Bluster, braggadocio, blowhards, oh my! The twin GOP debates that aired on Fox News Thursday were a buffet of bravado, casual misogyny, ignorance, xenophobia, leaps of illogic, flights of folly, and vaults of vacuousness, as the 17 candidates performed their strange dance of the damned in response to the clarion call of conservative crazies — “Be loud! Be angry! Be president!”
Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. It’s our special GOP Debate Edition. Starting with number five:
5. Ben Carson
So much for “do no harm.” Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson is apparently cool with torture. What he isn’t cool with is talking about torture.
When asked during Thursday night’s primetime Republican presidential debate whether he would reinstate the practice of waterboarding Gitmo detainees, Carson said:
What we do in order to get the info that we need is our business. And I wouldn’t necessarily be broadcasting to everybody what we’re going to do…. We’ve gotten into this mindset of fighting politically correct wars. There is no such thing as a politically correct war.
For someone who has trumped up his talents as a doctor, citing his signature medical achievement of being the first surgeon to separate conjoined twins at the head (an accomplishment he mentioned in his closing debate remarks), it is especially appalling that Carson would even suggest that torture is acceptable
It makes one wonder how he may have responded had he been asked about the other methods of torture used against detainees by U.S. military and non-military personnel, as revealed in the Senate’s report on the CIA’s tactics:
“Dr. Carson, what about stress positions?”
“I know a great chiropractor.”
“Would you be willing to employ sleep-deprivation techniques?”
“If the United States is in danger, we don’t have time to worry if these people are getting enough sleep.”
“Rectal rehydration or feeding?”
“If the person won’t eat or drink, I mean, right? God gave us a brain — and an anus.”
Setting aside the horrifying moral ramifications, it has long been known that information extracted via torture is almost always unreliable, and the CIA’s torture program, according to the Senate, failed to produce valuable intelligence.
4. Donald Trump
Donald Trump has done quite a lot to lower the bar on polite discourse during the early stages of this election cycle. But Trump’s running-of-the-bullsh*t rhetoric didn’t begin with his candidacy. The candidate-cum-carinival barker has a long history of speaking his mind — and his mind is awfully lewd and deluded.
Debate moderator Megyn Kelly raked him over the coals for his “disparaging comments about women’s looks,” including tweets in which he referred to them as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” to say nothing of his repulsion for breastfeeding women.
“Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump quipped. The former talk-show host responded on Twitter:
try explaining that 2 ur kids
— Rosie (@Rosie) August 7, 2015
“I don’t, frankly, have time for total political correctness,” Trump added before turning the tables on Kelly:
What I say is what I say. And honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you although I could probably maybe not be based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.
What a statesman! Here’s one for the nightmare file: the thought of President Trump sitting across the table from heads of state in Geneva or Vienna or some place — telling, say, Angela Merkel she’d look good on her knees. Next: Bobby Jindal
Each of the Republican candidates is going to have a very busy first day in office, if elected. Rick Perry promised to bring a whole drum of Wite-Out to erase Obama’s executive actions. Scott Walker has suggested he’d bomb Iran shortly after his inauguration. And Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal vowed to open a can of executive whoop-ass on Planned Parenthood in the form of a Department of Justice probe and a presidential order siccing the IRS on the nonprofit — a move that would be, by the way, illegal. When asked whether he would be willing to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, he affirmed that he would defund the group “absolutely,” but disingenuously suggested that if the government were to close down over the issue, it would be President Obama’s fault:
In terms of shutting down the government, I don’t think President Obama should choose to shut down the government simply to send taxpayer dollars to this group that has been caught, I believe, breaking the law, but also offending our values and our ethics. […] Absolutely [Republicans in D.C.] should fight to defund Planned Parenthood, and I don’t think the president should shut down the government simply to send our taxpayer dollars to this group.
The Bayou blockhead isn’t even the most anti-abortion candidate on the ticket, as we shall see…
Next: Mike Huckabee
2. Mike Huckabee
If you want to stand out as a social conservative in this crowd, you have to say things that are quite insane — what with Marco Rubio refusing to grant exceptions in his abortion ban for rape and incest and Scott Walker basically saying if an unborn fetus kills its mother, that’s okay with him. But former Arkansas governor, guns and grits aficionado, and cognoscente of far-right Christian kookery Mike Huckabee was on hand to take the primetime GOP debate’s conversation about the many ways to gut and kill Planned Parenthood to a dispiriting new low.
Defunding the nonprofit women’s health clinic was not enough, he said. As president, Huckabee vowed, he would extend personhood rights — namely the protections of the 5th and 14th amendments to the Constitution — to unborn fetuses. With this little bit of legal jujitsu, it’s not even necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade. Legal abortion becomes, ipso facto, unconstitutional. Huckabee elaborated:
I think the next president ought to invoke the 5th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.
The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s 5th and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.
It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.
Invoking this dubiously defined “DNA schedule,” Huck concluded that modern science proves that life begins at conception — but apparently ends when you’re a woman who benefits from the treatment and health care that constitute 97 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides
1. The Moderators
Stupid reigned supreme on both sides of the stage Thursday night.
At the end of the debate, reading a question submitted on Facebook, Fox News host Megyn Kelly said, “I want to know if any of [the candidates] have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.”
“Any word from God?” Kelly added, posing the question first to Ted Cruz.
Asking a candidate what his first act as president would be: good question. Asking how their faith influences their political decision making: fair question. Asking if they’ve received “a word from God”: absurd, irrational question that mars the integrity of the office and insults the intelligence of voters.
Unless we’re to believe any of the GOP presidential candidates are prophets communicating with the Man (or Woman) Upstairs, Kelly’s audience-generated inquiry was criminally silly, and a slap in the face to voters who care about actual policy issues.
But you have to hand it to Kelly — she doubled down on the dumbness by combining two issues into one ridiculous statement posed as an asinine question. Speaking to Marco Rubio, Kelly said, “A woman just came here to the stage and asked: What about the veterans? I want to hear more about what these candidates are going to do for our nation’s veterans. So I put the question to you about God and the veterans — which you may find to be related.”
What was the actual question there? We just heard an opportunity for candidates to spit out a canned, worthless non-answer about God and the troops. Win-win.
Nice job, Fox moderators. You succeeded in showing U.S. voters little to nothing new about the Republican candidates, except that they are as similar as they are awful, and that you are well matched.
Okay, Tapper. Ball’s in your court.