Have you ever taken a really good seminar class? The sort in which you’ve got about five students and the professor? Those are the best classes because it’s just a handful of people sitting around having deep conversation about something they are passionate about, week in and week out. And then there are the near miss ones, in which all the pieces are there, but it’s a disaster because there are ten students instead of five, and it’s just too many people to have that flowing conversation. Hands have to be raised, you can’t just respond to what someone else says, because there are already three people in front of you in the queue … and it’s more miserable because of what might have been, than had you just been in a big lecture class zoning out to start with.
So naturally the first Republican debate, and you know exactly what channel it will be broadcast on, will feature ten candidates to ensure that absolutely nothing of substance can possibly be discussed. You may or may not see this as a feature rather than a bug. After all, using that basic concept called “division” that I learned in our socialized educational system, we can calculate how much actually speakifacating time each candidate will be allotted. Two hours. Subtract commercials and we’re down to 82 minutes. Factor in 10 minutes of introductory and concluding politeness, then figure 20% moderators asking questions, which brings it down to about 58 minutes of actually candidates talking. That’s less than six minutes each. To put that in perspective, Teddy Roosevelt spoke for ninety minutes after being shot in the chest.
The Republican Party, the big Elephant, the reigning champion of clinging to guns and religion, the Ayatollah of Bomb-them-alla, will feature this evening the following potential contenders for the heavy weight championship of the political world:
John Kasich: Boasting 3% of the vote in polls, which is the margin of error on the poll, we’ve got the current governor of Ohio and former host of his own show on Fox News, who promised to “break the back of organized labor in the schools” though he was willing to work with “unions that make things.” Um, schools make things, Governor Kasich. That’s what shop class is for.
Chris Christie: Also sitting at that glorious 3% mark, the man, the legend, the Republican governor who can hold down the fort in a Democrat state. He frequently says things that appear moderate and rational even to those of the other political party. On the other hand, he vetoed legislation to ban gestation crates overriding 91% of New Jerseyites. What cost bacon, what cost?
Rand Paul: Creeping up to 5%, which is also the proportion of Hawaiian residents who when polled say they have never been to Hawaii (true story), we’ve got a libertarian from the state that ranks 48th out of 50 on the ratio of taxes paid vs. federal money received. Cognitive dissonance from the guy who insists he wasn’t named after Ayn Rand.
Marco Rubio: Another contender at 5%, Marco Rubio doesn’t believe in climate change, is married to a former Dolphins cheerleader, and is from Florida, which as everyone knows is the sanest state of the 50.
Ted Cruz: Sitting at 6%, we’ve got the first Hispanic senator elected from Texas, who naturally was born in Canada, or as it’s come to be known: “The Socialist Republic of Cuban Siberia.” But I think all you really need to know is that if you google his name, the first result is an article titled “No, Ted Cruz Did Not Cook Bacon With A Machine Gun”. That fact has lost my vote, and I am now using that as the litmus test for supporting future presidential candidates.
Mike Huckabee: Nudging out Cruz with 7% of the poll, we’ve got the former governor of Arkansas who reminds you of that one uncle at Thanksgiving, who wears ugly sweaters, is a deeply kind and sweet human being, and then will mention casually that if he were president he’d deploy the National Guard to shut down abortion clinics by force.
Ben Carson: Neck in neck with Huckabee is a neurosurgeon who doesn’t believe in evolution, thinks that homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia, that the Affordable Care Act is the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” and that marijuana is a gateway drug to “hedonistic activity”, which is apparently supposed to be an argument against it.
Scott Walker: Sitting at 11%… oh this guy! He actually banned my union. Us graduate students, making less money than our students do working part-time at Starbucks. Such leeches on the public teat, we are indeed. He’s turned a budget surplus into a budget deficit within a year of taking office by doing that thing where he cuts taxes for the people who gave him money and then blames the deficit on teachers. But his real passion is in trying to gut higher education in Wisconsin, including trying to eliminate tenure for university professors, those vile hooligans who have nefariously dedicated their entire adult lives to research and teaching your fucking children. But he totally values education, you guys, that’s why he dropped out of college with a C+ grade point average.
Jeb Bush: Pulling ahead of the pack, with almost as much a percentage of the vote as Ross Perot took in 1992 to throw the election to Clinton, we’ve got Jeb Bush at 13%. Personally, I’m rooting for a showdown between him and Hillary in 2016 just because I want an entire presidential debate composed of nothing but passive-aggressive questions about how in America anyone can grow up to be president, and there totally aren’t a handful of political dynasties dominating power in this country. Oh my god, can we scrape up a Kennedy to get on a ticket somewhere? Bush vs. Kennedy would lead to 2/3 of the country’s heads literally exploding from raw political rage.
Donald Trump: The strong leader at 23%! Look, we all know that the early leader fades to nothing by next summer because it’s always just the bluster guy ranting at the clouds who makes an impression. But we can dream can’t we?
Look for Brian Byrd’s live blog of the Republican presidential debate this evening at 9pm EST. Bring your own booze, because Brian will need all he’s got.