US Republican Party: Donald Trump and Ben Carson have turned the Grand Old Party into the Give Over Party

The Republican Party grandees have lost control to Ben Carson and Donald Trump. It was almost amusing at first

David Usborne
Friday 06 November 2015 21:43
Ben Carson, left, and Donald Trump, lead the Republican race at 26 and 23 per cent respectively
Ben Carson, left, and Donald Trump, lead the Republican race at 26 and 23 per cent respectively

Herewith an obscure British colloquialism to replace an obscure American one. The Republicans are no longer the Grand Old Party, they are the Give Over Party. Give over with a presidential candidate who says Joseph built the pyramids to store wheat. Give over with another who wants to build a Great Wall along the Mexico border. Wonders of the world are a theme too, inexplicably.

To be fair, the people who purport to run the GOP are not so nutty themselves. But they have lost control to Ben Carson and Donald Trump. Standing at 26 and 23 per cent respectively atop a brand new CNN poll, they lead the race. And both believe themselves to be exceedingly smart.

It was almost amusing at first. Mr Trump lent some carnival fun to the race in the summer, when actual voting was so far away it didn’t matter. But Iowa holds its caucuses just three months from now and it’s time for Republican voters to stop their frivolity. But there isn’t much sign of that yet. Aside from his “hermetically sealed” grain-silos-in-the-desert theory, Mr Carson recently opined that the Holocaust might have been avoided if the Jews had been better armed to shoot the Nazis. And today his campaign admitted his claim to have been given a “full scholarship” to West Point military academy was untrue.

The craziness extends into the debates, in case you haven’t noticed. The last one, in Colorado, dissolved into a fairground shooting range with each candidate throwing coconuts at the CNBC moderators. The candidates thought that whining about the media and its purported pro-Democrat bias would enlighten viewers more than a discussion of policy. The silly spectacle had some of us yelling at the TV screen.

Hadn’t they watched Anderson Cooper decapitate Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island in the CNN debate in Las Vegas a week before? Mr Chafee, who has since dropped out, is a Democrat. But Republicans prefer to play the victim.

We have another GOP debate on Tuesday, this one to be hosted by a Rupert Murdoch combo of the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business News. To say America can hardly wait would be a misstatement. Ratings for the Republican debates have been slipping fast. Fewer people watched the CNBC train wreck than watched the Democratic debate in Las Vegas. Even Trump gets old. Fancy that.

Part of the problem is that the party hierarchy has lost control of the debates, too. Not to the candidates. In fact, 10 of them held a “summit” last weekend to agree a set of demands they intended to put to the networks before they would consent to any further debates. It was a silly notion. They need the networks and the networks know it. It is the networks themselves that are thumbing their nose at the party. It was in September that Fox News caused uproar by creating a two-tier system where only those candidates performing best in national polls would be invited to take part in a main debate in prime time, and the weaker among them would be relegated to an “undercard” debate to be aired when no-one would be watching.

Since then every other network has followed suit. Recently, one of the Republican field has shown unexpected common sense. Chris Christie, the New Jersey Governor, caught massive attention arguing that treatment is better than imprisonment for Americans who succumb to drugs.Yet for the first time, Mr Christie – clearly a serious candidate – will not feature in the Fox/Journal prime-time debate next week because of an ebb in his national poll numbers. Give over.

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