Tenth Republican Debate: Everyone’s a Superhero

Between the shouting, fighting, and overall chaos, it’s pretty clear Thursday night’s Republican Debate was originally the script for a comic book movie. So, what superheroes were you guys trying to be?

Marco Rubio: The Flash

No one can speak as fast as me, and by the time I’d listed the 400 scandals Trump’s been involved in, he couldn’t even remember enough of them to answer. Of course, the best thing about talking fast is that I cangetenoughtalkingpointsinforyoutoforgetthatI’mcontradictingmyvieswwitheachnewdebate. And, that’s the kind of greatness I’ll bring to this New American Century. I’ll also bring a new respect for thesauruses, because since I started using them, I can repeat my talking points with different words. President Obama still knows exactly what he’s doing as he destroys America, but I know exactly what I’m doing to fix it, and I’ll continue to show that Flash Rubio is superior to Robo Rubio.

Donald Trump: Iron Man

I am a YUGE fan of comic books, and I’m really successful, like Iron Man. I’m going to build a wall, which I’m sure he did, because he’s a winner, and I’m going to beat Sweaty Rubio, like he did. Think about it – you got Choker Rubio, Liar Cruz, and I’m Iron Trump. And, when I’m president, we are going to do so much winning, and we are going to make this country great again.

Ted Cruz: Green Lantern

I have a ring of conservatism that can fix any problem. My ring is unwavering. It can make the shape of a door to welcome others into Reagan’s America. It can make the shape of an Emancipation Proclamation to abolish the IRS. It can make the shape of a filibuster to prevent my 99 colleagues from instituting liberal policies that will bring America to its knees. My ring of conservatism can solve any problem, and when I’m president, it will undo every one of President Obama’s illegal executive actions and institute the ring’s conservative principles. Obama’s America will fall, and in its place will be the Conservative America the Founders intended.

John Kasich: Superman

Well, jeez, I don’t like to compare myself to anyone, but since Superman could fly, he’d probably fly above the fray, like I’m doing. And, I guess I’ve been successful at getting things done, like Superman, who works well with others. What’s my kryptonite? Look, I don’t like to talk about that kind of thing, but I guess everyone else is too busy throwing kryptonite at each other to figure out mine is being 20th Century Electable, when I should be 21st Century Electable. But, let’s not squabble over superheroes, because Superman never really sounded all that exciting when he talked.

Ben Carson: The Phantom

Moderators are unfairly treating me like a phantom on stage. Still, though they may try to stop me, my message will carry on, and my jokes about not being called on will only get funnier. Like the Phantom, I will make people think my message is immortal, even though it changes from time to time. And, as the Phantom relied on his wits to fight crime, I will rely on my wits to fight the accusation that I’m unelectable. Super Tuesday may come and go, but Super Carson will carry on, until people realize how much he’s learned about foreign policy…

Is Obama the Worst Conspiracy President Ever?

Seriously, Obama? Your party had the Senate for 6 years, but you waited until Republicans were in control to whack a Supreme Court Justice? And, you waited until an election year, to give them maximum leverage? Fool me one mass shooting, shame on me; fool me worst-timed murder ever, shame on you. From death panels to Jade Helm, you’ve just been one disappointment after another. I don’t know how you ever expected to replace the Constitution with the Communist Manifesto, if you can’t even capitalize off killing one guy.

Why didn’t you ask your predecessors for help? Do you have any idea how many people they’ve killed? I know – asking George W. Bush for help would have been awkward, after saying all those bad things about him (Fake terrorist attacks are really more his thing, anyway.). But, what about Bill Clinton? He killed like half the population of Arkansas to cover up stuff. Not only that, but he and W’s dad have become good friends, so he might be able to hook you up with some vintage H.W. killings. Sure, you said all those bad things about Bill and Hillary when you ran in 2008, but Bill loves to talk, and I’m sure he’d let you pick his brain. Then again, he may only need to tell you one thing: Timing is everything.

See, you have to break the right eggs at the right time to make an omelet. You can keep faking mass shootings from now until the cows come home, but if Congress won’t pass gun control, you either gotta move on or come up with something different. This Scalia thing has made an absolute mockery of presidential killings, but keep thinking, and you’ll come up with something that works. And, if you ever start to think you can’t do it, remember: For every botched vice presidential attempt to assassinate Reagan, there’s a successful vice presidential attempt to assassinate Kennedy.

