Wednesday, December 16, 2015
The morning after
So now I've watched all five Republican presidential debates.
Ten hours—more or less—staring into the cesspool of the GOP psyche. The fear. The bluster. The Donald.
The press leaps to critique their performance, citing various lines, moments, gaffes.
And my impulse is to say ... nothing. Because it really twists the gut to imagine that one of these guys—or, gasp, Carly Fiorina—could end up president of the United States. A big country with big problems. They could be the ones to apply their intelligence and world view to our running our nation for the next four or eight years.
The impulse is to fall silent, stare at a spot on the floor. But you sort of have to try, to say something sensible, if only to wave the flag for sense.
Lest it fall from favor entirely.
So what's the takeaway?
Man, they hate Obama. You'd think the country was a smoldering ruin the way they talk about the past seven years, that other landmarks had been desolated in more 9/11-like assaults. You'd think 10 million people didn't get health insurance or the banks saved and the economy righted. You'd think Osama bin Laden hadn't been killed, and unwise wars wound down. None of it matters of course. To them, he's the Worst. President. Ever. I wonder why they feel that way? I'd say racism, but then, they really, really hated Bill Clinton too. Partisan blindness perhaps. I could scrape together the good things George W. Bush did. No one is completely bad. But not a syllable in support of anything Obama ever did cross the lips of any of these debaters. Not once. Evidence of the vast areas of life they just can't see. That Marco Rubio can say he'll roll back gay marriage ... why? Because of all the damage it causes to straight marriage?
Second. They are willing to surrender our freedom for the illusion of security. I'm being influenced by the last night's debate more than the others, but if these debates are a testament to anything, they are proof of the fact that a mouse right now dwarfs an elephant last week. You'd think that the San Bernardino massacre occurs every day.
Actually it does—general gun violence. Many times over. But they never talk about that either. Another region their eyes just can't focus on. Listening to their view of the country was really a case of the Blind Men and the Elephant.
And Carly Fiorina. Has ever a dud career of failure ever been spun so vigorously? And regarding foreign relations. You'd think she had been Secretary General of the United Nations, to hear her talk. I guess Hewlett-Packard once pressed a button in response to a national security request. Or maybe she went on a Carnival Cruise once. Hard to say.
Third. The whole thing is so sad, so painfully sad, for patriotic Americans who love the country and want it run well. Donald Trump, pressed to the wall, invokes the best and the brightest, the great minds who'll come in a fix things in some as-yet-to-be-seen fashion. Hasn't he read a history book? Sometimes the smartest people make the biggest blunders. Ted Cruz went to Princeton and Harvard, not that he'd ever mention that—too smart, given the people he's trying to fool. For all the good it did him.
Okay, enough. Too damn depressing. I had only one central thought, after each debate, after them all. Not a happy thought, but a grim, determined thought: Hillary Clinton better fuckin' win. Not the perfect candidate either. But a clear-thinker living in the fact-based world. Better do all the basic, meat-and-potatoes campaign work necessary: register the voters, kiss the babies, collect the money, produce the TV commercials. Because our nation depends on it. When somebody asks me why I don't wave palm fronds at Bernie Sanders, I reply: because he won't win. This national moment is too fraught for naivete. I won't say that a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz would destroy the United States—a great nation, it survived eight years of George W. Bush, it can survive anything.
But they'd sure give it their best shot.