By Brenden Gallagher
In their fifth debate, the Republican Presidential candidates all agreed that there are many problems plaguing this country. When there are many issues that need to be addressed in this great nation, there is only one thing you can do: spend two hours talking about just one of them. With the exception of a brief interlude to discuss who would build the biggest wall on the Mexican border, last night’s debate focused entirely on foreign policy, specifically how to defeat ISIS.
From time to time, the candidates shifted gears, one-upping each other regarding who would be a bigger dick to Vladimir Putin and arguing over whether they prefer to launch nuclear weapons from submarines or airplanes. But, for the most part, they talked about how to defeat ISIS.
Did we mention they talked about how to defeat ISIS?
Nevermind that the vast majority of mass shootings are carried out by non-Muslims. Nevermind that we are already conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State. In the aftermath of San Berndardino, the candidates knew that trashing Muslims would score points, and CNN knew that facilitating the trash talk would spike ratings.
But it isn’t all as easy as throwing around racial epithets and invoking 9/11. The candidates had to play a tricky game. After Donald Trump came out in support of banning Muslims from entering the US, and received the appropriate backlash to his racist comments, the candidates realized that they had to be as racist as possible without seeming too racist.
Here’s how they did walking that fine line between lovable racist uncle and Neonazi:
“Regime change is a mistake.” – Rand Paul
The Mel Gibson Memorial “least racist statement of the night” award goes to Rand Paul, who really seemed off his game since he wasn’t able to make weird proclamations about the gold standard that resonate with his base of who live in garages and people who watch infomercials at four in the morning. Rand humbly suggested that doing the thing that created ISIS may not help defeat ISIS. Come on Rand, do you even want to win this thing?
” … a coalition with Europe and our allies.” – John Kasich
How is this guy still in the Republican race? He has the same foreign policy as Bernie Sanders with about half of Bernie’s charm and good looks.
“You have to have a strategy to get in and a strategy to get out.” – Jeb Bush
Bush spent more time trying to spar with Trump than actually saying anything substantive. He called Donald a “Chaos Candidate,” a phrase that would look dope airbrushed on the side of a van. As usual, Jeb! put his foot in his mouth despite limited air time. The man has a gift, plain and simple. This time he evoked his brothers mistakes without anyone else having to even goad him into it. Mission accomplished.
“A no-fly zone means a no-fly zone.” – Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came out strong with the tough talk, but stopped well short of being overtly racist. He treated the CNN audience to the same swaggering stance that New Jersey teachers and people who like to drive on bridges have dealt with for years. And though he did name drop 9/11 at every opportunity, and constantly reminded us that they do it differently in New Jersey (anyone whose ever visited the bathrooms at the Walt Whitman rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike could tell you that), he wasn’t too racist.
“Bring back the warrior class.” – Carly Fiorina
While Fiorina didn’t say anything directly insulting to Muslims, she did want to make it clear that just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she can’t get the blood of thousands of civillians on her hands as well as any man. Carly would like you to look at great citizens of the United Kingdom like Margarat Thatcher and Lady Macbeth and realize that ladies can commit atrocities too.
And President Carly will be sure to SnapChat it afterwards!
“Individuals who support ISIS won’t have their Miranda rights read to them.” – Marco Rubio
This means nothing, accomplishes nothing, and is pretty racist. Rubio had to say some shit like this because he is pretty much the only Republican candidate besides the way-too-moderate-for-primetime Kasich who doesn’t want to build a wall to keep out brown people.
“We need to make sure that any place … a mosque a school, a super market … if people there are engaging in radicalized activities, we need to be suspicious of it.” – Ben Carson
Despite trying his best to be as racist as possible, Ben Carson came up short. Carson’s problem is that he doesn’t scream about minorities. Instead he rambles quietly about them like your college dorm mate on hallucinogens. At one point, he compared telling a child he would have to operate on his brain to the intentional killing of civilian children. He also claimed that the best way to defeat ISIS is to “take their energy.”
CARSON: I will lobotomize ISIS
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) December 16, 2015
“We carpet bombed them for 37 days.” – Ted Cruz
Ted reminisced about the First Gulf War with the nostalgia of an aging frat bro remembering his first game of beer pong. Cruz is clearly on a mission to set himself up as the “slightly less racist than Trump” candidate. Rather than banning Muslim immigration completely, he would only ban immigration from countries he decides are a threat: all of which are Muslim countries. He also managed to throw in a little anti-Latino racism (though he himself is Latino) when he said, “The front line with ISIS is also at Kennedy Airport and the Rio Grande. Border security is national security.”
The entire debate seemed staged to allow Cruz to paint himself as the alternative for bigots who are tired of Trump. He did the best he could, but come on. There can only be one …
“Figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing. I don’t want them using our Internet.” – Donald Trump
Much like Carson, Donald Trump’s racism is limited only by his stupidity. The Donald spent quite a lot of time explaining that he wants to take the Internet away from ISIS in countries like Syria. The entire time he talked like this, I had flashbacks of trying to explain The Cloud to my parents. Then he complained about “cellphone’s with ISIS flags on them” and once again claimed he would “build a wall.” It’s like your drunk uncle at Thankgsgiving, but every single day!
Trump has always long been the GOP presidential field’s racist uncle. With each passing week, he has been forced to say more and more ridiculous things to stay on top of the news cycle. That’s why these days he sounds like your racist uncle after a handle of Evan Williams.
Of course, when he says things like “I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.” he has something else in common with that drunk uncle.
He stopped being funny a long time ago.