It was the political battle royale of the year – 10 candidates enter, all of them leave. They'll do it all again approximately 50 more times, maybe with more of them, or perhaps less. Truly, the first GOP debate was everything we hoped it would be and so much more. These guys brought the crazy and left some in the fridge for mid-morning leftovers. Mitt Romney has really gotta be kicking himself for not getting a piece of this white-hot idiot-on-maniac action.
But before the two-hour slugfest got steaming in Cleveland, the best line of the night had already been uncorked when Bette Midler, of all people, tweeted: "Lenny Kravitz's penis slipped out on stage? So what? Wait for the GOP Debate on tonight — there will be 10 dicks on stage!" The Divine Miss M had no idea how right she'd be.
Here are just a few choice moments from an exploding clown car of a night in which the winner was, hands down, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. She's really gonna clean up at these things, huh? Here are some of her biggest wins of the night.
1. In a moment of Twitter-to-reality phallic synergy, Donald Trump's dick actually sort of became a subject of one of Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly's first questions. Kelly asked the surging dark-horse lunatic about derogatory comments he'd made about women, including the suggestion that a contestant on The Apprentice would "be a pretty picture to see her on her knees." Trump shot back: "I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct." Depressingly, the GOP crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena exploded in applause. It was the perfect way to set the right Dantean hellscape vibe for the night.
2. Trump would later complain that Kelly – and by extension Fox News – had it in for him with their bloodthirsty questions. Trump attacking the media is like a crack addict attacking a crack pipe. That said, throughout the night he was continually forced to talk himself out of some tough spots – on his business dealings, his pro-choice past and his political contributions. Trump was especially honest about his intentions not to endorse any Republican candidate who isn't Donald Trump. "If I'm the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent," he said. Earlier in the day, reports circulated that Bill Clinton had strongly encouraged him to get more involved in GOP politics. Man, that guy is a genius.
3. Trump aside, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee may have been the scariest guy on stage last night. He claimed the U.S. military exists to "kill people and break things" and proposed that fetuses receive protection under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Arguing in defense of his consumption-based "fair tax" he noted, "The fair [tax] transforms the process by which we fund Social Security and Medicare because the money paid in consumption is paid by everybody, including illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now." As of this morning, Iceberg Slim, Huggy Bear and Snoop Dogg have yet to offer a rebuttal.
4. Right-wing fringe darling and neurosurgeon Ben Carson appeared on stage as this year's Sarah Palin, reaching deep into the anti-Obama 2008 playbook for an abstruse shot at Hillary that invoked Sixties radical theorist and retroactive boogieman Saul Alinsky. "She is the epitome of the secular progressive movement," Carson offered. "And she counts on the fact that people are uninformed, the Alinsky Model, taking advantage of useful idiots." Maybe he's saving all his good Karl Marx zingers for the next debate.
5. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Florida Senator Marco Rubio were both offered chances to mark out something resembling a remotely sane position on abortion. Instead, both maintained that they don't support exceptions for victims of rape and incest. Rubio's answer was especially pathetic, since he'd supported such an exception in the past. "I have never said that, and I have never advocated that," he claimed, adding that all humans – even the ones that are not yet technically born – deserve the protections of the Constitution "whether they can speak or not." Jeb Bush must've been happy to hear that. Again, to be clear, Rubio was talking about embryos and fetuses that are the unwanted result of rape and/or incest. Family values!
6. When he wasn't defending his shady business practices or slimy political donations, Trump was fielding questions about his insanity-envelope-pushing "tone," saying it was the proper response to the challenges that confront our nation. "When you have people that are cutting Christians' heads off, when you have a world that the border and at so many places, that it is medieval times," he said. That's pretty irresponsible rhetoric even for Trump. We have not devolved into anything near the horror and atrocity of Medieval Times. Chuck E. Cheese, maybe. Good Yelp review, though.
7. Many of the candidates strove to present themselves as the products of hardscrabble backgrounds who'd learned a lot about the realities of life from their humble – and in some cases unsuccessful, and in one case actually awful – parents. "My father left my mother and left me when I was just three years old," Texas Senator Ted Cruz noted. Rubio rhapsodized about his bartender dad. Ohio governor John Kasich offered, "My father was a mailman. His father was a coal miner. My mother's mother could barely speak English." America – a land where anyone can follow their dreams and make it big, unless you're a political candidate's dad, in which case the options are kind of limited.
8. A doctrine was invented last night. It's called the Obama-Clinton Doctrine and essentially it involves tea-bagging Iran while you jerk off Vladimir Putin and blow Bashar al Assad while shitting on Israel. Nearly every candidate promised to spike President Obama's nuclear arms deal with Iran "on Day One." "It is worth emphasizing that Iran released our hostages in 1981 the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office, " Ted Cruz noted. Good point: We shouldn't be negotiating with Iran. We should be illegally selling them weapons, like the Gipper did.
9. Amidst the night's GOP Thursday Night Raw tone, one exchange between Rand Paul and Chris Christie stood out in its bullying pugnacity. When Rand accused Christie of being for government surveillance, Christie invoked his role as a governor in a state affected by 9/11, forcing Rand to play the Hug Card. "I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug," Paul jabbed, to which Christie shot back, "The hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11th." Who knew these two seemingly unrelated also-rans had so much to hate about each other? Was it all just a product of being stuck on the podium next to each other? Are there some kind of professional hugging lobbyists behind this line of argument? In any case, definitely a subplot to keep on eye on in future episodes.
10. In one of the night's weirder moments, the moderators threw the mic to a Facebook questioner who wanted to know if the candidates got messages from God out on the campaign trail. "God hasn't given me a list, a Ten Commandments, if you will," Scott Walker responded, going on to invoke the Almighty's wisdom in his battles against labor unions. Ted Cruz was more specific: "Well, I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the scriptures and reading the scriptures," adding, "I would also note that the scripture tells us, 'you shall know them by their fruit.'" Yeah, fruits. Or, in this case, nuts.