Eliminations

by Terence P. Jeffrey

At least Rick Perry could name two of the federal cabinet departments he would like shut down.

But when he was unsuccessfully trying to remember the third, I wished the moderators had asked the other candidates which cabinet departments they would terminate. Ron Paul, standing next to Perry, helpfully suggested that Perry might really want to shut down five. But Paul wasn’t given an opportunity to say which five they should be. As profoundly as I disagree with Paul’s unrealistic approach to foreign policy, in this debate, which did not touch on foreign policy, his forceful defense of free markets and limited government were compelling.

John Harwood’s question to former Speaker Newt Gingrich about what his firm did in 2006 to earn $300,000 from government-sponsored Freddie Mac, now in federal receivership, focused a bright light on a concrete example of the sort of “crony capitalism” that was discussed only in the abstract elsewhere in the debate. The former speaker said he only gave Freddie Mac “advice” for the money — thus proving that Freddie Mac was indeed run by idiots, who paid good money for something any American can now get for free simply by turning on a TV.

I wish Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann were given more opportunity to speak in these debates. Some reporter should ask them: Which cabinet departments would you shut down?

And: Were you ever paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac?

— Terence P. Jeffrey is editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com.