Friday Reads: Rehashing the Debate of the Living DeadPosted: September 18, 2015
Well, I’ve had one of those days and I’m much later than I thought I would be getting to this post. I went to pick up a ‘script and some groceries which I expected to take an hour and a half tops. It turned into an all afternoon ordeal that’s left me crabby and behind on everything. At least Z Nation is on tonight and I have a good supply of red wine.
I’m still reeling from the absolute cock and bull show that was the three hour Republican Primary Debate. How can so many people tell so many lies and still have folks call some winners and losers. What ever happened to telling the truth and calling people out on absolute fantasy?
Former Democratic activist turned journalist George Stephanopoulos on Thursday went after Carly Fiorina for attacking Planned Parenthood during Wednesday’s presidential debate. The Good Morning America co-host grilled, “Another powerful moment last night was when you talked about those Planned Parenthood tapes. But analysts who’ve watched all 12-plus hours say the scene you’ve described, that harrowing scene you described, actually isn’t in those tapes.”
He wondered, “did you misspeak?” Fiorina shot back at the man who secretly donated $75,000 to the Clintons: “I don’t know whether you’ve watched the tapes, George….Certainly none of the Democrats who are still defending Planned Parenthood have watched those tapes.”
I’m beginning to think they should just come out and ask them if they’re stupid or if they’ve just decided to just lie to every one if that’s what it takes to get attention.
None of the nonsense escaped the sharp eyes and tongue of Charles Pierce. He singled Fiorina out for the completley out-to-lunch comments of Fiorina who many pundits feel won the debate.
There is a monumental question facing political journalists this morning. How do you cover a campaign in which 15 candidates are running on the basis of things that simply are not true, on the basis of things that simply do not exist? There are two choices: call bullshit for what it is, or just surrender to the unceasing barrage of truthless performance art. Here’s Ezra Klein, pretty much running up the white flag.
This is the second debate Fiorina won. She dominated the JV stage in the Fox News debate, forcing CNN to change the rules to ensure she made the main stage in their event. She validated their decision tonight. She had the crispest answers, received the biggest cheers, and proved the only candidate on the stage capable of standing against Trump. She made everyone else on the stage — especially Trump — look unprepared. But she did it in part by playing fast and loose with the facts. Her barrage of specifics often obscured a curious detachment from reality.
If a cop sees someone on the sidewalk evincing a “curious detachment to reality,” he will run that person in for medical observation, but read on, and Klein correctly points out that Fiorina doesn’t really know what she’s talking about. On foreign policy, and on immigration, and on a host of other issues, she simply asserts that which is not true.
This has become something of a habit for Fiorina, who has a notable facility for delivering answers that thrill conservatives but fall apart under close examination. In a recent interview with Katie Couric, for instance, Fiorina delivered a four-minute riff on climate change that the National Review enthused “shows how to address the left on climate change.” The only problem, as David Roberts pointed out, was that every single thing she said in it was wrong. But if presidential campaigns were decided by fact checkers, Al Gore would have won in a landslide.
Were I young Ezra, I would not use the events surrounding the Gore candidacy as precedent for how political reporters should cover presidential campaigns, and Gore did win by half-a-million votes nationwide. If the elite political press is going to treat fiction as fact as long as the fiction is delivered in a compelling, dramatic manner, then the country truly is lost. If Carly Fiorina is adjudged to be the winner of a debate simply because of how “crisply” she delivered lies about Planned Parenthood, or how “forcefully” she responded to a cartoon like Donald Trump, or how “sharply” she presented her nonsense about reining in Vladimir Putin with “aggressive military maneuvers” on his borders, then there is a problem in the political process that is metastasizing by the hour. Ronald Reagan was the index patient for that problem. They truly are his children now.
I’ve been going over what was said at Wednesday’s Republican debate, and I’m terrified. You should be, too. After all, given the vagaries of elections, there’s a pretty good chance that one of these people will end up in the White House.
Why is that scary? I would argue that all of the G.O.P. candidates are calling for policies that would be deeply destructive at home, abroad, or both. But even if you like the broad thrust of modern Republican policies, it should worry you that the men and woman on that stage are clearly living in a world of fantasies and fictions. And some seem willing to advance their ambitions with outright lies.
Let’s start at the shallow end, with the fantasy economics of the establishment candidates.
You’re probably tired of hearing this, but modern G.O.P. economic discourse is completely dominated by an economic doctrine — the sovereign importance of low taxes on the rich — that has failed completely and utterly in practice over the past generation.
Think about it. Bill Clinton’s tax hike was followed by a huge economic boom, the George W. Bush tax cuts by a weak recovery that ended in financial collapse. The tax increase of 2013 and the coming of Obamacare in 2014 were associated with the best job growth since the 1990s. Jerry Brown’s tax-raising, environmentally conscious California is growing fast; Sam Brownback’s tax- and spending-slashing Kansas isn’t.
Yet the hold of this failed dogma on Republican politics is stronger than ever, with no skeptics allowed. On Wednesday Jeb Bush claimed, once again, that his voodoo economics would double America’s growth rate, while Marco Rubio insisted that a tax on carbon emissions would “destroy the economy.”
The only candidate talking sense about economics was, yes, Donald Trump, who declared that “we’ve had a graduated tax system for many years, so it’s not a socialistic thing.”
If the discussion of economics was alarming, the discussion of foreign policy was practically demented. Almost all the candidates seem to believe that American military strength can shock-and-awe other countries into doing what we want without any need for negotiations, and that we shouldn’t even talk with foreign leaders we don’t like.
Trump, meawhile, took the spotlight today by taking a pass on the idea that Obama is a Muslim that wasn’t born in thiscountry unlike how Senator John McCain approached birthers during Obama’s first run at the presidency. Trump was an infamous birther so it’s not surprising he’d still be attracting them and playing off the meme.
Donald Trump came under fire Friday morning for his handling of a question at a town hall about when the U.S. can “get rid” of Muslims, for failing to take issue with that premise and an assertion that President Barack Obama is Muslim.
Trump, who has shaken off several high-profile controversies that would have ended other presidential campaigns, faced an immediate backlash from advocacy groups, and members of his own party distanced themselves from the GOP front-runner. The incident recalls Trump’s 2011 quest to challenge Obama on where he was born, which ended with Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate. It also follows a debate performance Wednesday that garnered mixed reviews for the billionaire businessman.
“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” an unidentified man who spoke at a question-and-answer town hall event in Rochester, New Hampshire asked the mogul at a rally Thursday night. “You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”
A seemingly bewildered Trump interrupted the man, chuckling, “We need this question. This is the first question.”
“Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us,” the man, wearing a “Trump” T-shirt, continued. “That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?”
“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things,” Trump replied. “You know, a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening. We’re going to be looking at that and many other things.”
The real estate mogul did not correct the questioner about his claims about Obama before moving on to another audience member.
Meanwhile, most reporters seem to just keep mum while crap like this goes on. Anderson Cooper finally showed some shock and surprise during one particularly bad White Christian Supremacist Trump Supporter landed on his program. Can we expect any more of this? Probably not, because Coop apologized later.