The fifth Republican presidential debate aired on CNN Tuesday night, and it was nothing if not an exhausting affair. Between the undercard debate that kicked off the evening and the prime-time showdown that followed, there were more than four hours of jockeying for that conservative base vote. And if that's a little more time than you've got, then maybe you're looking for a shorter, sweeter, slightly more succinct representation. And this tweet basically summed up the CNN Republican debate.
It's been a tumultuous several weeks since the last time the Republicans got together for one of these, with terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino driving the prevailing political conversation straight toward ISIS, foreign policy, and security. And just as you might expect, the proposed solutions coming out of the Republican side have been more than a little disturbing, from Donald Trump's ban on Muslims entering the United States to Jeb Bush's pitch to only let Christian refugees into the country.
But not just anything stirs up this amount of fervor on the Republican side of things, and that was laid bare Tuesday night. While the San Bernardino and Paris attacks are understandably dominating the conversation, it's clear that only some kinds of terrorist acts inspire such outrage, as The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur observed.
It might seem remarkable (well, maybe not really for a Republican debate, but still) that a debate could be almost entirely dominated by conversations of terrorism and not mention one of the two recent high-profile domestic terrorist incidents in the United States. During a court hearing in Colorado last week, alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear made his violent ideology pretty clear. He reportedly made several outbursts, proclaiming himself a "warrior for the babies," and insisting he was guilty of the crimes he's been charged with.
The reason for the omission, of course, is depressingly obvious. When it comes to conversations about reproductive rights, anti-abortion extremism, and outright terrorism and violence, GOP primary voters aren't really yearning for a long look in the mirror. And if the voters aren't going to hold the party accountable, nobody will.
But all the same, this bears mentioning, and holding up under the glare of close critical examination. The Republican debate managed to go a staggering amount of time without ever so much as mentioning the Planned Parenthood shooting. For the record, as The New York Times detailed in July, homegrown extremism has claimed a higher death toll in the U.S. since 9/11 than militant Islamic terrorism has.