By Patrick Martin:
First Republican presidential debate displays a party in deepening crisis
5 May 2007
Thursday night’s presidential debate in Simi Valley, California underscores the shattering impact of the failure of the Bush administration on the Republican Party.
Six and a half years after Bush took office—thanks to the Supreme Court, not the votes of the American people—his government is so isolated and unpopular that the Republicans vying to succeed him avoided even mentioning the current occupant of the White House.
Only one of the ten candidates for the Republican presidential nomination used Bush’s name in the course of the 90-minute session (Senator Sam Brownback, while declining to express an opinion on a pardon for convicted White House aide Lewis Libby).
Even when moderator Chris Matthews used the last question of the debate to ask each candidate to explain how they would be different from the incumbent president, not one chose to name George W. Bush, whom polls show to be more unpopular than any president since Richard Nixon on the eve of his resignation.
Nor did the Republican candidates spend a great deal of time on the most important policy decision of the Bush administration and the central issue in the 2008 elections: the invasion and ongoing occupation of Iraq.
In the first round of questions, Matthews asked several of the candidates to give their views on the war.
After perhaps five minutes discussion, neither the moderator nor the candidates returned to the subject again.
If one simply lists the subjects that were not addressed in the debate—health care, the economy, poverty, jobs, social inequality, racial discrimination, the federal budget deficit, illegal NSA domestic spying, illegal CIA torture, Guantánamo, the war in Afghanistan—it becomes clear that the “debate” had nothing to do with the serious social and political issues facing the American people.
Jokes on the Republican candidates: here.