More on the GOP Debate and Booing the Gay Soldier

A reader in Taiwan writes about last night's debate:

>>I've seen several references to the booing of the gay soldier but your site was the first time I actually watched it.  I'd say I'm underwhelmed by the booing.  It sounded like a relatively isolated group of morons in the audience, no different than what you get at many gatherings of impassioned people. 

More telling was the huge applause Santorum received for his absurd claims that sex of any kind has no place in the military.... It is depressing to see this many people wildly cheer such a line.  Reminds me very much of the clowns at the 2004 Republican convention who wore pink band aids to scoff at the service of John Kerry.  They support the troops, but only their troops<<

From a supporter of a different (ie, non-Santorum) GOP candidate:

>>I just wanted to say that I was also disgusted by Santorum's statements and the crowd's response.  I don't think I've ever seen a more perfect example of why a person shouldn't be president as that.  Being president means being president of every American citizen, even the ones who do things you don't like or understand.  His hardline stance toward a man risking his life in the military (for ridiculously unjust wars sponsored by the United States government) shows that he should never be Commander and Chief.

But one thing to note.  That crowd does not represent all conservatives, and at least one man on the stage disagreed but didn't have the chance to speak (other than about four times in the entire debate).  Ron Paul would never had made the statement that Santorum did.  His views about civil liberties are too strong to be so narrow and judgmental.<<

And from a reader in Louisiana:

>>Where in the hell do these debate audiences come from?

God help us if they represent what America is becoming.<<

Update. One more:

>>If first hand reports from the debate are to be believed, the audience at large was hardly in agreement with the hecklers.

I'm happy DADT is gone, and I have no sympathy for the homophobes who want to bring it back, nor for the Republican pols who pander to them. But it is a bit misleading to describe the booing as done by a "partisan audience", instead of just a few idiots.<<

Fair enough. But the reason this episode is getting so much attention is that it follows cases in which (by all reports) large shares of one "partisan audience" spontaneously cheered the announcement that Gov. Perry had overseen more executions than any other governor, and large shares of another cheered a moderator's question about whether someone without health insurance should "just be left to die."

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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