I think most of us—right and left—can agree last night’s main Republican Presidential Debate was a sad, pathetic showing of trivial banter over insignificant nonsense. It was surface and groan-worthy and embarrassing; a rush to bash minorities and immigrants while defending all things far-right Christian and gun. Nuance over ISIS, or Iran, or climate change? Nope. Not here.
In the midst of all the muck, however, came one moment of genuine beauty. In case you’re unaware, there were actually two debates last night. Because there are so many Republican candidates, the four men with the lowest poll numbers appeared in what can best be called a “pre-debate debate” (aka: “Come to the Garden to watch Manhattanville College play Purchase before the St. John’s-Georgetown game!”). They wore suits and stood behind podiums and looked real—only about six people probably watched.
What most of us (you?) missed was, well, this …
Why do I love the exchange between George Pataki and Rick Santorum? Because in a political world that has gone bonkers, the former New York governor spoke reasonably, sensibly, wisely—and received applause for doing so. Listen closely: The moronic Santorum defends Kim Davis’ actions, and attendees clap. Then Pataki comes along and (gasp) sounds wise. And the people … they … they … they … they respond to it! Like, they absorbed his take, realized it made sense and adjusted appropriately.
It was a punch on behalf of reason, and—I longingly wish—a blueprint for future debates. It also was a reminder how dangerous people like Santorum and Mike Huckabee can be. This idea that a president can ignore a Supreme Court ruling because he disagrees with it is, eh, bonkers. It also makes one wonder how a party can routinely refer to the sitting commander in chief as an “imperial president,” then suggest—if elected to office—they would simply disregard the Judicial branch of government.
Can Pataki win this thing? Heck, no. He’s polling right beside Emmanuel Lewis and my car keys. But he’s the best the GOP has, as far as a general election.
The nuts just don’t realize it.