Friday, January 11, 2008

Why Watching A Republican Debate Is Like Being Transported Back to 1860

The Fox News sponsored South Carolina Republican Debate were a real belly laugh. Although it’s becoming increasingly difficult to watch these right wing debates featuring the Neanderthal party, I watched in the spirit of open-mindedness and a love of political theater. Also I'm suffering from Daily Show deprivation.

The Fox News commentators, who are really in love with the sound of their own voices, followed the Fox News modus operandi by offering as many hypothetical softball warmongering wing nut jingoistic questions as possible to the assembled jar heads in the time allowed.

“Senator Thompson, the governor (Huckabee) says the 12 million people would be looked at individually. How would you find them? And could you do it faster than he would, sir?”

“Governor Huckabee, did the American commander in the Strait of Hormuz the other day make the right decision by responding passively when approached aggressively by Iranian fast boats believed to be from the Revolutionary Guards? He also received, as you know, a warning that said that the American ships might be about to blow up. Did he make the correct call, sir?”

Senator McCain just about blew a carotid artery waiting his turn to answer that last one. Huckabee’s answer ended with a reference to the Iranians last vision being one of the “gates of hell” and Thompson reaction ended with: “I think one more step and they would have been introduced to those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing.” Both answers were followed by the assembled audience of hillbillies applauding and back slapping and high-fives like they were at a Charlotte Speedway NASCAR infield party.

Ron Paul the court jester of the debate was generally ridiculed by his fellow Republicans. His responses often caused a slack jawed look from his rivals and drew the consternation of Fox’s Bret Hume and the anti Paul supporters in the large audience. The faces of the Fox commentators and the other participants were the highlight of the debate for me running from that of look of extreme constipation to one of someone being goosed whenever Paul responded. Like this answer about the middle East peace process:

I think if we'd have been out of there a lot sooner, there may well have been a much different settlement after the Kuwait invasion, because Israel was quite capable of working with moderate Arab nations. They tried to. None of the Arab nations wanted Saddam Hussein in Kuwait and I think they could have taken care of Saddam Hussein back then and saved all the mess that we have now, because I think there are so many unintended consequences and way too much blowback.

The overall impression when watching one of the GOP debates is that these yoyos are stuck in the 1860’s. McCain gets so wound up when talking about why he thinks the surge is working that he sort of does a cartoon character Hulk transformation thing. It would seem to appear to me that McCain
would be the most viable candidate against either Obama or Clinton.

But I also think that if Obama is nominated the contrast between him and McCain will be extremely sharp. Basically Obama's youth, hope and the possibilities versus McCain’s old, curmudgeonly out of date same old shit smoke and mirrors speak .
Frankly I don't think that any of the other Republican candidates can beat a Democrat nominee given the steamer trunks of baggage they all seem to carry.

Underlying this of course is the question of whether American voters can overcome their unwarranted and exploited fear of international terrorism and the war in Iraq and be willing to trust a new generation of leaders to protect them with new ideas and approaches to the problem of getting along with other people in the world.

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