Election 2012

GOP Debate: Ultimate Justice Edition



What do Republican voters love? Judging solely by applause levels in tonight's debate—an admittedly imperfect metric—the death penalty ranks fairly high on the list. Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended his own record and his state's tops-in-the-nation execution count, stating slowly but clearly that those who commit "heinous crimes against citizens" in the Lone Star State will face "ultimate justice." Three cheers for state-sponsored killing!

Support is support, though, however you get it, and Perry was in a fight for his own political life. It wasn't quite two-men-enter-one-man-leaves, but it sometimes felt like it. As the GOP field's newest entrant and arguable front-runner, Perry duked it out, going gov-o-a-gov-o with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, his closest competition in the polls.

One key difference? Social Security. Perry doubled down on his assertion that the program was a "Ponzi scheme," even if Karl Rove says otherwise. Pressed by the moderators, Perry declined to get technical, or philosophical: "I think any of us that want to go back and change 70 years of whats been going on in this country is going to have a tough time," he said. "Talking about what folks were doing in the 30's and 40's is a nice intellectual conversation." But intellectual conversation apparently wasn't on Perry's to-do list.

Romney, who, with his substantially more polished answers and handy data points, frequently appeared to be running for president of people who speak in complete sentences, had a somewhat different opinion about the program: Sure, Social Security has long-term funding difficulties—but none that can't be solved with a little technocratic gimmickry. "It's a program that's working for millions of Americans," he said, shortly after agreeing that its finances were broken. But the people, they like it: The GOP nominee, Romney insisted, "has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving it." Mitt Romney wants you to know that he is prepared to be that nominee!


The other candidates on stage came prepared to say things as well, if that's what getting enough votes to win the GOP nomination requires. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's opening bid included the following statements: "I have a plan!" and "I've done things!" Both true, I'm sure. Jon Huntsman seemed friendly, and orange. Ex-Godfather's exec Herman Cain touted his own plan, a 9-9-9 pizza deal to save the economy. Bachmann, who earned executive experience as foster mother to 23, fretted that she was "very concerned about parental rights," and, in the midst of a long rant about ObamaCare, also found time to say, rather emphatically, that "Kids. Need. Jobs." Newt Gingrinch namechecked Art Laffer, Ronald Reagan, and himself, then proposed making English America's official language. He also said he'd fire Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke today if given the opportunity. Huge applause! Almost as big as Perry's death penalty line. (Let's hope no one suggests executing Bernanke.)  

Sometimes the moderators amused themselves by asking Rep. Ron Paul what this whole libertarianism thing is all about. They asked about drug regulation, and airline safety, and a slew of other lazy libertarian gotchas. Paul did his best to explain in 90 seconds why federal regulation of the drug industry isn't always so hot, and, by the way, neither is the long-lost drug war. Somewhere in the middle of the night, he stopped to offer a half complaint about President Ronald Reagan—the debate's namesake and ghost-host (it was held at the Reagan Library). "The message of Reagan was great!" said Paul. "But the consequences," including huge deficits…well, not so much. The moderators, however, tended to ignore his responses, preferring instead to run Paul through endless variations on the same question: Really? You believe that? Are you actually serious?

Seriousness, however, did not appear to be high on the list of priorities for the evening. The debate, co-sponsored by Politico and MSNBC, wasn't quite as exquisitely vapid as the CNN showdown hosted by John King in June, but neither was it as revealingly rough-and-tumble as the Fox News/Examiner face-off in August. Mostly it felt like a misfire. While declining to aggressively attack Gov. Perry for supporting mandatory cervical cancer vaccinations, Romney shrugged that "we've each taken a mulligan or two." If there were any true justice in the world, tonight's debate would end up as another one.

Read previous GOP debate wraps here and here.

NEXT: Social Security is Not a Ponzi Scheme, Mr. Perry

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  1. Accurate summary. I was thrilled to hear Perry go after Social Security again, but he really needs to steal something from Romney’s playbook and maybe have a few numbers handy to back up his claims.

    1. Perry could easily explain away his “Ponzi scheme” comment by informing the American people that FDR set the median death age as the retirement age for a reason. The median death age has increased 20% or so since FDR therefore people are collecting SS benefits longer than the system anticipated, so, like a Ponzi scheme SS is running out of other people’s money to sustain itself.

