Cal  Thomas

The last (but unfortunately not the final) "debate" among Republican presidential candidates aired Sunday at 10:30 a.m. EST in the apparent hope that no one would watch. Few did. But among those who watched, or who read the transcript, ideology once again seemed to take precedence over something the voters might consider of greater importance in next year's election. That something is competence.

While Sen. Sam Brownback and Gov. Mitt Romney sparred over who was pro-life first (the Republican version of the Democrats' battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over who was first to oppose the war), I suspect most people are more interested in which candidate is best equipped to run the government.

The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon has lost about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols it had given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. The Government Accountability Office found that the distribution of weapons was "haphazard and rushed" and established procedures were not followed. The head of security training during the period the arms disappeared was Gen. David Petraeus, who will report to President Bush next month on the progress of the surge.

Perhaps the Pentagon should have affixed bar codes to the weapons. Like a book or a box of cereal we buy at the supermarket, they would have been easier to track. As it is, more of our tax dollars have gone down the hole with no hope of a rebate and some of the weapons have probably fallen into the hands of insurgents who will surely use them to shoot Americans.

How would the presidential candidates address this? How would they propose making this broken system work more effectively?

What about education? We pour increasing amounts of time, attention and money into giving children, especially underprivileged children, a chance to succeed. Do the candidates really believe the problem is not enough money, or is it too much money and not enough choice as to which school - public or private - best serves the needs of children? Ending the education monopoly would help those languishing in substandard schools. Are the candidates - especially Democrats - so beholden to the teachers unions that they care more about winning their approval than they do about educating children? The answer for Democrats is "yes." Why don't the overpaid interrogators/moderators ask the question this way?

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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