Debate Double-Header Aftermath

by Ryan Sanford Smith

It’s par for the course after the bigger political debates to open along the lines of, “As the dust settles…”, but what remains of the current GOP field mostly chose not to kick up much dust in the two debates this past weekend in New Hampshire–at least not much dust in the direction of Mitt Romney’s continued march toward the nomination. Aside from the first 15 minutes of Sunday morning’s debate, when moderater David Gregory of NBC’s Meet the Press gift-wrapped an opening salvo to the non-Romneys by asking everyone why he should not be the nominee, the in-fighting seemed to entirely be among those looking for second-place prominence. An observer might have inched a bit toward the edge of their seat watching the swings beginning to rain in from one podium to the next, but the excitement and higher expectations after a rather dull debate Saturday night was short lived.

While the other candidates muddied up the waters around one another, Romney walked out of the weekend’s rhetorical blitzkrieg almost entirely unscathed, having deflected most attacks with his usual if unadorned calm, and absorbing a couple of others that will continue to plague him (his actual efficacy at Bain as a ‘job creator’, his tin ear for the concerns of the middle or lower classes) but only enough to keep him from ever becoming the GOP darling–the party’s nomination continues to be his to lose.

The real bombshell in my view came from this astonishing remark by Newt Gingrich from Saturday night’s debate, in which he literally proclaims that the ‘secular bigotry’ (gone, as everything else Newt cares about, with zero coverage by the liberal media) in this country amounts to there being more anti-Christian bigotry than ‘what concerns the other side’, in reference to what seems to be both the secular and LGBT communities. While we can always count on Newt to be Newt, the linked clip cuts out directly before Romney states he’s in categorical agreement with Newt’s sentiments. Mitt might have just been a little confused of course, as he continues to oppose gay marriage even though Sunday morning he stated that the LGBT community should have ‘full rights in this country’.

This is a proclamation of criminally privileged and ignorant proportions–one would think that Newt, fond of citing his being a historian (as well, apparently, as an ‘amateur paleontologist‘) would have a more informed and nuanced grasp of the contemporary landscape of bigotry in this country. One cannot help but passingly see more truth in the corollary Gingrich gets giddy about implicitly drawing between himself and Stephen Douglas, who argued against the abolishment of slavery in the famed debates.

While I never waste an opportunity to point out the way those in power time and time again show their insecurity in untoward, unwarranted, overly-telling defensiveness, this example might be the most mind-numbing in the campaign thus far. One wishes the moderators had pressed this point, and I’m sad to see that the media (as biased as it is in favor of this ‘bigotry’) has let it mostly fly without any of the scathing scrutiny it absolutely deserves. One wants to know about how, say, Christians cannot get married in this country. Or perhaps Newt could cite us examples of Christian children bullied into suicide because of their beliefs? Much like statements by Perry, Bachmann, and others that they are unashamed and unapologetic Christians (ashamed at whose discretion? who demands of them an apology, in this country?) it goes to show the continued stance that by granting basic equality in this country, Christians are indeed without a shred of shame in declaring such moves trample on their rights. Which rights, precisely? The only answer can be the right to continue their faith-based, bigoted oppression of anyone to whom their backwards, iron-age magic books give them license.