Out of some combination of morbid curiosity, depressive masochism, and journalism as forensic scatology, I watched the Republican CNN/ YouTube debate Nov. 28. If this nest of bigots and psychos (both the candidates and most of the questioners) seriously represents a significant portion of America, I despair for my country.
The GOP fetishes of God, gays, guns and tax cuts are still prevalent, but the main story is that Latino immigrants are now Public Enemy #2 with a bullet, surpassing marriage-minded queers, bumping Black dope fiends down to #4 and conceivably even threatening to knock Muslim terrorists out of the #1 spot. “Sanctuary city” is the new Two Minutes Hate buzzword. Oh well, when the Democrats abandon any vestige of being a pro-labor party, the “populism of fools” will fill the vacuum.
The debate within the Republicans on immigration comes down to one question: “Should we pander to our corporate backers’ need for cheap labor, or to our political base’s fear and hatred of Mexicans?” Door #2 seems to be ahead.
After the other Republicans attacked him for not barring illegal immigrants’ kids from public schools, not denying them emergency room treatment, and not deporting ones who reported crimes, Rudy Giuliani tried to prove his anti-immigrant bona fides by boasting how he sent Haitians back (to the Duvalier dictatorship or drowning). Meanwhile, Mitt Romney raved about deporting them all, but defended hiring illegals to work on his lawn by saying he had outsourced the job to a contractor and couldn’t be responsible for who they hired.
Romney is one of the most thoroughly smarmy and phony human beings I have ever observed. If the Republican Party were dominated by born-again Satanists, he’d be proclaiming his conversion to the dark side and lambasting his rivals for wearing their pentagrams crooked. John McCain did nail him, though, when Romney said he was against torture, but wouldn’t ban waterboarding, contending that terrorists shouldn’t know what we can’t do to them. “This isn’t 24,” McCain told him.
Even though I know very well that Giuliani is a racist authoritarian bully, seeing him live is still scary. The man could conceivably out-Vader Dick Cheney. His two facial expressions are a wife-beater scowl and a jowl-splitting smirk. It was amusing watching him try to explain why African-Americans should vote Republican. The former mayor, who has never won more than 20 percent of the Black vote in an election, cobbled together unconvincing babble about education and school choice. (If there were a God, the ghosts of Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond would have materialized out of the wall of logos behind the candidates to wreak revenge.)
McCain, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee all showed degrees of humanity. McCain spoke unequivocally against torture. But he’s solidly pro-war and believes that the problem in Iraq, as it was in Vietnam, is politicians who won’t “let us win.” Paul is strongly against the Iraq war — and got some applause for that. But he exudes the scent of wingnuttery, like he’s spent far too much of his life listening to far-right conspiracy theorists rant about the Trilateralists and the North American Union.
Huckabee was the only GOP candidate who seems to have any conception of what life is like for working-class people, but he would replace the income tax with a stiff national sales tax that works against lowincome earners. He also (essentially) said that God told him it was okay to execute people. (What would Jesus do? He probably wouldn’t be the Roman soldier out there with a hammer and nails.)
And if brains were dynamite, the guerrillas in Iraq would not use Fred Thompson for an IED.
Tom Tancredo is the American Jean Marie Le Pen, a hater with a one-track mind whose ideology is oozing into more mainstream realms. When a mother in Pittsburgh asked what he’d do about lead paint on Chineseimport toys, he went on about blocking … illegal immigration. (I think that when he says “difficulty assimilating,” it’s code for “spic.”)
Duncan Hunter said gays shouldn’t serve in the military because troops with “Judeo- Christian values” wouldn’t accept them. The first achievement touted in his commercials is his role in building the Berlin Wall along the Mexican border.
The looniest questioners included one who inquired if the candidates believed “every single word in the Bible.” (In the 30 seconds Giuliani spent fumbling for a politically correct answer, I thought of four commandments he’s broken.) Another one wanted to know which candidates owned guns and what their favorite model was.
One silver lining: I don’t think I heard Giuliani say “9/11” more than twice.