This post was updated on January 2, 2012 right before the Iowa caucus after the surge in Iowa polls of Rick Santorum
In the recent debate, Newt Gingrich made some of the most absurd statements I have heard. Statements which will hurt him if he gets the nomination. He proved himself to be not a viable candidate for the Presidency, although pathetically, he may be the best the Republicans have to offer. Rick Santorum, despite holding the title of Senator (of Pennsylvania – my home state), held that title only briefly. Before and after his brief tenure as Senator, he acquired no experience, did nothing of distinction, and currently, has no complete vision for the entire scope of issues which a President of the United States of America must deal with. Instead, he has extremist views on only a small sub-set of issues which deal with social value and religious issues, and America needs real leaders, not extremist religious fanatics who seek election on a religious and social conservative platform alone.
As I stated in My Blog Post, Gingrich stated
“…if we [America] were serious, we could open up enough oil fields to make the price of oil collapse [which means that the supply of oil would greatly outstrip demand]. Pay attention everyone, as Newt making this statement was history in the making. This is one of the top ten most absurd political statements of all time. Where, Newt, do these oil fields exist anywhere in the world, let alone in a place that a “serious America” could “open them up?”
Aside from a few oil reserves which have gone untouched in Alaska due to the potentially catastrophic harm to the environment of tapping these reserves, no such oil fields exist. Even the fields in Alaska, if fully utilized, would do nothing but provide a temporary source for a fraction of the oil this country needs to import. The truth is, Newt, that you would have us permanently destroy this pristine environment, permanently deplete this reserve of oil, while you and a handful of oil companies get even richer, and once everyone has “pocketed” their riches, and we still are dangerously dependent on expensive imported oil from hostile countries scattered all over the globe, it will be too late to undue the damage you have induced us to do.
But if your statement were not absurd enough, you claimed that this could all be achieved in a year. These so called fields exist in some of the most difficult terrain in the world. Frozen ground, inaccessible locations, darkness for six months at a time. Anyone in the industry would explain to Newt the numerous and time consuming steps required to not only bring these sources “on-line” but in sufficient quantities to “send the price of oil plummeting.” Not only would the oil have to be located through explorative drilling, but once found, the drills and pumps would have to be built to bring the oil up. Pipelines and/or storage tanks and docks for oil tankers would have to be built. Moreover, a massive number of highly skilled labor would have to be hired and moved to Alaska, and the infrastructure (homes, roads, etc) built for them to operate. Some of the largest, most delicate, most complex and most expensive equipment in the world would have to be build, shipped, and installed in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world (the north pole) which makes simple tasks dangerous and time consuming and causes even simple equipment to malfunction. Yet Newt would have the all this done, and the oil at your local gas station, within a year., This is a perfect example of a politician promising the public what the public wants to hear but which can’t possible be delivered. It can’t be done within a year. It can’t be done ever as Newt would have.
Newt, did you forget that the USA does not have refineries to refine oil, even if we were given it for free? We were already operating at near capacity, and the problems in the Gulf of Mexico caused several refineries to have to be taken off-line.
Newt, you claim to be against tax increases. OK. I disagree, but let’s give you the benefit of the doubt. You clearly are against the continued mounting budged deficits. You were asked, in the recent debates, the simple question as to what entitlement program or programs you would cut. Wolf Blitzer commented that this as a good question, and you agreed.
You then failed to name a single entitlement program you would cut. Even if you had your way, even if everyone went along with you, you still don’t have the answers.
Newt Gingrich was never considered a viable candidate for President. He has a tainted past, and even ignoring that, his lack of vision for the future and realistic solutions for existing problems show that he is not a realistic candidate, regardless of a voter’s views on particular issues.
Unless an acceptable campaign consists of blaming President Obama for every problem without having any viable ideas on how to fix those problems, Newt Gingrich is not a candidate worth considering. Even worse, when Gingrich does venture an answer, his responses are really really scary because they are impossible and unrealistic, even according to bi-partisan industry authorities.
I love President Obama, but I have always been someone who would cross party lines to vote for the best qualified candidate. I don’t have a choice to make. There are no choices. The Republicans can not produce a viable candidate. In fact, there is something very very wrong with the American political system because this same problem has often occurred in democratic races.
With tabloid journalism, most candidates spend their time trying to in public opinion on issues which are unrelated to the topics we need to hear. Given the dissension in parties, most politicians are paralyzed and can not either make any hard choices which need to be made or are willing to admit that they believe in those hard choices. Polls are given more importance in policy making then intellectual and academic analysis of the underlying problems and the solutions therefor.
Instead of hearing how a candidate believes about an issue, all speeches are written by speech writers and vetted. We elect officials and never hear what they really want to do and why they ant to do it.
Lastly, given the desire to get reelected, and/or to get fellow party members elected, and the need to get 60% of the Senate vote, the majority of the House, and the President to elect any major legislation, nothing ever gets done. We, the voters, are sick of it.
