Chutzpah with a comb over
A curiously-coiffed shadow hung over proceedings; like an episode of Two and a Half Men post Charlie Sheen, the GOP debate without Trump lacked the very trickster figure whose chaotic presence had previously made this election cycle so compelling. If American politics is entertainment, then perhaps this was the night the GOP debates jumped the shark.
On my twitter feed the consensus was that a Trump-less event was a good thing; that it allowed for a debate that was more substantive, but, from what I saw, that gives the remaining candidates far too much credit. Over-coached by their advisers they awkwardly parroted their talking points – or in Ben Carson’s case the most passionless reciting of the preamble to the constitution you could ever hope to hear.
There’s Cruz, I guess, a man who looks and sounds like Hollywood’s idea of a stock Republican villain, and while he adeptly stepped into the role of heel (to use a wrestling term) he really is no replacement for Trump. Cruz is just another politician (being a not entirely unskilled politician he would claim that he’s not like other politicians – which, of course, is the most politician-y thing a politician could ever say) and can be understood in those terms. Trump, however, is different– he’s America’s fever dream.
While the debate was taking place, attendees of a Trump rally across town got to watch as he emasculated Santorum and Huckabee live; the two candidates willingly appearing on a stage emblazoned with his name, but hey, it can’t harm book sales, can it? After all, that must be why so many of these no-hopers are still in the race. Boehner when he resigned as Speaker referenced the Roman statesmen Cincinnatus. Cincinnatus was a favorite of the Founding Fathers because he put the civic good before his own personal ambition, but I rather think, looking at the more no-hoper candidates on the GOP side, as if Cinna, torn for his bad verses, would be the better Roman to compare these candidates to.