I turned seven in 1973 and remember Bobby Riggs arriving at the Astrodome on a chariot pulled by showgirls before his "Battle of the sexes" tennis match against Billie Jean King.
-- Steve Rushin, Sportswriter, Novelist
I swore I wouldn't do it.
I promised myself I wouldn't watch the damn dumb thing.
I told people: I'm not watching the Republican debate. It's just stupid. It's not even a debate, it's just the second-stringers trying to score one good memorable line in the morning press. The sad, raggedy assed second-stringers who each and every one are currently so far behind a twice impeached, four time indicted, self-involved rapist who publicly talks about fucking his own daughter and who won't even be there, that their campaigns are a pitiful joke.
I mean, sure, maybe if they ran the debate like one of those Hollywood Red Carpet deals. The candidates arrive in limos, decked out in designer clothes, to flashbulbs and shouted questions from the paparazzi.
I'm not much on fashion, but I'd be madly interested in Vogue and Glamor's critique of Ron DeSantis' hand tooled Hugo Boss high heeled boots...
Cheap shot at a short Nazi?
That's fair, but come on and that dig at Caligula's insecurity is the best joke you're going to get around here today.
Look, I don't need to watch it, I said. I know how it's going to go:
Ramaswamy will promise something insanely unconstitutional...
DeSantis will promise something insanely unconstitutional while using "WOKE!" in the same tone as dry heaves...
Christie will promise something insanely unconstitutional and then blame Trump for making him do it...
Scott will promise something insanely unconstitutional but like in a really nice way...
Haley will promise something insanely unconstitutional, and in comparison to the others, the Press, Pundits, and Polls will all declare her to be the reasonable moderate.
I don't need to watch it.
But, of course, once the chariots are rolling and oh goddammit, I'm watching it. You can't look away...
Of course I watched it. And live Tweeted it. And took notes.
Of course I did.
I'm not doing it for me, I'm doing it for you.
That's right. Please donate.
Peter Quill: When I look around, you know what I see? Losers!
Okay. You got me. Starlord wasn't actually part of the debate, however, I couldn't help but think of the losers scene in Guardians of the Galaxy when literally the first response of the debate was Ron DeSantis: "Trump said we'd get tired of winning. After last night, I'm tired of Republicans losing!"
Get in losers! We're going losing!
DeSantis' perpetually shouty little boy act while angrily screaming "Losers!" had me belly laughing. The guy always looks like some well-bred delicate aristocrat who accidentally wandered into a dive bar full of boilermakers and pickled egg farts. I can just see him in powered wig and pancake lead makeup, a fancy waistcoat, and those hand tooled high heeled boots wrinkling his nose in disgust.
Talk about setting the tone right out of the box.
Losers. This was a stage of racism, war mongering, misogyny, and five year old talking points. And pickled egg farts.
Open borders! Shouted Ron DeSantis with fire and passion.
Open borders! Shouted Nikki Haley in the tone of a Roman general leading troops over the wall.
Open borders! Shouted Vivek Ramaswamy as if he'd just spotted someone getting a vaccine.
Open borders! Shouted Tim Scott but in a really friendly way.
Open borders said Chris Christie, invoking the image of a New Jersey mafia boss paying a crooked construction company to close off the exits to an entire town.
The audience hooted and cheered at each mention of the border.
Hugh Hewitt sternly chastised the audience in the manner of a substitute teacher addressing an unruly classroom -- and with just about as much success.
Not to be upstaged, Ramaswamy took the handoff: We're a party of looooosers!
The audience cheered.
I'm almost certain Ramaswamy is being remotely operated by Donald Trump -- or maybe Don Jr, because the guy sounds like Trump but amped out of his melon on a couple lines of Peruvian flake. "I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing this for YOU!" Oh the heroic sacrifice!
That's when I opened the whiskey.
The audience cheered and Hewitt chastised them again. Sternly. Same result.
Christie said something about terrorism, borders Vladimir pudding... I don't know. I nodded off. Even Chris Christie looked bored by Chris Christie. The guy's voice should be a Schedule 1 narcotic. You think I'm joking? How boring was Chris Christie? Hewitt didn't have to chastise the audience even once. Dead silent. That's how boring.
Scott: The GOP is winning back African American voters! LOLWUT?
The subject turned to the Southern Border and we reached the kill 'em all, let god sort it out phase of the debate a lot sooner than I expected.
Ramaswamy: I'll smoke the terrorists on our southern border!
I'll smoke 'em! Smoke the terrorists. Smoke 'em. I'm telling you, this guy is some sort of tele-presence remotely operated robo-Trump powered by cocaine scraped from dollar bills still warm and creased by a pole dancer's G-string.
