Okay, I admit it'd be hard to surpass a barrel of yelping, cackling monkeys all going at each other -in terms of hilarity. But the Republican (prime time) debate last night came pretty close. It also showed, probably better than anything else - how batshit crazy and out of touch the whole lot of them are. But were there some kernels of hope for a Lefty? Definitely, and I plan to pick those out from the general stream of deranged nuttiness..
Let's start from the beginning where the question was asked - unfairly I believe: Was there any candidate who was unwilling to pledge support to the eventual Republican nominee and swear off a third-party run? Of course, Trump raised his hand to assorted catcalls from the peanut gallery - also provoking an outburst from Rand Paul explaining the Donald's "only hedging his bets because he's used to buying politicians".
Rand may have a point, but let's face it: this would be the best thing to happen for the Dem nominee, whoever it is. Even Bernie Sanders could be handed a landslide victory if the Donald is the opponent, or runs as an Independent - taking at least as many votes from the GOP as Perot did back in 1992.
Now, back to the other deranged aspects of which there were many, but I highlight the standouts:
Next, Foxie News darling Megyn Kelly put Ben Carson in her sights, with the cameras catching him in 'deer in the head lights' mode. Megyn recounted previous basic mistakes Carson made in various forums, including: suggesting the Baltic states are not part of NATO, not knowing the main political parties in Israel and (no kidding!) believing Alan Greenspan had been Treasury Secretary instead of former Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Any one of these bonehead errors would ordinarily disqualify a candidate as surely as Rick Perry (in 2012) failing to recall the DOE as one of the main federal agencies.
Megyn correctly asked if all his drops weren't "basic mistakes" and "raise legitimate questions on whether you're ready to be president?"
Ben asserted "I could take issue with all those but we don't have time" then changed the subject and lamely said "we will have an opportunity to explore all those issues". Uh no, Ben. See, you were supposed to have a ready answer for your incompetence and you blew it.
After watching Ben's inauspicious performance on stage it might be better if he instantly - and voluntarily - changed places with Carly Fiorina at the "happy hour" debate. At least Fiorina looked halfway presidential, Carson looked like he couldn't qualify for dogcatcher in Dogpatch, NC.
Carson's ridiculous answers - even with limited time - showed me the man needs to spend his time another way, perhaps helping out in soup kitchens in Baltimore- especially as penance after his outrageous putdowns of progressives.. In concert they raise serious questions about how well he understands the country not to mention the international scene.
Did he reassure anyone? Not at all, just made them wince even more - and as I told wifey: "How the hell did this bozo even make it onto the stage. How did he ever become a Hopkins neurosurgeon?"
Marco Rubio's turn came next and 'Cisco Kid' was asked how he could claim to be presidential caliber given his limited experience. This had to be one of the softball questions and Rubio delivered his usual canned nonsense about "being Senator from one of the most diverse states". Maybe, but that's not the same as governance. Realizing that perhaps, he added "this cannot be a resume competition". Uh, yes it can!
Jeb Bush didn't do much better, and was reminded of his previous gaffes. But the question also let this POS brag how he "balanced every budget" and was nicknamed "Veto Corleone" but no word on the deplorable state his budget cuts left Florida's ecology sinking in literal slime and pollution. Bush also showed he either didn't understand Common Core (which he supposedly backs) or was trying a last minute attempt to wiggle out of supporting it. He claimed he favored "state solutions" when the whole idea of Common Core is a centralized educational template that would ultimately be issued from the federal gov't. You can't have each state doing its own Common Core. That defeats the very definition.
Megyn Kelly then went for Trump's jugular - perhaps because she was irate after reading a blog post of mine on how 'the Donald' paddled Katy Tur in her interview with him. So Megyn was out for revenge. Megyn, bless her agitated soul, eyed Trump like a female boa eyes a paralyzed mouse and said menacingly:
“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” as if she was barely able to contain her revulsion. Trump shot back "Only Rosie O'Donnell" but Megyn shot back 'No, it wasn't!"
To toss in some more acid, she recalled that Trump's "made several disparaging comments on women's looks and once told a contestant on 'The Celebrity Apprentice' that it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees.” She asked: "Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president and how will you answer the charge when Hillary Clinton is likely to be the Democratic nominee that you are part of the war on women.?”
Of course, the Donald was way too smart to take the bait, and instead launched into a minute's worth of fulsome bollocks on how he "doesn't have time for political correctness" and "this country doesn't have time either"
In fact, the only times I thought Trump was truly on the ropes were when he was questioned on his Repub bona fides, namely his past published remarks in favor of single payer health care - which he now claimed to have rejected (unconvincingly). Then he was asked about his donations to the Clintons whereupon he delivered the lamo answer "I donate to everybody and always expect something in return". When asked what he got in return for a donation to Hillary, he snapped: "I got her to come to my daughter's wedding!"
