GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy grimaces during final debate.

Ever-insufferable Vivek Ramaswamy at debate

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty

We Are Who We Hate, Father Time Is Undefeated, and Other Lessons From the GOP

Hoo boy. Hopefully you missed the GOP "trash fire," "play date," "darkest saddest game of MadLibs ever" and "rancid buffet of bigotry" that was the final debate among four also-rans who again confirm the party isn't sending their best, or there aren't any. In an ugly, hollow, extremely loud and incredibly dumb display, Haley, Christie, DeFascist and "the most obnoxious blowhard in America" yelled at each other in a sordid effort to out-hate anyone who isn't a straight white Christian male. The result: They/we all lost.

Full disclosure: We didn't watch it. Honestly, we just couldn't. But we read some accounts, viewed some clips, looked at the pictures. It was enough, and then some. According to breathless, horse-race, mainstream media, the current status of the "casting couch for B-actors" auditioning for the slow but implacable debasing of American democracy shows Nikki Haley in a wobbly lead - albeit one that remains about 50 points behind the guy Chris Christie has taken to calling, "He who shall not be named." Nobody's sure why Christie's still there, but he retains the honor of being the only candidate who ever calls out our own monstrous Lord Voldemort, and who dares to suggest maybe bigotry isn't the best governing principle. DeSantis is said to be flailing because he's weird as fuck and obsessed with "genital mutilation," aka transgender health care. And evidently everyone agrees with Aaron Rupar's sentiments on "one of the most insufferable people around" - "Vivek Ramaswamy, please go away."

Despite fitful, malignant mentions of China, fentanyl, Ukraine, the border, most of the two-hour "debate" consisted of the candidates, faces twisted by rage, hammering each other. "While almost entirely irrelevant, it did give viewers a dreary view into the mind and soul (sic) of the GOP," writes Noah Berlatsky of a "compulsive xenophobia and fear-mongering (that) shows they've thrown off any pretense of offering anything other than white grievance." "If you're not a white Christian man," he notes, "the GOP probably hates you." Speakers moved from "denigrating one marginalized group to the next, targeting each for hate" while vying with each other to see who could be most virulent. Topping the list of targets were trans people; immigrants came a close second. "Trump wasn’t on that sad debate stage in Alabama. But his orange spirit hovered, spreading its miasma of fear and paranoia," notes Berlatsky. "The GOP, now more than ever, is a party that defines itself by who it hates."

Its immersion in white grievance and unapologetic racism - no talk of hope, unity, achievement here - offers more grim proof the GOP is now utterly Trump's party: "His cruelty has won." One sage likened the pleasure factor of watching its denizens gather and snarl at each other to that of Alaska's 4th of July Glacier View Car Launch, wherein junk cars go careening over a 300-foot cliff as revelers gawk and cheer. And the GOP brawlers were ready out of the gate: It took 30 seconds for DeSantis to assail Haley on what bathrooms transgender people should use, after which they sparred about who'd more quickly deny them health care. He bragged (again) about shooting drug-smugglers and, pivoting to the old stand-by anti-Semitism, bragged about fighting the pernicious influence of George Soros: "I have a record of standing up and doing what's right." (Haley: "You have a record of lying.") Asked if he thinks Trump is fit for office, DeSantis went deeper than those junk cars: "Father Time is undefeated." Umm, ok.

Often targeted by the three men - see wobbly lead, also girl - Haley argued "they're just jealous" because she's getting Koch money now. On the attack, she was mostly wrong and/or paranoid: Iran knows "the easiest way" to enter the U.S. is at the southern border (Iranians are unheard-of there); China, not Mexico is the main source for fentanyl (not); she wants a Muslim travel ban in places where "they say 'Death to America'" like Yemen and Iran (home to fierce pro-democracy protests); the biggest issue women face is trans women playing sports, but tell it to those forced to give birth. She inspired extra venom from Ramaswamy, who held up a lame “Nikki=Corrupt" sign to charge she's bought and paid for by the GOP (but aren't they all?), questioned her knowledge of Ukraine - "Foreign policy experience is not the same as foreign policy wisdom" - and pumped up his "spoiled-frat-boy-on-coke" shtick to blast the intriguing if incoherent insult, "You can put lipstick on a Dick Cheney, and it’s still a fascist neocon.”

Mostly, he spewed bizarro conspiracy theories: Jan. 6 was "an inside job," "Big Tech" stole the 2020 election, Dems are all about "the Great Replacement." Nobody challenged him. Nor did anyone mention guns, though the U.S. just recorded its highest number of mass shootings - most recently in Texas, Washington, Las Vegas - and Senate Republicans just refused to reauthorize 1994's Assault Weapons Ban, which worked. But he did, alone among the rabble, mention climate change - to say it's "a hoax." He really said that. "If you thought COVID was bad, what’s coming with this climate agenda is far worse," he babbled. "We should not be bending the knee to this new religion. We are flogging ourselves and losing our modern way of life bowing to this new god of climate, and that will end on my watch." Yeah, sure, let's make any of these vile, petty, dithering, bigoted, malevolent morons president. James Baldwin: "Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

So Long,

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