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Liberals and the Liberals who Hate Them | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Liberals and the Liberals who Hate Them

Eric’s columns this week:

New Think Again: "Brave, Radical, and Smart" (Liberals who wont take their own side in a fight).

New Nation column: "Fox: The Liars' Network."

New Daily Beast column on the new DNC chief.

Now here’s Reed:

Telegraphing the Pitch

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee unveiled a new primary debate plan that would give the RNC substantially more power to schedule candidate forums and choose conservative moderators from outside the realm of traditional media to host those events. Conservative talker Hugh Hewitt, in a grandly pretentious Washington Examiner op-ed from this past Sunday that really has to be read to be believed, portentously hailed the plan’s “promise of serious discussion of issues of deep importance to the conservative electorate tired to death of the agenda journalism of the Obama-loving MSM.” Predicting that such a plan “could yield a renaissance in campaign coverage,” Hewitt went so far as to draw up what amounts to a right-winger’s dream team of alternative panel members and potential debate topics:

“Imagine one or two debates on foreign affairs, moderated by a senior statesman and featuring questions from public intellectuals like Charles Krauthammer, Victor Davis Hanson and Liz Cheney."

"A debate moderated by the Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot and featuring economic historian Amity Shlaes and other writers and reporters knowledgeable about the history of markets and regulatory policy would be valuable."

"Or perhaps a forum on the Constitution, courts and judges moderated by Robert Bork and featuring former federal appellate judges Michael McConnell and Michael Luttig? The possibilities for great and informative debates are many and long overdue.”

Let’s be really honest here, what kind of serious, fact-based policy discussions can the American public expect from the Republican primary candidates if each debate is dominated by a collection of demagogues, intellectual poseurs (courtesy of our old friend LTC Bob Bateman) and duplicitous, power-hungry officials the likes of which are listed above. Indeed, for each debate, the RNC might as well go ahead and follow the lead of a certain New York baseball team and let the moderators use hand signals to telegraph to the candidates just which canned talking points to use next. In fact, I finally let my curiosity get the better of me and decided that I would try to humbly come up with a potential list of “serious” questions that might match the tenor of Hewitt’s “smart questioners” at just such a GOP presidential primary debate. Feel free to submit your own as well...

Round Robin section:

– Just how awesome was Ronald Reagan? (For brevity’s sake, please avoid using the terms “amnesty,” “Beirut” or “signed a tax increase” in your answer.)

– Gitmo: What can we do to make it less humane for those terrorists lucky enough to be coddled there indefinitely?

– (Special for Newt Gingrich) What does the Obamas’ successful marriage say about how secular progressives are flagrantly undermining the vital role that mistresses, infidelity and divorce play in shaping American exceptionalism?

– Critics say the fact that millionaires and multinational corporations often pay nothing at all in incomes taxes here in our country is a travesty. Detail how your administration would go about lowering this unfair tax burden even further.

– What is your stance regarding teaching evolution in our schools? (Trick question: If somebody really cared about their child, they would already be home schooling them!)

– After having repealed Obamacare as your first legislative act as president, what would you charge Congress with doing next to solve our nation’s daunting health care problems: Repeal Medicare or repeal Medicaid?

– Hypothetical situation: You, a Federal Reserve Governor, a unionized public school teacher, and a pregnant illegal immigrant starting to go into labor are all stranded inside an oddly unfurnished Detroit mosque during a climate-change-refuting blizzard and you only have a single bullet left in your legal, concealed-carry handgun, who do you pray will get “called” to heaven first?

–If you could have dinner with any five figures from history, how big of a steak, in ounces, would you hope to be served as you ate alongside Jesus Christ, Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand, Joseph McCarthy, and a random Founder whose name escapes you right now, OK, let’s just say George Washington?

–How would your administration go about discerning the voting preferences of unborn fetuses every Election Day and isn’t it safe to assume that their choice would cancel out that of the mother, especially if she wasn’t married and/or wore pants?

–Please address a fellow candidate at the forum and, in discussing his or her inability to stay true to conservative principles, explain how their failings pale in comparison to the lingering questions about Obama’s true birthplace.

–Describe in one-minute the process by which all Americans will be able to shop nationwide for cheap, J.D. Power-ranked organ transplants thanks to the completely privatized health care marketplace your administration would set up.    Thirty-second follow-up: Quickly summarize your campaign’s innovative pilot project whereby the chosen dollar amount of one’s annual health insurance deductible would directly correlate to one’s standard income tax deduction.

Lightning Round:

– Bomb Iran: Yes or Now?

– On a scale of one to ten with ten being the absolute highest, how much weaker and more feckless is Obama’s leadership style than Neville Chamberlain’s?

– Show of hands, which of you supports a 9-month waiting period before any abortion could be performed?

– On a scale of one to ten with ten being the absolute highest, how much more domineering and tyrannical is Obama’s leadership style than Genghis Khan’s?

– OK, who here supports a five-year waiting period before a child would be eligible for Head Start?

– If you could repeal just nine amendments from the Bill of Rights, which one would you leave intact—the 2nd or the 10th?

– Who would support eliminating Head Start and replacing it with a dollar-for-dollar tax credit off of the first $50,000 each citizen earns in capital gains each year?

– Name an influential or perspective-changing book you’ve made it a point to never read.

– More important: making Social Security less social or less secure?

– Bigger threat to our democracy: high voter turnout or collective bargaining?

Final Question:

–Some on the left (wait for boos to die down) say that the Tea Party merely represents a clever repackaging of the same-old, politically aggrieved social conservatives that have always existed at the right-most fringe of the Republican Party and that by increasingly kowtowing to this rump minority of the American public the GOP is endangering both the party’s future as well as that our of nation. So, I ask you, just how awesome was Reagan again?

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