Monday, September 12, 2011

The party of treason (charges)

In the GOP debate tonight, Perry doubled down on his slimy insinuation that Ben Bernanke's attempts to stimulate the economy with monetary policy are treasonous. This time he used the classic demagogic method of asserting that we have no way of knowing that an outrageous smear isn't true. Of Bernanke's motive for intimating that further monetary easing may be coming, he said "we don't know if it was political or not" -- i.e., whether Bernanke is motivated by trying to help Obama get re-elected.  Never mind that the being accused of treason for following a given policy course by the leading presidential candidate of one party would constitute a perfectly good motive for trying to maintain the other in office. Or that Bernanke is a Republican, and a Bush appointee, and a student of the Great Depression whose entire corpus of published writings support a more radical course of easing than he's pursued.  From smearing motive to charging treason -- that's the GOP way.

What goes round comes round. Invited to respond, Romney agreed that Bernanke's policy is wrongheaded and didn't call out Perry for smearing Bernanke's motives and patriotism. And then, shockingly, the T-word was turned on Perry by the guy who's supposed to be the sane man in the asylum.  On immigration, Perry in response to Santorum said it was not feasible to build a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. He then delivered his own nostrums for "securing" the border - 4500 boots on the ground, air surveillance, etc. Then, Huntsman turned around and declared sententiously that for Perry to say that we can't secure the border was "near treasonous." (Never mind that Perry didn't say you can't secure the whole border; he said you can't fence  the whole thing. And he lacked the verbal quickness to make that point himself.)

Treasonous!  GOP culture makes Stalinists of them all.  Disagreement with their favored policies -- tactics even -- is treason. 

As a crowning irony, the GOP field managed for a season to make Perry seem like the humane guy in the room -- unwilling to fence the whole border, or to deny the children of illegal immigrants in-state college tuition.

Update, 10:39: I just found a quasi-debate transcript, and it turns out that my memory actually softened Huntsman's comment (probably because I've been favorably disposed toward him). He didn't say near treasonous --he said treasonous:
Huntsman: For Rick to say we can’t secure the border is a treasonous comment.  We need fences and technology.  When I am elected I will work with the border governors to secure the border.
Again: Perry did not even say we can't secure the border:
Perry:  Not anyone else on this stage has dealt with border security like I have.  The federal government is an abject failure.  We had to spend billions of Texas dollars sending Rangers down there.  A wall won’t cut it though.  That’s not reality.  We need 4,500 border patrol agents, 1500 national guard agents, we need tech in the air and the Fed goverment (sic) to do constitutional duty to secure border with mexico (sic).
Update 9/13: In comments, Elias Isquith suggests that Huntsman was joking --  tweaking Perry for using the T-word.  That never occurred to me, I must confess...but the Huntsman campaign claims that 'tis so. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Washington • Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman charged that rival Rick Perry’s comment that it’s difficult to secure the U.S.-Mexico border could be a “treasonous” remark.

“For Rick to say ya can’t secure the border is pretty much a treasonous comment,” Huntsman said at the CNN-tea party debate in Tampa, Fla., leveling the most sharply worded attack of his bid.

Perry shook his head as Huntsman threw out the “treasonous” remark but did not respond to it on stage. Huntsman paused after throwing out the line; some in the audience could be heard booing.

The former Utah governor’s campaign later told The Tribune he was making a joke.
I suppose this bloodthirsty debate dulled my receptivity to humor. Glad to let Huntsman off the demagogue roster, though.

Does this explain why no one but me seems too exercised about all the treason charges? Apparently only one thug up on that stage is making a point of smearing and threatening antagonists in this particular way.


  1. I really think the video shows Huntsman attempting to make a snarky, dry joke at Perry's expense. He turns and grins at Perry right afterwards, note.

    I don't think it was particularly successful, and considering that Huntsman has really no chance of winning while Perry is in the driver's seat, the general thrust of your post still more than holds.

  2. Elias, it never occured to me that Huntsman was joking. I hope you're right. Though if so I am a little mortified.