For the third Republican debate in the row - it's not what the candidates on stage said that was so troubling - but instead what the audience did. Last night's Fox News/Google Republican debate featured many of the same barbs against President Obama - calls for lower taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations - and blasts against so-called government health care. Curiously - Fox so-called News also allowed a hate group to participate in the debate. The Federation for American Immigration Reform - an organization that according to the Southern Poverty Law Center is a hate group - was given a platform to ask the first question on immigration last night.
But it was when a now-openly gay soldier posed a question to Rick Santorum about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - that the debate provided it's most jaw-dropping moment. After this soldier wrapped up his question - members of the audience wildly booed him - seemingly just because he was gay. No candidate on stage repudiated the boos - but afterward Jon Huntsman called the incident "unfortunate" - as did a representative for Rick Perry.
So in three debates - we've seen Conservative audiences applaud the deaths of 234 people who were executed in Texas - we've seen them shout that when a sick American is without health insurance we should just "let him die" - and now we've seen them enthusiastically boo a soldier who is putting his life at risk to defend this nation - because he is gay. Over and over again - I've called this Republican primary a race to the bottom - only now do I realize the far-right Conservative base in the audience is also competing in the race...and in the words of Charlie Sheen - they're winning.
It's a sad glimpse into the bigotry and fear that have infected America since the days of the KKK and apparently is still alive and well.
(What's your take on the debate? Tell us here.)