The always-entertaining journalist for Rolling Stone has a long and hilarious piece where he visits many of the Republican candidates’ campaign events in Iowa and provides thumbnail sketches on their attempts to survive the Donald Trump tornado that has hit the Republican party by trying to outdo him in making outrageous comments in order to get any kind of attention.
There are many funny bits in the piece but I laughed most at this little nugget.
At the event, [Huckabee] was glowingly introduced by Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, who revved the crowd by bashing the Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for gay marriage. King had apparently been told on good authority by a lawyer friend that Obergefell v. Hodges meant that only one party in a marriage had to be a human being. “What that means,” he said, “is you can now marry my lawn mower.”
A reporter next to me leaned over. “King’s lawn mower is gay?”
But as Taibbi says:
The thing is, when you actually think about it, it’s not funny. Given what’s at stake, it’s more like the opposite, like the first sign of the collapse of the United States as a global superpower. Twenty years from now, when we’re all living like prehistory hominids and hunting rats with sticks, we’ll probably look back at this moment as the beginning of the end.
In the modern Republican Party, making sense is a secondary consideration. Years of relentless propaganda combined with extreme frustration over the disastrous Bush years and two terms of a Kenyan Muslim terrorist president have cast the party’s right wing into a swirling suckhole of paranoia and conspiratorial craziness. There is nothing you can do to go too far, a fact proved, if not exactly understood, by the madman, Trump.
Politics used to be a simple, predictable con. Every four years, the money men in D.C. teamed up with party hacks to throw their weight behind whatever half-bright fraud of a candidate proved most adept at snowing the population into buying a warmed-over version of the same crappy policies they’ve always bought.
Pundits always complained that there wasn’t enough talk about issues during these races, but in reality, issues were still everything. Behind the scenes, where donors gave millions for concrete favors, there was always still plenty of policy. And skilled political pitchmen like Christie, who could deftly deliver on those back-room promises to crush labor and hand out transportation contracts or whatever while still acting like a man of the people, were highly valued commodities.
Not anymore. Trump has blown up even the backroom version of the issues-driven campaign. There are no secret donors that we know of. Trump himself appears to be the largest financial backer of the Trump campaign. A financial report disclosed that Trump lent his own campaign $1.8 million while raising just $100,000.
There’s no hidden platform behind the shallow facade. With Trump, the facade is the whole deal. If old-school policy hucksters like Christie can’t find a way to beat a media master like Trump at the ratings game, they will soon die out.
The full piece is well worth reading and you should check it out.
I share Taibbi’s mixed feelings. While I too am laughing at all these antics, I am also amazed that one of the major political parties of the world’s only superpower seems to be devolving into caricature. And yet, rather than imploding to be replaced by a real alternative to the Democrats, it retains enough support to have the possibility of actually winning the presidency. I wonder what the adults in the party, if there are any left, are thinking.