Amid the media stream of Monday Night Football, the Miss Universe Pageant, and TiVo-ed episodes of the Entourage finale, GOP candidates met in Tampa earlier this week for the first-ever Tea Party debate. The big takeaway? Identifying groups of people who deserve to die is now a campaign platform.
Rick Perry told NBC News yesterday afternoon that he was "taken aback" when the audience cheered for Ron Paul's declaration that an uninsured man should be left to die if he unexpectedly falls into a coma. Paul backpedaled from his original statement ("That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks") and threw in some references to his humanitarian work, but the message was pretty clear. Yes, coma-guy deserves to die.
But, Perry's indignation is more than a little hypocritical. Last week, he garnered his own crop of applause from the crowd when he defended his inmate-execution record as the governor of Texas. The rationale for killing more prison inmates than any other governor in modern U.S. history? "I think Americans understand justice," Perry said.
This is not good. Candidates are delivering folksy rhetoric while crowds of crazed Americans cheer for executing people. Maybe not a new low, but a low, right?