Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Just watched most of the South Carolina GOP debate.

Representing, as they do, opposite ends of the Iraq issue, I enjoyed both Ron Paul and John McCain on that issue. I wish Ron would stop using the word "blowback," but the term "unintended consequences" is unthreatening and hard to argue with. I don't agree that Al Qaeda originated with the anti-Soviet mujahadeen of the 1980s, but it would be naive to think none of its "fighters" got their early training and indoctrination there. And as welcome a development as the Anbar Awakening is (Ron disagrees, of course), will the Awakenees someday be aiming WMDs at us in some future war? It's not inevitable, but Paul is not a nut for asking the question.

In all fairness I thought Huckabee did a great job with that smarmy question about his views on Ephesians-style marriage (the moderator making it an "electability" issue -- well, maybe the Huckster had it coming: you know, Evangelical Christianity being treated like Mormonism, since all along he's been treating Romney's Mormonism like Mormonism, which as you know is quite unfair).

Anyway, Huckabee turned his answer into a more-than-passable homily on marriage: "It's not 50/50, it's 100/100." Scott Hahn has often said this about all covenantal relationships.

On immigration, I was left queasily wondering what kind of stasi state it will take to "round up" those 12 million illegals. If it's Romney, no doubt he'll just get "the data" and "assemble a great team" and "get the job done." The midnight knocks, mass roundups, and detention centers will take place far from the media glare. At least Thompson admitted ain't no 12 million gonna get rounded up, though I couldn't rightly tell you what he did say. As for Giuliani, I guess he'll just perp-walk them all into deportation stations, but hey, at least their kids will be in public school. (But why should the kids suffer -- that's my question.)

The best on immigration were -- McCain and Paul. McCain got in a line about how he's not going to deport the illegally present wife of a currently serving member of the U.S. Armed Forces; the larger point being, I take it, that there is not in fact a fungible class of interchangeable human flesh called "illegals."

Paul, admitting self-deprecatingly that he may be too fixated on economics, quoted the adage that "you get more of what you subsidize" and drew the conclusion that "you can't separate the problem of illegal immigration from the problem of welfarism." I'd rather have heard something about the positive economic contributions of immigrants, but time was sharply limited, and many illegal immigrants (as well as others) do cause drawdowns on public benefits, even if not all do and even if some give something back to the economy.

One more issue: Israel. Of course all candidates were competing to outdo each other in pledges of love and fealty. Ron Paul was not really an exception, but he offered Israel something different: respect.

He recalled that he defended Israel's 1981 attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, and that few others did. No one else on that stage went near that issue. Just because they didn't defend Israel on that occasion in 1981, you say? Oh but it would be easy enough to say "I agree that Israel should unilaterally defend herself as she thinks best." They don't say that, and I increasingly suspect it's because they don't think it. The pablum about "ally" and "only democracy in the region" and "longstanding relationship" comes easily to their lips, but none of that rhetoric denies -- indeed it implies -- exactly what Ron charges: that according to them, Israel is still under U.S. tutelage and is expected to run her major foreign policy and defense moves by us for pre-approval. Ron, of course, will have none of that.

Long-time readers know that this blog is a friend of the State of Israel. And I don't see why any friend of Israel should have reservations about Ron Paul based on what he said about Israel tonight. If your reservations are about Iraq, go ahead; I still have some myself. But not about Israel.