I finally watched a Republican primary debate! The one held last Saturday, though I watched it from videos and read it from transcripts after the date.
It's some time since I've visited Wingnuttia and the necessary adjustment to cultural differences* took some time. Until I was properly adjusted I rolled on the floor, laughing.
After all, Trump IS funny. He is like that mythological crazy great-uncle in the attic who is let out only for Thanksgiving. Or like the child who mostly speaks gibberish but once in a while states an embarrassing fact in a loud, clear voice.
But let's scroll the primary debate video to the start. Into the room and onto the stage walk six men, all in identical suits, four wearing red ties and two wearing blue ties.
I cannot discuss wardrobe mishaps, sigh, because there are no female candidates and because men in politics wear a uniform. I wish someone had affected a yellow tie so journalists could have written about the advisability of doing that and what it really means about the inner sluttiness of the man.
All the candidates in the race received applause from the audience in the room. How was that audience picked? This matters, because they booed later. A lot, and mostly whenever Trump blurted out one of those "the emperor has no clothes" statement, such as the fact that 911 happened on Jeb Bush's brother's patch. If the audience was picked randomly among fervent Republicans, the booing of facts makes me more worried than I already am.
Anyway, Ben Carson got the most muted applause, and Donald Trump the next most muted. I think the establishment candidates got louder cheers, but it could be that in a small audience a few loud voices nominate.
Then the race began. The first round was about the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the resulting empty seat in the Supreme Court and the great importance of not filling that seat. The six men agreed on that, whether legally trained or not. The anti-Christ's nominee Will Not Stand. Well, they didn't call Obama anti-Christ but that was the flavor: theocratic politics where the divine is either the Christian god or the market god and the faithful church is the Republican Party.
Which is fine. After all, I was watching party-political debates. Horse-races where each candidate rode his own hobby horse.
They all shared a few steeds, however. One is the belief that chaotic and unregulated markets will take care of poverty and income inequality an old age pensions, and that the rich should pay a lot less taxes than they do.
Another is that the best foreign policy is to find your favorite enemy (ISIS, Putin, North Korea, Iran) and then to nuke them or at least kill them so that there will be victory and renewed world domination by the US. Good times, they are a-coming, especially if there is no long-term thinking about what happens after those mass killings. They must be so efficient that no future generation can recover and recreate the demon thus vanquished. Which sounds a lot like nuking large parts of the earth. But at least there will be short-term victory.**
And yet another is the necessity to control the uteri, the future homes of Egg-Americans***. Because, sadly, uteri are lodged inside women, it is the women who must be controlled. And yes, it pains Marco Rubio (as he has written elsewhere) to be for rapists' fatherhood rights, but a fertilized egg is a person and a woman only a uterus-carrying device.
Donald Trump's presence made the debate hilarious to watch. A few snippets:
About Ted Cruz:
TRUMP: You probably are worse than Jeb Bush. You are single biggest liar. This guy’s lied — let me just tell you, this guy lied about Ben Carson when he took votes away from Ben Carson in Iowa, and he just continues. Today, we had robo-calls saying, “Donald Trump is not going to run in South Carolina,” where I’m leading by a lot.On George Bush "keeping us safe":
I’m not going to vote for Ted Cruz. This is the same thing he did to Ben Carson. This guy will say anything, nasty guy. Now I know why he doesn’t have one endorsement from any of his colleagues.
TRUMP: How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center — the World — excuse me. I lost hundreds of friends. The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That is not safe. That is not safe, Marco. That is not safe.Trump got booed for that, and also for suggesting that the US was tricked into invading Iraq with the nonexistent Weapons of Mass Destruction argument. More wonderful exchanges from the debate can be found here.
RUBIO: The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.
TRUMP: And George Bush — by the way, George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his C.I.A.
Great television, that debate was. Then it struck me that those six men are competing to be the drivers of this bus called earth, while we are all strapped to seats inside it and the abyss is right ahead. Oh well, nobody lives forever, and it's fun to die laughing, right?
Still, even the polite Ben Carson gave an answer which made my scales stand up:
STRASSEL: Moving subjects. Dr. Carson, this week Morgan Stanley agreed to pay a $3.2 billion fine to state and federal authorities for contributing to the mortgage crisis. You have a lot of Democrats out saying that we should be jailing more executives, so two questions.What is that all about? Does Carson imply that potential white-collar crime should not be investigated? Does he understand that those types of regulations could have prevented the global collapse of the financial and housing markets in the 2000s? I give up.
Should financial executives be held legally responsible for financial crisis, and do you think fines like these are an effective way to deter companies from future behavior like that?
CARSON: Well, first of all, please go to my website, bencarson.com, and read my immigration policy, O.K.? Because it actually makes sense.
Now, the — as far as these fines are concerned, you know? Here’s the big problem. We’ve got all these government regulators, and all they’re doing is running around looking for people to fine. And we’ve got 645 different federal agencies and sub-agencies. Way, way too many, and they don’t have anything else to do.
But before doing so, let me draw your attention to something odd I found when watching the videos and reading the transcript. Here's the transcript in the New York Times on an exchange between Cruz and Trump concerning that demonic hag, Planned Parenthood, and the best way to burn her or to drown her:
CRUZ: I will say, it is fairly remarkable to see Donald defending Ben after he called, “pathological,” and compared him to a child molester. Both of which were offensive and wrong.
But let me say this — you notice Donald didn’t disagree with the substance that he supports taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. And Donald has this weird pattern, when you point to his own record, he screams, “Liar, liar, liar.” You want to go...
TRUMP: Where did I support it? Where did I...
CRUZ: You want to go...
TRUMP: Again, where did I support it?
CRUZ: If you want to watch the video, go to our website at Tedcruz.org.
TRUMP: Hey Ted, where I support it?
CRUZ: You said, “Planned Parenthood does wonderful things and we should not defund it.”
TRUMP: It does do wonderful things, but not as it relates to abortion.
CRUZ: So I’ll tell you what...
TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me, there are wonderful things having to do with women’s health.
CRUZ: You see, you and I...
TRUMP: But not when it comes to abortion.
CRUZ: Don, the reasoned principle matters. The reasoned principle matters, sadly was illustrated by the first questions today. The next president is going to appoint one, two, three, four Supreme Court justices.
If Donald Trump is president, he will appoint liberals. If Donald Trump is president, your Second Amendment will gone...
Bolds are mine.
If you watch the video (here, for example, in Part 4, starting at five minutes in), that bolded statement by Cruz can be heard in its entirety. What he says is this:
CRUZ: You see, you and I disagree on that.
*The Heil Hitler types. and then the types where "everybody" knows that a ten percent flat tax on most tax payers would be wonderfully fair (nope, not at all favoring the rich) and plenty to cover all the money needs of the US government (it's not enough), and then the theocracy types who speak for gods (their gods). And the types where you just kill everybody to get rid of ISIS (thus seeding the next generation of ISIS) because VICTORY.
** I get that all this is aimed at potential voters who think that way and not necessarily the policies those men would follow if elected president. But George Bush acted the way those debates describe as desirable, and we all know what that brought us. Foreign policy has lots more in it than cool weapons. It has negotiations, knowledge of local history, the need to think far and wide, to get allies and other boring shit like that.
*** I don't think most of them actually care about the pro-life issues (except for Rubio and Cruz?), but they don't mind giving the fundies their bloody meat in exchange for votes. That meat would be the control of wandering uteri.