Howdy Digsters! I can’t say I remember a whole lot about the past couple days. As fans of the Dig know, I suffer from Hellenic Inner Ear Sickness, for which I need to take canine dramamine (the human version gives me Upset Appendix). Every few months or so I’ll have an adverse reaction to the medication (sometimes triggered by stress, or being made fun of in public), causing me to black out, wake up with a different personality, and go on some type of strange lark. I don’t remember anything at all from these episodes, but hey, that’s life! Anyway, now that my latest episode is over with, I figure I’d get all you folks out there in Digland ready for the GOP’s Carnage In The Cornfield tonight! Yes, the Republicans are doing battle in Des Moines, America’s capital of True Religion jeans and opiate-related unemployment excuses.
This will be their very last debate before the first votes are cast right here in Iowa. With the caucus just four days away (!), the stakes couldn’t be higher. Here’s the Dig’s expert advice for what each candidate needs to do to win tonight. We’ll start with the Donald:
The Couch Stage
Donald Trump – Trump has chosen to sit this one out because the billionaire developer refuses to go face-to-face with moderator Megyn Kelly. I gotta say, this is another savvy move by the Donald, who probably doesn’t want to be seen publicly humiliating another respected journalist, triggering her panic sweat response (medical condition), forcing her to name names and denounce her colleagues just to save herself from being torn to shreds by Trump’s violent and angry followers. Trump probably feels bad about traumatizing me, plus he doesn’t want to risk another ferocious backlash, like the one he received from my loyal fans who have given me nothing but compassion and support:
@carl_diggler Did you pee on yourself when someone re-tweeted Trump? It’s probably normal to re-live a trauma like that. Maybe see someone?
— Ellen Martel (@emarty) January 27, 2016
Enjoy watching from home, Donald. Now for the Republicans who will actually be at the primetime debate tonight:
The Main Stage
Gov. John Kasich – With just 12 days till the New Hampshire primary, the big question is whether homeless Ohioan John Kasich can ride his shopping cart full of cans and Momentum to victory. Tonight he’ll need to reinforce his image as a plucky go-getter who, like millions of Americans, struggles against adversity, discrimination, and being branded a “vexatious litigant” by activist judges for filing 73 lawsuits against Best Buy. The absence of a billionaire bully like Trump makes Kasich’s job harder. Without his wealthy foil, the indigent Kasich won’t be able to pick a fight over what he calls Trump Taj Mahal’s “obscene” refusal to let someone minding their own business charge their cell phone in the lobby even if they’re sober. Kasich’s best bet is if pugnacious New Jerseyan Chris Christie picks a fight with him. Viewers watching with the sound off will be wondering why this fat guy is screaming at a vagrant.
Sen. Rand Paul – After pathetically boycotting the last debate, Rand squandered the last two weeks by going on Reddit to goof off with his dwindling support base of upskirt photographers, Bitcoin vape juice merchants, and grown men who wear capes to work. If Rand opens his filth-receptacle tonight, I bet it will be some permutation of “Ron Swanson thinks epic bacon is epic” or “your princess is in another starship my good sir.” Oh, how I wish The Running Man-style televised executions were part of this future we live in!
Dr. Ben Carson – According to my notes, I interviewed Dr. Carson last night during a canine dramamine-and-PediaCure-fueled drug trip in the parking lot outside the Iowa Ethanol Convention. There I met a far different candidate than the stumbling, confused man who appeared at previous debates. Hallucination Dr. Carson gave off the confident air of a blind Old Testament prophet, quoting to me Biblical apocrypha and augury in strange yet meaningful whispers. This is the Ben Carson who needs to show up tonight, a wise soothsayer who stands above the field by speaking in arcane metaphors. If Dr. Carson uses numerology and scripture to convince voters he can predict the future, expect him to make a last minute comeback in Iowa.
fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush – Look for Jeb to be on the attack. Just weeks ago, the former governor revealed another vicious $90 million billboard attack on Donald Trump:
— Pat Ward (@WardDPatrick) January 23, 2016
It’s pretty clear that the Bush family scion has turned over a new leaf. He’s already shown how downright immature his tormentors are with his resigned chuckles. He’s let his opponents prove what he’s been saying all along. Now he’s going all in. Jeb is likely going to call Donald Trump “downright rude,” Ted Cruz “a braggart,” and John Kasich “a lout.” I wouldn’t want to be any of this man’s enemies tonight.
Sen. Ted Cruz – Ted Cruz is a man on a mission. No, it’s not a mission to tuck in his ostrich-like neck slack, nor is it to find a speech therapist so he can stop sounding like a 1930s newsreel announcer with strep throat, nor, unfortunately, is he seeking sunglasses to put over his repulsive doll eyes. He’s on a mission to dethrone the frontrunner, Donald Trump. Trump won’t be in attendance, so Cruz is going to be trying out his best argument tactics to prep for his desired one-on-one with the billionaire demagogue. I can already see the unlikable Harvard grad deploying “I see you’re employing No True Scotsman. Have him say hello to Appeal To Emotion for me” on a nervously shuffling Kasich. Chris Christie, whose debate strategy was honed by calling in to “Mike & The Mad Dog” to complain about lazy quarterbacks, is particularly vulnerable to this line of attack.
Sen. Marco Rubio – Donald Trump made waves by retweeting a white nationalist account on Twitter the other week. With The Donald absent, Rubio has a chance to accrue all the white nationalist eyes watching. Marco can do big things tonight by renouncing Catholicism in public, as insiders have predicted him doing for years, and claiming that he is of 100 percent Basque ancestry (the “whitest” Spaniards according to my colleague Professor Jeff Wilhelm).
Gov. Chris Christie – Christie has plummeted in the polls after an auspicious start. If I were a betting man, I’d attribute this to the screaming matches the porcine governor had with Iowans about the Kansas City Chiefs’ pass defense. With New Hampshire on the horizon, Christie better keep his endless vitriol towards the New England Patriots under wraps, or at least pray for another horrific tragedy in the Northeastern United States that he can credit himself for existing near.
Carly Fiorina – Fiorina was booted from the main debate stage due to sagging poll numbers and network fears about getting a TV-MA rating. The male-crushing, snuff video-watching ex-CEO of HP has so far turned off all but a handful of voters who are enamored with her graphic descriptions of late-term abortions, beheading videos, and Rotten.com. This debate will probably be Carly’s last chance to turn her ship around, but judging from my one-on-one interview in her campaign dungeon, I doubt she has it in her DNA to change her tune.
fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee – According to my sober friend, I was accosted by this oaf at the Iowa Ethanol Convention. Based on that terrible experience I expect Huckabee to go something like, “Well hyuck hyuck I don’t know nothin’ about a primary that sure sounds like Pie Mary, she’s the gal that makes the best blueberry pie in the whole county and I grabs ‘em with my hands but it gets burnt by the tins hyuck hyuck hyuck.”
fmr. Sen. Rick Santorum – With Fiorina having locked up the War Dad Sadist Vote and Huckabee crushing it with Drunken Jug Musicians, there’s no constituency left for Santorum. Carly outclasses him on grotesque descriptions of blasphemous sexual acts, and he just can’t compete with wheat-chewing Huck’s easy tales of mudding at the ol’ crick behind the Arkansas State Capitol. So enjoy your last debate, Rick. Be sure to take lots of pictures for your freakishly large family.
fmr. Gov. Jim Gilmore – Gilmore’s only hope is that his three opponents realize the total futility of their campaigns and walk offstage, leaving him with an hour of free airtime all to himself. I put the over/under on this happening at 20%.
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.