      1. Yes but the money would still run out eventually anyways.

  2. I thought Paul was much better than the previous debate, but he still rambles too much.

  3. ” 1. Ron Paul took a lie detector test. The lie detector tapped out.
    2. Ron Paul is an element on the periodic table.
    3. Ron Paul could lead a horse to water AND convince it to drink, but he doesn’t believe the government has the right to so he refuses.
    4. King Midas shook hands with Ron Paul once. Nothing happened.
    5. Studies by the World Health Organization show that Ron Paul is the leading cause of freedom among men.
    6. Ron Paul wasn’t born. He liberated himself from the womb.
    7. The chief export of Ron Paul is liberty.
    8. When fascism goes to sleep at night, it checks under the bed for Ron Paul.
    9. Ron Paul eats Total Gyms for breakfast.
    10. If Ron Paul had lived in Sparta, the movie would have been called “1”.
    11.When Chuck Norris gets scared, he goes to Ron Paul.
    12.Ron Paul lost his virginity to Susan B. Anthony.
    13.Ron Paul doesn’t cut taxes, He kills them with his bare hands.
    14.Ron Paul delivers babies without his hands. He simply reads them the Bill of Rights and they crawl out in anticipation of freedom.
    15.If you pull Ron Paul’s finger, a band will march by playing Yankee Doodle Dandy. ”


    1. 16. Ron Paul is a racist fuckstick.

      1. Do you have a google alert about Ron Paul and Reason? Every time he is mentioned you ramble on about the same old stuff.

      2. Stop using my handle, shithead.

  4. What’s wrong with state sponsored killing? I’m glad we have a military. I don’t like surrendering.

  5. They completely dismissed Paul but he did a fine job of setting up Perry for criticism which was awesome.

    Perry is the sleaziest politician that I know of and should be nowhere near the Whitehouse. The only benefit would be finally getting him the fuck out of Texas.

    1. Perry should have seen it coming. Apparently he doesn’t read Reason’s H&R.

    2. “Perry is the sleaziest politician that I know of and should be nowhere near the Whitehouse. The only benefit would be finally getting him the fuck out of Texas.”

      Other benefits if Perry becomes POTUS:

      Obama wouldn’t be POTUS.
      Hillary wouldn’t be POTUS.
      Romney wouldn’t be POTUS.
      Huntsman wouldn’t be POTUS.
      Santorum wouldn’t be POTUS.
      Newt wouldn’t be POTUS.

      1. Oh, what glorious days lay ahead for the Republic.

        1. It’s probably the best that we’re going to get soon.

  6. (Let’s hope no one suggests executing Bernanke.)

    Why the Fuck not?

    After a fair trial with a jury of .75% APY life savings CD-holding Kangaroos of course

    1. I call kangaroo court!

    2. “Let’s hope no one suggests executing Bernanke.”

      Jeez, you say that like it’s a bad thing or something.

    3. He’s sternly warning Ron Paul that he should only eat one from that pack of M&Ms he’s unwrapping. It’s late and you know how even a bit of caffeine keeps you awake.

      1. Thanks, squirrels. This was in reply to Apatheist below.

    4. Yeah, I was really wondering what’s wrong with executing Bernanke, myself.

      1. Keyneseins will have a martyr then?

        1. Picturing a dystopian sci-fi movie about a future where the Keynesians live in a remote corner of the desert, worshipping Ben Bernanke as their Messiah, and feasting on the flesh of innocent passers by.

  7. Check this out:


    1. Wow, looks like he’s giving him a stern warning about something.

      1. Perry: Watch it Ron, the Bilderbergers have selected me to be the next POTUS. 🙂

        1. The NWO has selected Rick Perry to govern the North American Union and institute the amero to replace the dollar in order to fund illegal immigrant workers building the Tran-Texas-Corridor straight through to Canada so FEMA can load us into coffins and dump us in Canada to feed the polar bear population.

    2. “If you get in the way of my curing cancer I will break your fucking arm!”

    3. That same picture is on Drudge. The subtle implications of that picture showing all the sheep that Perry is lecturing Ron Paul.

      1. While the slurpers will definitely eat it up, to me Perry looks like a thug in that photo, grabbing an old man’s arm.

        And it’s clear from their expressions that it’s not a friendly chat and a gentle touch.

        1. Seriously, shouldn’t Perry have been penalized for that foul? 10 yards, repeat the question.

    4. I’d be interested to know which break this occurred during. Dollars to donuts it’s after the Reagan exchange and Perry is giving him whatfor for dishonoring St Ronald in his very own library in front of his wife.

      1. I am not sure since I didn’t watch the debate…too busy playing Dead Island. But it does appear to be a stern lecturing of some sort on Perry’s part and Ron does not looked pleased one bit. I hope Ron got some good jabs in at him before the break was over…and told him to never touch his arm again. Perry is such a douche.

    5. Perry looks like a complete ass.

      1. It ain’t just looks.

  8. there’s a fucking plane in the room!

    1. A majestic monument to government waste.

      It’s not just “a fucking plane”: it’s a fucking Boeing 707 SAM 27000 tricked out for the exclusive use of one bad-ass gangster.

      1. one bad-ass gangster and his posse, that is.