There’s still hope for you. You can’t take advantage of a fake mass shooting to save your life, and your attempts to become a dictator have been laughable. But, there was a time when you were good at this kind of thing. A time when you could make people think you weren’t a domestic terrorist in your early days, and a time when you could convince people you weren’t a Muslim or a radical black Christian. Hell, making people think you were born in Hawaii has become the stuff of legend. They can never take those wins away from you, but your murder profiteering needs some work.

You’ve got the hope. Now, let’s see some change…

New Words and Phrases for the 2016 New Hampshire Primaries

The New Hampshire Primaries were Tuesday, and some interesting story lines developed. Here are some words and phrases to help make sense of them:

The Trumpening
The inevitability of Trump – at least, in his own mind. According to exit polls, Trump won just about every demographic and opinion group that voted in the Republican primary, and he garnered a whopping 35.3% of the vote. As other candidates drop out, we’ll see whether the Trumpening is real, of if it turns into the Great Disatrumpment.

Crossing the Rubion
To raise expectations to such an extent that you will almost certainly fail to meet them. Rubio has crossed the Rubion at least twice: Once when he assumed his repetitive talking points would take him to victory in New Hampshire; and once after he failed to place higher than fifth in New Hampshire, after which he said he would never perform poorly in a debate again. He failed the first crossing; we’ll see if he fails the second.

To destroy one’s own political standing while also destroying someone else’s. At the last debate, Christie hammered Rubio on repeating his talking points over and over. Rubio responded by repeating his talking points over and over. This weakened Rubio by making him look fake. At the same time, it did no favors for Christie, whose entire campaign seemed to become criticizing Rubio. The end result: Rubio disappointed in New Hampshire, bringing new life to his establishment rivals – except for Christie, who disappointed worse in New Hampshire and has since dropped out.

Seeing two completely unrealistic things – completely opposed to one another – back to back. Sanders gave his victory speech, then Trump gave his, meaning the completely unrealistic specific was immediately followed by the completely unrealistic vague.

Clin and Tonic
What Hillary Clinton will probably need to handle all the criticism between now and the next set of primaries. But, a strong Clin and Tonic might not even be enough to get over losing almost every demographic in New Hampshire to Sanders. For that, she’ll probably need a combination of refined messaging and Sanders continuing to have no luck appealing to minorities.

The Disstablishment
While Cruz pretty much has the evangelical lane all to himself and Trump has the Trump lane all to himself, the battle for the establishment vote continues. Kasich isn’t expected to do much in the next few states, but Bush and Rubio are already at each other’s throats. Rubio’s campaign has threatened a bloodbath in South Carolina, the next state to vote. But, don’t count out Bush, whose family has a storied history of destroying rivals in South Carolina through merciless rumormongering (most infamously in the 2000 primaries, when an unfounded rumor about John McCain having an illegitimate black child helped Jeb’s brother win the state). Looks like it’s shaping up to be a good, old-fashioned BTWIFT (Beatdown That Wins It For Trump). Stay tuned: The next primary diss track is gonna be EPIC.

Something that only exists in Jim Gilmore’s mind…if at all.

Ben Carson

New Hampshire Debate Awards

The Fifth Democratic Debate was Thursday, followed two days later by the Eighth Republican Debate. There were some standout performances, and I’d like to recognize them while the candidates are still in the race…

The Broken Record Award Goes to…
Marco Rubio
Rubio came into Saturday’s debate having finished strong in Iowa and rising in the polls. Clearly, that would not do, and he knew he somehow had to stop this pesky momentum. Luckily, Chris Christie was there to help. Rubio was a true talking point ATM, and when Christie pointed this out, Rubio responded by giving almost the exact same talking point he’d just been criticized for. It turns out there is a limit to how much mileage a GOP candidate can get out of vaguely bashing Obama, and Rubio hit that limit…over and over again.

Best Use of a Tangent
Bernie Sanders
Sanders has the income inequality thing down, but the way he talks about other topics brings him dangerously close to being a one-issue candidate. Clearly, Sanders has become more aware of this, as he’s added a sort of Democratic Socialist Democratic Segue to his rhetorical arsenal. Is that a question about foreign policy? Well, the real problem is the billionaires. Why talk about national security when we could talk about Social Security?

