The real answers to a question asked to the candidates during the CNN GOP debate.
In a breathtaking display of historical revisionism, fear-mongering, and vacuous platitudes, on Wednesday, GOP candidates for the 2016 presidential election gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for the second debate of the primary season.
Predictably, debate moderator Jake Tapper looked to draw early blood by pinning candidates against each other on petty issues. He then led the candidates down a gauntlet of partisan vitriol against President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Perhaps the most heated exchange came with regard to defunding Planned Parenthood and whether candidates would try to shut down the federal government over the issue.
Left to their own talking points, the candidates’ pre-scripted tone deaf answers to tone deaf questions served as a painful reminder of not only the complete and total demise of the GOP, but the failure of American politicians to represent their constituents, the working class, or even a modicum of intellectual integrity.
One of the segments of the debate that ended up trending on Facebook concerned the candidates’ responses to what Secret Service code name they would select if elected President. They are as follows:
- Chris Christie: True Heart
- John Kasich: Unit One (his Ohio code name)
- Carly Fiorina: Secretariat (the Triple Crown-winning horse)
- Scott Walker: Harley (because he loves motorcycles)
- Jeb Bush: Everready (a “high energy” battery)
- Donald Trump: Humble
- Ben Carson: One Nation
- Ted Cruz: Cohiba (Cuban cigar)
- Marco Rubio: Gator (after the University of Florida mascot)
- Mike Huckabee: Duck Hunter (how charming)
- Rand Paul: Justice Never Sleeps
Of course, the offering only serves to underscore how little the engagement really mattered. In fact, the most glaring takeaway from the debate was the revisionist history of the Iraq War and the use of that revisionism to call for renewed military action in the Middle East.
With the possible exception of libertarian-leaning Rand Paul (he has still suggested military action in Iran), each candidate expressed interest in militaristic intervention in one or more of the three following nations: Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Closely mirroring GOP debates from 2011, the rhetoric invoked shameless fear-mongering over national security. In this new chapter, the candidates decried the Iran deal and the existence of ISIS while blatantly ignoring the role American wars have played in creating power vacuums in the region. Only Trump pointed out that Iraq had served as a counterweight to Iran and that the taking out of “bulwark” Saddam only made Iran stronger.
Syria occupied a considerable amount of the debate’s foreign policy discussion, with Trump asking, “Why are we in Syria?” in one breath and then proceeding to question why Obama didn’t invade Syria with force. Similarly, Trump bragged that he had questioned the decision to invade Iraq and then proceeded to suggest that the U.S. should take action against the “maniac” running North Korea.
The other foreign policy issue that surfaced with bravado was Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran, which the candidates passionately rejected. Rubio claimed the deal made Obama the leading financier of radical Islam. Huckabee went so far as to say the issue concerns nothing less than “the survival of Western civilization.”
Marco Rubio spent his foreign policy minute decrying Vladimir Putin’s efforts to destroy NATO and reposition Russia as a geopolitical force while Chris Christie proudly recalled his support for George W. Bush’s wars in the Middle East after 9/11. Christie went on to claim these wars had been successful until Obama came to office. He then suggested we should still have a strong occupying force in Iraq.
Speaking of 9/11, Jeb Bush seemed to have forgotten it when he made the jaw-dropping claim that his brother had made us safe, a statement that should have drawn groans and laughter but, incredibly, incited applause from the crowd.
Almost across the board, the GOP candidates lent their support to a continued military presence in the Middle East, up to and including a permanent occupation of Iraq and invasions of Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Their fear mongering represented a new chapter in politicians using the threat of a global jihadists to create the need for endless war.
The irony is that in their anemic critiques of President Obama’s Iran deal, they missed a real opportunity to lambast his bombing of seven countries since taking office. Moreover, not once did a candidate mention the reality of the U.S. government arming Syrian rebels in an attempt to destabilize Bashar al-Assad, nor did they mention their own beloved Reagan’s arming of Iran. They also failed to bring up the oil and natural gas pipelines the U.S. militaristically covets in the Middle East, and how we need to become independent of these fuel sources in order to reduce both war and environmental degradation. Unfortunately, they either can’t see past the illusion of false national security threats themselves or are actively promulgating lies in order to conceal the real agenda of our wars abroad: economic imperialism.
Because of this deception, here are my suggestions for the candidates’ real Secret Service code names:
- Chris Christie: The Approacher (has openly pondered a “military approach” to China)
- John Kasich: Invisible Drone
- Carly Fiorina: New Nuke (her defense budget would require $500 billion in new spending, even before new nukes are added in)
- Scott Walker: Inaugural (has said military actions on inaugural day are “very possible”)
- Jeb Bush: Brother’s Keeper
- Donald Trump: Paid Gun
- Ben Carson: Horse Whisperer (actually suggests Bush should have announced America will be petroleum-free in order to catch Osama Bin Laden)
- Ted Cruz: Planned Unparenthood
- Marco Rubio: Cold War Kid (seemingly terrified of Russia)
- Mike Huckabee: The Breaker (says the military’s job is to “kill people and break things”)
- Rand Paul: Half the Man (wants to cut military budget in half, but would have considered invading Iran)
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