Could Trumpie be a liberal "Trojan horse" as some wild conservo conspiracy theories allege? That might be in the minds of some voters and viewers after this exchange. But seriously? The real issue for voters ought to be Trump's decorum and political competence. To my mind while he survived the debate - and may even get a 'bump'- he aroused more questions than answers.
Ted Cruz came next and averred he knew "where $18 trillion in debt came from" - but really didn't.
Christie was then given a chance to convince voters why he ought to be Prez given how New Jersey's balance sheet has basically ended up in a sea of red. If Christie couldn't handle his own state economically how could he manage the nation? Of course, 'Mr. Crisco' the Doughnut Boy dumped it all on the previous D -administration.
Then there was Scott Walker, who stood at his podium with a half drunk, quizzical stare: a visage that resembled Alfred E. Neumann with parts of Dean Martin grafted on. Asked a question (by Megyn Kelly) on his recent decision to outlaw abortions even for women facing critical complications the maggot didn't blink an eye. Nor would be do so for a young female who'd been raped. As far as the drunken stupor Scott - with the Alfred Neumann -Dino Martin stare- it was no biggie. "Most Americans" would agree with his position. Let's not forget this turd had originally not embraced such an extreme position on abortion rights and only changed his stripes after entering the race.
Huckabee's turn was next and was as extremist and insane as one would expect him to be, bloviating about how he'd invoke the 5th and 14th amendments to defend the "personhood rights of the unborn child". Those who've read my earlier posts on the Huckster grasp that I view him as unhinged, and that response he delivered ought to now convince everyone else too.
The 5th amendment against bearing witness against oneself, for a fetus or zygote? Seriously? The entity isn't even conscious, you nitwit! And the 14th amendment, the same one used to liberate the slaves in the Confederacy? Are you serious? Who is the fetus a slave to? Its mommy?
By far the most constructive interlude in this circus arrived in a raw and revealing exchange (baited by the Foxites) between Chris Christie and Rand Paul over national security, federal eavesdropping and the collection of personal data. Christie pounded his fat chest in self-righteous indignation - as most pro security tools do - bragging on his U.S. attorney bona fides after 9/11 and actually dealing with the pain and fallout. Fine as far as it goes but missing Paul's point that you don't need to scoop up every record to catch the bad guys.
When Christie shot back 'How else would you do it?" Paul responded, 'By getting a warrant!" which is exactly correct, and for once Paul and I agreed on the issue of the 4th amendment - which I wish more Reepos embraced as fiercely as they do the 2nd.
Christie was wrong when - after Paul's 'get a warrant' response - he dismissed it as a “ridiculous answer,” because "It’s impossible to know who’s who at the start". But, in fact, there are ways to separate good guys from bad and yes, from the start.
Former NSA code breaker Bill Binney commenting on Keith Alexander's NSA spying testimony and breaking up plots two years ago, put it bluntly:
"I don’t understand this being bamboozled into thinking that you have to do this to find bad guys. That’s false. There’s very simple principles you can use to find out who is the bad guy and who isn’t and you can do this without violating anybody’s privacy”.-
So Rand Paul was quite justified in firing back to Christie's nonsense:
“You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights,”
That spontaneous back-and-forth was literally debate gold, because it was simultaneously fiery, spontaneous and substantive, a perfect distillation of the two sides of an essential argument about the value of our civil liberties. (One that, too often, hasn't come up often enough since the insinuation of the "Patriot Act" into the national fabric.) It was, to my mind, what a real debate ought to feature much more of.
Some FOX lubbers will hurl brickbats at the network for - as one commentator called it - presiding over an "inquisition" rather than a debate. But come on. They were basically foxed...uh boxed into a corner, given they've always been tagged as the REPUBLICAN network. Hence, in order to show more objectivity and not be accused of pro-Democratic partisanship, the question panel had to be provocative. As Frank Bruni put it:
Which was terrific because it meant you were hearing from the candidates themselves, not merely regurgitated slop from their handlers and focus group gurus. This ensured the debate was lively, and also made it possible to pick out the genuine morons and crazies - which alas, was all of them excepting Ohio gov John Kasich - who actually sounded rational in his response about using state Medicaid.
"On this night, the network that pampers Republicans provoked them instead. It was great television, and even better politics."
Indeed. And in using this technique FOX did us all a solid favor by showing just how unhinged all of these clowns really are. The frightening thing, as Janice noted, is that one could actually become President if the Dems don't pay close enough attention and play their cards right - as opposed to assuming it'll be a cakewalk.