As a voter, I’m not a big fan of political debates.
Especially primary debates.
I’ve never really been sure what purpose they’re supposed to serve.
I mean, it’s a primary, right? So, by definition the incumbent party typically has already chosen their candidate – and let’s be honest here, unless the president actually sprouts sharp little horns from his temples and then eats an actual fat squirming little white Christian baby on live TV in the White House Press Room while proclaiming himself the literal Prince of Darkness (insert Satanic Mawahahahahaha! here), and maybe even then depending on who the opposition candidate is, he’s going to be that party’s nominee.
So, the only primary debates are among the opposition party, i.e. people who already basically agree on everything important.
Take the CNN/Tea Party Republican Party Debate last week.
Most of you, conservative or liberal, didn’t even bother to watch because you already knew what they were going to say.
Abortion? Hate it!
Gays? Shame! Shame!
Illegal Immigrants? No bueno!
Taxes? Not on my watch!
Debt? Double Plus ungood!
Stimulus? Why, I never!
Guns? Ook! Ook!
And there you have it folks, thanks for coming and drive safely.
Really, was anybody actually expecting a surprise?
Did you expect Bachmann to come out in support of a woman’s right to manage her own uterus? (Hell, she doesn’t believe she owns her own body). Did you expect Perry to say he’s suddenly all about Social Security? Or Romney to endorse Obamacare? (Or Romneycare for that matter). Did you expect Paul not to make the outrageous claim that he can balance the federal budget in a year without raising taxes? Or Newt not to brag about his glory days (you know, right before he resigned in disgrace). Or Cain not to make some bizarre off the wall non sequitur? Did you expect Huntsman not to come off sane and reasonable – and therefore inconsequential?
The point of a same party primary debate isn’t to stake out your position, everybody knows your position. The purpose of the primary debate is to declare yourself the bestest and most devoutly true member of your ideology, while at the same time calling everybody else on the stage heretics and faithless assholes.
I mean, sure, it would have been awesome if, say, Newt suddenly ripped off his shirt, grabbed the mic, and started singing It’s Raining Men! while hip thrusting across the stage with Ron Paul riding on his shoulders waving a little top hat in a spontaneous parody of Master-Blaster from the Queer Follies’ musical remake of Beyond Thunderdome (you’re welcome). Hell I would have settled for Romney and Perry engaging in actual fisticuffs, instead just calling each other poopyheads, shin kicking, and the mussing up of each other’s $500 haircut. I would have been amused if Bachman had, in an attempt to be more White and Right than Pat Boone, outed herself as a complete batshit bananas fringe lunatic conspiracy nut.
Yeah, that would have been awesome. But of course, nothing like that happened…
Okay, you got me.
I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. Yes, as a voter I see no point to “debates” among people who are basically just different shades of the same dull battleship gray. However, as a humorist and political blogger, man, you know, dayumn! It’s the mother lode! Thanks. Sincerely. No really, thank you. More! More!
See near as I can figure, the entire purpose of a primary debate is to provide a fresh source of ridicule, sarcasm, jeering, and mockery.
By now, unless you are either one of those primitive tribesmen who speak the click-click language and live deep in the rainforest eschewing all technology developed after the late Paleolithic or you are in fact a person-shaped turnip masquerading as Paris Hilton, you are aware that Michele Bachmann has declared herself the Motely Fool.
I waited a week.
I wanted to be fair. Everybody else was pointing and laughing, but I figured she’d veer towards the middle of the Conservative hardtack and adopt the party line.
Instead, she went on Leno.
“I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist. I was just relating what this woman said. She came up and … I wasn’t soliciting that information, she gave it to me. But the bigger issue in all this was the abuse of executive privilege and also just the connection of crony capitalism if you have a political donor that is giving to you and an action is taken by a government official that could potentially benefit that donor, that’s really the issue right now. That’s what people are worried about.”
I had to watch that twice, and then read the transcript to make sure I’d heard right.
Bachmann was, of course, trying to explain the accusation she had leveled at Rick Perry during the debate. Specifically this:
“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just wrong. Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan. They don’t get a do over, their parents don’t get a do-over.”
She was attacking Perry for signing an Executive Order requiring that middle school girls in Texas be vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus, i.e. the virus that has been positively linked to cervical cancer, genital warts, and a host of other adverse conditions in women (and men). It is typically transmitted through sex, and not just the sparkly Jesus-approved kind either. A lot of people carry HPV, maybe as many as a quarter of the population – including those who only engage in the Jesus-approved missionary style sex (yes, yes, I don’t mean you, of course, you’re an animal). Not all of those people are going to get cancer or even have any adverse effects – but a significant fraction will (oh, by the way, it isn’t just women who are affected. Men can suffer from it too. HPV can make Mr. Wiggly drop right off from penile cancer. You might want to think about that. After you stop clenching your legs together. Just FYI).
