Dorothy Parker walked down the aisle as the theater critic of The New
Yorker, she was often heard to say, "What fresh hell is this?" I feel
the same way as I approach yet another 2012 Republican Debacle Debate
every few nights.
The latest one this past Saturday night on ABC drew 7.6 million total
viewers -- the largest mass rally for a political debate in American
history. The Magnificent Seven (minus cast member Huntsman, benched for
inadequate poll numbers) abandoned the high road of the previous 16
This time, they took the lower road: beating the stuffing out of the
latest front-runners. Newt the Historian was pummeled for his
indiscretions with past wives and girlfriends, and his complex
association with Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC).
Mitt Romney, who looks more and more like the dull man in a Hart
Schaffner Marx suit ad, played the piñata for his history as a take-over
genius. The way the debates are going, none of the candidates have the
stature of Pat Paulsen, the late mock-presidential candidate who saved
the popular Smothers Brothers Show in the late 1960s.
The Not-So-Magnificent Seven will have another chance to prove they
are the least inspiring collection of Republican candidates since the
nomination of Alf Landon in 1936, when the cast of characters return to
the debating wars December 27 in Iowa. ION Television and Newsmax, the
sponsors of the debate in Des Moines, got a lot of publicity when they
announced Donald Trump would be the moderator.
The aftermath of a blizzard along I-35 north of Des Moines.
Donald Trump. Are they kidding? Is the Republican National Committee
treating the nominating process like the circus? What new outrage is
being perpetrated on the American electorate with this next debacle?
You remember Trump. Earlier in the race, he was a viable candidate
for president in his own mind. The hair apparent's campaign appealed to
the base, or the basement, of the party faithful, who wanted to see the
President's birth certificate. And then, when it was presented, Trump
led the demand to see his college records. He might have wanted those
SAT scores from high school next if he hadn't bowed out of the race,
claiming a higher duty to NBC and its fall schedule.
But earlier this week, Trump bowed out of the debate, too. Apparently
some of the candidates are concerned Trump plans to reenter the
Presidential Contest as an Independent candidate after the next season
of his NBC reality show, The Apprentice.
So far, a number of cast members have dropped out: Mitt Romney, Rick
Perry, Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann, Jon Huntsman... As this is being
written, only Newt and Rick Santorum have not expressed their regrets.
Rick is not surprising. He has been made to feel like he is in
Siberia, the way the other moderators ignore him. Rick will be lucky to
get a word in edgewise against Newt, who is a real motor mouth,
especially compared to Mitt, the other leading contender. Mitt is always
pausing before answering, a seven-second delay, waiting for brain
tumblers to fall into place.
The Newsmax ION Television debate raises several questions. What if
the Republicans threw a debate and nobody bothered to show up? Will it
affect the outcome of the race positively or negatively? Will anybody
Secondly, what are the Republican candidates afraid of, anyway? There
is an old American folk saying: he who runs away lives to fight another
day. Are we Republicans the party of cowards?
Or is it The Donald, not wanting to participate in a cheap publicity
trick to aid his other commercial projects -- unlike the candidates
themselves, who may have noticed how good the race is for book sales and
I prefer to think it is not Trump or concerns over his future
political aspirations but Des Moines. Who wants to go to Des Moines,
much less in late December? It'll probably be 10 below zero, and
snowing. Perhaps Trump should have offered to hold the debate at his
golf course in Palm Beach.
All he had to say was, "Look, I'll fly you and the missus down on my plane for the weekend and New Year's."
Trump is in real estate. He knows it's location, location, location
-- along with the temperature and wind chill -- that's keeping them