Bread and Circuses

The last GOP debate became on the CNBC moderators. Will Fox do any better?

I will probably watch the fourth Republican presidential debate tonight  if I can find Fox Business on the Direct TV menu. I have never watched the channel but it couldn’t be too hard to locate.

I understand the show will be two hours long, and I wonder what the moderators will come up with to make it worth my time.

The last debate – on CNBC – was a disaster. But, at least, it had the kind of morbid fascination that car crashes and train wrecks have. That show attracted 14 million viewers – a CNBC record, of course, but not nearly as much as the Fox debate, which was watched by 24 million.

Tell me, what makes 24 million – or 14 million – people tune in to a political debate? Is it Donald Trump? He seems to be a huge attraction every time he shows up on TV.

The Democrats, with Rachel Maddow as moderator, produced a record audience for MSNBC, too. But nowhere near the Republicans. I understand Rachel’s one-on-one “forum” topped out at 2.3 million viewers.

I’m not sure what that says about the American viewing public but I suspect it’s not anything good.

The Democrats talked about issues that affect the lives of everyday Americans. They discussed plans for creating jobs and addressing the growing gap between rich and poor. They pondered the pros and cons of military intervention in the Middle East. They laid out plans to stem gun violence and other blights that afflict American society. In short, it was a bread-and-butter kind of discourse.

The Republican debates have been one circus after another. Candidates trade insults with each other and with the moderators, and say outrageous things in the loudest voice they can muster and with facial expressions that remind me of some malevolent Hindu deity.

When they mention anything to do with governing the country, it’s usually some preposterous proposal – rounding up and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, outlawing abortion and even birth control,  abolishing Medicare, privatizing Social Security, substituting a Biblical tithing system for the IRS, and so on.

I bet tonight’s show will be even more bizarre. With the recent pronouncements by Ben Carson, the moderators and his rivals will have so much material to work with.

We viewers will likely be hearing how the pyramids were built to store grain, how the evil media are indecently delving into Ben’s self-aggrandizing fictions… We night even hear about that mysterious paternity blackmail scheme.

Ben’s isn’t the only dirty laundry that will be aired tonight. I’m sure Marco Rubio’s credit card is going to be examined, and perhaps his questionable campaign spending…

So many candidates, so much dirty laundry, so little time.

Yes, it will be a lot like watching a train wreck.

Click for a who’s who of the debate.