  9. “…Here you’ll find the arm-chair that President Reagan sprayed turds on after viewing Back to the Future…It has now become sign of approval for a president to spray turds on his seat while screening films….”

    1. Bush letter to Gorbachev (dated: September 24, 1991):

      “Dude this fucking album is epic. Fuck that Guns N’ Roses shit. This album fucking knocks Appetite for Destruction in the balls. Fucking hell, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” will be the anthem for Generation X…God fucking knows that they have a depressing future ahead of them.”

  10. OT: When did Sarah Jessica Parker get cast as the new skeletor?

    1. I thought she was being cast as the new Mr. Ed.

  11. I’m just glad Ron Paul got the last question and totally nailed it. He did a good job calling out Brian Williams strawman about welfare and the Federal government.

  12. That was a pretty clever trap the Paul campaign laid for Perry. Taking out an ad about how Paul supported Reagan, I mean. Did you see Ron Paul’s eyes lit up when Perry actually fell for the trap and brought up Paul’s resignation letter? He practically jumped up and down.

    Perry actually called Paul out for being more conservative than Reagan.

    1. I can’t believe the Perry campaign is this stupid. If they don’t wise up they are going to get hammered. As much as I hate to say this FOX has smarter people then MSNBC.

  13. I don’t think “state-sponsored killing” is the best term to describe when the state directly kills people.

    And having a major candidate taking on SS is AWESOME. Quit being such a bitch.

  14. I may be biased by not wanting the guy anywhere near the presidency, but I thought Perry came off poorly. The questions asked of him were mostly very reasonable, and he seemed to struggle to come up with answers even to softballs (death penalty *is* a softball in a Republican-filled room).

    He reminded me more of Dubya than I expected, since the hype has been that he is much more polished.

    Ron Paul just frustrates the hell out of me. He can’t explain anything in a debate format and comes off as loopy.

    1. Listen muthfucka, I’m tryin’!

    2. While I’m extremely critical of him and his campaign on questions of debate performance and preparation, you have to admit that part of the problem is that he actually tries to answer the questions, and often gets questions that are quite complicated to give a good answer to (especially in 90 seconds). I mean, explaining why federal involvement in emergency response, school lunches, pharmaceutical drugs, air traffic control and passenger screening, etc is difficult to do without coming off as heartless, and forget about it if you only have 90 seconds.

      He seems constitutionally (npi) incapable of just giving a partial, soundbite answer and then moving on to something else he wants to talk about.

      1. “He seems constitutionally (npi) incapable of just giving a partial, soundbite answer and then moving on to something else he wants to talk about.”

        Perhaps not entirely oddly, that’s exactly why I like his answers.

      2. Tulpa says, “He seems constitutionally (npi) incapable of just giving a partial, soundbite answer and then moving on to something else he wants to talk about.”

        Yep. It’s too bad. The other candidates take a BS question as an opportunity to say a well-rehearsed something about something they care about. If Paul did the same, the audience would learn more about him and what he thinks.

      3. You presume there is an answer that explains, for example, how removing any social safety net will actually reduce the number of starving children?

        “It’s wrong to say we’re not compassionate!!! Wahh!” is not an explanation for this fantastical claim.

        1. There is an explanation. And Ron Paul gave it in the debate: Economics.

        2. The time has come to Push the Button.

      4. At least he didn’t do the sound money bit. Maybe he is actually trying to win the thing. He even went relatively easy on foreign policy.

  15. Banning capital punishment is one libertarian ideology I don’t buy into. Capital punishment is a useful tool in bringing the worst motherfuckers in society to justice. That some innocents are executed is horrific, I agree, and that must stop.

    But the problem isn’t in the punishment, it’s in the failure of the justice system. Innocents find themselves on death row because a cluster of stupid fucks in a courtroom put them there. Eliminating capital punishment because some members of the justice system can’t wield it responsibly is no less absurd than eliminating firearms because some citizens can’t wield them responsibly.

    That is all.

    1. Doug makes a good point, we can’t just stop killing innocent people just because jurors are stupid fucks.

      1. Its way better to stick innocent people in a cage for the rest of their lives. We might even exonerate a few along the way.

    2. There’s nothing wrong with capital punishment in theory, but the idea that the government can follow through with it without killing those who are innocent is laughable. Merely stating that ‘it must stop’ means absolutely nothing. The fact of the matter is that innocent people have been executed and will continue to be executed.

      What # of innocent people being executed per year do you find acceptable? If you answer is zero, you should be against the death penally in practice.

      1. Your logic does not hold. Eliminating the death penalty would result in some murderers escaping from prison or getting out on parole or finishing their sentence and then killing more innocent people. There is a balance between killing a few convicted innocents and giving murderers a chance to kill again, perhaps multiple times again.

