Bread, Circuses and Debates

Roland Dodds

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular inactive at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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25 Responses

  1. LeeEsq says:

    The Republicans have been running on anti-intellectualism and sneers against effete coastal liberals that read books for so long that they probably are unable to have a meaningful debate. The basic Republican ideology that government solutions never work, even though this is honored more in breach than in practice, does not help because what does that leave their debate. The Republican party line is market economics, tax cuts, tough on security, and Protestant morality on social issues. If anything Trump’s European style nationalist populism is adding ideological variety into the debates.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I agree on your point @leeesq about Trump adding variety by introducing European right-wing principles into the debate, but the showman element feels much different than the likes of Nigel Farage or Victor Orban. Which gets me back to my central question: would the rise of Trump had occurred had he not been an entertainer?Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        Most likely not but the European Far Right is not unaware of the values of showmanship. Its just that the type of showmanship they use tends towards things like mass paramilitary theatricals.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    I think Lee has it right. The GOP is reaping what they have sown for decades.

    Interestingly the big issue (more for the GOP) is that there is a huge disconnect between large segments of the bases and the elites. The elites live in a sphere where globalization is good and entitlement reform is popular because they all have so much money and don’t need Medicare and social security. Now the people say no.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @saul-degraw “The elites live in a sphere where globalization is good and entitlement reform is popular…”

      It also demonstrates why the elites are much more supportive of mass migration. They reap the benefits of the macro advantages produced by immigration but do not live with the downside of it (lower trust communities, a drain on public schools). They simple are disconnected from those problems and don’t get what it has angered many in poorer communities.Report

  3. Tod Kelly says:

    I’m curious to know if you watched last night’s debate and if so, what you thought of it — especially in light of this post.

    I have to say, I thought it veered past “reality show entertainment” and directly into watching a train wreck. I found it painful to watch.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I didn’t even know they had a debate until the last 30 minutes. I caught the closing remarks and post-debate pundits. From what I heard, it was a mess of epic proportions. I will hopefully watch it on Youtube today.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      I didn’t see the beginning in real time – where Trump called out the Bush admin for not keeping us safe on 9/11 and lying us into a disastrous war (points Trump!) and Jeb!’s lame “stop criticizing my family” whine-reply (downvote for Jeb!) – but over the last 45 minutes or so I thought Rubio maintained composure and scored some direct hits on Cruzer; Cruz looked floundery; Carson looked asleep; Kasich looked like a grumpy Grandpa; and Trump thrashed his way to another Victory by scorching the GOP earth.

      He has to destroy the party in order to save it!! Or something. And he’s doing his best to destroy it, seems to me. (Speaking heresies like that on national TV??!!? How DARE he…)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        I don’t know how many undecideds he picked up with that answer but it was more than none at all. I don’t know how many Democrats he picked up with that answer but it was more than none at all.

        If he gets the nomination, the only person who might be able to beat him is Bernie.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

          Agreed. He also called out Cruzer for basically institutionalized lying during this campaign – lying about Carson, lying about Trump – which I think scored pretty well with that same fedupwithpoliticsasusual crowd. Rubio also called out Cruzer for lying about his immigration policies, which, if he hits it again, might stick since immigration is the (apparently!!!) the number one issue for voters this primary. (And Cruz is all sorts of slimey on immigration policy…)Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    From what I can tell from the twitters, Trump came out and said that Iraq was a serious mistake.


    • Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

      He didn’t just say it, he said it, got attacked on it, repeated it, then moved on to saying that Bush lied about WMD and failed to prevent 9/11. It was astonishing.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to Don Zeko says:

        Apart from being true (!!!), what Trump achieved was placing the Conservative Mythology directly against reality. The Myth is that Bush Kept Us Safe, and that 9/11 was caused by Clinton, that OMightyISIS was caused by Obama, and that invading Iraq was The Right Thing To Do. It was interesting seeing all the other combatants squirm around trying to frantically replace those pieces when the facade came crashing down.Report

        • Damon in reply to Stillwater says:

          @stillwater @don-zeko

          And it addition, when Jeb defended his brother ? he was roundly cheered for it while the crowed booed Trumps comments. If I had any respect left for the common Republican it died this morning when I heard the reports on the radio. Let them burn.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Damon says:

            And now I’m wondering if Trump is crashing/burning or if he changed the game again.

