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Watching last night's Republican YouTube debate was like experiencing a disturbance in the Force.  It's hard to put a finger on it, but everything seemed out of whack.  Perhaps some of it emanated from the unusual format, but I don't think that's it.  Something was wrong.  Something was off kilter in the psychic universe.  

The debate started with a question about immigration.  It would soon become apparent that immigration is something of an obsession among rank and file Republicans...they really don't like brown people.  It isn't that I didn't already know this, but it isn't something I am used to seeing displayed so flagrantly in an open forum...particularly one that is made up of people from one of the two American governing political parties.  The last time I felt such a chill of National Socialism was during Patrick Buchanan's Culture War Speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston.  

It was clear that both Mike Huckabee and John McCain were pained to be a party to such a spectacle.  Before it was his turn to respond, McCain was forced for some time to watch the other candidates vilify each other over their respective failures to deport enough brown people.  It seemed like he had almost no energy left when he started to speak:

SEN. MCCAIN: You know, this whole debate saddens me a little bit because we do have a serious situation in America. In 1986, we passed a law that said we would enforce our borders and gave amnesty to a couple million people. We gave the amnesty, now we have 12 million people and still borders that are not enforced.

I came to the Senate not to do the easy things, but to do the hard things. Mel Martinez and I knew that this was going to be a tough issue, but we thought the status quo was unacceptable -- broken borders, 12 million people here illegally, a need for a temporary worker program certainly in my state in the agricultural sector, certainly in the state of Florida. And we tried to get something done. We said we'd enforce the borders. The American people didn't believe us. They don't believe us because of our failure in Katrina, our failure in Iraq, our failures in -- reining in corruption and out- of-control spending. So we tried and we failed.

It was a brief moment of reality in an otherwise sophomoric farce.  But it was such a forlorn statement.   It seemed almost desperation when he went over his time to try to infuse some humanity into a what was beginning to feel like a modern day Klan rally:

SEN. MCCAIN: But then you've still got two other aspects of this issue that have to be resolved as well. And we sit -- we need to sit down --

MR. COOPER: Okay, time.

SEN. MCCAIN: -- as Americans and recognize these are God's children as well and they need some protections under the law and they need -- (applause) -- and they -- they need some of our love and compassion.

MR. COOPER: Thank you, sir.

Perhaps realizing that compassion wasn't the note to end on with with this crowd, McCain pressed on.

SEN. MCCAIN: And I want to ensure you that I'll enforce the borders first, but as president of the United States, we'll solve this immigration problem and we won't demagogue it and we won't --

MR. COOPER: Thank you.

SEN. MCCAIN: -- have sanctuary cities and we won't have all this other rhetoric that unfortunately --

MR. COOPER: Thank you.

SEN. MCCAIN: -- contributes nothing to the national dialogue.

But that wasn't the 'have you no shame, sir' moment that decent people were hoping for, because the immigrant bashing was far from finished.  After McCain, it was Tom Tancredo's turn and he was positively beaming at what he had observed.  

REP. TANCREDO: Yeah, well, I tell you, this has been wonderful. I -- and Senator McCain may not be happy with this -- the spirit of this debate. As -- for a guy who usually stands on the bookend -- here -- side and just listens all the time, that's kind of frustrating, you know, in other debates. I have to tell you, so far it's been wonderful -- (laughter) -- because -- because all I've heard is -- is -- is people trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo. (Laughter.) It is great. I am so happy to hear it. (Applause.) It is a wonderful thing, and it's a good message.

Somewhere another victim of the ovens was screaming out to make it stop.  But it would not stop on this night.  Eventually it was Mike Huckabee's turn to explain why he supported a bill while he was the governor of Arkansas that allowed  the children of illegal immigrants to qualify for merit scholarships to the state universities.  Huckabee tried to explain common decency:

MR. HUCKABEE:...I supported a bill that would have allowed those children who had been in our schools their entire school life the opportunity to have the same scholarship that their peers had who had also gone to high school with them and sat in the same classrooms...

