My original NPF post for today was supposed to be about No Country for Old Men and how you need to sprint to a theater and see it. Since that piece of information fits squarely under "No shit, Cap'n Obvious" I'll leave it at that and talk about something more entertaining. Suffice it to say that Javier Bardem's performance is probably going to rocket into the top five of this list in short order. Having only seen him before as a gay Cuban poet in Before Night Falls, let's just say he was a surprise.

OK. So that "CNN/YouTube" GOP debate last night. I did not watch it. I couldn't bring myself to do it. But after having consumed most of it on the Series of Tubes today, I can't let it go without comment. It was simply humiliating. It wasn't an entertaining kind of trainwreck, nor did the candidates take it in good humor, nor did the format make it watchable. It was just thoroughly degrading in every possible way.

For once I have to throw my lot in with the Liberal Media Bias crowd – there is no question that CNN set that event up with the sole intent of humiliating the candidates and their party. The candidates uniformily look like they are participating in the debate at gunpoint, which underscores the fact that they'd most likely rather be shot than sit there and pretend like they are taking questions from crackpotted idiots and shut-ins seriously. Honest to God, it was one step up from making the candidates answer questions from kindergarteners or the untreatably psychotic. Before the debate was 10 minutes old we already had to listen to some fucking retard with an acoustic guitar sing about the candidates shortly before Giuliani and Romney started clawing at each other like homeless people fighting over meat (except they were actually accusing one another of being nice to immigrants).

My hat seriously, honestly, and without sarcasm goes off to McCain, Thompson, and the others who spent the entire debate looking like they couldn't wait to leave and/or would rather be drinking lead paint. As the Weekly Standard said:

So, a good night for for the lowest denominator, a bad night for the GOP. America got to see a vaguely threatening parade of gun fetishists, flat worlders, Mars Explorers, Confederate flag lovers and zombie-eyed-Bible-wavers as well as various one issue activists hammering their pet cause.

Maybe the GOP deserves the abuse and maybe that was a true and accurate representation of the party. My gut reaction, however, is that it was merely an accurate representation of non-conservatives' caricature of the party. It's about as fair as portraying Al Sharpton and Ward Churchill as representative of the entire Democratic Party. Then again, since the right does just that all the fucking time, maybe CNN is merely settling the cosmic debt by devoting an evening to depicting Republicans as flat-earthers, gun fetishists, and zombie-eyed Bible wavers.

In short, the cynical part of me thinks CNN got it right. The Jerry Springer booing/hooting, the idiotic questions from people who didn't look qualified to work a fryer at Burger King, the scary backwoods gun/Bible crowd….that's GOP America. But the more realistic part of me thinks that the network did all of us a disservice by giving a lot of ammunition to people around the world who are inclined to see America that way. Watching that debate from start to finish (which I couldn't stomach – just a series of short bursts) would inevitably lead one to the conclusion that the American public is totally and irrevocably unfit to govern itself. While I question our national IQ on a daily basis, I actually give us a little more credit than that. Circuses like that only reinforce exaggerated stereotypes and the belief that we, as a nation, can barely dress ourselves let alone engage in political discourse.

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  1. Brandon Says:

    Wow, I missed it, but that sure sounds entertaining. I guess, even if these people don't represent mainstream republicans, they are still the types of people that will have to be wooed to earn the nomination.

    Glad to hear your enthusiastic endorsement of NCFOM, I want to go see it this weekend.

  2. JDryden Says:

    Re: NCFOM: I second that emotion. A most "Wow"-inducing experience.

    The thing about the freak-show is that I wonder whether or not this is the inevitable homecoming of the chickens to roost. That the GOP has allowed itself to be highjacked by extremists is a truism, and the thing about extremism is, it's a degenerate spiral with no bottom–in order to get noticed, you have to stand out–in order to stand out, you have to get more extreme than your colleagues. And so on. So while the 'sampling' of questioners was, perhaps, not an accurate reflection of Where We Are, it could well be a dire indication of Where We're Headed.

    One could pray–futilely, I'm sure–that the message the candidates and the GOP in general would take away from this debacle is that they need to start moving towards appealing to a genuinely governable electorate made up of sensible–or at least passive–moderates, and move away from total lunatic such as these, to whom they've pinned their public appeals for far too long.

    This will not happen, but a man can dream.