If there are more references to Paul, or if Paul himself gets interviewed, I’ll post the info in the comments section.