Over the last few months when I come home from work late at night my better half will, from time to time, be in the living room watching a television show. Now this certain television show once had a cast so big that they split the show in two, with only the top 10 or so actors making the main program.
There were all sorts of characters.
There was a clown. There were two scions. There was, according to my best guess, a self-serving court jester-type aggrandizer who had no common sense filter and would thus, at every possible chance, spew off at the mouth. There was a failed business executive. There were a few serious actors but they were so overshadowed by these archetypes that they failed to connect with the audience.
It slowly dawned on me over time, as I tried to make my humble way in the world, that this motley crew of characters on my hi-def television was actually the field of candidates from the Republican Party that hoped to become the next president of the United States of America.
As fall turned into the holiday season I kept expecting the clown and the court jester to drop out. I kept waiting for the serious discussion among adults to emerge. But it never happened. I kept expecting Jeb Bush and Chris Christie and John Kasich to have an adult conversation about policy issues and challenges facing a modern nation moving deeper into the 21st century. Instead, I kept seeing the guy with the cockatiel hair spouting off about immigrants and Muslims. He said he was going to round them up and send them away.
As Buggs Bunny would say, “What a maroon.” The clown beat the court jester in Iowa, only to fall to third in New Hampshire. The court jester took his win in the Granite State and traveled to South Carolina this past week to get ready for that state’s primary. South Carolina, with its reputation as being “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum,” is a critical juncture in the road to the nomination. Recall, it’s where President Obama secured a knock out over then presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton back in 2008. It’s where President Bush derailed the John McCain train in 2000. Because of South Carolina’s heavy military and veteran population, foreign affairs and national security often take center stage.
Christie, who dropped out of the race this past week, delivered a fatal blow to the chances of the child-like senator from Florida during a New Hampshire debate on Feb. 6, so it’s likely down to the clown, the jester and the remaining scion, who trotted out his brother in South Carolina to defend against the jester’s accusations that the Bush family can’t keep America safe.
Them’s fighting words in South Carolina. Donald Trump, even if he is a ridiculous self-aggrandizing jester, dared to speak 9-11 truth in South Carolina. To me, that may be the most interesting development since Sanders tied Clinton in Iowa. See, the narrative is supposed to go along the lines of George W. Bush was riding his horse in Texas being a real American when some bad guys attacked us and he came to the rescue. But that’s not quite right is it?
Bush had been the president for eight months, most of it spent trying to figure out how to give more money to Enron, when the events of 9-11 took place. He gets major credit for his immediate response to the crisis, but the historical record will show the failure of his leadership before and after, most significantly the horrendous foray into the Middle East that was the Iraq War.
But how can one criticize the military in America? How can a Republican candidate for president, nonetheless, criticize America’s track record in overseas military escapades? Trump did it effortlessly, without missing a beat, in saying that the Iraq war was a policy failure and that W. failed to protect us from foreign terrorists.
Now he went on to say that Cruz, the clown, was “a whack job” and that Rubio, the childlike senator from Florida, “cracks under pressure,” but it was his sideswipe at Jeb Bush vis a vis his older brother that really stood out.
Will it pay off for Trump in South Carolina? He’s likely so confident, given that he’s polling near 40 percent in South Carolina, that he feels like he can say anything. Jeezum crow, he actually said that he could go out on Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and still not lose support.
Trump as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States is almost certainly a reality. It’s a travesty, but perhaps fitting for a party that’s been running off the rails since the repeal of Glass-Steagall. !