Why is it that the only time Republicans ever do anything interesting, they get dragged into it kicking and screaming?
Ross Perot and his fever charts were the bane of the country club set.
Sarah Palin and her hockey mom lipstick gave them the vapors in their Brooks Brothers wingtips.
Now comes Donald Trump, in what is sure to be an epic debate faceoff in Cleveland Thursday night. The Donald versus everybody! Mr. Universe takes on The Nine Dwarves! The Boss schools nine quaking little Apprentices!
In your mind, you can see the lighted-up marquee outside the arena with searchlights scanning the skies and hear the pro wrestling announcer intoning the combatants with grand hoopla. Truly, a Lincoln/Douglas-style debate for modern American masses!
And by the look on Republicans’ faces today and the faces of expert political journalists everywhere, you would think something rotten had died and begun leaking.
Now I do not envy the Fox News debate moderators. It will be no easy task containing the uncontainable.
I mean, what are they going to do? Cut off Donald Trump’s mic?
When somebody tried that on Ronald Reagan, he famously bellowed that he had, in fact, paid for the microphone. His impolitic outburst helped cement his 1980 landslide election and assured a presidency that remains a guiding vision for Republicans still today.
But before Ronald Reagan became one of the GOP’s most enduring political forces of the century, he was dismissed and scoffed at by all the political experts as a vulgar outsider who needed not to be taken seriously.
So what exactly does happen when somebody cuts Donald Trump’s mic?
Hard to say, since it has probably never happened before. He generally owns all the mics he talks into or is saying something so interesting or shocking that nobody wants to turn it off.
I would imagine cutting Donald Trump’s mic would be something like taking a banana away from a gorilla. This alone is enough to spark something entertaining. But what makes this exact situation so watchable is that there will be nine other slightly terrified politicians in the cage with the gorilla when they take away his banana.
And not only will there be nine politicians in the cage with the hungry and increasingly agitated gorilla, but each of those politicians will have a banana of their own that they must protect if they want to stay in the debate.
When Mr. Trump charges, how quickly do you think these pressure-washed, blow-dried, lip-plumped, whisker-waxed little sissies hold onto their little bananas before giving them up?
I predict that within the first 15 glorious minutes of this most glorious debate, Donald Trump will be standing at a podium — perhaps the podium he was assigned, perhaps not — and he will be holding his broken microphone. On the lectern before him will be nine more working microphones.
Trying to maintain normalcy, debate moderators dutifully turn to Marco Rubio with a question about his dizzying flip-flops on illegal immigration. Mr. Rubio starts to answer, but nothing comes out of his throat. He looks to Mr. Trump, who glares.
The camera pans back to Mr. Rubio, who dives out of the camera shot for a glass of water. When he leans back into the frame, and he says, “Uh, you know, whatever Mr. Trump says. You know, somebody’s doing the raping.”
But since he has no microphone, only the first few rows of the live audience can hear him.
Moderators then ask ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry where, exactly, in his shorts he kept the gun he used to shoot a coyote while jogging a few years back.
Long silence. Blinking behind his European-style rectangular eyewear. More silence.
“Oops, I forgot,” Perry says.
Mr. Trump rolls his eyes and looks at the moderators. “He put glasses on so people think he’s smart. People can see through the glasses.”
Then he turns back to Mr. Perry and reminds him how he had instructed him to take an IQ test before participating in another debate.
Then Mr. Trump informs Mr. Perry he is, in fact, fired.
Jeb Bush interrupts to defend his fellow governor and tells Mr. Trump he has no qualifications whatsoever to fire a real-life governor. To which Mr. Trump responds with a wave of the hand: “Loser!”
Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via @charleshurt.