Watching the first Republican Presidential Debate of 2016 -- also their last debate before the Iowa caucuses -- was really the Theater of the Absurd: a field of fantasies from a field of fanatics! While nearly all the candidates present -- except for the Governor of Ohio and a noted neurosurgeon -- concentrated on trying to outdo each other in their contemptuous hatred of President Obama, most were not much less hateful towards each other. Senators Cruz and Rubio, for example, each continued his ferocious attacks on the immigration stance of the other.
The other major common ground in the debate was their contemptuous hatred for Hillary Clinton, as they tried to outdo each other with graphic descriptions of just how bad they thought her presidency would be for America. There was little if any effort to relate their views to her actual record of accomplishments -- rabid, rancid, and rancorous comments were the order of the day. One suspects that part of their rancor has to do with the temerity of any member of the female sex having the nerve to think that she could run the nation as well as any man could -- leading to that suspicion was the one thing these Republicans seemed to agree upon: that any of them was far better than Hillary. "Far better" at doing just what was left unclear -- but then that really did not seem to matter to these guys.
Among the most despicable moments of the debate was hearing the New Jersey Governor attack our President hypocritically on a host of fronts, while apparently forgetting his own warm embrace of that same President in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. But then, the New Jersey Governor does advocate a needed program to rebuild America's infrastructure of roads and bridges -- perhaps he is looking forward to closing more of those bridges in the future, as he has done in the past, for political reasons. This worthy also talked about "the chill wind blowing through law enforcement -- Obama believes they are the bad guys." This cheap shot was welcomed with applause.
Another despicable moment was the group castigation of the President's handling of the recent capture of a small group of American naval personnel who accidentally strayed into Iranian waters; instead of praising their release in only a few hours, the Republican candidates moaned and groaned about their being photographed in a posture of capitulation. Perhaps the candidates would have preferred them to be held by Iran for 444 days, as were our diplomats in Iran in the late 1970s. The obviously-forced apology of one sailor for their straying into Iranian waters seems a small price to pay for their freedom -- but not to these Republicans, who were never in that situation!
Then there was the response of the so-called leading Republican candidate to a question about putting his alleged wealth into a blind trust were he to become President (God forbid!) After pretending not to know just what a blind trust is, this blowhard said that his family would just run his businesses under those circumstances. Anyone who has followed this consummate bully knows that he, of course, would just run his family, as he has made clear that he believes he is the only one who could ever handle his affairs -- he claims to be the boldest and the best. The ancient Chinese proverb that "empty rice barrels make the most noise" is proven to be true, once again.
All in all, one is reminded of the Biblical story of Samson, the great warrior who "slew his enemies with the jawbone of an ass" according to the Old Testament. There were many such pseudo-Samsons on stage at this Republican debate, and they seem to have comparable jawbones. The nation will "little note nor long remember" (per Abraham Lincoln) just what they said -- but their mean-spirited lack of meaningful content will continue to haunt their Party and the 2016 Presidential Election.
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)