Monday, July 06, 2015

A Not-So-Great Debate

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Republican presidential primary debate presented, produced and controlled by Fox News.

“We come to you tonight from the Rose Bowl, the only venue big enough to accommodate the 146 announced candidates, their staffs, advisers, flaks, fund raisers, lobbyists, loyalists, lawyers, accountants, donors, do-gooders, political junkies, groupies, mistresses and assorted hangers-on. Not to mention wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins, all of whom are on the candidates’ payroll.

“We don’t expect the general public to witness tonight’s debate in person. Since all of the declared candidates are busy raising money in California, the Secret Service has blocked off every major thoroughfare from San Luis Obispo to the Mexican border for security reasons.  We are assured all affected will be able to return to their homes sometime in the near future.

 “In addition to the usual suspects --- sons of Presidents, current and past senators, members of congress and governors who will all claim they are ‘political outsiders’ dedicated to ‘cleaning up the mess in Washington’ --- there are a few candidates you may not be familiar with.

“Buford T. Biblebelt is a former police chief who believes in the three B’s: Baptists, Bourbon and Batons. He advocates the frequent use of nuclear weapons as a foreign policy tool and wants to impose reforms at home based on his curious  concepts of Scripture that would make Sharia law look like a day at Disneyland. His law-and-order platform recommends 25 to life for jaywalking. He equates freedom of speech with disturbing the peace and favors repealing all the amendments to the Constitution   except the Second. He is backed by the Society for the Preservation of the Dark Ages.

“Malcom X. Wellborn III is the candidate of the Conservative Republican African Party. He grew up in upper-class surroundings but claims he pulled himself up by his boot straps. Those boots, however, were made by Gucci. He is the author of a book entitled “White Is the New Black.” He claims to be a humanitarian. He once saw an old woman struggling to carry two bags of groceries home. So he slashed her welfare payments. Now she only has to carry one bag. He is supported by white people who complain that blacks complain too much.

“Allister B. Affluent. A billionaire industrialist, he advocates closing our borders to foreign trade except for the occasional Mercedes Benz or Ferrari, outlawing trade unions and reestablishing the minimum wage at $1.25. A day. He believes global warming is a hoax and yearns for a United States that runs on coal, a commodity in which he is heavily invested. He believes all immigrants are felons and probably terrorists. He is prepared to spend a billion dollars on a campaign which will be a tougher sell than hawking sun screen to the Eskimos. He’ll be the favorite of the pampered and politically tone-deaf.

 “Because of the number of participants and because Fox’s new hit reality show, “Bikini Bachelorettes From Bakersfield Stump for Trump” will be shown immediately following the debate, candidates will be limited to a one-minute statement followed by a short scurrilous remark from somewhere in the audience. Remarks directed at Donald Trump will also be delivered in Spanish.

“If they have anything further to say, operators will be standing by to sell them additional air time.”

The above is, of course, an attempt at satire. I’d mock the Democrats too but for the fact that they decided on their candidate years ago. They’re just not fun anymore.

They have elected and reelected an African-American and will try to put a woman in the White House. After that?  Keep your eye on Caitlyn Jenner.

Whimsy aside, the truth about the Republican primary race is almost stranger than fiction.

There are 14 announced candidates with several waiting in the wings. They run the gamut from Mike Huckabee, a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical, to George Pataki, who supports abortion rights and gay rights.

This Tower of Babel is so problematic that the folks over at Fox News have decided to narrow the field by using the meat cleaver approach.

According to published reports, Fox has said it will allow only 10 candidates onto the stage, and it will choose them according to their standing in the five most recent national polls. Candidates who miss the cut become non-persons.

Some polls are so notoriously unreliable that the Fox folks might just as well throw darts at a board festooned with candidate pictures and use that as the selection criteria.

Using the Fox method, Donald Trump might make the cut. His latest polls numbers were shockingly good. But he would not be a welcome presence. According to a Bloomberg report, Trump appearing in the debates "is a nightmare scenario for the Republican establishment, which risks having its presidential field look more like an unwieldy circus of a reality TV show than the self-styled embarrassment of riches."

Just to add a touch of surrealism to the proceedings, Doyle McManus, writing in the Los Angeles Times, envisions this scenario:

“It's more likely that Fox, which is very good at building an audience, will delay its last poll until just before Aug. 6 — and then hold a televised selection ceremony like the suspense-filled ritual that precedes the NCAA basketball tournament.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. His columns can be found at Robert-Rector@Blogspot.Com.

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