I’ve got to be honest, frankly, I don’t see mandating the HPV vaccine for both girls and boys as anything particularly egregious – no more so than mandating any other childhood vaccine (Yes, yes, I know, torches and pitchforks are by the door, help yourselves). The drug is as safe as any other, more so actually. Most adverse reactions are mild. The odds are significantly higher that you’ll get cancer from the nearly inevitable HPV infection than that you’ll have a severe and lasting reaction to the vaccine. Parents can opt out if they so choose.
I just don’t see much in the way of controversy when it comes to vaccination, at least in principle.
Obviously though, as governor, Perry went about it the wrong way, at least according to the Texas Supreme Court who struck down Perry’s Executive Order. And, of course, as Bachmann alluded, Perry might have signed that order at the behest of a drug company.
So, when Bachmann brought it up during the debate, I figured that was her angle – executive overreach. Payoff. I figured she’d nail Perry for exercising executive fiat … and then compare him to Obama (Obama as Nazi dictator being sort of a gimme in that forum).
Instead, she went for the sound bite.
She went for the tweet: Girls don’t get a Mulligan. She couldn’t wait to use that line. She had it all ready. She expected it to flood social media, she expected it to go viral. Girls don’t get a Mulligan. Some hip young staffer with a goatee came up with that zinger, I’ll bet you even money. The problem is, the sound bite doesn’t work unless you come off as some kind of anti-vaxxer loon. It wasn’t, as a governor you can’t take back an executive order, politicians don’t get a Mulligan. It was, girls who have a reaction to this “potentially dangerous drug” don’t get a Mulligan.
Dangerous drug. Dangerous drug.
And that only works if you believe, and you assume everybody else believes, that the HPV vaccine makes a significant number of young girls retarded (or even one, but I digress. Again).
I’d fire the guy with the goatee. Soon.
Vaccination via executive mandate? Bad. Sure. I don’t get all riled up over it, but yeah, I can certainly see this given the Republican song and dance about executive overreach. Keep your government needles out of our daughters (of course, it’s perfectly ok for the government to decide whether or not that same daughter will bear a baby, but that’s not hypocrisy. Oh no. Totally different. Move along, nothing to see here).
Governor in the thrall of Big Pharma. Bad. Sure. I think we can all agree on that. (It won’t change anything, but I think we can all agree that would be a legitimate debate point).
Hell, I half expected her to pull out the standard conservative canard: vaccinating 12-year old girls against HPV will turn them into filthy whores, just like their mothers (Question: if the HPV vaccine makes girls into dirty sex monkeys, how come penicillin doesn’t? Or Tetracycline? But, again, I digress).
HPV vaccine makes your kids retarded. Wait. What?
So I waited a week figuring she’d back away from that last statement. I thought, you know, she’s crazy but she’s not crazy crazy.
Instead she doubled down.
And then last night on Leno, she said:
I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist…
I damned near fell off the couch. Wait, what? Say that again.
I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist?
I’m not an expert.
You know where I’m going next, don’t you?
When exactly does Michele Bachmann speak as a doctor?
When does she speak as a scientist?
When she’s speaking about History? Creationism? Climate change?
How about when it comes to “curing” gay people? Is she a doctor then? A scientist?
No really, I’d like to know. When exactly is Michele Bachmann qualified to speak as a scientist or as a doctor?
I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist.
Of course she wasn’t.
When the hell has that ever stopped her?
She told Leno that she was “convicted” in her views.
“Convicted. I’m convicted,” she said.
“Convicted?” Leno replied. “No, you don’t get convicted until after you’re in office. That’s later. You have to get elected first.”
Convicted. It’s like the jokes just write themselves. Even Leno was able to get a laugh, and that’s saying something.
Convicted? Committed is more like it, as in “ought to be.”
But hell, maybe she’s on to something.
Sure. Ask yourself this, when did the anti-vaxxers become such a force that presidential candidates need court their vote? Because that’s exactly what Bachmann was doing, pandering to the nuts. Crazy? Maybe. Maybe crazy like a fox too. Think about it, what other candidate is courting the crazy vote?
There are a lot of crazy people out there. Why, it could be an untapped gold mine! UFO Abductees? Moon Landing deniers? 911 Truthers? Grassy Knollers? Hell there’s a woman in Ohio who doesn’t believe in gay people. Just flat out denies their existence. That could be the tie breaker right there. Bachmann would be nuts to let that vote go by.
Remember what I said about Obama sprouting horns and eating babies? Who’s courting the anti-Christ vote? Huh?
It’s not the vaccine that makes you brain damaged.
Don’t just embrace the crazy, sidle up next to it and lick its ear.
ATTENTION: If you’re one of those Vaccines Are Teh Eeeeevil people and you’re about to make the standard outraged kneejerk ZOMG! AUTISM! or ZOMG! GOVERNMENT IMPLANT TRACKING DEVICE ZORK ZORK! comment, stop. Take your fingers off the keyboard. Walk away. Don’t comment. Just leave. Go back to the mothership. Quietly. I’m not kidding, I will delete your comment. Go away. Yes, I mean you.