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“Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Yoga And Manhood”: The Debate That Made America Dumber

Thursday’s Republican presidential debate made us all dumber.

It was a disgrace. As people wake up in capitals around the world Friday morning, in London and Addis Ababa and Riyadh and Beijing and Seoul, newscasters will be forced to find a way to discuss, in their local euphemisms, Donald Trump’s dick size.

The exchanges on the stage at the Fox Theater in Motown centered around erstwhile reality television star Donald Trump, who found, as usual, a way to be even more outrageous than he has been in previous debates.

Sen. Marco Rubio—a 44-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—had made fun of Trump’s hand size, implying that his manhood was not so large.

“I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands?” Trump responded, on a nationally televised debate to become leader of the free world.

“And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small,” Trump deadpanned. “I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

There was shouting inside the debate hall and out. As a light snow fell on Woodward Avenue across from Ford Field, progressive protesters growled about their issues of the day: their objections to “racist” Trump; their demand for a higher minimum wage; calls for an immediate solution for the lead-poisoned people of Flint.

But the shouting and chanting was statesmanlike compared to the childish theatrics indoors. You could practically hear your brain cells crying out in pain as they died out, answer after answer.

There were insults, and Donald Trump defending war crimes, and Cruz treating the businessman like a small child. Trump called Rubio “little Marco,” and Cruz “lyin’ Ted.”

It was beyond satire. The first question, to Trump, was about former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had delivered a scathing speech challenging Trump’s fitness to become president.

“He challenged you to answer with substance, not insults. How do you answer Mitt Romney, sir?” asked Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

“He was a failed candidate,” Trump shot back. “He failed miserably, and it was an embarrassment to everybody.”

When Rubio challenged Trump on whether he’d answer a policy question substantively, the businessman responded like an adolescent: “Don’t worry about it, little Marco.” Rubio fired back: “Let’s hear big Donald.”

It was like a kindergarten brawl: a lot of cheap insults, a lot of whining, culminating with the need for everyone to have a time out. Sen. Ted Cruz—a 45-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—treated Trump much like he would his two young daughters.

When Trump tried to interrupt him during an answer, Cruz responded patronizingly, “Donald, learn not to interrupt. It’s not complicated—Count to 10. Count to 10.”

“Yelling and cursing people doesn’t make you a tough guy,” Cruz said, as if lecturing an infant on the playground.

Meanwhile Trump one-upped everyone by defending torture, and insisting that the military would follow through with illegal orders if he gave them. Trump had previously said that his national security policy would involve targeting the innocent family members of terrorists and the use of interrogation methods even more extreme than waterboarding.

“They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me,” Trump said. “We should go for waterboarding… and tougher than waterboarding… I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader… if I say do it, they’re going to do it.”

And on targeting the family members of terrorists, a potential war crime? “I have no problem with it,” Trump said.

The businessman struggled to square these authoritarian instincts with one of his key selling points: that he’d be the man who could make a deal with Congress, with China, with Vladimir Putin. He has a “strong core” that is also “flexible,” he said.

“You can breathe,” Cruz told Trump, during yet another shouting match. “I know it’s hard.”

“When they’re done with the yoga, can I answer a question?” Rubio butted in.

“I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage,” Cruz responded.

“Well he’s really flexible, so you never know,” Rubio quipped.

On a day that former governor Romney gave a speech in Utah decrying Trump’s excesses, the dumbest presidential debate of all time took place. It must have made much of the American public yearn for a less stupid time—when the biggest controversy of the day was Romney’s car elevator and awkward word choices. How quaint that all was.

 

By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, March 4, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sometimes, It’s Not Entirely About Us”: A Note On Criticism Of Obama For Not Attending Paris March

The march in Paris yesterday expressing solidarity in the wake of the terrorist attack on the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was an inspiring sight, with somewhere between one and two million people, joined by world leaders, proclaiming their defiance of terrorism and their support for freedom of expression. But don’t think for a second that politics was absent, there or here at home. For instance, there was apparently a great deal of behind-the-scenes wrangling between the French, Israeli and Palestinian governments over whether Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas would attend. Back here in the United States, the Obama administration has been roundly condemned for not sending sufficiently high-ranking officials to participate in the march.

