The six remaining Republican candidates for President tangled Saturday night in South Carolina on the eve of the all-important first-in-the-South primary. These men came ready for a bare-knuckle fight, and not even the late-breaking death of legendary conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia could dampen their willingness to land a few hits on each other. Here are the Dig’s official report cards for these contenders:
|Wokeness||Respecting Females||Respecting Hispanics||Respecting The Disabled||Respecting John McCain||[Crying] I Just Love My Brother So Fudging Much||FINAL GRADE|
While Jeb ran away with the last debate off the strength of his mother’s unbelievably high T-levels and fear-based incentives, few expected him to come back stronger tonight. Even fewer expected him to come back woker. But that’s exactly what happened. Jeb easily dispatched longtime rival Donald Trump with his patented head shaking and lip pursing then scorched the rambunctious billionaire right where it counted. Jeb stood up and said, “You know what’s weak? Disrespecting women.” He followed with advocacy for the disabled and John McCain. It was a sure sign that Jeb, in Tumblr ally speak, is “a cute boy whom learns a lot about people with different abilities and does a politics ;).” His passion continued as he castigated Trump for disrespecting his brother and father. This was a moment of tactical genius for Jeb; the image of being a weak, rich idiot child with no identity of his own has plagued him. The best way to stand up to that was for Jeb to stomp his feet, cross his arms, and declare his dad and brother were the best people in the world. Jeb is finally on the offensive, and he can sell people on the Jeb Bush vision for the world, which is one of endless war and zero profanity. I’m excited as ever to see the marketplace of ideas finally unfold!
|Respect For Lindsey Graham||Flinch Inducement||Respect For The Process||Harassment of Family Members||Respect For Boos||It’s A Wife Sentence!||FINAL GRADE|
The Donald had one of his worst debate nights of the campaign, and it’s not hard to see why: despite his blowout win in the New Hampshire primary, the insurgent candidate still hasn’t learned how to respect the process. Whether it was interrupting the moderators, calling other candidates “liars,” or just making Jeb flinch with a withering stare, Trump, frankly, made a fool of himself, as the folks in the audience and my friends in the D.C. press corps agree:
— Supreme Court Expert (@samknight1) February 14, 2016
|Anti-Jew Innuendo Skills||Pedantry||Ben Carson Suicide Rumors||Elder Protocols||Blood Libel||Shape||FINAL GRADE|
|A||B||C-||B||B||Fat, Partially Run Over Racoon||B-|
Cruz got into some vicious spats with his chief opponents tonight. First, Donald Trump called him a liar and a cheater for spreading a rumor that Ben Carson died just before the Iowa Caucus and, in South Carolina, claiming that Trump vanished down by the crossroads after making a bad deal with the Devil. Then Cruz and Rubio sparred over which one ever supported treating undocumented immigrants with dignity and respect. With his Scoliotic back to the wall, Cruz desperately tried to play the J-card, accusing Rubio of cooperating with New York Senator and noted Semite Chuck Schumer. These deflections might work in the early stages of a primary, but come Super Tuesday Cruz had better have a good answer to the question “why do you look and sound like that?”
|Wikipedia Literacy||Shame||Humiliation||Fear In Eyes||Words Known||Latex Allergy||FINAL GRADE|
Marco Rubio was still the same constantly terrified man as he was last debate, but he put his fear to good use. Sources tell me he’s read hundreds of Wikipedia pages in an effort to sound less frightened next time someone presses him. It showed tonight, when despite his visible self hatred for past failures, he pressed Cruz on the fact that he doesn’t know Spanish. While this may either be untrue and have zero effect on anything at all, it shows his rival that he’s read the “Personal Life” section of his article and he’s ready to attack. In fact, Rubio’s entire strategy tonight seemed to be to attack Cruz. It was a smart tactic, as voters in the audience were physically repulsed by the gummy Texan. Cruz was a soft target, both in his likability and in his actual body texture.
|Biblical Dictatorships||Moral Victories||Belief In Self||Belief In Angels||Revelation 3:10, “Curse the Egyptian’s foreskin”||Agency Over Self||FINAL GRADE|
Carson spent the last two debates as a wise prophet, but was unfortunately like a child of a contentious divorce tonight. Usually armed with seemingly nonsensical Biblical allusions that bely a sober wisdom of the universe’s truth, Carson was the subject of a fight between Trump and Cruz. Trump was still furious over Cruz’s dirty tricks on Carson, while Cruz implied it was for his own good, and he was trying to teach the blind moralist that people in this world will try and take advantage of you. Carson has made strides as an active disabled man this election, it would be a shame for his campaign to end with him as a prop in an interpersonal drama of a beady-eyed debate slug and a screaming real estate developer. At least Dr. Carson has Jeb to stick up for him.
|Ah C’mon, Let’s Get Along Here||If We All Got Together, I Could Get A Bus Pass||If You Can’t Give, God Bless You Anyway||Happy Vagrancy||I Love You, Seriously, We Just Met But I Can Tell You’re A Beautiful Goddamn Soul||An Entire Cigarette, Oh God, Thank You||FINAL GRADE|
Since his runaway success in New Hampshire, Kasich has abandoned his resentment-based “They Had It Out For Me” campaign and has been born anew as a happy-go-lucky hobo with a newly-discovered religion. This played extremely well tonight, as Kasich routinely poked his head out of his refrigerator box to talk about times he’s helped people cross the street and given away cans of beans, but I fear for its long-term viability. The South Carolina primary is among the nastiest primaries in existence, a vulgar contest made for morally repugnant push polling and dirty tricks. It’s the exact type of place where a street urchin whose lost his edge in favor of a message of hope could get his throat slit, so let’s hope that Governor Kasich finds his anger at closed bathrooms and unaccommodating pharmacists in time.
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to @carl_diggler.