Try as I may to dampen my glee, Thursday’s first debate on Fox News among the Republican presidential candidates has me genuinely excited. And it’s not just because it will be in Cleveland, though that is breathtaking.
For those of you who have had trouble tracking the skitterings of 17 GOP candidates vying to take back their country and White House vegetable garden from Barack Obama’s Kenyan-Marxist, Mom-jean-wearing, Muslim-Alinsky, Chamberlain-Hitler, gun-grabbin’-socialist, weakling, jackbooted dictatorship, I offer these suggestions.
- If you have anything better to do — be it taking an evening stroll through Monterey in hopes of taking the thousandth picture of the city’s awesome albino doe or sorting out all the odd-sized washers in your hardware bins — by all means, do it. There will be other debates, which may be easier to follow after many of the 17 candidates find that their bankrollers are just not that into them. Some billionaire donors are already hedging their bets. Also the election isn’t for 15 months, so it’s probably wise to take a few more months before pondering why Chris Christie wants to punch so many people.
- If you do watch, make sure to catch the preliminary bout with the seven candidates whose abysmal poll standings prevented them from being involved in the main bout with the Nine and The Donald. It stands to be a first-rate pity party, and I’m intrigued by the notion of seeing Christie sitting at “the kids’ table” without reducing it to “the kids’ splinters.” (UPDATE: Christie will be on the main stage, so the tykes’ furniture should escape unharmed.)
- Do not engage in any drinking games, which require you to chug alcohol every time certain words or phrases are used by the candidates such as: Reagan, Reagan, Reagan, waste and fraud, Planned Parenthood or boots on the ground. You will be sicker than a dog without health insurance before the first round of questioning is over. In this condition, the sight of the Trump’s hair could induce follicular depression, comb-over control loss or furrier fatigue syndrome.
- Pay close attention to Carly Fiorina, former Silicon Valley executive and no-term senator, for she is the lone woman in the pack of 17. She enters the debate very low in the polls. But with the entire weight on her shoulders to convince American women that the GOP has the best interests of women at heart, Fiorina faces an awesome task as the anti-Hillary. If she pulls it off, she could be rewarded with a whole, half-percentage bump in the polls. (UPDATE: Fiorina failed to make the main debate, Watch the preliminary to see her flex her I AM GOP WOMAN muscles.)
- Be careful not to swallow your tongue if the moderators actually ask a hardball question — e.g., How quickly do you want to turn over trillions in Social Security funds to Wall Street, in six days, six weeks or six months? — amid such softballs as “Is Obama really, really, really bad?” and “Are polar bears really losers who deserve to lose that cozy little Arctic ice cap?”
- The format — one minute for answers and 30 seconds to respond to personal digs — ensures the debate won’t be bogged down with thoughtful, nuanced, insightful responses, you know, any boring answers. Look for The Trump to shine if he gets many opportunities for 30-second responses to any disparagement of his long record of public service as a real estate developer, reality TV star, beauty pageant promoter, golf resort owner and underwriter of searches for presidential birth certificates. The infallible one doesn’t take criticism well. Critics are losers.
- Stakes are highest for the other front-runners trailing Trump, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Expect to hear many allusions to miracles in Madison and Tallahassee, which greatly improved the lives of millions but for Barack Obama, big government and, for old times sake, Eric Holder, ACORN, the New Black Panther Party and Whitewater.
- Skip the post-debate analyses. This is how they will go. Conservative pundits will say, “It doesn’t matter who won the debate because the big winner tonight, my friends, was America.” Liberal pundits, slurring their words, will say, “We never should have played that stupid drinking game! Who knew The Trump would say #onlyclassylivesmatter so many times?”
Check your local listings for coverage of the debate. I could have included the times and the channels, but figured 99 percent of you can figure that out for yourselves. The others can call local media outlets, where they likely will be greeted by the question, “What debate?”