Saturday, August 8, 2015

Smoke Filled Rooms, or Barbecuing Democracy in 2015

I'll confess. You probably predicted this. When I got home Thursday from work I watched a little TV for a few minutes. Seeing that it was all a big preface to the upcoming Debate on Fox, and not finding any good movies I wanted to watch, I had some supper and just cut the damn box off. Then I went up to the bedroom and lay down and listened to the local radio NPR station, which was running a show about North Carolina which involved nothing about the upcoming Republican debate. I drifted off to sleep after a while, which was fine. They've been hyping some show about the best Hitchcock movie, and I voted for Shadow of a Doubt, but that didn't happen, unless I slept through it. I get up pretty early, and it's nice to feel fully rested. Yesterday at work, TGIF!, was just great.

Libby did watch the "debate." She also saved a lot of clips from various shows talking about the "debate." (I have to use scare-quotes, I just can't stand not to. Maybe from here on out you can just imagine them to save a little "ink.") She showed me a lot of them last night. Then I read a good bit of commentary this morning. Maybe nothing I'm saying is really fresh and original. If you get a lot of people describing a '57 Impala, or even the moon on a starry night, there will eventually be some close identity of thought and phrase. Be warned.

There's no doubt that if it were actually a real encounter between real news reporters and real candidates for President, questions such as Mr. Trump received pertaining to his on-the-record statements about women would be almost dead-center down the strike zone. Not only that, but were Mr. Trump a typical Presidential aspirant, he would have prior to the debate spent some time covering the on the record issues he has, and thinking of how to reasonably respond to such predictable questions as Ms Kelly served up. So, on that level of things, what's the problem.

But the problem is, Mr. Trump was utterly surprised by Ms Kelly's high (low?) heat. He had no serious response beyond hoping to share a laugh at Ms O'Donnell's expense with his interrogator, whom he fully expected to be in humorous agreement. But that didn't happen, and Mr. Trump was left twisting in the wind, which is the position he is accustomed to leaving others in. "You're fired." Ha, ha. Mr. Trump reasonably felt betrayed. He was, he'd thought, amongst friends. Thus, he was forced to play his last hole card, which was it turned out hardly a trump (sheesh): I might just run as a third party candidate.

As has been pointed out in many places, other aspirants received different sorts of questions. Mr. Rubio, in particular, was offered floater after floater. The kabuki was showing, if you cared to look.

The aftermath continues today, Saturday. Mr. Trump was a known psychology, a vain, preposterous preening bully who believes he is smarter than any one else in the room, if not in the entire world. I'm pretty certain that whoever vetted Ms Kelly's questions to Trump knew he would be entirely unable to respond to them in an adult manner. One of his great vulnerabilities, as a man who needs no one, is that he believes he needs no advice. As he tweets his angry retorts to Kelly through the weekend, he digs closer and closer to China, and cements his alliance with the pure misogynists amongst us, a relatively small minority even if it includes some Mexicans amongst its cohort.

Since Mr. Trump was surely a preposterous candidate for President of the United States, Fox can reasonably say it performed a public service. But what we are watching is the Fox Media empire actually taking over what once was the most fundamental process in our political life, the election of leaders. Fox is openly manipulating this process, live and on TV, starting with even the pre-process of selecting which of the candidates gets the opportunity to even answer the first question. There's even a minor league in operation. Ms Fiorina is the heir apparent to the 10th slot. It may even be Mr. Trump who vanishes into the third party oblivion last occupied by Ralph Nader and Ross Perot, should his gaseous emanations prove to be the entire substance of his being. If not Trump, then probably the pathetic Dr. Carson, who more than anything offered a faithful imitation of a deer frozen in the headlights judging from at least the post-debate clips.

Anyways, if you ever wondered just what that smoke-filled room was, so referred to by accounts of political conventions back in the day, Fox is airing it, live, for all of us to see. I think perhaps they learned the system running the BCS. And beyond the evidence of our eyes, there's already missing evidence being spotted by those who did us the service of actually watching. Consider this:

Portions of the "record" have been, already, edited in favor of candidate Jeb. This is not American politics, but reality TV.

In the real world--a world growing breath-takingly distant from the world implied by the shared views of all the Republican candidates for President--a significant diplomatic achievement which inches us closer to safety and peace with Iran is uniformly rejected out of hand by the entire Republican party and even some important Democrats including Charles Schumer. See James Fallows for details:

And in local news, the entirely undeniable fact that much of our police force operates with racist-order bias towards the citizens it is supposed to protect and serve is reinforced nearly each and every day:

Never mind. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The main attraction is yet to come. Hillary Clinton still maneuvers just over the horizon. I guess we can hope for a common sense amongst our electorate which is not evidenced by any of the ordinary folks Fox finds to interview in their post-debate shows. Maybe they're tied up over on another network filming Jerry Springer episodes.

Sunday Update:

Digby has some nifty quotes from Erick Erickson, who dis-invited Mr. Trump from his conservfest because Trump went full misogynist on Ms Kelly:

Most salient fact about Mr. Erickson: he works for Fox. The kabuki show continues. The smoke-filled room manipulators have as a primary goal getting a Republican elected President. As with all Republican Presidents, the upcoming one must be predictable and compliant. See, e.g., the most perfect Republican President of all time, Ronald Reagan, member in good standing of the Screen Actors Guild. Above all else, Donald Trump is not predictable and compliant, except in the obvious sense that his reaction to Kelly's questions on his record was nearly as predictable as the results of striking a dry match.

Best Erickson quote:

"Turned on twitter today and there was a barrage of angry feminists upset with me telling them to get in the kitchen and learn to cook."

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