The most notable change from the first debate I recapped to Wednesday night that there were only 5 candidates on the stage this time. The moderators were still awful: Kristen Welker, who simpered through a TFG interview last month; Hugh Hewitt, a right wing extremist whose presence was jarring; and Lester Holt, who told the audience from the start that if the candidates misbehaved as they had had in past debates he was going to turn this car around and we’d all =go home.
Now you have to think that the GOP chose this Wednesday for the debate because they expected to be celebrating a string of GOP victories the previous day, and the shocking losses were on the minds of some of the candidates. Ron DeSantis finally began attacking TFG. Vivek Ramaswamy went completely off the rails right away and ended up berating Kristen Welker (who sat there smiling at him) and then he made a comment about having Dick Cheney in high heels on the stage—2 of them—which seems both transphobic and sexist, which I guess is pretty on brand for the GOP these days.
Tim Scott said he waneted to restore “our” Christian values. His entire performance was a forgettable word salad mixed with lies, like his using gas prices from the height of the pandemic as a baseline. He also offered a totally nonsensical economic model where prices go down when people think magical thoughts about supply increasing. I think he’s done making the debate stage after Wednesday night, but he got his name out there and there’s plenty of grifting to be done if you are a Black Republican.
Chris Christie was reasonable and spoke quietly and almost seemed like a normal person. He was also really boring and quiet about TFG, and it seemed he was participating in an entirely different debate. And Nikki Haley was basically as she has been, trying to land punches on Ramaswamy, going after him for bringing up her daughter, and generally service fascism with smile as she has been doing from the beginning. She is doing a ton of work for, at best, second place.
My biggest post-debate question is: why was this debate so boring? You have all these weirdos on the stage, none of them are going to be the nominee, and none of this means anything right now because TV is not what makes candidates anymore, and the questions they got made it seem if if there were all taking a test. It was dull, the questions were sophomoric and superficial, and reflected poorly on the moderators.
The discussion in a nutshell: Everyone wants to kill Hamas and if that means that a bunch of innocent Palestinians die, so be it. There were boring questions about what ships to build to strengthen the Navy, and a few of the candidates seemed to indicate they were prepared to go to war with Mexico, or Iran, or China, or all 3 countries.
Ramaswamy made a few waves when he seemed pretty meh about Russia’s annexing parts of Ukraine. He also shared that his vision of America is a place where people don’t get useless college degrees. Instead they work all the time and make a lot of money and this makes everyone happy. It’s an unbelievably bleak existence, with no art or music or good food or science, but (if he was being serious, because, honestly, who the heck knows with him) but it seemed to help explain why he is as weird he is.
I question his sincerity in actually running for president versus just trolling for attention for some future grift because he referenced a QAnon talking point (Biden isn’t actually running the country and Gavin Newsom or Michelle Obama need to come forward to let us know which one of them is going to be the actual 2024 Democratic nominee.). His cynicism was front and center Wednesday night. I am curious to see if that begins to erode his corrosive appeal.
That’s probably the only thing I am curious about. None of the candidates revealed anything interesting about themselves or their vision for this country, and people trying to out yell each other about how they want to kill people in other countries is not pleasant viewing. I’m not sure I’ll watch the next one, to be honest. We all lost on Wednesday night if this is the best the opposition party can muster.
Ramaswamy’s dream of a money-grubbing society made me think of this: