Sometimes I go to forums and come back fired up and ready to write. Sometimes I go and want to forget I went. Sometimes I go and think, is this it? This is the best and brightest that the Republican Party has to offer?
Last night’s Clear Lake Area Republicans meeting featuring the two runoff candidates for the new CD-36 was one of the latter. Not only do I not want to write about it, I want to forget it, stick my head in the sand, and pretend it never happened and that Steve Stockman and Stephen Takach really aren’t in the runoff. But alas, that is only a wish and a hope, one that cannot come true. Those of us that were put into this new district certain that we would have a Republican congressman might just be saying hello to a Democratic rep. Well, not really. The Democrats didn’t bother to field anyone that could win – their candidate, Max Martin says this about his current business:
The only thing that keeps us going is the occasional stimulus funded head start program purchase.
But, perhaps it was an off night for them and they are really not the worst candidates we’ve seen in a while. I suppose only time will tell. I’ll try to recap this nightmare.
As forums go, I think that Ed Hubbard, Daniel McCool, and the rest of the CLAR board finally found a decent way to get information from the candidates, notwithstanding the candidate’s lack of ability to provide such. They started off with both men on the stage, giving each the opportunity to give up to a four minute opening statement. Then, Mr. Stockman left the room, while Mr. Takach answered four 6 minute questions and one two minute, then gave a two minute closing statement. After a short break, Mr. Takach left the room and Mr. Stockman had his turn.
The innovative part of this arrangement was each of the six minute questions were open ended and weren’t really suited to soundbites. Plus, any of the allotted six minutes that weren’t used by the candidates was turned over to the audience for questions. This format forced the candidates out of their comfort zones and showed the lack of depth they have in four key areas. It was really quite effective and I hope that all forums will use this method in the future.
First up was Mr. Takach. I have to say this and trust me it isn’t fun. Mr. Takach isn’t prepared to deal with the sharks on Capitol Hill. Think Mr. Smith goes to Washington but without Hollywood stepping in to make it a wonderful story. He seems like a very nice man and has certainly had some success in the business world – the one requirement that he met for those supporting him was that he would spend up to a half million to win. Well, he’s spending it and he’s in the runoff. But my goodness, his paid help should have prepared him better or they should stick to advertising and stay away from public speaking. He might grow into the position of congressman should he win but even that would seem to be a long shot after what I witnessed last night.
The first question asked if the public sector of the country (cities, school districts, states, federal government) was going broke and if so, what would he do about it? Certainly, he said, the public sector is going broke and that’s why we need non-politicians to change it. He would cut the budget and pass laws that if the federal government gave money to other entities, he would eliminate the strings that are always attached to it. So I asked him if he would cut NASA’s budget. Nope. NASA is important to the country and we need to increase space activity, etc. Which is exactly what other congressmen would say about the projects that the Federal government funds in their districts.
There was a very, very good question about illegal immigration. Very good because it assumed that the borders were already secure, now what? In other words, the question tried to get the candidate talking about the future. Mr. Takach stuck to his bullet points, saying he would secure the border. Then, reminded that the border was secure (hypothetically), he said we should send all illegals home. I asked him if that put him at odds with the recent plank adopted by the Texas Republican Party, which calls for a guest worker program. He told me he didn’t know because he hadn’t read the final version. Really? And then he said that the federal government should give money to the states and let the states worry about it. When asked about “anchor” babies, he sympathized with them but talked about the debt that is being put on his daughter’s shoulders because of them, so no, they should not get special treatment.
The next question was again a hypothetical. It assumed that we were able to repeal Obamacare and asked, now what? How do we address the financial problems of health care? He talked about the need to force insurance companies to accept pre-existing conditions, keep kids on the rolls longer, and the need to have a safety net.
The last six minute question was about the economy and what he would do to make it grow. He seemed to have a sensible approach to using tax credits to give business incentive to hire unemployed people rather than pay unemployment.
The fifth question was about community service – what one thing is your passion that you see that needs addressing that government cannot fix? He talked of returning to small town values in which we came together to help families in crisis. He talked about the government having your soul when you depend on them. We need to foster a community that is caring and nurturing.
And in his closing, he stated that he has spent a lifetime looking at financial statements and helping people get out of debt and that we should send him to Congress to declare a war on debt.
Then it was Mr. Stockman’s turn. I got the impression that he was tired and didn’t want to be there. His opening remarks were about how small the turnout was but it is what it is. My overall take on him after last night is that he wants to be a Libertarian comedian. He didn’t seem to be serious about anything and couldn’t care less what we thought about his answers.
On the question about the public sector being broke, he said of course it was. We’re printing money and it will destroy the nation. He too will cut the Dept of Education but won’t touch NASA.
On the second question, after the borders are secure, he said we’ll never get consensus on securing the border so it will never happen, so the question is meaningless. Positive guy, this one. He talked about the fact that he introduced a bill during his one term in Congress in the early 90’s that would outlaw the practice of “anchor” babies but his own party wouldn’t pass it because they said it was racist. He would send all the illegals home. He confused the Texas Dream Act with the proposed national dream act, saying that Obama just enacted what got Perry in trouble. Not even close but then, look at the night I was having.
On the insurance question, he took the libertarian position of a completely free market. He didn’t say how a completely free market would address pre-existing conditions, just that it would. He maintained that there was nothing the government could do to help and that the government should stay out of it completely. Which is odd because I received a flyer in the mail from him claiming that his opponent was attacking him for filing for bankruptcy but that the only reason he filed for bankruptcy was because he was taking care of his father, who had Alzheimer’s, and that he’d do it again. Think about that and get back to me.
The fourth question was more free market stuff.
His longest answer was on the fifth question and he talked about going to Sudan and spreading the gospel and America. He seems passionate about that work.
And then he closed with another joke or two.
Please, take them away. How did we end up in this position? Paid slates, false advertising, and lazy voters. Good grief.
But I have to vote for one of these guys. I suppose I don’t have to decide now, there is still another week or so but if I did have to decide now, right now, today, I would vote for Mr. Takach.
Surprised? Well, here’s how I figure it. Mr. Stockman might well think this is a joke but I really do take this stuff seriously. And quite frankly, looking at the record of the men’s lives, it appears to me that Mr. Takach is a man of utmost character and Mr. Stockman is, well, a character.
And I’d rather have a man of character representing me in Washington versus a character every single day of the week. Men of character can learn to deal with the sharks in Washington, DC. Characters will swim with them.