The FOX News Network staged an all-star political infotainment extravaganza in South Carolina last night that was billed as a debate. It was a debate in the sense that a police line-up is a beauty pageant. This show, which featured candidates seeking the Republican nomination, was less like a joint interview than the previous two debate shows produced by MSNBC. However, there was little infotainment value until Ron Paul caused Rudy Giuliani's testosterone to surge.
The FOX News production was nearing the end without incident when Ron Paul brazenly cleared away the smoke and pushed aside the mirrors. Dr. Paul tore a gaping hole in the shroud of bizarro world and exposed the audience and participants to a moment of clarity. As the shocking truth was revealed, Giuliani reacted in anger to being exposed for perpetuating a fraud.
"Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani won the strongest applause at Tuesday night's first-in-the-South Republican primary debate when he lashed out at Texas Rep. Ron Paul for suggesting that the United States' non-interventionist policy invited the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."
It was evident that bizarro world and reality were about to collide as Giuliani interrupted to interject his outrage that Ron Paul had challenged the widely held fiction that "they" hate us because of our freedom. FOX News panelist Wendell Goler was also shaken by Dr. Paul's words. Almost as if the world was suddenly turned upside down, the concept of noninterventionism was inverted. Even Ron Paul became disoriented and the FOX News gang was thrown for a loop.
The FOX News quote above reflects their confusion over pro-war interventionism and anti-war noninterventionism. Note that the quote claims Ron Paul suggested a noninterventionist policy invited the 9/11 attacks. Actually, Dr. Paul asserted that America was attacked because of the anger created by an interventionist policy. Ron Paul has advocated for a noninterventionist foreign policy since well before the 9/11 attacks.
Dr. Paul truthfully answered a question asked by panelist Wendell Goler and a bell rang - literally. Goler became disoriented at this moment and Dr. Paul also become confused over the meaning of noninterventionism. A transcript of the exchange follows:
Wendell Goler: Congressman Paul, I believe you are the only man on the stage who opposes the war in Iraq, would bring the troops home as quickly as, almost immediately, sir. Are you out of step with your party? Is your party out of step with the rest of the world? If either of those is the case, why are you seeking its nomination?
Ron Paul: Well, I think the party has lost its way because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy. Senator Robert Taft didn't want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy. No nation building. No policing of the world.
Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican Party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the founders to follow a noninterventionist foreign policy.
Stay out of entangling alliances. Be friends with countries. Negotiate and talk with them and trade with them. Just think of the tremendous improvement (in) relationships with Vietnam. We lost 60,000 men. We came home in defeat. Now we go over there and we invest in Vietnam.
So, there's a lot of merit to the advice of the founders in following the constitution and my argument is that we shouldn't go to war so carelessly. When we do, the wars don't end.
Wendell Goler: Congressman, you don't think that changed with the 9/11 attacks, sir?
Ron Paul: What changed?
Wendell Goler: The noninterventionist policies.
Ron Paul: No. Noninterventionism was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attacked us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for ten years. We've been in the Middle East .... I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics.
So, right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us.
Wendell Goler: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attacks, sir?
Ron Paul: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it. And they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier. They've already now since that time have killed 3,400 of our men and I don't think it was necessary.
Rudy Giuliani: Wendell, may I make a comment on that? That's really an extraordinary statement. That's an extraordinary statement (for) someone who lived through the attack of September 11th that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've ever heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th.
I would ask the congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that.
Wendell Goler: Congressman.
Ron Paul: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah, yes there was blowback. The reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists, and if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They attack us because we're over there. I mean what would we think if we were, if other foreign countries were doing that to us?
Rudy Giuliani: Can I have 30 seconds please?
Unidentified voice: Let's all get 30 seconds.
FOX News panelist Brit Hume: Wendell, go ahead.
Wendell Goler: I'm going to turn to Senator McCain and change the subject if I will. I don't think we're going to solve this tonight, gentlemen.
Giuliani pretended he had never heard that America's foreign policy may have been the reason behind the 9/11 attacks. He framed his outrage more narrowly by claiming Ron Paul said that America invited the attacks by bombing Iraq. Then Giuliani implied that this analysis is absurd, as if America hasn't been meddling in the Mideast for over 50 years - as Ron Paul noted when he replied to Giuliani.
Giuliani wasn't the only one that became angry at Ron Paul. FOX cheerleader Sean Hannity tried to shout him down during an interview after the debate. Dr. Paul handled Hannity's tirade fairly well and expressed his desire to debate foreign policy with Giuliani - an event unlikely to occur. In fact it is telling that nearly five years after the 9/11 attacks, there has been no debate over America's interventionist foreign policy. That is unless you consider angry and belligerent 30 second sound-bites a debate.
I think many rational adults who watched the debate show came to the conclusion that Ron Paul made a fool of the tough-talking Giuliani and ridiculed his childish notions that "they hate us because of our freedoms" and we must "fight them over there or have to fight them over here". Giuliani's bizarre reaction to Ron Paul's statements revealed his own intellectual bankruptcy and inability to articulate a rational position.
It is interesting to note that despite the proclamations of many pundits that Giuliani won this debate show by demonstrating his machismo, The FOX News poll of viewers showed a different result:
29% Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
25% Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas
19% Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
8% Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
5% Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
4% Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
3% Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
1% Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
0% Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore
0% Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.