It takes a war to get something done, and in fact, most major legislation (even that which affects us today) was enacted either in a time of war or during a war-like crisis.
China, who we love to unfairly criticize, made the decision to build the Three Gorges Damn. Of course, in a project that big, there are many “pros” and “cons”, many competing interests, many winners and losers. Projects like that also have many hidden and intangible costs such as loss of habitat and displacement of villagers and the destruction of ancient villages. On the other hand, this project had enormous benefits, such as employment, energy, transportation, and on and on. In a country which was growing and had rapidly growing needs such as China, it was probably necessary. My uneducated opinion is that the Dam was a good decision.
The point, however, is that regardless of the merits of that decision, there is no chance that we, in the US, would have ever been able to fund, authorize, and legally enact such a project. We used to have that ability, before our parties became more concerned with: (i) specific and divisive issues (like reproductive rights and tax cuts); (ii) getting re-elected and getting party members to powerful positions and enacting legislation which benefits specific constituents; and, (iiii) short term results instead of long term interests. The later is exemplified by the lack of a long term energy policy in this country and people like Newt Gingrich making “feel good” promises of “quick fixes” instead of tackling what will be an expensive, complex problem. Why would Newt Gingrich try to set forth an energy program which, if successful, would not bear fruit for several decades, long after Newt Gingrich was gone from the political scene? Similarly, why would he care about long term environmental damage when he will, again, be long gone?
I have read books by Chinese Communist Party Officials who served for many decades. Some served for the greater part of the last century.What impressed me was the level of long term thinking which sought to place the interests of China first (even when I and others disagreed with the particular decisions.) In fact, many of the books I read were banned in China because they were critical of decisions and actions made by the Communist Party. At the same time, in their disagreement with the actions taken by the Party, what impressed me tremendously was: (i) the level of intellectual and academic and theoretical debate; (ii) the concern for long term results instead of short term fixes; and, (iii) the placing of the welfare of China as paramount in importance.
That kind of politician and process had disappeared from our political landscape. Long gone are the intellectual debates and the concern for the long term interest of our country. The debates are simplistic and disingenuous.
Because he represented my home state of Pennsylvania, I have followed Rick Santorum’s career, or lack thereof, from the outset. His tenure as Senator was very brief and without distinction. Other than that, aside from the prestige inherent in holding the title “Senator,” he did nothing, achieved nothing, and has no qualifications which make him Presidential material.
Additionally, the Office of the President of the United States of America has many duties and responsibilities dealing with a wide range of issues. There are foreign policy concerns, and within that broad area, the sub-issues of international trade, international banking, human rights, global security, terrorism, energy, bi-lateral relations with hundreds of critical countries with diverse agendas, goals, etc. There are domestic concerns such as energy, the economy, pollution, energy independence, immigration, crime, education, consumer concerns, health and safety, and the list goes on and on.
Rick Santorum speaks often and virulently about school children’s right to pray in school, the rights of consenting adults to engage in sexual freedom (he wants to promote the former while restrict the later) and such other issues termed as social and religious issues. On these issues, he does have a vision and a plan for America. Unfortunately, it is the vision of a fanatic and his plan runs afoul of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States of America. Unfortunately for Santorum, and the misguided people who would elect him for these beliefs, the President of the United States is supposed to uphold these rights, not eviscerate them.
Aside from his conservative social and religious concerns, he is devoid of any experience or realistic vision or plan. Before the Iowa Caucus, he was seen on TV preaching about making the US government small like the “founders of the Constitution envisioned.” He ignores the fact that both America and the world have changed quite a bit since the Constitution was written. In those days, we did not have more than 300 million people in America. While I don’t know the number, I would guess it was no more than ten million.
We also did not live in a world where it was difficult for America to be attacked militarily. Governments like North Korea and Iran, which now have, or soon may have, the ability to send nuclear missiles across the globe simply did not exist. Nor did such weapons of mass destruction. Americans had never heard of “Afghanistan,” much less faced the loss thousands of lives to to the actions of a lunatic living in a cave in that country. Diseases like Ebola, SARS, and the Bird Flu which are in the jungles of Africa and in far away Asia, were unknown to America and did not threaten America as they do now, where an infected person can jump on an airplane and infect America in a matter of hours.
America was self-reliant in those days and did not depend on foreign trade and foreign energy to survive. Now, the mere recent threat of distant Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz affects the price of gasoline in every village in America. Nor were jobs and the fortunes of investors dependent on the success or failure of the banking system in a then non-existent entity called the “Euro-zone.” The government of America was funded by the collection of taxes from Americans.
Now, we are dependent on countries like China, yet Santorum would never do anything to decrease that dependency by balancing the budget by collecting taxes. I could go on and on about Santorum’s failures, and perhaps I will, but most probably, it is worth waiting to see which candidate the Republicans elect from the existing field of candidates, which, by the admission of many respected Republicans, is a dismal selection at best.