Are you ready for it? Are you ready for the next 461 days of being campaigned at by a pack of desperate losers, flop-sweating in their suits, overtaking your TV, your radio, your mailbox, leaning in too close at your local diner or county fair, corndogs clenched awkwardly in their fists, showing all their teeth in a frozen rictus of a smile, straining awkwardly to show they’re just like you? No?
Monday night offered a soul-freezing glimpse at we’re in for, with the Voters First Presidential Forum in Manchester, New Hampshire, the first time most of the Republican candidates were clustered together on one stage, fidgeting through one another’s stump speeches and wishing silently they’d learned a real skill in life. Donald Trump, the current Republican front-runner [sobs wildly], skipped the event. According to CNN, he was angry that the newspaper sponsoring the event had written about him critically:
Joe McQuaid, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper that is co-sponsoring the forum, says Trump’s no-show is the result of a critical column in the paper.
“His staff is saying that he was upset with an editorial that appeared in our paper... questioning his courage versus that of John McCain,” McQuaid told CNN.
But the rest of the clown car came spilling out: Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum, a veritable catalogue of the monstrous nightmares I have when I fall asleep with C-Span on. According to the New York Times, the candidates basically fell all over themselves, delivering “strikingly uneven” performances:
Former Gov. George Pataki of New York was mid-sentenced — “By the way, Jack,” — when the moderator cut him off. He reacted with surprise, stood up, and walked off. At another point, a woman suddenly emerged from stage right with a folder in hand, beckoning Mr. Perry to leave. He sheepishly did so.
C-Span cameras caught candidates waiting their turn, forlornly watching their rivals onstage, sometimes in unflattering ways. Mr. Christie at one point sat with his head down, looking positively bored, as he listened to Mr. Walker. As Rick Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, delivering his closing remarks, Ms. Fiorina was caught gabbing with Mr. Graham.
Sounds like a real barn-burner. Here’s the full forum, if you’ve been suffering from a particularly unshakeable case of insomnia:
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Rick Perry makes a point during the forum. Image via AP.