At this point, the Republican presidential race has violated all the laws of electoral physics. Candidates who would seem eminently qualified for office have poll numbers that look like a toddler’s age, and candidates who seem eminently qualified for psychotropic medications are in the lead.
Last night’s debate only confirmed yet again that just when you thought the party had hit bottom, the candidates take a shovel and start digging deeper.
For a debate that was supposed to be about economics, the topics ranged far afield. That provided Ben Carson the opportunity to prove yet again he was a homophobe while denying that he was.
“I believe that our Constitution protects everybody, regardless of their sexual orientation or any other aspect. I also believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. And there is no reason that you can’t be perfectly fair to the gay community,” Carson said in a flight of illogic. “They shouldn’t automatically assume that because you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman that you are a homophobe.”
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Of course, Carson didn’t try to resolve the contradiction between being fair and denying basic rights. That’s because he’s the real victim. “This is how they frighten people and get people to shut up,” Carson said. “You know, that’s what the PC culture is all about, and it’s destroying this nation.”
You have to be Carson’s age to even talk about a PC culture, let alone imagine that it’s real.
The debate was disastrous for other reasons as well. The moderators were by any standard just awful. The candidates appealing to the tinfoil hat brigade (looking at you, Donald) were subdued. In fact, if anything as a group the outsiders solidified their standing.
In particularly, Ted Cruz was among the candidates who came off the best, which should be a wake up call to everyone worried about the creepiest Senator being the GOP nominee. Cruz has been running a below-the-radar campaign. But it’s also a smart one. He’s prepared to scoop up all the voters when the kiddie candidates like Trump and Carson implode.
Meanwhile, the man who was supposed to be the frontrunner, Jeb Bush, is vanishing before our eyes. He had almost no time during the debate and he did not use the time he had to cover himself in glory. Following on the news that he was cutting back on his campaign spending, Bush’s debate performance is going to cement the perception that his presidential hopes are in a death spiral.
Making predictions in this campaign environment is foolhardy. Who could have predicted that anyone would take Donald Trump seriously and that someone with Jeb Bush’s credentials would be in the single digits?
The only thing that’s clear is that the Republican party is a mess that only promises to get messier.