Ramaswamy made some disjointed rambling statement about killing bad guys but also war is bad, I think there was some mention of colleges in there, then he suddenly called Nikki Haley "Dick Cheney in 3" heels."
By this time Hewitt is like the substitute teacher who has just completely given up and the class has basically devolved into Lord of the Flies.
Scott: Diplomacy is a weakness strategy! And then Scott cheerfully explained how he'd strongly lead us into a strong war with Iran which we would win strongly.
Christie chimes in: We need to ... sorry nodded off something something, I dunno, I heard "evil forces" and didn't know if he was talking about Hamas or a bad case of picked egg farts.
Moderator: War with Iran, yes or no?
Haley: Fuck Yeah! (not verbatim). This woman really wants some war with Iran. I looked to see if maybe the sad wrinkled ghost of John McCain was hovering over the stage, but I could only make out a vague shadow in the shape of Lindsey Graham.
DeSantis: I'm a veteran! So, uh, yeah, let's do some war! I imagine DeSantis' wife wrote on his hand in Sharpie "VETERAN!" so he'd be sure to start every sentence with it. Combat JAG corps. Keeping the world safe, one power-of-attorney at a time.
Moderator: How do you feel about Antisemitism?
Ramaswamy: It's bad! Yeah, bad! Wokism! Colleges! Kids don't know what they're talking about! Woke! Woke! Founding values! You can't use censorship! After a furious random minute of blaming American antisemitism on woke college campuses that he would totally outlaw, Ramaswamy says but you can't use censorship.
Scott: Actually, we need more censorship!
DeSantis: Deport foreign students. We need the DOJ on college campuses. Send in the Marines.
Apparently the idea here is that antisemitism is solely existent on college campuses. Perhaps even a product produced exclusively by woke education. Certainly, if you listen to those on the stage, antisemitism doesn't exist among the uneducated rednecks that make up their constituency -- and are right now standing in front of Disney waving DeSantis signs and wearing Nazi uniforms. It's totally just colleges and not Trump supporters marching to the chant of "Jews will not replace us!"
Next question: How do you feel about attacks on American Muslims?
Christie: Tells a heartwarming story about how as governor after 911 he protected "both sides" and then goes into detail about sending in the New Jersey National Guard to protect all the Jewish people and somehow never mentions Muslims at all. Christie then dismounts with: Hamas stands for death!
Haley: Antisemitism is totally bad! Okay but the question was about protecting Muslim Americans? I dunno. Colleges are celebrating Hamas!
At this point, a couple things are becoming apparent:
1. These people really, really hate colleges.
2. They're pretty sure all Muslims are members of Hamas.
We're on to Ukraine:
Scott: Something something Ukraine but also Biden stinks. Immediately pivots to support for Israel and starts explaining how we've got to close the Southern border because America is full of Islamic terrorists.
Moderator, Kristen Welker I think, tries again. As president would you support Ukraine, yes or no?
Scott: Goes into some rambling screed about destroying the Russian military by proxy. Nothing he says makes any sense, but the audience applauds anyway because after six years of Trump speeches that make absolutely no sense why the fuck not amiright?
Ramaswamy: I was the first to say screw Ukraine! Then he calls Ukrainian President Zelensky, a member of the Jewish faith, "a Nazi in cargo pants" like one of these clever marketing interns who keep trying to get their clever tweets to go viral. They're banning Christians, Ramaswamy shouts! They're banning Christians! Then he goes after Haley again.
Haley: Claps back at Ramaswamy and the audience cheers. Reality TV. Fight! Fight! Then she launches into pro Ukraine support. Glares at Ramaswamy.
I'm fascinated how Ramaswamy keeps going after Haley, but not the men. Well, okay, he did poke DeSantis, but I did say men. Anyway. These two really don't like each other. Mostly, I suspect, because Ramaswamy is just such an obvious misogynistic fratbro asshole.
Christie: I'd support Ukraine. Trump failed. We're the leader of the free world. Jeb? Jeb Bush? Is that you?
DeSantis: (Fierce glare!) We not going to send troops to Ukraine! I will send troops to the Southern Border! Southern Border! Southern Border! Bring the war to the end. Europeans need to do more. Also what about China?! Well?
Pickled egg farts.
Speaking of China:
Haley: We need more ships! Modernize the military. Cut funding for universities. Cut all economic ties with China. Cyber! Space! Arm Taiwan!
DeSantis: More ships! 600 ships! Future of freedom! Fight China here at home! Kick Chinese out of our universities! This guy really loves the idea of deporting students. I think it actually gives him a little chubby. Wouldn't want any of them foreigners getting, you know, Americanized or anything.
Scott: We can't build more ships because we don't have enough military industrial complex. Need to fight on three continents! Southern border! Have to invest in our military and our MIC. Our ships and planes are SOOOO old. I'll create 400,000 jobs in making war stuff!
