Hahaha wow. Folks, the 5th GOP debate was some good ol’ fashioned scrappin’. John Kasich, confused and excited by all the action, started trying to karate-chop people from his podium. Jeb Bush finally had a strong night, which I guess means the search party he sent out to find his balls returned successfully sometime over the last few weeks. Rand Paul shot the moon and took a heavy swing at Trump within the first ten seconds of the debate, everyone took a heavy swing at Marc Rubio, and Ted Cruz said that he’d build a wall and make Trump pay for it. Ben Carson revealed that he’s not actually a retired neurosurgeon running for president, but rather just a regular schmuck that replied to a craigslist ad seeking the sleepiest black guy in America with Down’s Syndrome for an elaborate practical joke that has gone way too far. Only one of those things I just said isn’t true.
So it was an exciting debate; the audience, at least those that weren’t hired guns there to applaud or boo as their paymasters dictated, were kept on the edge of their seat. As for me, I was initially dreading this event — the previous Democratic debate was both uneventful and overshadowed by the Paris attacks, and the Republican debate before that, while still painfully boring, wasn’t as much of a complete shit-show as the event that preceded it hosted by CNBC, a news network that now holds the distinction of being the only network to both host a debate and then be the biggest loser of that same debate. Pretty impressive, guys! So you can understand why I wasn’t very excited about watching another round of greasy liars giving out empty platitudes and vague hints at plans for fixing the problems, either real or imagined, that plague America. I’ve been enjoying my time off from covering the election cycle. I recently joined a Tokyo death metal band and needed a lot of time to practice, so the break between debates was very welcome. But after the debate aired in the US I began to see news reports again and again using the word “substantive” to describe it and there were several headlines that made mention of the candidates ganging up on Donald Trump, which intrigued me, and as soon as I had the time I headed to YouTube to find a video of the Las Vegas debate.
I’ll tell you now, friends, those headlines weren’t kidding. Despite the fact that I’m positive a full one-third of the candidates are either completely insane or actively seeking to fulfill a dark prophecy whose result will almost certainly not benefit mankind, and that the rest are mostly incompetent weirdos, morally bankrupt establishment tools, and an escaped Jersey Man-Ape, this was a great debate for people who are able to quell their disgust in the face of brazen lies and unrepentant disregard for human dignity. I’m surrounded by children five days out of every week, so a.) I’m usually drunk, and b.) I’ve had a lot of practice at quelling my disgust when the job demands it. And with nearly a month of rest, I was ready for this.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE WEEKS BEFORE THE DEBATE?
It’d be foolish to forgo any mention of the events of the weeks preceding the debate, because the San Bernardino shooting was mentioned approximately two-dozen times by each and every candidate. Strangely, the Planned Parenthood attack was not brought up a single time by either the candidates or the moderators, and I don’t doubt that this was by design. A shooting committed by two muslims is much easier to turn into a talking point than an attack perpetrated by a madman fueled by the same rhetoric many of the candidates have been spewing for most of the 2015. At first I wanted moderator Wolf Blitzer to bring it up and force a discussion to happen, but now I realize it would’ve just produced all the same nauseating bullshit I’ve been hearing since it happened. It would’ve been fit for mockery only, and the candidates’ foreign policy ideas are already a target-rich environment as far as that’s concerned.
To the surprise of no one, Ben Carson dropped from first in the polls to fourth, mostly due to the fact that he’s no longer able to conceal the fact that he suffers from moderate cognitive retardation. Plus his campaign is falling apart in front of everyone, with former advisers openly admitting that Carson’s ability to understand and hold forth on mid-east political subtleties is roughly on par with his ability to build and pilot a nuclear submarine. In his place have risen Ted Cruz and Marc Rubio, and many consider one or the other to be the likely candidate for the GOP nomination. I can’t say I’m surprised; Cruz is slimy and twisted enough to squeeze through my shower drain. He reminds me of a Hunter S. Thompson quote about Nixon: “He was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning.” Rubio, to his credit, handles himself pretty well in debates and has been steadily rising to be a top contender. As I predicted a month ago, Chris Cristie gained a few points after his strong undercard debate performance and although Cruz and Rubio remain far in front Christie did manage to get back to the grown-up table, leaving Mike Huckabee to languish in obscurity with the rest of the undercard haven’t-got-a-prayers.
