October 19, 2011

The Venomous GOP Debate Audience

GOP Debate Las Vegas blaming the unemployed

Naturally, the media focus was on the GOP mudslinging and the personality politics of the revived Romney – Perry show (Perry lauded for increased feistiness — though in terms of coherence and diction, he has firmly established himself now at about the Palin level). Mostly missing in this morning hamburger, however, was note of another drama playing itself out again during last night’s Las Vegas presidential roller derby.

First they cheered for execution. Then they cheered for leaving the uninsured to die. And in last night’s iteration — h/t to the NYT photographer for capturing this latest audience reveal for raw meanness — people beamed and jumped to their feet as Herman Cain, asked to revisit his own remarks about Occupy Wall Street, again blamed those out-of-work (and daring to stand up about it) for being unemployed.

Lulled by the media sirens, you could easily be seduced into thinking it’s simply a gaggle of gladiators participating in these increasingly indecorous TV affairs. But that would short-change what it means this year to be “on stage.” With these GOP audiences fast establishing themselves as “the 12th man” (or, “the 9th man”), the behavior of these partisans — acting out, now, against a heightened awareness in the country of the 99-to-1 split — starts to manifest itself as a flourish, or better, a public Rorschach, of a party visibly missing a moral compass.

NYT slideshow: G.O.P. Candidates Debate in Las Vegas

(photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times caption: Some members in the audience applauded Mr. Cain’s line about the protesters. But Mr. Paul said that Mr. Cain had “blamed the victims.”)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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