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debate me, bro
There’s something close to insanity in the desire to be the president. You think you deserve to be in charge of the biggest economy in the world and the biggest annual defense budget in the world. You’re trying to be, arguably, the most powerful person in the world. That’s nuts, to think you deserve that.
And obviously all presidential candidates think they deserve to be president. That’s like the first question they’re supposed to be able to answer. Usually they spout some nonsense about how I want to give back to this great country. But, come on, we all know it’s because they just want the power. And Donald Trump is changing the game this cycle by showing that it doesn’t really matter if your presidential campaign message is I just want the power.
It’s kind of wild that it took this long for Trump to come along. For three-hundred-and-fifty years, we told the president “you can be the most powerful person in the world — but only for four years” and then we get to pick again and the next guy gets a turn. It’s wild that we had three-hundred-and-fifty years of peaceful transitions of power. (I guess I’m not counting the Civil War)
But anyway, that’s the Republican world that some unlucky souls tuned into on Wednesday night. A world in which A.) America no longer has a peaceful transition of power and B.) No viable republican presidential candidate can say that out loud.
And no, I didn’t watch the debate. I scrolled through it on Twitter. Why bother watching the whole thing? The only way I’d watch the debate is if I could watch Donald Trump watching the debate. He must have been laughing like a big orange Jabba the Hutt. Because this is all for him. He has convinced eight people, governors and senators and people richer than him to fight over a ball that he’s never going to give them. And that’s just what it sounded like, take a look at this clip:
If this is 2024, what comes next? What does this party — a debate stage that literally sounds like a house party — look like in four years? There’s no natural successor. The only way that this works for them is if Donald Trump wins and hand-picks one of them. If he’s able to transfer his followers to them.
Maybe there’s another route. Maybe you can out-Trump Trump. But Ron DeSantis just tried that and he’s about to lose an election for the first time in his life. Vivek Ramaswamy is trying it now but he’s obviously doing a bit.
If I had watched the debate (alone, not with Trump), that’s the kind of thing that I would have been thinking about. There’s this tendency in the political media to think too much about the people on the debate stage and, sometimes, to think too little about the people at home watching the debate. Not even the people in the debate room. Half of them are as nuts about power as the people on the stage. But the people at home aren’t.
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And so those unfortunate souls who tuned in had to watch, I don’t know, an hour and a half of power-hungry men talking at each other. Because I saw a few other clips of the debate, and they were basically all like that. An hour and a half inside the head of one of those toy monkeys that bang symbols together. That’s awful.
No, who needs that? I’m glad I’m not going to have to consider voting for any of these guys. And that I didn’t watch them tonight. Instead, I read some books about lost ducks to my kid. I read a bit of Evelyn Waugh and I wrote this. And I don’t feel too bad about it.