            I know I said that he’d be gone by Valentine’s Day…

            Maybe he’ll be gone by Easter.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              Heh. “The dude’s so NOT-conservative he’ll be gone by last fall.”

              If the polling on who won is any indication, two different polls had Rubio as the winner, Trump 2nd, and Jeb/ Cruzer distant third/fourths.

              Rubio was really good last night (the part I watched): sharp, clear, incisive, he even got in a few spontaneous non-scripted jabs that landed.

              But like you said up thread, Trump definitely scored some points with the anti-Iraq comments, and since he’s not parlaying for establishment support it’d be hard to tell how much those comments helped/hurt his chances.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                I have seen a couple of Conservative types argue, seriously, that Trump didn’t really oppose the Iraq War in 2003.

                He didn’t oppose it until 2004.

                They point out how Trump only wrote his opposition down in 2004.

                NOT 2003.

                This is one of those attacks that won’t change the hearts/minds of the people on the fence *AND* has the weird effect of telling people that it would have been good to have opposed the Iraq War, like Trump belatedly did, before Trump belatedly did.

                It’s monumentally stupid.Report

              • Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird says:

                On the narrow issue, they seem to be right, though. There’s no record of Trump opposing the war in 2003. See Fallows, Drum, etc.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko says:

                Trump’s lies are lies that bring a spotlight on a truth that is fairly close to his lie.

                They are *HIGHLIGHTING* that he opposed Iraq in 2004.

                And in arguing that he didn’t oppose it until 2004, they’re making his point that opposing the war during Dubya’s first term was smarter than all of the idiots on the stage plus Hillary.

                Trump is playing these guys like a fiddle. It’s downright uncanny.Report

          • Don Zeko in reply to Damon says:

            I guess it’s possible that the crowd wasn’t representative; it did seem like Rubio in particular was very successful at packing the hall with his supporters. But still, I’ve assumed for years that anybody who believes those (totally true) things Trump said was bound to get run out of the party on a rail. If Trump doesn’t crash and burn for telling those particular heretical truths, my conception of the Republican Party is very badly wrong.Report

          • katherinemw in reply to Damon says:

            Jeb’s comment was one of the most laughable things I’ve heard in a political debate. “Don’t go after my family” when you family are private citizens who have only been drawn into political life by your campaign? Fine and justified. “Don’t go after my family” when your family are two ex-presidents? Nonsensical.

            (Also, I now have the #1 question I would ask Jeb if I got the chance: “You said ‘My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.’ If elected, would you emulate your dad in ending all US funding to Israel until they cease settlement-building? If not, why not?”

            That’s not to say I think that admiring someone requires you to emulate him in all respects. But it would make Jeb give an answer that didn’t involve throwing terms like “anti-Semite” or “un-American” or “pro-terrorist” at anyone who wanted to hold Israel to account for its illegal and immoral actions – because any such insults would be implicity directed as his father. And it would make the Republican grapple just a little bit with how far they’ve moved on that issue since the 1980s.)Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      Too bad he didn’t go onto say “And we only had that war because you helped your brother steal the election!”

      Maybe next time.Report

  5. Kim says:

    (In long: the Democrats know bread and circuses better than the Republicans know bread and circuses, and they make better entertainment too. If their current debates are boring, that’s honestly intentional. Netroots Nation screens candidates for office, and I’m sure that their debates and Q&As are really dreadfully boring too. Democrats are much better at nitty gritty groundgame things. Bets on the new Acorn?)Report