Most Innovative Fact Changer
Ted Cruz
Cruz is a bit of an expert when it comes to answering questions by not answering them, but this time he was forced to put his money where his misleading was. Right before the Iowa Caucuses, Ben Carson left Iowa, and there was brief speculation he’d left the race. Not one to let facts get in the way of a win, Cruz’s campaign said Carson had dropped out. When asked about this at the debate, Cruz went to his most reliable punching bag – the media – and said CNN had tweeted that Carson dropped out and didn’t correct themselves until hours later. What actually happened was that someone at CNN tweeted that it was strange Carson was leaving Iowa, then almost immediately followed it up with a tweet saying he was still in the race. Carson corrected Cruz, but since he doesn’t really criticize other candidates, he pretty much let it go. But, Cruz was no fact-shifting one hit wonder. Later in the debate, he was asked about his idea to carpet bomb ISIS, since ISIS members are mixed in with the local population, and carpet bombing would inevitably result in mass civilian casualties. Cruz really outdid himself when he explained that the carpet bombing would be TARGETED, so civilians would be safe. Because, when you’re Ted Cruz, the only limit to a word’s definition is your imagination…

Most Relieved
Donald Trump

Speaking of bombing, Trump did way worse than expected in Iowa. Luckily for him, there was a YUGE silver lining: Rubio did very well in Iowa. Since Rubio is running as an establishment-friendly candidate and three other establishment candidates (Kasich, Bush, and Christie) are relying on New Hampshire to give their campaigns a boost, everyone’s attention was focused on Rubio. Add to this that Cruz and Rubio already hate each other, and you have a particularly harsh episode of Inside the Actor’s Rubio. Everyone was too busy attacking Rubio to bother repeating their anti-Trump lines, and other than when he basically attacked the audience, Trump pretty much got off scot-free. Which is kind of weird, when you consider how far ahead of everyone he is in New Hampshire polling. Of course, as Iowa showed, polling – like Donald Trump – doesn’t always reflect reality…

Most Improved After a Precipitous Drop in the Polls
Jeb Bush

In the first few debates, the Charismometer ranked Bush somewhere between a park bench and an expired battery. But, as his poll numbers have fallen into the gutter’s gutter’s gutter, he’s really come alive. He’s answered questions like someone who’s actually had the experience of answering questions before, and he held his own against Trump and Rubio. It remains to be seen if this will translate into votes, but it’s interesting to see someone so far behind acting like a frontrunner…

Most Hampshiry
John Kasich

It’s not often you learn things about language in primary debates, so I’d like to thank John Kasich for teaching me about “New Hampshire.” Here I was, thinking it was just a regular proper noun, but he mentioned it so much, there’s no way that’s all it New Hampshired. I know he needs to win the state to keep going, but the debate was in New Hampshire, so he probably didn’t need to mention it by name so many times. Still, he’s been climbing in recent polls, so if he does well, I can’t wait to see how he South Carolinas and Nevadas the next few states.

Most Likely to Hate Rubio
Chris Christie

Move over, Cruz – There’s a new anti-Rubio sheriff in town. One of the main reasons Rubio did so poorly in the debate was because he was constantly being hammered by Christie. However, while Rubio vaguely attacked everything about Obama, Christie very specifically attacked everything about Rubio: his (thin) record in the Senate, his lack of specific policy proposals, his use of talking points to power his campaign. Still, not all the credit can go to Christie: Rubio literally responded to accusations of repeating talking points by…repeating talking points. At times, it was almost like Rubio was in a commercial and Christie was talking to the TV.

Most Likely to Turn a Touchdown into a Fumble
Hillary Clinton

I’m starting to wonder if there’s some confusion in the Clinton campaign. Do they know that learning from mistakes means not making them again, or do they think mistakes are like great schoolteachers, and you’re supposed to emulate them? In Thursday’s debate, Clinton had some pretty strong answers, but she also had some answers that took those answers out back and did terrible things to them. It’s like she thought she was Cam Newton and she was so awesome that mistakes didn’t apply to her, but since the debate was before the Superbowl, she didn’t foresee how that could be costly…

Most Likely to Make People Ask, “Is He Still Running?”
Ben Carson

Cruz’s campaign was pretty underhanded with the whole claiming Carson dropped out thing, but the fact they thought they could get away with it might say more about Carson than anything else. While candidates like Bush and Christie have changed their presentations to try and reverse falling poll numbers, Carson hasn’t really changed anything. He never goes on the attack, doesn’t seem to be interested in learning about foreign policy, and makes the same jokes about not getting called on he’s made in almost every debate. In this debate, he said the media has tried to knock him out of the running, but he’s done far more to knock himself out of the running than the media ever could.

Most Outsized Role in Choosing a Candidate
Tie: Iowa and New Hampshire

With a combined population of less than 1% of the country – most of which doesn’t caucus or vote in the nominating process – the defending champs will continue to dominate this category for years to come. Iowa kind of muddied the field a bit this year, so hopefully New Hampshire will whittle it down, and we won’t have so many candidates to choose from…