Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

GOP Debate: It Literally Does Not Matter What the Question Is

The candidates came to say things, and they'll be damned if they aren't going to say them.

Charles P. Pierce

 by Esquire

Holy mother of pearl, it's Larry Kudlow, anchoring a debate…on economics! This already is more fun than a person should have with their clothes on.

There never has been a debate in which the panel seemed less relevant, and this isn't the fault of the three people on it. The folks behind all the podiums came to the stage wanting to say things, and damned if they weren't going to say them. It started when John Kasich answered a question about his biggest weakness by pointing out what know-nothing schlubs Donald Trump and Ben Carson are. Sequiturs? Non!  It got worse. Trump bludgeoned Kasich in return about how much of Kasich's success as governor of Ohio was due to the fracking boom, and then mocked him for getting tough because he's polling so badly. Dr. Ben (The Blade) Carson spun his mathematical cotton candy into sweet swirls of complete non-fact. And Marco Rubio claimed that the bad press he's getting about missing votes—and, it must be said, for his going around talking about what a miserable job the Senate is—is a result of the gap between "the mainstream press" and conservative politicians. Jeb! Bush asked him "as a constituent" why he didn't walk away from the completely miserable existence forced upon him as a United States Senator. Rubio flashed back by reciting how many votes previous senators—​citing Bob Graham, John Kerry, and the president​—​missed while they were running. Of course, none of them complained about their day jobs and, by the time Kerry ran, he was a decorated war hero, and a veteran senator who had led hearings into international money laundering and the drug trade. Marco Rubio was…speaker of the Florida House. Where is Lloyd Bentsen when we all need him?

But the highlight of the first hour, and the most vivid example of what was going on, was when Ted Cruz was asked about the budget deal that was struck this week between the Congress and the White House, and he replied by ripping the moderators up one side and down the other. This was the Tailgunner in full cry, channeling the spirit of the original Tailgunner when he called the last Democratic debate, "the Bolsheviks vs. the Mensheviks." Are you now, or have you ever been…

This wasn't a lack of control. The format was fine.  But there's nothing you can do about someone like Ted Cruz, who isn't encumbered by either truth or civility. Even defending the other candidates, he doesn't care what damage he does, as long as he can stand atop the rubble. Come to think of it, that could be said of pretty much all of these people.​


© 2021 Esquire
Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce

Charles P. Pierce is a writer-at-large for Esquire and his work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the LA Times Magazine, the Nation, the Atlantic, Sports Illustrated and The Chicago Tribune, among others.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Sound Alarm as Key US Vaccine Agency 'Running Out of Money'

"We cannot afford to waste another moment and risk the emergence of yet another, even more dangerous variant," Democratic lawmakers write in a new letter.

Jake Johnson ·


UN Officials Warn of 'Record-Shattering Month' for Civilian Deaths in Yemen

Following deadly strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, Oxfam is calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn attacks on Yemenis and to "inject new urgency" into peace talks.

Jessica Corbett ·


Experts Say Nuclear Energy as Climate Solution Is Total 'Fiction'

"The reality is nuclear is neither clean, safe, or smart; but a very complex technology with the potential to cause significant harm."

Jessica Corbett ·


Air and Water Under Threat as SCOTUS Targets Environmental Laws

"It seems like we have a new conservative supermajority on the court that is much more inclined to do a slash-and-burn expedition through our major environmental laws."

Julia Conley ·


'Historic Turning Point': Cuba Issues Plan for Vaccine Internationalism

"This lifesaving package," said the head of Progressive International's delegation to Cuba, exemplifies public health and science being "placed above private profit and petty nationalism."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo