At Monday's ugly Republican debate, there were the five remaining candidates and an empty lectern representing the former candidacy of Jon Huntsman.
The empty lectern won the debate.
And Huntsman's parting words "the current toxic form of our political discourse does not help our cause," was never more in evidence than in South Carolina that night. The hooting, drooling, rabidly anti anything not white or American crowd made a Jerry Springer audience look civilized.
And the candidate who best played into the hands of this angry mob was Newt Gingrich, who thinks taking the high road means not criticizing him, while he can say anything he wants, true or not, about his rivals. But the petty back and forth between the candidates, who, with the exception of Ron Paul, basically agree on every issue, pales in comparison to the ignorant, race-baiting remarks Gingrich delighted in making to the crowd.
Those who say South Carolina isn't what it used to be may be right, but the audience that night would have eagerly snapped up "Segregation Now, Segregation Forever" buttons if they were on sale in the lobby. These are the people who are the demographic for Gingrich's moronic commercials that attack Romney, because, like John Kerry, he speaks French. When a commercial is so idiotic that it would succeed brilliantly as satire, actually resonates on a serious level with some people, it tells you the kind of lowest common denominator Gingrich is aiming for.
When Gingrich repeatedly calls Obama "The food stamp president", and talks about instilling a work ethic in minority kids by having them work as janitors, you would think you were back in the South of the 50s and 60s. Gingrich not so subtly implies that minorities are lazy, and prefer food stamps to paychecks. As all the Republican candidates so often do, Gingrich ignores actual facts in making his ignorant case. Most Americans on food stamps are white, and a majority of them work while on food stamps. And no one in their right mind, except Gingrich, believes tossing out child labor laws will revive the economy. Yet these inherently racist comments not only received thunderous cheering and applause, but they brought the crowd to its feet.
If Huntsman was in the debate, I think he might have called out Gingrich for spewing his venom, and criticized his pandering to the worst elements in the audience. And if he did, the crowd would have brutally booed Huntsman, with a look on their faces reminiscent of those who yelled at African-American students walking to class in Mississippi in the 60s.
The very Republicans who wrongly claim that President Obama is waging class warfare because he wants millionaires to pay their fair share, are themselves stoking racial tensions by bringing back the vile language most of the people of the South have long since discarded. And Gingrich, Perry and Santorum regularly preach religious warfare when they refer to the fabricated "war on Christianity".
The Republican debates have produced a long list of stupid, completely wrong, eye-rolling comments, that have rightly diminished those candidates who said them.
The mean-spirited, racially divisive comments Newt Gingrich made Monday night, disqualify him from any serious consideration as a candidate for president of the United States.
Jon Huntsman left the race with his dignity and integrity intact.
Newt Gingrich should leave the race the way he did when he left Congress.
But there's an organization in South Carolina that might welcome him with open arms.