Many argued that President Obama should have attended, since other heads of state like Angela Merkel and David Cameron were there. “Our president should have been there,” wrote Sen. Ted Cruz. Others said that if not the President, then at least the Vice President or Secretary of State should have gone (the U.S. was represented at the march by the American ambassador to France). The criticisms have been somewhere between vehement and vicious, and not just from conservatives, but from mainstream reporters and news organizations. CNN ran a headline reading, “Where was Obama?” The New York Daily News cover read: “You let the world down.” Jake Tapper, writing about the absence of American officials, opined: “I say this as an American — not as a journalist, not as a representative of CNN — but as an American: I was ashamed.”

Let’s dispense with this specific question with no more than the attention it deserves: It would have been all but insane for President Obama to participate in a march, in public, in a foreign country, with a couple million people around him. The security requirements necessary to protect him make it impossible. The Secret Service has to do an extraordinary amount of work and planning for him to drop by Ben’s Chili Bowl a mile from the White House; the idea that with a couple of days notice he could walk through the streets of Paris in an enormous throng of people is absurd.

But let’s be honest: practical considerations aside, the world wasn’t waiting to see whether Barack Obama would participate in this particular march. As shocking as this idea may seem from our perspective, sometimes it’s not entirely about us.

And it isn’t as though the whole American political leadership, from the President on down, haven’t spoken out on this subject. Should the administration have sent Vice President Biden to the march? Yes, they should have. That would have been a fine gesture (and I’m guessing he could have fit it into his schedule). But what’s interesting to me is the way that people and organizations that hesitate to express personal opinions on other topics feel free to issue thunderous condemnations of the White House for its less than active participation in what is, after all, a symbolic act.

Maybe my memory’s faulty, but I don’t recall any other journalist committed to the ideal of “objectivity” saying he was “ashamed” about the fact that millions of Americans have no health coverage, or about the 30,000 Americans killed by guns every year, or about our ample contributions to global warming. It’s precisely because those things are about real people’s lives that it would be considered deeply inappropriate for a mainstream journalist to express such an opinion. But you can say you’re ashamed about something entirely symbolic — and in the long run essentially meaningless — like the fact that the American ambassador attended a march when it would have a bigger deal had the Secretary of State or the Vice President been there.

That isn’t to say that symbolism is unimportant. Much of politics is about the creation and dissemination of symbols. But what exactly is the damage that has been done by the fact that a (supposedly) insufficiently high-ranking American official represented our government at this event? Will the peoples of the world no longer believe that America is an advocate for freedom of speech, or that Americans abhor terrorism? I doubt it.

And before anyone gets too self-congratulatory about his or her own courage and ideals in expressing solidarity with those murdered in France, consider another event that occurred last week, when Boko Haram killed as many as 2,000 men, women, and children in the city of Baga, Nigeria. There are mundane reasons why that news got so much less attention than the events in France — perhaps most important, those killings occurred in an isolated place, while Paris was already full of reporters, and more could get there quickly and easily to report on the story. But it’s undeniable that a terrorist attack in Europe — and one targeting journalists — is going to be of infinitely more concern to the media in Europe and America than an attack in Africa.

When someone in France or Germany or the United States says “Je suis Charlie,” in many ways they’re right. The victims of the Paris attacks were people like them, which makes the horror of their murders feel more real and immediate. And of course, there’s a critical democratic value at issue, that of free expression, which allows us to expend plenty of words considering what these events “mean.” Boko Haram’s victims, on the other hand, weren’t advocates for a cause, and their deaths weren’t imbued with symbolism. They were just human beings.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, January 12, 2015

January 13, 2015 Posted by | Charlie Hebdo, Paris Shootings, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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