I'd like to pause here so you can all just contemplate how we don't have a big enough military industrial complex.
Rama: Divest to Invest! Need more ships! But China builds our ships and airplanes! What? Fuck it, he's rollin'. We have to cut China out of our defense! Increase ships by 20%. Divest to invest! Cut college funding and entitlements to pay for it! Divest to Invest please make this clever business phrase I just made up go viral thank you!
Christie: China is the enemy. We need more nuke subs! We can hide them in the South China Sea, ready to strike on China. Increase subs drastically. Ships are 2nd. Mostly subs! Nuclear war is fun.
THANK LITTLE BABY JEBBERS. I need to refill my drink.
We're back. And now the topic is TikTok, a huge major very bad threat.
Christie: Polluting the minds of American young people! Trump should have banned it, but he didn't. In my first week, we'd ban TikTok.
DeSantis: Ban TikTok. Yes. We win, they lose. Kids have a mind of their own.
Haley: I'm going attack DeSantis and Vivek first. Florida is host to Chinese companies!
(Haley and DeSantis now fighting. Audience cheers. Fight! Fight!)
Ramaswamy: Attacks Haley's daughter because he's an asshole.
Haley: Leave my daughter out of your mouth. You are Scum! Literally called him scum.
Loud booing. Looks like Vivek stepped on his dick, but he's unrepentant and undeterred.
Ramaswamy: Not just ban TikTok. We got to go further. Facebook. X! China! China! Silicon Valley!
(Haley and Rama now fighting. Crowd loves it. Hewitt just drinking bourbon straight from the bottle)
Ramaswamy using Trump tactics constantly interrupting. Constantly butting in. I swear I can see a cable coming out of one pant leg and snaking back to a router box under the stage. Somewhere, a madly sweating Don Jr. is working the controls.
Scott: Ban TikTok period. Parents bill of rights. Ban China from all apps. Take back control of information. Parental consent. Eliminating TikTok is the first step. China is spying on our kids! Spying on our farmland by our military bases. Stealing our IP. Stealing our precious bodily fluids! I'll stop that Day One! This guy is a real go-getter.
Venezuela now, randomly that's the subject. Super important. Like TikTok:
DeSantis: Never depend on Venezuela for oil. Kill Biden energy on Day One. Drill baby drill. Turn the screws on Venezuela. Reimpose sanctions.
Haley: Venezuela refugees suck. Sad. Ugly. Pathetic. We don't want them here. More drilling. More fracking. Calls Ron Red Tide DeSantis a liberal on the Environment. Liberal I said, Liberal it is.
Economy now. What do you do short term, Day One:
Scott: Sad story about his mother. Excel Keystone Pipeline. More drilling. Energy independent. Energy dominant. Reduce prices. Don't borrow from China. Jobs. Innovation. Export energy. Surplus. Confidence. Prices go down. He's going to do all this on Day One.
Also, Scott makes the first bible reference -- about the price of oil.
I have a headache now
DeSantis: Sad story about working hard as a child. Work hard. Hard work. He talked to people in Iowa. People can't afford groceries. Rip up all EO's on day one. Rein in the Federal Reserve. COVID. I have no fucking idea what he's on about.
Rama: Sad story about being a CEO. Drill. Frack. Burn coal. Nuclear. Increase the supply of housing (On Day One? Okay) Get this done. Bidenomics. Wages slack (he's a CEO, LOL). I'm young. College sucks again. Make more money. We need a CEO in the White House. Gonna give you the business.
Christie: Sad story about being a governor. Energy. Futures Markets. Israel situation. Won't permit Saudi Arabia to jack up prices (how? Fuck it, never mind). Cease fire. Energy is the key. Short term answer (what?)
Haley: Sad story of rural America. Rich richer. Poor poorer. Fortunately she's the first, not the second. Cut fuel taxes. Claw back COVID dollars. Fire the IRS. Stop spending. Stop borrowing. Energy dominant. Ships in the navy. Crisis. National security. (again on Day One? Okay)
On a break.
We're back and it's Entitlements now:
Christie: Raise retirement age. Not everybody should be getting social security. Food stamps. Can't raise taxes.
Haley: Raise retirement age. Social Security, Medicare going broke. Limit benefits. Expand Medicare benefits.
Ramaswamy: Run Social security and Medicare like a CEO would, by cutting employees and other "severe measures." Discipline. Cut foreign Aid. Cut wars. Cut cut cut. Theme from Jaws here.
Scott: I will protect Social Security. Veteran benefits. Don't take on seniors. Deal with it by growing the economy. Cut taxes...
Sorry, was called away on caregiver duty.
And looks like we're on a break now.
Okay. We're back and it's the border and opioids. Here we go.
