No, God! No, God, please no! No! No! Nooooo!
Some days have no end, no sunset, no fade to darkness after a kiss. Some days are eternal, small slices of forever, trailing out like a river of poisonous smoke from the cigarette you desperately want to choke on, just so you can put it out in your eye to stop seeing what you’re seeing.
That was Thursday.
Seventeen Republican candidates gathered in Cleveland on Thursday night to receive a long, luxurious backrub from our friends at Fox News in the form of two debates, with seven candidates in the first and a walloping 10 in the second. Chapter One included Perry, Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, Graham, Pataki and Gilmore. Chapter Two included Trump, Bush, Christie, Rubio, Carson, Walker, Huckabee, Kasich, Cruz and Paul.
Upon fully encompassing this murderer’s row of hucksters, frauds, failures and outright fools, I found myself recalling the warning words of Obi-Wan Kenobi when beholding the Mos Eisley space station on Tatooine: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” He may as well have been in Cleveland, trying to buy a ride out of town. Same deal: fleeing the Empire.
In the half-hour before the first debate began at 5:00 p.m., Neil Cavuto’s show had a has-been actor shilling for buying silver with a picture of a bag of quarters featured prominently. There was an ad about fighting cancer via science on a channel that earns its daily bread denying the veracity of science on the hour. When a shot of Donald Trump’s ego plane appeared, Cavuto asked, “Is that plane bigger than Air Force One?” The phrase “Fringing to the Left” tap-danced out of the television at least three times.
The real show started in a convention hall so bereft of spectators that every question from the moderators echoed as if were being asked in a deep cavern. “Mr. Santorum-um-um-um, what is your opinion on repealing Obamacare-are-are-are?” There were more people on the stage than in the seats.
The content in brief: It took 11 minutes before one of the candidates summoned September 11. Jindal asserted that ISIS is trying to destroy medieval Christians, who haven’t actually existed since, well, the Medieval Age. Pataki wants to surveil mosques, but totally believes in freedom of religion. Santorum said Planned Parenthood is crushing the skulls of children. And Graham basically said we’re all going to die unless we kill everything we see. It was a bright display of the national id from a pack of grifters who represent the people who think dinosaurs never existed because Jesus, taxes are bad but plow my road when it snows, and President Obama, along with Hillary Clinton, are fifth-column communists who want to sell the US Navy to Iran for some hummus and a kind word.
For the record, and because it’s expected of me as a political writer: Carly Fiorina won the first debate hands down, and by a long mile. She’s wrong and ignorant, and drove Hewlett-Packard into the cold ground, but on Thursday night she carried herself like a true professional and left the other six in deep shade. When the next debate involving the Serious Candidates takes place, expect to see her at the table.
In short: She won, but winning something like that is like winning a car accident. Congratulations, or something.
The room was packed for the second debate at 9:00 p.m., and Donald Trump – to his eternal joy – was greeted by the crowd like a conquering hero returning to Rome. The event began poorly and ended worse; it was a mud fight between Christie and Paul, Carson bragging about being stupid, Bush embracing his brother’s legacy while saying “I wouldn’t have done that,” Trump simply being Trump, and Ted Cruz continuing his role as a Batman villain. The rest, in the words of Zippy the Pinhead, was a blur of Republicans and meat.
I endured both of these things, two in one day with seventeen participants, and may never fully recover from the experience … but out of all the bad noise and noxious nonsense, I have one solid takeaway: Texas Governor Rick Perry, who comes off for all the world like George W. Bush’s little brother.
Perry was soap-boxing on the Iran nuclear deal and made a point of declaring that Iran killed US Marines in Beirut. Yeah, chucklehead, while Saint Reagan was selling them the weapons to do it so he could fund the murder of priests, nuns and civilians in Central America, but only after we overthrew a democratic Iranian government to get to the oil … and if Iran is so bad, why did we go to war in Iraq and hand the country to Iran with a bow on it, so that Iraq today is literally run by the very people who killed those Marines in Beirut?
That’s the thing, the final fact of the matter: Listening to that pack of howling wolves all night, I remembered again that in order to exist in that atmosphere, you must believe in a carefully concocted fiction that has no basis whatsoever in fact, history, reason or sense. Some of those people are running to raise money and their profile. Some of them are running for a potential Cabinet position. Some of them, however, actually exist in that shattered atmosphere. All of them carry water for that fiction, and they damage us all deeply by doing so.