Lessons learned from GOP debate
I was one of the 24 million that tuned into the Fox News Republican presidential candidates’ debate. As I predicted, the debate descended into a circus, at least during the time when the Trump fireworks livened the otherwise mostly placid exchange. The rest was primarily filled with predictable talking-points on a few red-meat issues—immigration, foreign policy, Planned Parenthood—near and dear to hard-core conservatives’ hearts. No mention about voting rights, climate change, income disparity, et al.
Donald Trump set the tone in the Roger Ailes orchestrated event designed to put Trump in his place. I’m no fan of The Donald, but anyone watching who didn’t see the barrage of questioning aimed at him relative to the cream-puff softballs lobbed to Ailes’ personal darlings—Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush—was not paying attention or is in denial.
Be that as it may, what has blown me away is the hypocrisy of conservatives in general and the candidates in particular.
Megyn Kelly, in her lead up to her question, cited the disgusting and derogatory terms Trump has used to attack women:
“One of the things,” she said, “people love about you is that you speak your mind, don’t use a politician’s filter. But that has its downsides, in particular when it comes to women. You call women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’”
Trump interrupted Kelly and quipped, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”
Applause and guffaws reverberated throughout the hall.
“No, it wasn’t,” Kelly replied. “It was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell. You once told a contestant on ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ that it ‘would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees.’ Does that sound to you like the temperament of someone we should elect as president,” and “how would you answer the question from Hillary Clinton…that you are part of the war on women?”
Trump’s reply was vintage Trump. He elucidated on political correctness and his contempt for it. “What I say is fun, it’s kidding, we have a good time.”
The fallout is now legend, and the war is on. Trump v. Fox.
As a liberal, I’m enjoying the spectacle, but as human being I’m aghast at conservatives’ double standards and Trump’s fellow presidential candidates’ spinelessness for refusing to call him down in no uncertain terms on stage in prime time. I had hoped one of the men on stage would’ve fired back at him immediately.
Trump doubled down on Twitter, zeroing in on Kelly, who looks nothing like O’Donnell nor shares O’Donnell’s political points of view, writing, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Perverse, to be sure, and this time conservatives found their voices and went ballistic. Trump had crossed the line. Demeaning O’Donnell and numerous other women is one thing, but Kelly is an icon, adored by Ailes and Fox News disciples. Consequently, Trump is finding himself a pariah in the conservative kingdom, dis-invited to the RedState gathering this past weekend for his salvos against Kelly.
“I just don’t want someone on stage who gets a hostile question from a lady and his first inclination is to imply it was hormonal. It just was wrong,” the event’s organizer Erick Erickson wrote on the RedState website.
From Trump’s competitors though, mum’s the word for fear of getting into his bulls-eye. That tells much of their character. They are not men of principle, but cowardly political opportunists, hoping to inherit the Trump voters when he bales.
More disconcerting is the silence from other GOP gentlemen for the panoply of Trump’s visceral utterances: denigrating immigrants, women generally, O’Donnell in particular, President Obama, and hosts of others.
In her initial question, Kelly made direct reference to the “war on women” Democrats argue the Republican Party engages in. In so doing, she acknowledged the war’s reality. After all, Kelly is a woman first and a conservative second. She gets it.
The lesson learned in a syllogism: In the GOP, it is acceptable to degrade Obama, immigrants, and women but not one who is a favorite. It is also evident there is not a courageous, chivalrous man-of-steel among those seeking the Republican Party’s nomination. Therefore, one must conclude the GOP remains an entrenched, misogynist GOBC—Good Ol’ Boys’ Club—where women know their place.
I hoped better. Gentlemen?