|We're so glad you could attend..|
Step inside; step inside.
The so-called Republican clown-car rolled into Cleveland, Ohio last night, following honourary drum-major Donald Trump in the first of a series of televised debates.
10 men who-would-be-king (the lone woman in the field, Carly Fiorina, was on the undercard match, held an hour prior to the main event in an empty room) took to their podia to discuss why each should succeed Barack Obama as president of the US.
There were several entertaining moments - Trump himself did not disappoint - occurred, and many of my progressive friends were beside themselves with glee both before and during the action.
One posted a photo-shop image of the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, wiping a tear of joy from her eye, whilst Mr Obama himself was shown in hysterics at the display.
I am sure you yourself saw at some point in the social media drinking games suggesting when to take a sip (Huckabee mentions god, Trump says "huge," or Scott Walker refers to fighting the unions).
It's all good fun, of course. I myself tuned in as much to see if Trump would flip his lid as to learn about the various candidates. (Hint to John Kasich: your dad was a mailman; you were raised in the middle class. We get it. Unless you are gunning to be postmaster general, move on.)
But I am struck by a couple of points missing in all this mirth.
The first is, in American politics, it seems now amongst les biens-pensants, having more than one or two candidates a full year before the elections is a bad thing. And if they attack each other on different issues, well. That really won't do.
Think briefly about what is transpiring in the Democratic side of the process. A woman who, until relatively recently, had pretty much zero political experience, but who elided from a sex scandal of her husband's into a senate seat from New York (where she was responsible for not a single piece of serious legislation that passed), and then later to a fairly mediocre record as Secretary of State, is marching more or less to a coronation.
She drags behind her enough baggage that even American Tourister could not hope to contain it, and yet not one of the main talkers not appearing on Fox Noise has asked a serious question about her.
Those who do are immediately tarred as either sexist or conspiracy theory loons. Or sexist, conspiracy theory loons.
Bernard Sanders, whose politics are almost diametrically opposed to mine, is asking serious questions, and I would surely prefer him to Herself. But he's treated as a curiosity.
Add up the minutes his face is on television (particularly, DNC mouthpiece MSNBC), compared to how often Trump's "hair" is shown.
Which approach is more risible - having too many candidate choices or having too few?
Napoleon famously crowned himself in Notre Dame in 1804. I wonder if Herself will conduct her own swearing in.
|The White House, January 2017|
The second is, the questions themselves being asked of the Republicans strike me as slanted. For example, virtually all are asked whether they "believe in evolution."
First, as I've stated many times, one does not "believe" in scientific theories. One either accepts the evidence or rejects it. Whether human beings walked with dinosaurs in a sort of Fred Flintstone ahistory is a matter of fact. (Or, to be more correct, contrafactual.)
But more importantly, what on earth does a candidate's view of evolution have to do with being president? Do we expect him to be setting the high school biology curriculum? Make decisions on the displays at the Smithsonian?
It's plainly a 'gotcha' question meant to touch on the erogenous zones of an MSNBC viewer's id.
I would like to hear one of the MSM interviewers ask Mrs Clinton - "you took a lot of campaign money from the banks. You're quite cozy with Goldman-Sachs. In your husband's administration (to which you point frequently), Larry Summers was a key force in designing the economic policies. What favours as a senator did you exchange for the money funnelled to you by Goldman and Citi and Chase? Do you pledge not to include people like this who conspired to nearly destroy the world economy in 2008?
Or, if you prefer, "Why did you setup your own private email server in your house, in apparent violation of the laws? Why are you hiding behind executive privilege and given the pledge that the administration in which you served took to be the most transparent in history, will you waive executive privilege and release *all* the emails you sent while doing the people's business?
To many, whether Mike Huckabee's (who has pretty much no change to be elected) on the Flintstones are more relevant than whether Mrs Clinton is obstructing justice.
The clown car comparison is hilarious; I use it myself.
But the metaphor should not be allowed to be used to avoid asking the likely next president of this country important, real questions.
I prefer a circus to a coronation.