Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Carly Fiorina and the Republican blueprint for destroying America

By now this story has been widely reported, but I have been trying to figure out what it means for the political process. I'm talking about California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina's appearance on Fox News Sunday recently with host Chris Wallace.

Wallace asked repeatedly how Fiorina would pay for the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts that are estimated to add $4 trillion to the deficit. He asked her to name the entitlement programs she would cut to offset the resulting growth in the deficit.
Like a seasoned prize fighter, she went into an impressive bob and weave. She moved deftly to one side, saying that cutting "waste and fraud and abuse" would be a part of the solution. But Chris Wallace, no fool he, pointed out that this approach simply doesn't yield the kind of numbers required. She tried some fancy footwork, saying that at the appropriate time the American people would be brought into a consultation process, but Wallace would not be denied.

Finally, she went back to her "briefing-book-speaking-point-of-last-resort" and, with sadness in her voice, gave Wallace a piece of her mind. The exact quote: "See, Chris, I have to -- you know, Chris, I have to say, with all due respect, you're asking a typical political question."

So here we are on a national public affairs program with someone running for the U.S. Senate, and the candidate charges the interviewer with doing the unthinkable, going all political on her.

The odd part here is not so much what she said as what she meant, which was that the interviewer was playing "gotcha" with a Republican candidate who was only doing her best to fight the "inside the Beltway monster" that is destroying America. For reasons that were clearly beyond Fiorina, the interviewer would not let her stick to the same pablum that has played so well thus far in the campaign for her and her side.

But did I mention she was on Fox News? What she must also have been thinking was, "Hey Chris, didn't you get the memo from Fox News President Roger Ailes instructing you to never ever ask a Republican candidate to explain anything? Just nod sympathetically, let them promote their website to increase donations, and then tsk-tsk in agreement with every allegation of Democratic malfeasance."

But no, he insisted on asking a political question (i.e., a substantive question) of a Republican candidate on a political issues show. Jobs are hard to come by these days, Chris. Do be careful.

So, I guess, the first point to be made is that even Fox News, or parts of it, is becoming weary of Republicans avoiding the single biggest issue of this campaign: What specifically would they cut to make government smaller? As Wallace asked, much to his credit, "[w]here are you going to cut entitlements? What benefits are you going to cut? What eligibilities are you going to change?"

From this candidate and other Republicans, no answers are forthcoming, which leads me to the conclusion that these people are precisely the kind of politicians that Americans ought to hate: the kind that feed you bullshit, tell you what they think you want to hear but never tell you how they are going to do it or what doing it might mean to your country, your community, or you and your family.

That's not honesty; that's not integrity. That's the worst of what we should all reject in politics, and the Republicans are knee-deep in it.

So we say for the umpteenth time to Ms. Fiorina and all her GOP stablemates: How are you going to pay for the Bush tax cuts? How are you going to make government smaller? Show us the math.

But the fact is that Americans have an expectation of a fairly high level of government activity and are pretty comfortable with their own entitlements -- if they are being honest with themselves. 

I strongly suspect that GOP candidates know this or they wouldn't be so damned petrified to provide specifics, which would only serve to alienate the constituencies they need to win elections. Well, duh. 

So tell us exactly how a Republican fiscal regime, if implemented, would work. Give us your blueprint for destroying the country -- one family at a time.

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