What would you do on the first day?
Scott: Close the border (On day one? Okay). Challenge on the outside. Challenge on the inside. Mental health crisis.
Chistie: Close ports of entry. I can do it quickly (he has experience closing bridge exits and it's basically the same thing). Day One sign EO to partner National Guard with Border Patrol. Basically send the Army to the border. Give 'em tools. Lower demand for opioids. Treat addiction. (On Day One? Impressive!)
DeSantis: Sad story about kid who died from Fentanyl. Elites don't care. Day One send military to the border. Build the Wall, Mexico will pay for it. He actually said Mexico would pay for it. The crowd did not cheer, maybe they can learn. Deadly force Authorized! Deploy the navy. Kill 'em all! "Shoot 'em stone cold dead!" NOW the audience cheers.
Haley: I don't care what the UN thinks. It's war! Oh boy! Compares opioids to Vietnam. Send in SpecOps. Invade Mexico. Defund Sanctuary Cities. Catch and Release! Oops, I mean Catch and Deport. Mental health.
Ramaswamy: Sad story about dead drug addicts. Bioterrorism. Etc. Etc. Send in the military. Got to defend the northern border. I'm the only one on the stage to visit the Canadian border. Build TWO walls, north and south. Send the military to secure the Northern border! Guy really doesn't like Canada. I suspect the feeling is mutual.
What we've been waiting for, it's Abortion now:
DeSantis: Sad story about a woman from Jamacia 40 years ago. Loves life. Gotta work from the bottom up. Referenda. Referenda. Referenda. Referenda. It's like I can't stop saying referenda!
Haley: Be honest with the American people (LOL). I'm pro-life. Sad story about her children. I don't judge people (LOLWUT?). Believes in state's rights. Save the babies!
Scott: 100% pro-life. As a president I would impose a 15 week federal limit on abortion. 15 week limit! 15 week limit! Thinks abortions are allowed to up to birth. Support adoptions. Gotta take care of the babies. Fifteen minutes ago he was talking about shooting kids at the border. Whatever.
Haley: I'll sign anything where we can get 60 senate votes. Ah, so states rights until you've got enough Senators to force your will on the nation? Got it, thanks.
Ramaswamy: Speaking as a man, sexual Responsibility for men! Speaking as a MAN! We're all in this together. Oh shit.
Christie: Abortion isn't a constitutional right. State's rights. Women don't have rights, states do (not verbatim but that's what he meant). I trust the people to make the right decision for themselves. LOL. Then he says when people decide what he doesn't like it's "morally reprehensible." But that's okay. Thanks Mr. Passive Aggressive.
I need a drink.
I feel like I need a shower.
And we're back.
Triumphant music! So majestic.
Scott: We're in a crisis! Culturally and spiritually. We need more Jesus! If god made you a man, you play sports against men! Yep, that's what he said, verbatim. If god made you a man, you play spots against men. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Bigotry is so much nicer when dressed up in folksy Church wisdom. Okay thanks for coming, Tim.
Christie: It's a gift to be an American. Americans are exhausted. Americans are tired of petty politics. And so here's some more petty politics. Differences are strength! But you can't love America if you're different from me.
Ramaswamy: We're in a war between us who love America and those Americans who hate America. They're not real Americans. We're the real Americans. Deep State. China. Renew pride in America! Message to Democrats: Joe Biden isn't the president. Wait what? Joe Biden isn't the President! Joe Biden isn't the Democratic candidate. Who is? Michelle Obama? What the fuck? Message to Democrats end Biden's campaign now! Okay, crazy cakes, time's up.
Haley: War. War. War. Terrorism. Good and Evil. Be strong. Be proud. Move forward. Join us. Strong. Proud. God Bless America! Like her closing statement was assembled from reading a bunch of bumper stickers.
DeSantis: (angry face) It's not about me, it's about you. As a (checks hand) veteran. As a father. As a governor. You can trust me. I'm asking for your vote. I won't let you down. God bless America! Yeah, the only people voting for you, Ron, are the aforementioned Nazis.
And that's it. blah blah blah and good night!
Two fucking hours. And then I had to transcribe my tweets and notes into this post. And you know, I could have just tapped out at "We're looooosers!" and not missed anything but no, I had to watch the whole goddamn lousy spectacle.
In my defense, I'm currently trapped in rural Michigan without cable TV or decent entertainment.
Anyway, I honestly can't believe people with this level of vision and leadership, this degree of concern for babies and borders and bombs, are running so far behind a two time impeached, four time indicted, six time bankrupt rapist who led an insurrection against the United States, but then they did call themselves losers and that's probably the only truth any of them uttered last night.
That's the GOP for you.
I am Groot!
-- Groot, Guardians of the Galaxy