I just watched the second GOP debate. I feel like I need a shower and a stiff drink. Maybe some ear plugs, too, since at least four of the seven candidates for the Republican nomination for president were usually talking at once.
We watched the debate on Fox “live,” as it was held from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California because I’m in Nashville for the film festival, which starts tomorrow, and the daughter’s set has mainly streaming services. We finally located it “live” on YouTube.
A British guy named Stuart Varney started this cluster-f*** off by totally mangling the name of his Hispanic co-host, Ilia Calderone of Noticias Univision. How Ms. Calderone got on this panel is a good question; she did bring some interesting questions to the candidates, including one on LGBQT people that saw Mike Pence move from a statement about protecting all Americans to one saying he would ban all transgender efforts in the United States. It’s quite a stretch from asking how you would protect LGBQT Americans, who, Ms. Calderone noted, are far more likely to be violently attacked, to vowing to attack them yourself using legal means. (Yikes!)
The three hosts were Ilia Calderone and Dana Perino and the British badly balding Stuart Varney. Not the “A” team.
Not only did Varney basically mutilate Ms. Calderone’s name in a fashion that we hadn’t heard since John Travolta mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name as Adele Dazeem at the 2014 Oscars, but Varney had absolutely no control over the combatants, although he kicked off the evening by saying, “Keep it civilized.” (Ha!)
I switched between a YouTube Live showing of the contestants and what we used to call Twitter (now “X”). Several “X” users had posted pictures of Vivek Ramaswamy’s mile-high hair next to pictures of Beavis or Butthead. (I can never tell them apart; not a regular fan.) One other “X” user had posted a picture of Vivek’s mile-high hair next to an Afro wearer, mentioning that Ramaswamy was really trying hard to get the Black vote tonight.
One analyst commented on Tim Scott’s dumb take on the UAW strike, saying something to the effect that they (the auto workers) should get fired like the air traffic controllers were fired under Reagan. Citing $86 billion in aid for union pensions, (which Scott claimed was “the1 st bill under Joe Biden,”) Scott criticized the auto workers desire for shorter work week but more pay and added, “Joe Biden shouldn’t be on the picket line. He should be on the Southern border.” Apparently Tim Scott has missed out on hearing about the phenomenal salaries that the Big Three CEO’s are pulling down, while, because of the financial crisis in 2008/2009, auto workers gave up many perks of their jobs at that time to help save the car companies and now would like a fair share of the record profits they are raking in. The GOP haranguing against unions is nothing new, however. I was surprised that they didn’t attempt to drag teachers’ unions through the mud with mis-statements, once again.
As the MSNBC analysts pointed out, to hear these candidates tonight, the very worst thing that Donald J. Trump has done is to not show up for the GOP debate. No mention of his planning and executing a coup. No mention of his recent suggestion that General Mark Milley be executed or his willingness to let his VP be hanged on January 6th. This ignoring the elephant in the room seems to be the norm of the new Republican party. Tonight Trump took heat from several of the candidates, including Ron DeSantis, who had meticulously avoided criticizing Trump by name until tonight, but only for his failure to appear to shout over the others. No harsh words for the man about his 91 criminal indictments or how he was recently found guilty of decades of fraud in his business practices, other than wondering why he couldn’t be here this night to join in the general chaos and talk over the other candidates, which he most certainly would have done. (My daughter wanted to know when civility and behaving in a polite fashion while debating went out of style, and my answer was, “When the GOP elevated a con-man like Donald Trump to the top spot in their party.” Which, by the way, he still occupies, even if his hold on the party is tenuous as the charges against him mount.
IMHO, it was very difficult to understand Ilia Calderon. And Stuart Varney just seemed out of his element. Dana Perino seemed to perform the best of the three moderators, but all were underwhelming.
There was a lot of criticism of the failure to control immigration at the border, with very little acknowledgement of how longstanding a problem this is. It is not just Joe Biden who has dropped the ball on immigration reform. The system is broken and Congress needs to act to fix it, but never let the truth get in the way of a good debate.
Both Mike Pence and others threw shade at Ramaswamy for doing business with China as an entrepreneur. If I heard correctly, Ramaswamyy had done business with the same organization that Hunter Biden is accused of doing business with. Pence, mentioning that Ramaswamy had withdrawn from the business deal with China in 2018, asked if that was the year Vivek began voting for president. Ramaswamy took a lot of incoming; he seemed in high spirits throughout. Ramaswamy and Chris Christie laughed at the chaos unleashed by the complete disregard for civility that these debates seem to have devolved into, with Christie literally lounging against the lectern with a big smile on his face when things were going down the tubes.
Most of the specific mentions of policies were one candidate attacking another, as when Haley attacked DeSantis or Scott attacked Haley over a gas tax. (I liked Nikki Haley’s remark of “Bring it” and how hard she worked to correct the misinformation about a gas tax in her state.)
Some mentioned that the Hispanic moderator brought up some facts that Fox viewers do not normally get to hear, like the fact that 90% of illegal drugs are sought by purchasers in the U.S. and are caught at the border (so much for the tough talk on how tough each would be on the drug cartels) or how LGBQT people are more likely to become victims of vicious attacks.
One of my favorite moments was when Chris Christie looked directly into the camera, saying that he knew DJT would be watching, and then said, of Donald J. Trump, “He’s divided people all over this country. He needs to be voted off the island and be voted out of this process.”
Neither Christie nor Burgum got much of a chance to contribute, tonight, even when the topic was something that Burgum of North Dakota claimed expertise in, energy security. This despite the fact that Nikki Haley said, “Energy security is national security.” Pence, who looked extremely tired this evening, noted that, during his stint as Vice President under the man who plotted to overthrow our national election, we (the U.S.) became a national exporter of energy for “the first time in 75 years.” Pence did not seem to give much credence to the fact that our dependence on fossil fuels has contributed to the wacky weather that we have all experienced this past year, (including the hottest day on the planet in July). The Biden administration’s attempts to move us off fossil fuels and onto other alternatives, plus the efforts to get the United States car manufacturers making electric vehicles (which China is way ahead of us on doing) is directly linked to the global warming that human mistreatment of the planet, including using coal and oil instead of wind or nuclear or solar power], has created.
I hope that someone more dedicated than me investigates whether Floridians did or did not get to vote on fracking before DeSantis’s actions on fracking and drilling. There was a heated debate between Nikki Haley and DeSantis on that very point; she seemed to be winning. DeSantis, in the manner of politicians from forever, fielded a question about the cost of college by pivoting to his own educational achievements and his military record (“I’ll be the first person since 1988 who has also served.”) It was absolutely not answering the question asked and smacked of a self-serving stroll down memory lane
I wish that Cassidy Hutchison’s insights into the January 6th riots had been viewed by as many people as viewed tonight’s so-called “debate” because they were far more relevant to selecting the right people to run our country in 2024.