Special Report: Two Hours of Boredom and Disgust


Barry Blitt, The New Yorker

If you skipped Wednesday night’s GOP Debate you did yourself a favor. The candidates did themselves no favors. I watched nearly the full two hours, not expecting enlightenment but maybe some good slash-and-burn. It didn’t happen. Toward the end mi compañera said, “It’s just a circus.” My response, “Wake me when it’s over.” It was likely a waste of time for the candidates too.

Most of the media critics I read found no robust attacks on Trump, weak moderators, constant interruptions and ducking of the question, irrelevant posturing and pontificating. Some reported this in their non-judgmental media way; a few spoke the truth. Here is some of what the sharper ones said.

  • Even before the debate, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp called it: “Tonight’s Republican primary debate is not a real event. It is a performance, a show, a pantomime: a shiny object with virtually no relevance to the outcome of the 2024 presidential primary.”
  • Politico’s Jack Shafer, on Trump’s skipping the debate: ”in favor of giving a competing speech in Detroit amid the UAW strike as if he’s already the nominee. This is like a manager trying to get the umps to call a ball game in his favor in the fourth inning just because his team is leading 5-0 and, on top of that, saying his lead makes him deserving of the World Series trophy, too.”
  • Comedian Jay Black: “Chris Christie frames Joe Biden being married to Dr Jill Biden as him ‘sleeping with a member of the teacher’s union,’ which is a statement so disingenuous and unserious that it might actually tear open the fabric of the universe.”
  • Max Burns in The Hill: “Yesterday’s debate showcased a Republican Party consumed by anger: anger at themselves, at Donald Trump, at Mexico, at the whole wide world. Voters looking for a positive conservative vision of the future should look elsewhere. This GOP is fixated not on building a better future but on settling scores both foreign and domestic without concern for the long-term consequences.”
  • Moira Donegan in The Guardian: “The debate was rancorous, chaotic and punctured by statements so hateful, outlandish and extreme that they made an impression even by the current Republican party’s very low standards.”

Moira also mentioned something I thought of: the presence of Reagan, in whose Library the debate was held: “His shadow loomed over the candidates onstage at the Reagan library like former Air Force One, which hung from the mezzanine above their line of gleaming podiums. One was tempted to imagine, more than once, what would happen if it fell.”

Not to condone such a tragedy, I too thought about the plane falling and wiping out a couple of hundred GOP voters. So much of what the Republicans have become stems from Reagan and his brainless formulation, ”Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Let alone all the supply side and trickle down bullshit that followed. Who but a masochist would stay tuned for the third debate in November?