The conclusion of yesterday's visit to a gun range flashback will be posted at 7 a.m., CST, Oct. 30, 2015.
When Carly Fiorina said "I'm Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare" at the end of the third Republican presidential debate Wednesday night, I couldn't help mutter, "Hers and everybody else's."
A glib line and, as is common with glib lines, not actually true. Fiorina might be a bad dream, certainly, but the worst? Sadly no. Called upon to arrange the 10 Republican candidates on stage in Boulder by order of their nightmarishness, worst to least, anyone who cares for this country would have to go first to Ben Carson, the inexplicable front-runner, murmuring his inanities, smiling quietly to himself as they are mistaken for deep truths.
There's almost no point in explaining how disastrous Carson would be — like Louis Armstrong said when asked to explain jazz, "If you have to ask, you'll never know." An economy-killing tax plan, to start. Morally wrong notions that jab a thumb into the eye of our cherished rights, hard for some to detect because they seem aimed at someone else. Carson's suggesting closing the mosques of anyone found supporting ISIS, translated, means he'd happily suspend the civil rights of any besieged minority (and if that isn't clear, imagine Carson suggesting closing the churches of those who commit crimes. You see? No, still don't get it? Well, as I said, if you have to ask.)
In close second on the bad-dream scale is Sen. Ted Cruz. Tailgunner Ted, a frightening demagogue hewed from Joe McCarthy's stock of the high-pitched fanatic waving a sheaf of papers over his head. Then New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the albatross of Fort Lee moldering around his neck (and if you spring up and say, "He didn't know about the lane closure!" remember, that's worse, because it means he's fully capable to hire a staff of trusted henchmen and then let them run riot while he's oblivious).
The rest you can rank yourself, and I'd hate to have to decide if Rand Paul is worse than Marco Rubio. The least nightmarish, from Democratic standards, Gov. John Kasich and former Gov. Jeb Bush, also have the least chance of getting elected. The whole debate was, if not quite a nightmare, then a depressing circus — a David Mamet babble of people talking loudly over each other, shouting well-practiced glib lines that were both untrue and entirely at odds with what they were asked. CNBC seemed to have trouble with the logistics of hosting a debate. It started late, with a strange question, "What's your biggest fault?" that bordered on "What kind of tree would you be?" and most of the candidates rightly ignored it, and pretty much all the other questions the CNBC panel asked, preferring to tear into the media for insulting them by daring to question their impossible schemes. There was no illumination on any kind of policy, except that Donald Trump's thousand mile wall along the Mexican border now has a door in it — which I consider progress. Donald Trump wasn't the worst nightmare on stage, he's not even in the worse half, which is really saying something.
Trump's brief denouncement of super PACs, plus his dialing back the personal attacks, a little, raised Trump in my estimation. Plus, he isn't Ben Carson — he's Solon the Lawgiver compared to Ben Carson.
Living in a state where the Republican Party once offered up Alan Keyes as its candidate for Senate, Illinoisans are used to the idea of laughable incompetence passed off as worth by the Republicans. Carly Fiorina waved the threadbare rag of her corporate performance, at best dismantling a failing company (a skill that, alas, might have use in America's future) and at worst a litany of incompetence. For her to then use that to lash at Hillary Clinton, secretary of state in a dangerous world, former senator, wife of one of the more popular presidents in modern history, well, let's just say it showed a hypocrisy so solid you could build a chair out of it. These are the same people, remember, who hooted at Barack Obama for being inexperienced. Now you can select any three candidates off the stage, combine their resumes and find less government experience than Obama was ridiculed for possessing. You have to be a Republican to consider that a good thing. Why it is not in fact a good thing, why it is bad, well, if you have to ask, you'll never know.