Speaking of that gaggle of nobodies, Bobby Jindal finally saved us all the embarrassment of watching him continue his charade of a campaign and quit the race, something the New York Times inexplicably considered “news”. I mean, Jesus, who ever gave a shit about Jindal? That weaselly fucker has always been a joke. Up until he quit, I had forgotten he was even in the race. I hope the next time he tries to kiss his wife a bird shits on both of their faces as punishment for wasting all of our time.
Oh! Also, Trump said a lot of stupid stuff about shutting down the internet and blocking any and all muslims from entering the United States. I only mention this because it was outrageous enough for his own party to finally step up and say “Jesus Christ, Trump, knock it off already”. Even Dick Cheney, who once ate a baby’s head like an apple, said that it “goes against everything we stand for and believe in.”
WHO WON THE DEBATE?
As with the last Republican debate, the field is far too large and the candidates all too unimpressive for there to be a clear winner. A poll conducted by One America News Network has Trump as the winner, which just proves a point I made in my first debate article: the people responding to these kinds of polls don’t know what “winning” means when it comes to debates. Trump most certainly did not win, not in any sense. His insane comments in previous weeks gave everyone as much ammunition as they could have ever wanted, and both Jeb Bush and Rand Paul took the opportunity to soundly mock him. In addition to the heavy criticism, the substantive quality of the debate provided a stark relief with which to view Trump’s utter lack of anything even close to resembling substance. He only avoided being the most embarrassingly uninformed and clueless person on the stage by virtue of the fact that Ben Carson is still in the race.
Speaking of that drowsy potato-head, he had a pretty rough night. He complained early on of not getting enough speaking time, but when he did get a chance to speak Carson didn’t have much to say and what little he did say was vague and nonsensical. It’s been growing more and more clear with each passing week that he’s got nothing to work with. The only appropriate answer when asked the question “How has your experience as a neurosurgeon prepared you to be commander-in-chief?” is that it hasn’t, not one single little bit, but Carson obviously can’t say this. So instead he used the dumbest analogy I or anyone could have ever come up with:
HEWITT: Dr. Carson, you mentioned in your opening remarks that you’re a pediatric neurologist surgeon…
HEWITT: Neurosurgeon. And people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We’re talking about ruthless things tonight — carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?
CARSON: Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me. You know, later on, you know, they really realize what’s going on. And by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.
Wait, what? Did Carson just compare killing thousands of innocent children to saving a little kid’s life? Is…is Syria the young child with a brain tumor in this analogy, with ISIS being the tumor? Considering his plan to excise the child’s tumor involves killing actual children, that may not have been the best comparison to draw. Carson, you dumb piece of shit. Go away.
Carly Fiorina, wearing a heretofore unseen golden cross around her neck, tried very hard the entire night to break into the conversation and get noticed. Unfortunately for her, no one was biting and she will likely soon be banished to the land of wind and ghosts along with Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, and the other one. It’s for the best. She has a bad habit of just making stuff up when she doesn’t have anything to say. It’s gotten her into trouble before, and now even Fox News feels comfortable with pointing out her obvious lies. In Las Vegas she got herself into more trouble when, while detailing a plan to fix the horror-show currently happening in the mid-east, she made some bold claims:
“One of the things I would immediately do in addition to defeating them here at home is bring back the warrior class: Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know, every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.”
