Friday, December 02, 2011

Circus Atmosphere Among Top Republicans: Donald Trump to Host Presidential Debate

The Republicans running for president are so bad that a phrase left over from the George W. Bush era comes to mind: shock and awe. Hey, it's a circus with lots of stunts, much swinging back and forth in the polls, and an embarrassing number of splats.

I suppose it began with Sarah Palin who "earned" millions by never really declaring herself a candidate for the 2012 presidential election. When Palin quit halfway through her term as governor, anyone paying attention figured she was doing it for the money. Conservatives considered that observation cynical and shoveled piles of cash into her coffers. If Palin had been serious about a presidential run, she at least could have used some of that cash to remake her image. Karl Rove showed that was possible with George W. Bush.

The first attempt by Newt Gingrich to run for president last spring was a disaster simply because he tried to calibrate himself to the right of Romney and to the left of some of the right wing fruitcakes trying to grab onto the Tea Party movement. The irony is that Gingrich is a reactionary and has been trying to pull the Republican party to the far right for more than twenty years. Over the summer, he had to take a long vacation before coming back as Gingrich II.

One of the oddest candidates initially was Donald Trump. He tried to pump a lot of hot air into the silly birther craze that conservatives kept going out of a stubborn desire to create "reality" by huffing and puffing their fantasy into some sort of straw house that was ridiculously easy to blow down. So what was Trump doing? Had his political advisers told him that being ridiculous sells? Oh wait, time and time again in American politics, the ridiculous sells quite well. The problem for Donald Trump is that throughout his life he has frankly always sounded like a blowhard. More on him in a moment.

Rick Perry has crashed. It was so painful to watch that it's probably better to simply move on.

Michelle Bachmann has made so many gaffes that I keep thinking of the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962. She would have closed our embassy in Iran.

Herman Cain is a circus barker. He is also crashing in the polls. But at least
he's been entertaining. I've never seen a candidate find so many ways to twist in the wind because of his own comments. Trump and Cain have been the two circus barkers on the Republican campaign trail. They're both the equivalent of high-priced used car salesmen. Americans haven't seen too many salesmen types in presidential contests before. The first may have been George W. Bush. Bush's only claim to fame before becoming governor of Texas was that he was a president's son and that he had a knack of parting wealthy investors from their money for oil projects that never went anywhere.

But Gingrich is backā€”as Gingrich II. Or maybe it's Gingrich III, Gingrich IV.... One loses count. It's hard to say how far Gingrich will go. How do you predict the fortunes of such a person when Newt's claim to fame began on C-Span when he would hurl phony charges at Democrats in an empty chamber at one or two in the morning. It was a joke, a charade, a misuse of special orders, a desperate attempt for a mediocre politician to get attention. Using special orders to get something off your chest is fine. But attacking your House colleagues without telling them that you're attacking them is a sore point with a long history in Washington. But conservatives thought it was cute and Gingrich finally had a career as a politician known for his....what? Can anyone name something useful that Gingrich has done in the last thirty years?

Okay, there are still people left in the campaign and more debates. The debates, of course, have been bizarre. Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the war in Iraq and the person responsible for the image of Americans being welcomed with flowers, parades and cheers, was allowed to ask a question. This is a guy who was wrong on about one or two dozen predictions he made about Iraq. Two months after we arrived in Iraq everything that Paul Wolfowitz said about Iraq was essentially thrown out the window as useless. Wolfowitz was a cold war warrior who didn't know what to do with himself after the fall of the Soviet Union. So to stay in business and to stay cozy with conservatives, he essentially made up bullshit about places like Iraq. Some foreign policy. And a strange choice to be asking questions.

But the weirdness of the Republican run for the White House has not ended. It probably won't end until November 2012. At the end of December, for some unfathomable reason, Donald Trump has been asked to be the debate moderator. If anyone symbolizes the reckless avarice of the 1% (some say the .1%) that brought on the Great Recession, it's Donald Trump. Trump was born rich. He inherited his real estate company from his parents. I don't know how many times Donald Trump has come to the brink of bankruptcy but it appears he's never really has had to worry about losing his fortune. Why? Because the banks always bail him out. Not because he's competent, but because...well, that's just what they do. Long before President Bush had to bail out the banks, the banks for twenty years had been bailing out Trump. Donald Trump is a bona fide member of the privileged 1%. He's not a banker, but long before the banks expected to automatically be bailed out, Donald Trump was already leading the way. And he's asking the questions.

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