“Lower tier” GOP presidential candidates awarded the “consolation prize” of participating in a “Happy Hour” debate shared the stage a few hours ago. There wasn’t a lot of thought to their answers, however.

Moderators started out by asking the candidates how they felt about Hillary Clinton. Answers ranged from the irrelevant (Rick Perry: “Good at email”) to the shallow (Linsdey Graham: “Not the change we need”) to the downright inaccurate (Bobby Jindal: “Socialist and government dependent”). There were no mention of the issues at all, or how the candidates distinguish their own positions from those of the former First Lady and Secretary of State.

Things went downhill from there.

Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, positioning himself as a “national security expert,” promised to go to war against “This ISIL thing.” Newsflash, Jimmy-boy: it helps to know who you’re going to war against, unless of course you are a GOP candidate.

Senator Lindsey Graham did an even better job, playing the role of the John Wayne-Clint Eastwood brand of “tough guy” with his finger on the trigger: “If I have to monitor a mosque, I’ll monitor a mosque. If I have to take down a cyber wall, I’ll take down a cyber wall.” Basically, Graham is saying if he can’t fight a war overseas, he will start a war in America. So, Lindsey – are you as willing to monitor the Aryan Nation as well? What about the Ku Klux Klan? And what of Pastor  Steven Anderson and his kind? Obviously not, because they really are scary, and you’re afraid of them.

When it comes to the subject of immigration, Bobby Jindal – himself the offspring of immigrants – equated the issue with all-out invasion. “We must insist on assimilation — immigration without assimilation is invasion.” I guess what Jindal is saying: “immigrants need to become violent, racists, who barely can survive, because the 1% have everything,” at least that is the way many born in this country (especially in the South) seem to assimilate.

If the “Loser’s Debate” is any indication, this is going to be a very long campaign. On the bright side, it promises to be entertaining as we watch the GOP go down in flames.


K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.