Column:: The presidential race is so awful you can’t look away

Donald Trump speaks to South Carolina voters Friday on the eve of the state's primary. The billionaire leads in polls in the state.

Donald Trump speaks to South Carolina voters Friday on the eve of the state’s primary. The billionaire leads in polls in the state.

(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

I’m not saying I’ll ever leave California and move to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. But for months now, I’ve wished I had a front-row seat to the parade of presidential wannabes in the most entertaining primary season ever.

A Jewish socialist candidate who is roughly the same age as Moses has locked up the youth vote.

An African American candidate’s most lasting impression was a defense of his belief that the pyramids were actually grain elevators.

The whitest male candidate, Jeb Bush, may speak better Spanish than the two Latino candidates, one of whom cooks bacon on the barrel of an AR-15.


The only remaining female candidate is having trouble scoring points with women.

Columnist Steve Lopez on the most entertaining primary season ever: “I haven’t been this hooked on television since ‘Breaking Bad.’" 

And a candidate with a head like a Santa Ana wildfire has mocked a female opponent’s looks and insulted a former prisoner of war for getting captured.

That would be Donald Trump, who makes me fear terrorism more every time he talks about it. The Donald seems to be one or two debates short of threatening to deny visas to anyone who’s ever eaten a falafel.

He said at a town hall meeting in South Carolina that he isn’t interested in publicity. That’s like Bill Clinton saying he wasn’t interested in interns.

And it made me realize that I haven’t been this hooked on television since “Breaking Bad.”

It figures that Trump — whose candidacy reminds me a little of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunt-filled demolition derby in his run for California governor — is commanding the most camera time. He could become the first former reality TV show star to be president, and the first candidate elected while threatening to kick-box the pope.

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He may well go to hell for that, and that’s OK, because as you watch this campaign play out on the airwaves, you’ve got to believe that’s where the whole country is going.

Just don’t let your children near the TV set. Unless you want them to hear that science is just a rumor, rape victims should be required to give birth to their assailant’s spawn, and we should hold off on replacing deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia until after the next Super Bowl.

And you don’t want your tykes learning math from the candidates whose economic plans, such as they are, don’t add up. We’ve heard the flat tax argument from more than one, and it’s early enough that we may still hear a flat earth argument or two.

One minute, the candidates are paying homage to God, like faith is a contest. The next minute they’re pledging allegiance to guns, as if they’re running for sheriff of Dodge City. And when they’re not insulting President Obama, they’re taking target practice on each other, if not immigrants.


For years we’ve heard predictions from Republicans themselves that the GOP is doomed if it doesn’t stop alienating an increasingly diverse electorate and start reaching out to Latinos in particular.

So what happens?

Trump calls undocumented immigrants drug dealers and rapists, and the two Latino candidates — one of whom was born in Canada — are racing to the border to start building the fence promised by the guy who uses immigrant labor to build all those casinos and hotels named after him.

Even if California had an early primary and the state was in play, Cruz and Rubio wouldn’t dare show up on our turf. If they did manage to sneak across the border, you’d want to check their papers.


These guys are Latinos?

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The Dems have their own problems.

Sanders, for example, has been an unwavering voice on social and economic justice and the auctioning of public policy to the highest bidders. But does anybody wonder what the heck he’s going to do all day if he’s elected to the White House and Republicans still dominate the House and Senate?


He’s promising free college tuition and a single-payer healthcare system at a time when Congress is held hostage by musket-toting tea party climate-change deniers who are out to overthrow the government and crucify any Republican who agrees with a Democrat on anything.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has been working on her campaign for president since sixth grade, only to have former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and iconic feminist Gloria Steinem set the women’s movement back a half-century.

Albright said women who don’t vote for Clinton are going to hell, and we know the devil’s heat locker exists because that’s where the Republican candidates plan to send gay people.

Steinem, meanwhile, suggested young female voters only like Bernie Sanders because they just want to fool around with his young male supporters.


Just when you thought Clinton’s luck couldn’t get any worse, CBS anchor Scott Pelley asked her if she always tells the truth.

Clinton said she has “always tried” to tell the truth, as if it’s like trying to bake a souffle.

Even Walter Cronkite squirmed. Pressed by Pelley on whether she’s ever lied, Clinton said, “I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will.”

So when is a lie a lie? Depends, I guess, on what the definition of “is” is.


Speaking of which, how will it work when one of these people finally has to put a hand on the Bible and take the oath of office. How can we believe any of them?

“He is a lying guy,” Trump said of Ted Cruz, who in turn called Trump and Rubio liars, only to have Rubio go on and on about Cruz’s lies.

And they’re all on the same team.

Don’t get off the couch, folks, because this thing is sure to get crazier as we head toward the Super Tuesday primaries.


I’m laying 2-to-1 odds that one or more of the candidates will begin speaking in tongues by then.

Don’t touch that dial.




Hillary Clinton narrowly defeats Bernie Sanders in Nevada caucuses

Jeb Bush, after disappointing finish in South Carolina, ends his campaign for president

Trump wins South Carolina primary; Cruz and Rubio battle for second as Bush quits the race