Commentary: GOP debate shows some folks cheer executions, letting uninsured die

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramSeptember 15, 2011 

Here's what we learned in the last two Republican presidential debates:

Evolution isn't science.

Global warming is a shaky theory just waiting for another Galileo to refute.

Vaccines are really scary.

And some folks cheer for executions and for letting the uninsured die.

If these debates were supposed to help a Republican win, Gov. Rick Perry and the other candidates might do better trading Buick hubcaps on Pawn Stars or taking turns on Monday Night Football filling in for Barnyard Ron Jaworski.

The best news Monday night was that the audience was down to 3.6 million viewers from 5.4 million last week, so only a fraction of Republican voters saw a few Tea Party guests cheer for death.

First, the basics: This debate was co-sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express, which is technically not a Tea Party but a Republican campaign promotion run by a veteran California consultant. The guests were mostly established voters, not the don't-tread-on-me crowd.

That makes the scattered cheers for moderator Wolf Blitzer's question more surprising. Blitzer asked U.S. Rep. Ron Paul that if a 30-year-old man with no insurance goes into a coma, "Are you saying that society should just let him die?"

"Yeah!" came a shout.

That was followed by a louder "Yeaaaahhhh!!" and a ripple of applause.

Perry told reporters Tuesday that he was "taken aback" by the cheers: "We're the party of life."

Only a few Tea Party groups from Texas were involved. Two leaders said they were embarrassed.

"We need etiquette lessons," said Toby Marie Walker of the Waco Tea Party, a Perry supporter.

"Even for us, it wasn't appropriate."

Michael Kinzie of Emory-based Tea Party 911, which serves several East Texas groups, said outbursts like that are "out of line and reflect badly on the Tea Party."

But he also said companies, charities or churches should take care of the uninsured, not the government.

"It's a matter of choice," he said.

"If you don't choose to have insurance, why should I as a taxpayer have to pay for that?"

Fine. Don't pay.

Just don't cheer.

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