By Patrick Martin
9 September 2011
The Republican presidential debate in California Wednesday night marked a further shift to the right of the entire US political establishment. For the first time in modern US history, a major capitalist politician openly advocated the destruction of Social Security, the principal retirement program for tens of millions of elderly Americans.
One incident late in the debate cast a chilling light over both the Republican candidates and the audience that had gathered in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, a Los Angeles suburb, to hear them.
Brian Williams asked, “Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you…”
At this point, the question was interrupted by a spontaneous ovation from the audience for the blood on Perry’s hands. The Texas governor, in office five years longer than George W. Bush, has long since surpassed Bush in ordering executions.
Williams was clearly taken aback by this response, but continued to ask the question, “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?” Perry blithely rejected any such concern, declaring himself completely impervious to any doubts. Perhaps that is why he singled out only one action of Barack Obama for praise: the US military raid that assassinated Osama bin Laden.
Williams then asked, “What do you make of that dynamic that just happened here, the mention of the execution of 234 people drew applause?” Perry embraced his audience’s applause for state-sanctioned killing, declaring, “I think Americans understand justice.”