Well, this may go down in history as the week that the Republican party lost its mind.
We’re used to the GOP being unpleasant and nasty, but Donald Trump seems to have had a sort of contagious insanity effect on everyone. They’ve been making even crazier statements than usual, first at rallies and then at an explosive debate on Thursday night.
For example, let’s just start with their weird handling of Scalia’s replacement. Republicans are dead set against holding any confirmation hearings for anyone Obama nominates, which seems like it will totally backfire.
In a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, they agreed that they shouldn’t hold any hearings. But there’s almost a whole year between now and the inauguration, and it seems impossible that Republicans will be able to find a plausible reason to stall. The Constitution requires that a replacement be found, and entitles Obama to do so — whether it’s an election year or not. This move will almost certainly backfire.
And it’s not the only weird misstep this week. John Kasich, the Ohio governor who’s somehow still running, accidentally reminded everyone that he’s a huge sexist. He was bragging about how he’s always had the support of female voters, and added that on his first campaign, a lot of ladies came “out of the kitchen” to volunteer. Whoops!
On another occasion, Kasich called on a woman at a rally and told her she must get invited to all the parties. He jokingly told another that he was sorry he didn’t have Taylor Swift tickets. And on another occasion, he tried to explain his position on lobbyists by asking a woman about her history with dieting.
After an outcry, he told all the people he offended to “relax.” What a fun guy.
Ben Carson made even less sense this week. He offered a bunch of baffling metaphors about his campaign: “We’re sort of in the ancient Rome stage where everyone wanted to go to the Coliseum, bring on the lions and tigers, see them eat the eagle.”
He added, “We have a bunch of fire extinguishers, we are going to put the fire out and put the fire in our bellies.” He said that we should be using “truth serum” on terrorism suspects. At the debate on Thursday, he said that before nominating a Supreme Court justice he would want to consider “the fruit salad of their life.”
That Thursday night debate is when things really went off the rails. The candidates all attacked each other, viciously tearing into their rivals. Marco Rubio got particularly vicious, attacking Trump for hiring illegal immigrants, for setting up a phony University and for having no real health reform plan. Trump deflected the criticism, calling Ted Cruz a basket case. Takes one to know one.
Super Tuesday’s coming up soon, when a handful of states traditionally drive a stake through the hearts of floundering campaigns. This will likely be the end of Ben Carson and John Kasich. It could be curtains for Ted Cruz as well. Bernie might even not survive. But in a season when craziness seems to be an asset, there’s one figure who’s doing better than anyone: Donald Trump’s poll numbers are still well above all of the other Republicans.