During the Thanksgiving Family Forum (TFF) this past Saturday, moderator Frank Luntz asked the Republican candidates a very interesting Tenth Amendment question: “Do states have a right to do wrong?” In case you missed it, the TFF was another unusual event in what is proving to be a very unusual campaign season. Held in a church in Des Moines, Iowa, and with all the GOP contenders in attendance except for Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, it was not a debate as much as a discussion – and a rather intellectual one. The candidates were asked about their faith, trials and tribulations, and talked frankly about Jesus, family, and personal failure. And with social issues front and center, moderator Luntz posed the following question, initially addressing Herman Cain:
The California Supreme Court issued a ruling November 17 clearing the way for champions of traditional marriage to continue defending Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2008 that stipulates that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
In August 2010 a district court overturned Prop 8, and when then-Governor Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to take up the law’s defense in federal court, the amendment’s official sponsor, ProtectMarriage.com, stepped in to do so.
As the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took the case in hand, it was soon faced with whether ProtectMarriage.com had legal standing to defend the amendment before the federal court. That was the question it put before the California Supreme Court, which answered in the affirmative.
GOP presidential contender Ron Paul is continuing to gain momentum in key states such as Iowa, where the Texas Congressman has found support in niche groups such as the Christian homeschoolers, a group said to have helped Mike Huckabee claim a surprising victory in 2008. Steve and Cindy Anders, leaders of the Iowa Christian homeschool group, have thrown their support behind Congressman Paul, endorsing his drive for a return to the drastically smaller constitutional form of government.
GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain styles himself a Washington “outsider,” an “anti-politician,” and a businessman who is just what America needs at this critical moment in its history to turn itself around. Only someone of Cain’s peculiar background, he would have us believe, only someone uncorrupted by the insatiable hunger for power from which all career politicians suffer, can restore America’s greatness in the world.
Again, this is the self-image that Cain works inexhaustibly to project.
There is one question, though: is it true?
The first fact that must not be lost upon us is that while Cain is a reasonably successful businessman, and while he is not a professional politician, the notion that he is the “Mr. Smith” of our time who is about to take Washington by storm is a fiction of the first order.
Cain, you see, was at one time a Federal Reserve chairman. (He was deputy chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City from 1992 to 1994, and chairman from 1995 to 1996.)
On November 16 the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved a controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 that sets forth procedures for processing and prosecuting individuals imprisoned on suspicion of being members of al-Qaeda. By a vote of 26-0, the committee granted power to the U.S. Armed Forces to exercise complete control over all custodial matters related to the treatment of those detained for suspected belligerent behavior in the War on Terror.
Another aspect of the clause in question makes Attorney General Eric Holder the final arbiter of whether suspects are tried in federal district courts or before military tribunals.
Rancorous debate over the various provisions contained in the bill have raged for months, but all argument was finally quelled by an accord reached by committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.)Levin and ranking GOP committee member John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Despite the bipartisan support for the measure, President Obama has promised to veto the bill over his disagreement with the delegation of power over the cases of detainees.
The White House has repeatedly affirmed its desire that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should have plenary power over the disposition of issues related to the custody and prosecution of all terror suspects detained domestically.
Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said they'd wage war against Iran if it didn't prove it had given up any hope of obtaining nuclear weapons, while Rep. Ron Paul deferred, saying he'd follow Christian just war principles. The comments were made at a November 19 forum in Des Moines, Iowa.
"Nothing takes life more than the declaration of war," moderator and pollster Frank Luntz asked the six GOP presidential candidates who participated in the "Thanksgiving Family Forum," sponsored by a division of Focus on the Family. "Can you define the moral justification for war?"
Texas Congressman Ron Paul answered first, explaining: "Early on, the Church struggled with this and St. Augustine came up with the principles of the just war. I believe in them. I think we should follow them from a religious viewpoint. But we have a Constitution that is very clear to guide us to try to prevent these wars. And that is that we don't go to war without a declaration." Traditional Christian just war principles stress that wars must be declared by the lawful authority; under the U.S. Constitution wars require the declaration of war by Congress. But Paul noted that recent U.S. wars have not been declared by Congress. "It was tragic because we did it by failing the rule of law," Paul added.
After decades of helping to place children in foster homes, Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, announced on November 14 that it would be transferring all of its current cases to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Across the state, Catholic Charities and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency in Wheaton found that they would no longer be able to continue playing a role in placing children in foster care because the state government was going to require them to place children in the homes of same-sex couples — a practice that both Roman Catholics and Evangelicals believe to be contrary to their faith.
Nashville-based mixed martial artist Ed Clay underwent waterboarding after last week's GOP presidential debate where Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain announced they favored waterboarding terror suspects. He emerged a critic of waterboarding and said that if the the pro-family values Bachmann agreed to be waterboarded "I bet you would get Bachmann to admit that she supports gay marriage." Bachmann told the press November 16 that submitting to waterboarding would be "absurd."
"Until I'd been waterboarded," Clay said in a YouTube video where he underwent the procedure. "I really didn't have an opinion whether it was torture or not. So I wanted to find out for myself." He emerged with a clear verdict: It is torture.
Waterboarding is the forcing of water down the nose and throat of prone prisoners involving the pouring of water, usually with a wet cloth over the nose or mouth of the immobile prisoner. The procedure is generally described as creating the sensation of drowning, but it is more than that since water seeps into the breathing passages and lungs. The gag reflex is induced immediately.
GOP presidential contender Herman Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview that he had requested that Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, serve once again as Secretary of State in a hypothetical Cain administration. Though Kissinger apparently rejected Cain’s offer, the maneuver raises a number of questions regarding Cain’s conservatism.
“Dr. Kissinger turned down my offer to be secretary of state,” Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview. “He said he’s perfectly happy doing what he’s doing.”
Once the Cain camp realized that the voters were not happy with the notion of requesting Kissinger’s services, Cain’s campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon said that Cain had not actually asked Kissinger to be his Secretary of State, and chalked the entire incident up to Cain being sleep deprived during his interview with the Milwaukee newspaper.
Likewise, Cain attempted to avoid questions in Iowa on Tuesday when he was asked about Kissinger, “until he was told that his campaign had said he was joking about the offer of the plum cabinet job to the former secretary of state,” reports the Washington Post.
However, when watching a video clip of the interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there is no indication that Cain was making a joke when he referred to Henry Kissinger.
From the time the GOP presidential primary contest got under way, Mitt Romney has been heralded in the media as the frontrunner. Since its crushing losses in ’06 and ’08 and the ensuing rise of both Barack H. Obama as well as the Tea Party movement, the Republican Party has claimed to have learned the error of its ways. It alone is the party of “limited” or “constitutional government,” the party of liberty. Yet during its reign of power under the tenor of George W. Bush, it not only abjectly failed to reduce the size and scope of the federal government; it significantly expanded Washington D.C.’s control over our lives. Now, the GOP promises us, it will “return to its roots.”
From the time the GOP presidential primary contest got under way, the media has treated Mitt Romney’s nomination as virtually inevitable. How, though, does the idea of an allegedly repentant Republican Party renewing its commitment to individual liberty square with the idea of Mitt Romney as this party’s presidential nominee?
To put this question another way, is Romney a credible standard bearer of the party of “limited government?”
To answer this question, we need to look not so much as what Romney says now, during a Republican primary race. We need, rather, to look at what he has said and done throughout his career.