...Here's what happened. This bill would have said that if you came here not because you made the choice but because your parents did, that we're not going to punish a child because the parent committed a crime. That's not what we typically do in this country. It said that if you'd sat in our schools from the time you're 5 or 6 years old and you had become an A-plus student, you completed the core curriculum, you were an exceptional student, and you also had to be drug and alcohol free, and the other provision, you had to be applying for citizenship.

For a second brief moment, basic recognizable humanity ripped through the tapestry of hate...but it was not greeted well.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, you know, I like Mike, and I heard what he just said. But he basically said that he fought for giving scholarships to illegal aliens. And he had a great reason for doing so. It reminds me of what it's like talking to liberals in Massachusetts. All right? They have great reasons for taking taxpayer money and using it for things they think are the right thing to do.

Mike, that's not your money. That's the taxpayers' money. (Cheers, applause.)

Romney was disturbing all night.  As he was a Massachusetts politician that had previously held semi-reasonable positions on many issues, I looked for any signs that Romney might have a shred of honor or good will towards men.  It just wasn't there.  Romney has no inner grounding...his soul is an empty husk.  He is worse than a wingnut.  He is an empty vessel...literally a haircut...acting like a wingnut.

The spic-bashing spectacle would finally end, but it was not a merciful end.  And if you thought McCain could maintain a sense of honor...you were wrong.  He gained a pulse on the subject of Iraq.

SEN. MCCAIN: I just want to also say that Congressman Paul, I've heard him now in many debates talking about bringing our troops home and about the war in Iraq and how it's failed.

And I want to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is what caused World War II. We allowed -- we allowed -- (cheers, applause, boos)

MR. COOPER: Allow him his answer. Allow him his answer, please. (Cheers, applause, boos.)

SEN. MCCAIN: We have -- we allowed -- we allowed Hitler to come to power with that kind of attitude of isolationism and appeasement. (Boos, cheers, applause.)

McCain wasn't finished with the historical revisionism.  He also blamed public opinion for the loss of the Vietnam War.

And so it went.  The questions just kept coming in: do you support prosecuting woman that have abortions?  Do you own a gun and can you describe it for us?  Do you support the display of the confederate flag?  Do you support gays in the military?  

I turned to CabinGirl and said, "The next question is going to be about Jesus."  And I was right.

Q Hi. This is Tyler Overman from Memphis, Tennessee, and I have a quick question for those of you who would call yourselves Christian conservatives. The death penalty. What would Jesus do?

And that wasn't enough.  

Q I'm Joseph. I'm from Dallas, Texas. And how you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? (Shows a Bible.) And I mean specifically this book that I'm holding in my hand. Do you believe this book?

I felt like I was in Karbala, Iraq, watching a debate for the city council seats.  

Rounding it all out was a question about waterboarding.  Once again, John McCain displayed signs of full-blown homo sapienism.  But it was hard to believe that I was witnessing an actual dispute over whether we should torture people.

Totally absent from this debate was any acknowledgment that Iraq is a failed state, or that Afghanistan is going to seed, or that we have environmental problems.  Nothing was said about education or health care, and the mortgage meltdown, the value of the dollar, or the anything else that might be on the mind of a non-theocratic fascist fan of unending war, warrantless surveillance, and violations of human rights.  

Bush was hardly mentioned, although his policies (excepting Ron Paul) were almost universally endorsed.  It was the most impertinent debate I have ever witnessed, and yet its content was viewer driven.  This was the crap that rank and file Republicans wanted to talk about.  Or, at least, that is how CNN made it seem.

I couldn't help thinking to myself that Republicans are from Mars and the rest of us are from Earth.   Will the Republicans actually be able to make the presidential election about these side issues?  Will the twenty-four percenters succeed in carving out fifty-percent of the debate?  

The country is not healthy.  It's on the cusp of a major recovery...like a high 9/11 fever breaking.  With the right luck, the people will see Guiliani for the 9ui11iani he really is...and the current incarnation of this dangerous party will meet its final end.  

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."- Yoda

Originally posted to www.boomantribune.com on Thu Nov 29, 2007 at 12:10 AM PST.

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