I didn’t pay as close attention as I should to of last night’s debate. Who am I kidding? I shouldn’t have paid any attention to it. Other than Trump who was hilarious — and I mean that mostly in a good way — it was really aggravating. But probably the worst of the night was Carly Fiorina. At first she seemed really prepared — very corporate. I could see how she did well in that world. But she quickly slipped on that account. And the content of what she said was just ignorant and crazy. I’m talking Ted Cruz’s dad level of ignorant and crazy.
She said something that blew me away. She mentioned that in the Planned Parenthood “sting” video was “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” I literally couldn’t believe my ears. I figured that I had to have misheard it. Certainly, I would have known about such a thing. And she wouldn’t say something that was utterly wrong. It was only much letter when I asked someone on Twitter and was referred to a Sarah Kliff article that was written in response, Carly Fiorina Is Wrong About the Planned Parenthood Tapes. I Know Because I Watched Them.
This is the right wing echo chamber in action. Fiorina made a point of mentioning that President Obama should watch all 12 hours of the video. This seems calculated to me. She’s sending out that the message that what people have seen isn’t nearly as bad as it gets. It’s really bad in those 12 hours. But she knows that almost no one is going to watch the videos. And certainly, there isn’t a Sarah Kliff at Fox News putting out an article telling conservatives that actually this isn’t true. That would make the ridiculous amount of time and demagoguery spent on the Planned Parenthood issue seem stupid.
There was another Fiorina moment that really struck me. That was when the candidates were asked what woman they would like to see on the $10 bill. Just as Ben Carson can say things that the white Republicans have a hard time with, Fiorina can say things that the men have a hard time with. So she said, “I wouldn’t change the $10 bill or the $20 bill. I think honestly it’s a gesture. Don’t think it helps to change our history.” Of course, this makes no sense at all.
First, history is continuing on. Just because Hamilton isn’t going to be on the $10 bill, doesn’t mean we are erasing him for history. If the United States exists for the next 10,000 years (which I’m sure most conservatives believe), maybe Ronald Reagan would be seen as the father of our country. There wouldn’t be much difference in time from that vantage point between Washington and Reagan. So to equate changing who’s on our money with changing history is just stupid.
But more than that, Hamilton is a fairly recent addition to the $10 bill. Now, it can get confusing to talk about paper currency. There are Demand Notes and Treasury Notes and silver certificates — to name but a few. But taken all together, there have been over a dozen people featured on the $10 bill — including Pocahontas and Lewis and Clark. Currency changes over time.
This is one thing that really bugs me. People are so ignorant of history. It isn’t even the point of not knowing what has happened before. That is somewhat forgivable, given that so much happened before. But most people I run into have no idea that anything has ever changed. Alexander Hamilton is on the $10 bill now so he must always have been on it. It’s nonsense. But when public figures — people who want to be president — show this same ignorance, it’s stunning. Fiorina should have been laughed off the stage. But instead, I’ll bet that most conservatives were cheering, “Right on! Screw those PC people who were changing the $10 bill every couple of years in the 1860s!”
The initial reaction seems to be that Fiorina “won” the debate. But I think she showed herself to be at least as bad as Donald Trump. In the Republican field, however, they are two of a kind: ignorant but forceful. And that’s what passes for knowledge in the Republican Party.