If the candidates were wearing the logos of their sponsors, I imagine Rick Perry would have Exxon-Mobil's emblazoned in the place where he currently wears his flag pin. Or Amoco, or whoever it is that funds his campaign when it's clearly gone past its prime.
Perry wasn't given a lot of debate time, so it would appear he memorized a few key paragraphs to make sure he got a sound bite or two. Unfortunately for Governor Perry, ending the Iraq war is something 75% of Americans support, regardless of party affiliation. That's overwhelming, which is why it's shocking to have actually heard him say he would re-deploy troops to Iraq, and to claim the war in Iraq ended because of the President's "lefty liberal base", a perjorative term that he spat out in the middle of his speech. Here's what he said:
PERRY: Well, I think that you have to -- I would send troops back into Iraq, because I will tell you...
PERRY: I -- I think we start talking with the Iraqi individuals there. The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasure, both in blood and money, that we have spent in Iraq, because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal, leftist base and move out those men and women. He could have renegotiated that timeframe.
I think it is a huge error for us. We’re going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light. They’re going to move back in, and all of the work that we’ve done, every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing because we’ve got a president that does not understand what’s going on in that region.
Perry clearly speaks for the 25% of Americans who are either clueless, greedy, or bloodthirsty. I'm not sure which. It's classic neocon framing, though, particularly the part about "treasure, both in blood and money," as if lives were equal to money. Perhaps it's too simplistic to say so, given the neocon belief that US-style democracy should dominate political systems worldwide, but can we just be honest and say it's about the oil? I somehow doubt Rick Perry cares as much about lives as he does about treasure, and clearly he's upset that we aren't putting our greedy little hands on the treasure.
By the way, it wasn't just Rick Perry saber-rattling over Iran. Newt Gingrich agreed, though he wouldn't re-deploy to Iraq. He'd just send troops straight on into Iran, though not at the "speed of light." And of course, for the same reasons as Perry:
Here’s the key thing to remember. If you’re -- if you’re worried about the Iranians in Iraq, develop a strategy to replace the Iranian dictatorship and Iraq will be fine. If you want to stop Wahhabism, get an American energy policy so no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king, and then you can put pressure on the Saudis, because you have enough American energy. Stop...
The comment about bowing is a not-so-veiled effort to slam our current President for actually respecting other countries' protocols. But again, Newt Gingrich focuses on energy policy and regime change, as if it's our responsibility (and right) to do so.
Surprisingly, Ron Paul didn't just jump all over them and outright condemn the warmongering. I saw that as a golden opportunity for him, but he sort of hedged and danced around it:
But today, the -- the American Navy picked up a bunch of fishermen, Iranian fishermen, that had been held by -- by the pirates, and released them. And they were so welcome, it was just a wonderful thing to happen. This is the kind of stuff we should deal with, not putting on sanctions. Sanctions themselves are -- always leads up to war. And that’s what we’re doing.
Eastern Europe is going to be destabilized if they don’t have this [Iranian] oil. And this just pushes Iran right into the hands of the Chinese. So our policy may be well intended, but it has a lot of downside, a lot of unintended consequences, and, unfortunately, blowback.
Mitt Romney does what Mitt Romney always does, which is to avoid the question entirely and turn it into a bashfest of our current President. He's not really even worth the quote because he really never answered the direct question. But Rick Santorum is on the record as being hungry for war with Iran. Here is his response:
The Iranian people love America because we stand up for the truth and say -- and call evil, which is what Ahmadinejad and the mullahs are, we call evil what it is. That’s why they admire us, because we tell the truth.
Now we just have to have a president that helps them to do what is necessary, which is to turn that regime out.
So of the five candidates on stage, one would re-deploy troops immediately to Iraq, and two clearly support regime change. The front-runner won't give a straight answer so we don't know what he thinks, and the one anti-war candidate on the stage spoke against sanctions but wouldn't come down hard on regime change.
Does anyone think any of these men should be given the code to our own nuclear weapons (which I wish we'd get rid of sooner rather than later)?
This exchange wins my prize for the most shocking and depressing moment of the ABC New Hampshire debate. They are shameless, arrogant men, who aren't content to meddle in the lives of citizens, particularly female and gay citizens, but have no problem publicly admitting a hankering to meddle in the lives of other countries with sovereign governments.
Lies and greed, moving at the speed of light.