Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chumtossing in the Palmetto state

Newt and MittensI watched the Republican debate last night, and I think I’ve finally recovered. That was traumatic (and I’m really not exaggerating...more in a moment).

I find myself bizarrely fascinated by the spectacle of these debates. I watch with a strange combination of horror and hilarity. I find that I need to concentrate on the latter in order to not blow a vein, and I’m usually live tweeting with friends and a handful of journalists I follow. (You can find me on Twitter @Luvrte66.) Sometimes Dan and George make appearances; sometimes Tom; last night it was Ryan. We make some serious points, but throw a few jokes and sarcastic remarks in there, too. The journalists that I usually see on there are David Corn of Mother Jones, Chuck Todd of NBC, and last night Democrat strategist Paul Begala and Time correspondent Michael Scherer were on there. They have some very astute comments and pertinent points. I’d say that they’re generally quite fair, although they’re pretty much on the left side of the aisle, so they express horror at some of the same things that I do.

Last night was especially awful for me because of the South Carolina audience. They were out for blood. They came across as angry and combative. They booed Juan Williams for asking Newt if his remarks about poor kids working as janitors or about food stamps (He offered to go to the NAACP and discuss why jobs are better than food stamps. Yes, he really did.) were racially insensitive. Williams was one of the moderators, people. He was doing his job in asking tough but reasonable questions. They booed Ron Paul when he said that we should really be “doing unto others” when it comes to attacking people...that we carpet bomb these countries and then wonder why people hate us. That’s right. They booed the Golden Rule. They cheered when Perry said that “South Carolina is at war with this federal government and this administration” concerning the Voting Rights Act. This in the state that first seceded from the Union, starting the Civil War, and to add a little double shock powah, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Impressive. They also cheered Perry when he made the incredible statement that because members of the Obama administration condemned the behavior of the Marines who urinated on Taliban corpses, they show “disdain for the military” and are engaging in “over-the-top rhetoric.” Never mind the fact that desecration of corpses not only undermines what we are trying to accomplish there, it is illegal according to military law. But that’s a discussion for another day. When Perry said that the Marines in question should not be charged with a criminal act (again, ignoring that the military considers it exactly that), the crowd cheered.

What really got to me, though, was when one of the moderators asked a question of Romney about immigration, and began his question with the statement that Romney’s father was born in Mexico after many Mormons fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution for polygamy. As soon as the moderator stated that George Romney was born in Mexico, the crowd booed. They BOOED! At the mere mention of the country, which happens to be one of our allies! I still cannot believe that happened. I had a moment of despair and depression, but today I’m channeling it into contempt and anger. Paul Begala tweeted this:
Begala tweet
I completely agree with him. I’ve seen the behavior of these crowds—this was definitely the worst yet—and I have just been appalled. Obviously, I’m pretty far to the left, but there are plenty of people who are more in the middle, moderates and independents who are still making up their minds, and I don’t see how any moderate person could see this behavior and think it’s anything short of dangerous and mean-spirited lunacy. It is of some consolation to me that the more the crowds egg them on, the more the candidates attempt to play to them and toss out more and more red meat. It may play well with audiences like that in South Carolina last night, but when it comes to the general election, I’m guessing it won’t be so warmly received. And there is plenty of video to be mined for use this summer and fall.

As for being traumatized? I had a bad dream last night in which the President was shot, and later died. I don’t recall any details about it, probably because it was so disturbing to me. It’s one thing to disagree with this President, but the behavior of the crowd last night was deplorable and downright bloodthirsty in its intolerance. I haven’t been quite so disgusted during this process as I was last night. It also solidified my resolve to do what I can to make sure President Obama has four more years and to keep these pandering cretins out of the White House. (Ron Paul excepted. I don’t want him in the White House, but it’s for other reasons, not because he panders.)

There’s another debate this Thursday, in Charleston. What will happen in that one? Will the audience burn an effigy of the President as the candidates look on with indulgent grins?


  1. Sad to say, but the sane South Carolinians--and there are a few of us--stayed away from the GOP debates.
    In hindsight, perhaps we should have attended.

  2. I was going to watch the debate online later... but I will trust your judgment... and having spent time in South Carolina, I find the behavior not surprising... and you see why I call Carolina, 'Carolina'... I don't know what to call that place on the southern side of the border...


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