Parade of the Horribles
The long-awaited first debate from the comically overstuffed field of Republican candidates for the presidency took place last night, and it was a grand old time for all. At least, I assume it was; I didn’t watch it because I’d rather chew on hot coals than watch these horrible assholes talk about how they intend to ruin America. But the internet tells me it was really hot stuff, with Rick Santorum trying and failing to look like a normal human being, Bobby Jindal doing his best imitation of a wet piece of cardboard with an inferiority complex, and Lindsey Graham looking like an old guy who showed up at a college party and no one knows who invited him.
The big takeaway from the debate, of course, was the comedic stylings of Donald Trump. Trump’s candidacy, made possible by the fact that Americans treat the democratic process like an annex of the Pro Bowl, is roaring along; he stands no chance of actually becoming president, nor, once he is made aware of the salary, would he actually accept the job, but he’s having fun blurting out his various dumb-boss ideas in front of cameras, and we’re all enjoying watching a guy run for president who treats it like an audition for his own reality show.
Despite the fact that he will never be President, he’s gotten far enough along and has shown enough clout in the polls that the G.O.P. establishment is starting to sweat a little, which is always a prescription for hilarious, panicky hypocrisy of the highest order. We’ve seen this happen many times before; because the Republican Party has trained its voter base to respond to fear, xenophobia, cheap moralizing, and pandering, they have to put up with this stuff early on; candidates like Pat Buchanan and Michelle Bachmann have occupied the Trump slot in the past. Eventually a suitable middle-of-the road big-business candidate will be found and given the nomination, accompanied by some inhuman creep from a low-population state, just like happens every year; but since the apparent chosen one for 2016, Jeb Bush, has proven to have the charisma and presence of a used Dixie cup, the party bosses have started to get nervous.
The debates were hosted on FOX, a network that would bend over backwards and kiss its own ass if it thought there was even a slight chance it would increase a Republican candidate’s Q-rating. But its hosts take their marching orders from the bosses just like everyone else, which is why a heated aluminum ruler named Megyn Kelly took a hard tack against Donald Mayonnaise. Trump responded to her the way he responds to anyone who dares question the judgement imparted on him by his wealth and celebrity, which is by implying that they are a used-up Kleenex of a human being and that they should shut up and go away until they are classy enough to bask in the presence of his majesty. He later made comments, which would have seemed bizarre coming from anyone but Donald Trump (and, perhaps, Larry King), that many took as his implication that Kelly was on the rag, and therefore a crazy bitch who ought to go have a cry in her powder room while the men are busy discussing anchor babies and Bitcoin.
Liberals were predictably outraged, because Donald Trump is a rich asshole who spends every minute of his life doing things that outrage liberals. But because the Republican establishment are desperate to rid themselves of the monster that capitalism and low-information voters created, conservatives had to pretend to be outraged too. The most amusing manifestation of this faux-outrage came when Erick Erickson, the reactionary buffoon who heads RedState, disinvited Trump from his conclave of knuckleheads on behalf of enraged femininity. No actual women participated in this enragement, because the idea of needing Erick Erickson as a champion of your gender makes their fallopian tubes frost over like the Cold Miser. It left the rest of us at something a loss, however, as having to choose a moral victor in a clash between Donald Trump and Erick Erickson is like hoping that you die of a stroke before the cancer gets you.
The great irony of the situation, of course, was that wounded womanhood was trotted out as a cudgel to smack Trump around with. Trump is certainly a chauvinist hog, very probably a profound misogynist, and possibly a spousal rapist, so it’s not as if the charge doesn’t hold water; it’s that it’s being made by Erick Erickson, a man for whom feminism exists only as a punchline or an insult, and that it’s being made on behalf of the other Republican candidates, every single one of whom is a member of the party that has done everything in its power in the modern era to degrade, damage, and destroy the status of women.
Regardless of their individual opinions about abortion, every single one of the candidates has pandered to the anti-abortion lobby, because they know they cannot gain control of the party without them. They have all consistently voted against, opposed, and belittled every attempt to promote women’s rights; whether it’s reproductive choice, educational opportunities, equality of pay, protection against domestic violence, prosecution of sex crimes, or anything else you care to name, Republicans — including every person standing on that stage — have opposed it. Prior to the Megyn Kelly fiasco, they were all taking turns at shitting all over Planned Parenthood over an entirely manufactured pseudo-controversy and demanding that the organization that does more to meet the medical needs of young and poor women than anyone else have the lion’s share of its funding cut. If anyone had suggested actually outlawing PP and arresting its leaders, at least half of the candidates would have signed a pledge to do so. This is the backdrop against which FOX, Erickson, and the rest of the G.O.P. establishment were defending the stained honor of the fairer sex.
It’s never going to not be fun to watch Trump make a fool of himself, and there will be plenty of opportunities to do so until the day he farts his last breath out of his spoiled rich asshole. But don’t ever let yourself think that Erick Erickson, or Roger Ailes and his FOX lackeys, or any one of the sixteen other people vying for the crown against Trump have even the slightest bit of respect for women, except as tools to hammer a crooked and inconvenient nail — tools to be disposed of as soon as they are no longer useful.