Top GOP candidates beat war drums; Romney might have general election edge but Newt might be a better debater against Obama…

It certainly seems like it will be either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich facing President Barack Obama in the 2012 election — and if you look at past statements, both seem to be itching to go to war with or at least strike Iran, in part over the issue or the suspicion that Iran is developing nuclear weapons capability (something it has denied). Gingrich in a past debate called for “regime change” in Iran (I think that terminology was used before the Iraq War).

That is certainly something to consider when choosing a president — I mean if they signal something like that, they just might mean it.

Now I have written several times in this blog space that I think the United States (indeed the world) cannot afford to let Iran develop nuclear weapons capability, but I don’t think stating that position outright in public as a matter of our foreign policy does much good and could do the opposite of what is intended. It might just harden Iran’s resolve to become part of the nuclear club.

And for the record, I think the Obama administration has indicted it would not accept a nuclear Iran by saying things like “all options are on the table”.

I don’t think this issue came up at last Saturday night’s ABC Iowa Republican candidate debate, but it has in past debates. I missed hearing or seeing Saturday night’s affair because I was working at my real job. But I did read, well at first read and then skimmed, the full transcript of the debate (or more appropriately called forum, maybe).

It seemed rather devoid of anything exciting to me, but then again I am not a registered Republican, although I could certainly vote for the right Republican candidate — just have seen him or her yet, or have not felt any of the existing ones are there yet.

I along with all the professional pundits sure missed the call on Gingrich who has made an amazing comeback in the race after much of his staff had deserted him and after he took a hiatus from the campaign. But I guess he leads to the national polls now (but so did Herman Cain  — I know, Herman who?).

Gingrich can be a firebrand and a loose cannon. He took a big chance during the previous debate and promoted a form of amnesty for illegal aliens who had been in this country for, say 25 years, and established themselves as productive and law-abiding citizens, and it boosted his appeal among some Hispanics and others who are for a fair and humane way of dealing with the illegal immigration issue and did not wipe out his standing among the Republican base.

But in true Newt fashion he made a stir in the past week, and defended his position Saturday night, that Palestinians are not a bona fide nationality and therefore, I guess, have no special claim on Palestine. It seems to me that no matter what a scholarly study on the issue would suggest, saying such things serves no purpose other than to cause trouble. There must be at least a generation or two of people who consider themselves “Palestinians” and nothing else.

I personally think we ought to be somewhere between where Ron Paul sees things, in other words, stay out of the Middle East’s business, and some intervention where it is necessary to protect our own interests — and that would include: oil supply (although we desperately need to both come up with alternative energy forms and develop our own supplies at home and closer to home), world shipping, and security (preventing anyone over there from attacking us).

We have the Navy to keep shipping open. In the case of Iran, as I have suggested previously many times, we should secretly let them know we will not accept them having the bomb, and if they proceed we will strike (that lets them back off and save face). Preventing forces from using the area as a staging ground for attacks on the U.S. is probably problematic. But in cases where we see a real danger we might have to act.

Ron Paul might well be the only candidate who could, if he got his way, solve the deficit or national debt problem (the deficit and debt not technically being the same thing). He would actually pay the bills and quit spending. But he won’t get elected.

As far as solving our economic problems and the pressing unemployment crisis (9 percent nationwide), all the candidates seem to offer is reducing taxes and reducing or eliminating regulations on business. Sounds good, I suppose. But how do you pay off the debt by reducing revenue? And just what regulations would you eliminate: safety? drinking water standards? other health regulations? unfair business practices? consumer protection against fraud?

Romney said that our corporate (or business) taxes are too high, the highest in the world, that is what is discouraging business. I have read that most of that is a myth because of all the loopholes that allow businesses or corporations,  particularly big corporations, to pay lower taxes or in many cases not pay taxes at all.

I know PBS is seen as a little leftist, but there was an interesting story on the radio network this past week in which a reporter (or reporters) tried to find actual cases of where taxes prevented businesses from hiring people. They found no takers for interviewees. But they did interview several business people who claimed that taxes have no effect on their hiring decisions. The story did allow that maybe some did not want to go on record about their own taxes — so take it for what it is worth.

As I began not so much as read but scan the debate transcript, I somehow missed Romney’s controversial and rhetorical $10,000 bet with Rick Perry that some say showed he is out of touch with regular people (throwing around such a large sum of personal money). But with the qualification that I support no Republican candidate at this time, I still think Romney has the edge for the general election, if he is nominated, or course.

But the more interesting debate would be between Gingrich and Obama (and Gingrich has quipped he would allow Obama to use his teleprompter).

P.S.

While I would not give Michele Bachman credit for much, and even though I see a lot of differences between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, I will give her (or her staff) credit for the use of the coined tag of “Newt Romney”.

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