        1. …more gruesome ‘morality’ from the utilitarian camp…

          1. I’m not sure that’s utilitarianism because those who advocate the death penalty intentionally try to avoid killing innocents. If you know someone is innocent, but sacrifice them anyway for the “greater good” (i.e. to maintain the prestige of the state or some bullshit), that is utilitarianism. At least the evil kind.

            But if you insist on holding someone accountable for things they don’t even intend, well then there’s also the other side to that which the above poster notes.

        2. If the replacement for the death penalty is life imprisonment with no parole, then those who finish their sentences will be harmless (until the zombie apocalypse).

          1. The is impossible to enforce and it ignores the fact that killers kill in prison too.

            The slimebag that had liberal-trarian panties in a twist last year had originally been sentenced to life without parole, where he murdered a cell mate, quickly got paroled out of prison and went on to murder more people.

        3. So when innocents who have been wrongly accused and convicted are murdered by the state, that’s okey-dokey in order to prevent innocents being killed by escaped or paroled murderers. And the trade-off of innocents for innocents costs a lot of money in legal fees and incarceration costs. Yeah, okay, seems logical to me.

          1. You forgot the justice for the victims and their families part.

            1. you mean satiating the bloodlust of the victims and families

            2. As I said originally, I have no problem with the death penalty in theory, but how is life in prison also not justice?

        4. So if you don’t execute someone, you’ll have to let them out of prison? Sounds like you’re the one with faulty logic.

    3. Death is an acceptable consequence for certain crimes to me. The problem is that those stupid fucks in the juries, behind the bench and at the prosecutor’s table aren’t going away. One innocent life is enough for me to be against capital punishment. That being said you aren’t going to see me out protesting some rapist murderer’s death sentence.

      1. You’ve contradicted yourself. More than one innocent already has been executed. According to you, one is enough to be against CP. Therefore , you must protest all death sentences. You don’t get to pick and choose. That’s your point isn’t it? How do you know that convicted rapist/murderer isn’t the victim of the stupid fucks you mentioned?

        1. I can’t be against it without going out of my way to protest it?

    4. “Capital punishment is a useful tool in bringing the worst motherfuckers in society to justice.”

      Which is why it’s hard to understand: why NOT Bernanke?

    5. If the govt discovers that it convicted an innocent person, then the mistake can be at least somewhat corrected if the person is in prison – release him and compensate him. But if he’s been executed, then compensating him is more difficult.

    6. I think the best solution is probably along the lines of having every prosecuting attorney who speaks in the courtroom, every person called by the prosecution to testify, every juror, and the judge all sign statements declaring that they have no doubt (reasonable or unreasonable) that the accused is guilty and that if any basis for reasonable doubt is subsequently found, they declare themselves to be no longer human as far as the law is concerned (thereby losing any and all rights to life and property that they have and voiding all others’ contractual obligations to them). The signature to such a statement is required from all of the above to hand down a death sentence.

    7. So not even the fact that keeping prisoners in prison for life being cheaper is a good reason?

  16. The highlight of the evening was Ron Paul’s creepy notion that maybe the fence on the U.S.-Mexican border will be there to keep us in.

    1. Ron Paul’s creepy stupid notion

  17. There are motherfucking snakes in front of that motherfucking plane!

  18. After watching the Ann Coulter BBC video linked that bitchfest thread below.
    I wish Ron Paul had Ann Coulter’s abilities as far as responding to “do you really believe that” questions.

    I wish he had her speaking wit.
    Or if he had Hitchen’s speaking wit that would be cool too.

  19. The highlight of the evening was Ron Paul’s creepy notion that maybe the fence on the U.S.-Mexican border will be there to keep us in.
    2011 New Arrival Nike Free Run + Mens Running Shoes – Black/Red/White

  20. After watching the Ann Coulter BBC video linked that bitchfest thread below.
    I wish Ron Paul had Ann Coulter’s abilities as far as responding to “do you really believe that” questions
    2011 New Arrival Nike Free Run + Mens Running Shoes – Black/Red/White

  21. Banning capital punishment is one libertarian ideology I don’t buy into. Capital punishment is a useful tool in bringing the worst motherfuckers in society to justice. That some innocents are executed is horrific, I agree, and that must stop.
    Nike Free Run + Mens Running Shoes – Yellow/Grey/White

    1. Nice sneakers. You guys sell Timbalans?

    2. Nice sneakers. You guys sell Timbalans?

  22. Nice sneaks. You guys sell Timbalans?

  23. Thoughts:

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought “pizza deal” about Cain’s plan.

    2. The format was not kind to Ron Paul.

    3. I understand what Paul was getting at about the fence, but it was simply not the venue to go full paranoiac.

  24. Looks like I’ll be voting LP yet again. How about it, Gary Johnson?

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