Last night’s debate between Pennsylvania US Senate candidates Republican Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman, was, as The Spectator’s own Ben Domenech described it, “political malpractice.” Watching Fetterman mumble, stumble, stutter, and glitch his way through answers made Joe Biden on a bad day sound like FDR delivering his stirring “Fear Itself” speech. But stroke or no stroke, Fetterman has no record to laud, and the policies he promotes are indefensible.
Fetterman showed why he is unfit to serve right off the bat when the moderators (the real stars of the show) asked the candidates, “What qualifies you to be a US senator?” Both Oz and Fetterman seemed to confuse this basic question with “Why are you running?” and “Why is your opponent not qualified to be a US senator?” Nonetheless, Fetterman made a particularly obvious pass at the question. Rather than leading with any mention of his dozen years as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, or of his time as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, Fetterman introduced what he calls the “Dr. Oz rule,” which means “when Oz is on TV, he’s lying.” (The “Dr. Oz rule” is also a type of rhetorical device most liberals are fond of using — when you don’t have anything substantial to say, just call the other side a liar/racist/sexist/etc.) Fetterman resorted to the “Dr. Oz rule” many, many, many times throughout the course of the one-hour debate.
When asked what his specific plan is for fixing the economy, Fetterman blamed inflation not on Biden administration overspending, but on “price gouging and corporate greed.” Forgive me if I choose to believe a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a former University of Chicago economics and finance professor over a tattooed lunk who lived off his parents ’til he was forty-nine, but John Cochrane explained to the Wall Street Journal exactly how our current inflation crisis came about:
Mr. Cochrane traces the present inflation to the pandemic and the government’s response. Starting in March 2020, “the Treasury issued $3 trillion of new debt, which the Fed quickly bought in return for $3 trillion of new reserves.” The Treasury then sent checks to people and businesses, later borrowing another $2 trillion and sending more checks. Overall federal debt rose nearly 30 percent. “Is it at all a surprise,” Mr. Cochrane asks, “that a year later inflation breaks out?”
The Democrats will blame anyone but big government for our country’s problems, despite the fact that most economists cite “much more plausible” inflationary culprits, including (per the Associated Press): “Supply disruptions at factories, ports and freight yards. Worker shortages. President Joe Biden’s enormous pandemic aid program. COVID 19-caused shutdowns in China. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And, not least, a Federal Reserve that kept interest rates ultra-low longer than experts say it should have. Most of all, though, economists say resurgent spending by consumers and governments drove inflation up.”
Moving on to the topic of gas prices, Fetterman’s “solution,” again, was “pushing back on price gouging.” Not a word — except from Oz — on the Biden administration’s harmful “clean energy” rules, restrictive permitting processes, and punishing tax policies.
The debate really took a turn when Fetterman decided he disagreed with basic tenets of the Democratic Party and contradicted stances he himself has consistently taken in the past. Chalk it up to his healing brain, or a sudden come-to-his-senses moment, but Fetterman made it clear even his own positions are not ones to which a winning candidate should align himself. When he was alleged to support socialized medicine, for instance, Fetterman said he “never supported” such a policy. Currently, his website states, “I believe we have a moral duty to guarantee quality health care coverage for every American, and end the disgusting practice of corporations profiting from people’s health and well-being. In the Senate, I will support any legislation that gets us closer to the goal of universal health care coverage.”
A similarly baffling occurrence that turned out to be the most cringeworthy moment of the night happened when Fetterman repeatedly denied having ever opposed fracking, despite evidence to the contrary. “I’ve always supported fracking,” he declared. In 2018, though, Fetterman said in a YouTube video, “I don’t support fracking at all and I never have.”
Fetterman expressed his full support for Roe v. Wade, though polling shows that most Americans favor restrictions on abortion. He bragged about his record on crime while he was Braddock’s mayor, despite violent crime skyrocketing under his supervision. Fetterman also refused, again, to apologize for chasing down an innocent, unarmed black man in his neighborhood and holding him at gunpoint.
Fetterman was unable to answer the Biden administration’s claims of having a “secure border” and the “lowest unemployment level in fifty years.” When asked what he would do to make college more affordable and promote trade schools, he repeated this compelling plan: make it more affordable. Fetterman really did himself in when he said he would “absolutely support” Joe Biden if he decides to run for another term. (Biden, remember, earned “the lowest [approval rating] of any president in modern history dating back to Dwight Eisenhower” a mere two months ago.)
Dr. Oz was squishy on several key policies and left something to be desired, but he, at least, was able to rationalize his positions and back them up with sound arguments and an impressive résumé. Fetterman couldn’t have done that in the best of health (even with the “Dr. Oz rule” in his pocket).