Really, Fiorina? Four-star general Jack Keane, who retired in 2003, who did not serve under the Obama administration, who has never spoken with Barack Obama, was retired early for telling Obama things he didn’t want to hear? Really? Because this clip has Keane denying everything you said about him in roughly sixty seconds, you fucking fool. Right there on Fox News, of all places. How did you expect to get away with that? Also, let’s remember that Patraeus retired after pleading guilty to mishandling classified materials while simultaneously going through a very public divorce that resulted from him having an affair, and McChrystal was fired for talking shit to Rolling Stone, not because he and Obama didn’t connect. Fiorina, showing a steadfast refusal to accept reality, refuses to admit that she got things wrong.
I did see a glimmer of these candidates finally getting their act together, though, which hopefully means these events will be less like a goddamn circus in the future. See, when it comes to Syria and Assad and ISIS and all that, they’re in a tough spot because even US intelligence lays the start of ISIS on the invasion of Iraq, which their guy initiated and promptly fucked up. Fiorina tried selling the “it’s Obama’s fault for pulling out” line in Las Vegas, which to me indicates that her team is a step behind everyone else because no one’s really bothered with that nonsense in months. They’ve moved on to a much more compelling narrative — they’ve found a way to link Obama’s deal with Iran to the problems in Iraq and Syria.
Now, let’s be clear: a Republican president would’ve almost certainly made the exact same deal with Iran. They wouldn’t have liked it, and it would’ve been a bit embarrassing, but they would’ve done it because it was the smartest solution and their spin doctors would’ve probably kept it from looking like a capitulation. Happily, a Republican president didn’t have to do it, so now they’re free to fling all the shit they want. They can claim that supporting a Shiite country like Iran will alienate the Sunni population in both Iraq and Syria and even possibly Saudi Arabia, and that supporting Shiite Iran while trying to get rid of Assad’s regime, which is also Shiite (or a Shiite off-shoot, rather), is sending mixed messages and because of all this no one in the region will ever trust the US. Not bad! It’s a bit complicated for the general GOP electorate, and I’m pretty sure Ben Carson still thinks “Assad” is a kind of boot, but I’m sure it’ll play in Peoria. It leaves out the fact that the general populace of the mid-east already ranks the US behind only Israel in the “least-trusted” category, but that’s a fact both Democrats and Republicans have been ignoring for decades, so why acknowledge it now?
Of course, the candidates don’t all agree on what to do with Assad. And what they claim they want to do now may not have any bearing on what they’ll actually do given the chance. You can probably trust Rand Paul when he says that initiating another regime change is a terrible, terrible idea and that he’d never go for it, because that position has been handed down from father to son in the Rand family for many generations. But let’s be honest: Rand Paul is never going to be president. Right now, few of the candidates openly call for US boots on the ground because the idea isn’t very appealing to voters, and the ones petitioning for the boots on the ground to be local boots only will eventually have to come up with a plausible plan to make that happen. It won’t be easy.
Gimme a break, the election is still ten and a half months away. But…hell, Fiorina will probably continue to sink lower in the polls, and Rubio will continue to rise. It’s hard to say what Jeb Bush will do — he’s been a non-starter for most of 2015, but he’s no dummy. He may just be biding his time.
BUT BUT BUT WHAT ABOUT TRUMP?
Look, he’s still not ever going to be president, so just relax. He’s not even threatening to run as an independent anymore. But he still has an insane amount of influence, and when the RNC is ready is start choosing a nominee he’ll no doubt find a way to leverage that influence. Tell me how difficult it is to read the following sentence in Donald Trump’s voice: “Listen, I’ll throw my support behind the candidate you idiots choose if and only if I get what I want, understand? Otherwise I’ll make it my business to cause a the biggest mess you’ve ever seen and completely screw up the presidential campaign. I mean it. Look, I don’t give one single fuck about any of this, got it?”
The next GOP debate is January 14th in South Carolina, and will be broadcast by Fox Business. The “next” Democratic debate was last Saturday, and an article is forthcoming. Tuna Ghost works very hard for you readers, so cut him some slack because I think he’s begun self-harming.
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