1. God help me, but I’ve seen every Republican debate this season (but not every minute and I’ve missed a couple of the forums.) I’ve found all but the last fairly entertaining and somewhat informative. They’ve sure been pretty important when it comes to the relative positions of the candidates (but before anyone has really voted.)
2. I’m not expecting the best of the best, but for the most part, we aren’t even getting the mediocre of the second best. I was watching the Cain/Gingrich forum last week and I was struck that Rep. Steve King of Iowa was much better informed than Cain and much more honest about how to reform entitlements than Gingrich. But King isn’t gonna be President. We are in this awful situation where at least two of the three Republicans leading in the polls are (among their other qualities) con artists. And we have a social democratic-leaning President who seems quite willing to lead the US close to (or into) a fiscal crisis in the hopes of maximizing achievement of his policy preferences.
3. We are going to have entitlement reform. It is just a matter of how and when. Some ways and times (and other atttendant policies) are worse than others.
4. John is right that the responsibility for the current situation is widely distributed. The Democrats are the Democrats. They chose a politics of Obama over a politics of Alice Rivlin. Someone out there among Republicans likes a phony Medicare politics of “let’s just get rid of fraud” and doesn’t care what Cain doesn’t know as long as he eventually circles back to some familiar cliches. And it isn’t like I’ve ever done anything to make anything better.
5. That said, we haven’t had much luck in who chose to run.
6. That said, the con men are responding to real incentives.