“The debates are part of the unconscionable fraud that our political campaigns have become. Here is a means to present to the American people a rational exposition of the major issues that face the nation, and the alternate approaches to their solution. Yet the candidates participate only with the guarantee of a format that defies meaningful discourse. They should be charged with sabotaging the electoral process.”
— Walter Cronkite
Well, the second GOP debate is scheduled for this Wednesday evening on CNN – who has, happily, announced that they will be streaming the debate live (they apparently realize that there might be people who ditched, or never had, cable). They tweaked the rules a bit to make sure that Carly Fiorina could play with the big kids. That will make the minor-league debate a far less crowded space, now that Rick Perry has, unsurprisingly, suspended his campaign. But with 11 candidates, instead of the already too large a group of 10, the prime time debate is, once again, unlikely to be much of a debate.
And what of the line-up?
Sadly, Donald Trump will remain front and center, since his ridiculously high poll numbers show he is still leading the pack. I’m not going to say much about Trump – I’ve already said quite a bit – except to re-iterate that I don’t believe he is electable at the national level, but that’s okay since the GOP probably will not give him the nomination anyway. That said, the Democrats need to pay attention – not taking him seriously has already cost the Republicans, but it will ultimately cost the Democrats as well because he seems to be uniting a highly volatile group of anti-immigration, racist (yeah, David Duke, I’m thinking of you and your charming band of KKK members), and generally disenfranchised white males who hate pretty much everyone. If he runs as a 3rd party candidate, he actually may be able to split the votes in unexpected ways – even if he, himself, loses.
Ben Carson – living proof that a high-IQ does not come with common sense, and it doesn’t really qualify one for national politics, and Jeb Bush, the probable nominee, and well, what-else-can-I-really-say, will flank Trump on stage. And then, of course, there will be Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Mike Huckabee.
Huckabee and Cruz have shown an astonishing level of disrespect for the rule of law in their increasingly passionate use of the controversy surrounding Kim Davis to drum up the conservative Christian vote. Huckabee, in particular, has shown a disturbing lack of understanding of the laws upon which this nation was founded, and seems to be doubling down on the rhetoric. The problem, Mike, is that if you were to be elected President (something very unlikely), you would find that the President actually can’t do quite what you seem to think he can, your terrifyingly Taliban-esque view of which laws to follow and which to ignore are not what the majority of the country wants, your misguided belief that somehow your ’cause’ is on par with Lincoln’s actions during the Civil War shows a very poor understanding of American history, and the gap in your knowledge that leads you to believe that the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision that the descendents of slaves could not be citizens was still the law of the land, but that it is widely ignored so, therefore, marriage equality can also be ignored (um no, check your constitutional law – the Fourteenth Amendment actually overrode that decision – perhaps someone could fact check your speeches for you?). Fortunately, they are both so far removed from the national reality, that they are pretty much unelectable. Very noisy, and inflaming a well-targeted demographic, so not to be ignored. Simply incredibly unlikely to win the nomination, and certain to lose if they did.
The candidates trailing in the polls will, once again, be relegated to an early evening debate: George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, and Lindsey Graham – with only 5 participating, there might be an actual debate happening this time. Not holding my breath, but anything is possible.
Truthfully, this sums line of PJ O’Rourke’s sums it up pretty well…
“Political discourse has become so rotten that it’s no longer possible to tell the stench of one presidential candidate from the stink of another.”
Image taken from CNN’s September 10th Tweet announcing the line-up.