Whether anyone likes it or not, the 2024 election kicks off officially tonight with a debate in Tiny Town between eight midgets vying for the Republican nomination. According to the strict standards for selecting the performers for this show, the cast will be Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott. These eight campaigns claim to have met the requirements set forth by the producers of the show.
This will be the first time anyone has seen Doug Burgum, whose name is often pronounced “bugman” by less scrupulous commentators. He is the current governor of North Dakota, a place few Americans can find on a map. Similarly, Asa Hutchinson will be introducing himself to the world, despite having spent the last half century in politics, mostly in Washington. He is the former governor of Arkansas and the man who championed the mutilation of children.
There used to be a time when the pundits would handicap these things in terms of what each candidate must do to help themselves in the debate. The game was to pretend all of them had an equal chance, so if they took the advice of the pundits, then they could become more equal than the others. For political people, this used to be a fun part of the process, but now that we know our elections are like professional wrestling, normal people have no interest in pretending otherwise.
Then there is the orange elephant in the room. There should be a fifteen-foot orange elephant on the stage with Donald Trump’s face on it, so the performers keep looking over at it as they read their lines. That would be both wildly entertaining and an honest presentation of what is really happening. The eight dwarfs are auditioning for the role of not-Trump, because they have been told that the real Trump will soon be behind bars or disqualified from the party’s nomination.
Given that all of the performers know this, the first reason to watch is for any clues as to the timing and circumstances of Trump’s removal. With the exception of Ramaswamy, none of these guys are working math puzzles in their free time. One of them is bound to say the quiet part aloud in the heat of the moment. The betting favorite in this regard is Chris Christie, who is playing the jilted lover role. He is there to trash Trump and eat donuts and they will not be serving donuts onstage.
That brings up another good reason to watch. Team DeSantis let slip that their guy was going to attack Ramaswamy in the debate. DeSantis is a career politician and he has proven himself adept at handling hostile media. He no doubt thinks he can take this young whipper snapper down a few pegs. Ramaswamy is an unusually smooth operator on his feet. Maybe this is where DeSantis shows himself to be a skilled debater or maybe this is where his campaign ends.
Of course, none of this is ever on the level. Fox News is hosting this show and they were just busted stacking the audience. There is little chance that the general audience is a true sampling of the public. We will get of the post-debate narrative by the reaction of the actors placed in the audience. Their job will be to cheer the planned winner and jeer the planned loser. The betting window remains open for your bets on who will be declared the winner, regardless of the results.
Right now, the oddsmakers have Ramaswamy as the betting favorite to win the crowd, but the smart money is on Tim Scott, followed by Mike Pence. The reason is the narrative will be about gravitas, the abracadabra word the media uses to anoint someone without having to explain it. The narrative will be about how normal the debate was without Trump and how we got to see the gravitas of the guy they are trying to sell as the winner of the evening’s performance.
This brings up the side bets, which are always fun. Which of these idiots will be the most cringe tonight? Which one will get caught in a loop and repeat his/her catch phrase over and over to no effect? Which one will be programmed so poorly that you expect to see a question mark appear over his head? Amusingly, the betting favorites here are also Tim Scott and Mike Pence. These two would make for a fun episode of robot wars, so they are good bets.
Then we have the wildcard action. In a sign that maybe the narrative writers are struggling to pick a winner from the cast of Tiny Town, the story of tonight could be that none of them are fit for the role. Instead, the story will be a totally authentic call for a savior, someone like Glenn Youngkin, who is the governor of Virginia and pals with all the right people in Washington. You would have to be a very cynical person to think that the usual suspects are plotting such a thing.
In the end, the main reason to care about this ridiculous farce is that Tucker will be interviewing Trump at the same time this show is happening. Clearly, Tucker and Trump are doing this to spite Fox News. It will be interesting to see the numbers for the Tucker show on Twitter. Fox will lie about their rating because that is what they do, but we will get a sense of it from the Twitter numbers. If Twitter shows more than five million views, then it was a very bad night in Tiny Town.
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