I watched with a mix of amusement and gleeful horror at the last Republican Party entertainment political show that shoved the very essence and meaning of debate straight out of the proverbial window. It was an event full of fury, insults, petty bickering, jockeying for who is the most Ronald Reagan like, than Reagan himself, untruths, half-truths, and rank opportunism all rolled up in one. It was a fetid political cesspool with the GOP's presidential wannabes writhing and flapping about in the squalid pool that is fast becoming a "swirling black hole" -- where the gravitational pull is so strong that you can only enter but never get out.
I'd long ago concluded that U.S. politics, like American football, is legalized blood sport. But, to date, the 2016 presidential election season has out did itself for the sheer animosity and loathing between the GOP's presidential candidates. The last "debate," and I use that word cautiously and guardedly, produced a glimpse of the two parallel GOP universes; ergo, Trump detests Jeb Bush, who hates Marco Rubio, who hates Ted Cruz and who everybody (on the stage) hates. Confusing? Not in the least from a party whose first parallel universe is divorced from all reality. This universe is characterized by unusually loud individual cacophonies, shrill, jarring and continuous, insufferable bombast, and egomaniacal preening.
In both these universes "up is down and down is up." And the master of both universes is none other than Donald Trump. Consider the following: Trump levels uncalled for and unfair criticisms at Mexico and Mexicans by arguing, without foundation or facts, that Mexicans entering the United States are "rapists and criminals." The rebuke of Trump from BOTH the Right and Left of the U.S. political spectrum is muted, limited, measured and tepid. Sheepishly, they conclude that "that's Trump and he always says outrageous things. It's nothing new."
Such crass apologicism and excuses for a man who wastes no opportunity to call those who disagree with him "stupid," and whose attacks on a female journalist, who tried to challenge him on his record, drew little support from her own TV station or colleagues in the mainstream media, spoke volumes about the state of politics in the United States and the growing insensitivity and mental numbness of the media and pundit class for political bullies and a penchant for genuflecting to billionaires and millionaires in politics.
Next, Trump decided in the wake of the Colorado shooting to "ban Muslims from coming to the United States," and between debates he calls Senator Ted Cruz, one of his rivals, a "nasty guy." No political consequences. Period. Meanwhile, the response from the mainstream media is still even more tepid as Trump remains the "front runner" and Sunday morning pundits and talking heads salivate over his "unstoppable poll numbers." Nobody calls out Trump. Soooo, not to be outdone, enter Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio et al, with Cruz saying that he'd "carpet bomb ISIS," and Rubio The Robot (Rubiobot) repeating over and over that "Barack Obama wants to change America" -- what the that means.
So you see the problem? These guys are operating in one topsy-turvy; up is down and down is up universe that they continue to enhance with each public showing. But the last debate was really the icing on the cake. Ironically, it jettisoned into the farcical and absurd when Donald Trump told the truth -- for the first time. He pointedly said that the George W. Bush Administration lied to the American people in order to get support for an unnecessary war in Iraq, a country that was not responsible for 9/11. Trump, then on a roll, thundered that President George Bush failed to keep American safe and that "9/11 happened on his watch." He further said that Bush failed to kill Osama bin Laden on numerous times, insinuating that there were many missed opportunities to do so.
So for the very first time Donald Trump crossed the GOP's "Do Not Go There" Red Line. It was all right when he was mouthing off against just about everybody, pushing a xenophobic, nativist agenda, behaved as a woman-hating bully, and consistently used bellicose unpresidential language to insult his colleagues, ethnic groups and people he did not like. He's the guy who called people "stupid" and one of the rivals Jeb Bush, the brother of former president, George Bush, "low energy."
But now he dared to speak the truth! The hand-picked Republican Party audience was livid! They booed Trump for the very first time. You see these are the folks who inhabit the "other parallel political universe." For them, "Barack Obama is a socialist Kenyan," Donald Trump will "make America great again" -- a dog whistle for lets go back to the segregationist days of the 1950s and 60s, and EVERYTHING that America's first Black president does/did is wrong and anti-American. In this universe, the worst white president is better than the best Black president. So any attack on one of the allegedly 25 worst American presidents in history, George W. Bush, whose father George H.W. Bush once vomited on the Japanese prime minister in 1992, was an affront to the party's list of political saints*[See below].
Entering this universe, all of the Republican rivals on stage became collectively unglued and unhinged. They started to behave as schoolyard bullies rather than American politicians. The debate degenerated into a prime time version of the Jerry Springer Show without the face scratching, punching and expletives. The insults and abuse spun out of control and grew loud and insipid as each tried to out shout the other and significant for the fact that Marco Rubio tried to defend George Bush and 9/11 in the most snakelike groveling manner imaginable.
It pained me that people around the world was subjected to this spectacle of politics-cum-entertainment with clowns and all. In any other reasonable situation, outside of this parallel universe, this debate would be considered a Reality TV show, the kind that Mr. Trump produces and relishes in. Or, to the sane, it would have been considered a monumental catastrophe for its banal stupidity and its descent into subjectivity while eschewing facts and issues that are germane to the American people. Yes, "we the people," were the losers in this debate that was characterized by sound and fury, as William Shakespeare so eloquently wrote, "Signifying nothing."
But in this parallel universe the reprehensible behavior of the performers at the debate will not change anything or matter. There will be no consequences for idiocy and stupidity. The supine and slavish mainstream media will salivate, grovel and kiss the derrieres of the candidates, and pretend its banal stench is akin to perfumed roses. You see, the "Republican base" that blindly supports Donald Trump likes his bullying and refuses to condemn his lies and insults. Not far behind is Marco Rubio who behaves like a Xerox machine spewing out whatever is copied on his mind on the day of an event, and Jeb Bush who is a petty man with just as touchy an ego as Trump, but who controls it better. Ted Cruz reminds me of why there was the Spanish Inquisition, - he would have fitted right in - and he likes water-boarding, while Ohio Governor John Kasich struggled to be the adult in the room and Ben Carson, in a perpetual dreamlike state, looked like he just had a shot of Nyquil and was about to fall asleep.
Trapped in both these universes are some Republicans who know better and want better. But that would mean jumping ship from the Republican Party and entering the land of the sane. For ordinary American people -- both Democrats and Republicans -- any return to reality puts them between a rock and a hard place. That millions of people will vote for one of the GOP's denizens of the comedy of political errors is just mindboggling. They are trapped in the GOP's political black hole and can't get out. There will be some who like and embrace the black hole but others still are confused with no hope of ever getting out.
Me? I looked at the debate with a cold Coors Lite and the jaundiced eye of someone who expected the lowest, most banal screechings, from Trump, Cruz, and Rubio et al. I was not disappointed. I'm sure, many who looked on with disbelief at a performance nuanced only by the degree of shrillness, insults and untruths. I went MEGO (mine eyes glazed over) from time to time as I listened absentmindedly to the plethora of campaign gobbledygook, highfalutin piousness about the sacredness of the United States constitution, interspersed with vainglorious appeals to civility and reason. And always in the background was the clacking nauseating noise of Marco Rubio performing like someone was hitting the "play" button on an old VHS music machine.
So in the end we're left to conclude that the debate was one hell of a job as entertainment as politics. Either that or you sip more Coors Lites and tearfully realize that no matter who you like (not support) in this thing called a Republican presidential election cycle it sadly came down to who shouted the most, got angry the most, and who is the undisputed Prince of the Parallel Political Worlds.
I'm going to tune in to the Si-Fi channel and look at the Twilight Zone.