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McFeely: Republicans devolve into race for the bottom, or thereabouts

FARGO -- Lyndon Johnson, it has been written, once lowered his pants during a meeting at the White House and asked his staff a question he thought pertinent to the conduct of the Vietnam War."Does Ho Chi Minh have anything like this?"The presiden...

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FARGO - Lyndon Johnson, it has been written, once lowered his pants during a meeting at the White House and asked his staff a question he thought pertinent to the conduct of the Vietnam War.
“Does Ho Chi Minh have anything like this?”
The president was not talking about his right knee, left ankle or rear end.
Johnson was baffled that a slight, unimposing, 5-foot-nothing Communist revolutionary in charge of a small, backwater nation could be successfully standing up to the most powerful country on Earth. For LBJ, power manifested itself in a part of the anatomy below the waist that was not the right knee, left ankle or rear end. He was frustrated that such a manly man couldn’t stomp a presumably much less manly man.
Boys will be boys, even if that one happened to be in charge of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.
Some things never change, even if the boys being boys now are only dreaming of having their fingers on the button. God help us if any of these insecure little lads ever get that power.
The Republican presidential race has shrunk into a middle school locker-room teasing contest, with the combatants arguing over whether a part of Donald Trump is as big as his ego or small as his tact.
Size matters, it seems, in the Republican Party.
It all started when Marco Rubio, trying to find some way to weaken Trump’s stronghold on GOP voters, began to mock The Donald’s relatively small hands. Rubio was clearly equating hand size to the largeness of something else belonging to Trump that is not his right knee, left ankle or rear end.
The spat peaked during a debate Thursday when Trump raised his hands to the TV cameras and said, “Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands - ‘if they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”
For the first time in the 240-year history of these great United States, a presidential candidate defended the size of his ... well ... hands. And something else.
It makes you wonder how other debates in our nation’s history might have gone if they dropped below the belt.
Like if Abraham Lincoln considered asking Stephen Douglas, “Did you just get out of the pool?”
And if Douglas’ reply would’ve been, “Clearly somebody who wears a stovepipe hat is trying to make up for something.”
Or if John F. Kennedy wanted to hit Richard Nixon with: “I’ll bet you’re embarrassed to take your clothes off in the locker room, aren’t you?”
Nixon might’ve replied, “Maybe you should’ve titled your book, ‘Profiles in Teeny-Tiny Things.”
Or if Walter Mondale thought about asking Gary Hart: “Where’s the beef?”
To which Hart might’ve said, “I got your beef right here.”
Actually, Mondale did say that to Hart, but it was in a different context. Given the way Hart was forced out of the Democratic race that year, Mondale would’ve been in-bounds mocking him for a body part that was not his right knee, left ankle or rear end. Hart had a tough time keeping his policies in his pants.
Which has never been surprising in the political world, by the way. From Thomas Jefferson to Warren Harding to Franklin Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, men of presidential timber have often made decisions with body parts other than their brains.
It’s just that detailed anatomical talk has never been so front and center.
What does it all mean? Nothing more than the GOP presidential race has devolved into a race for the bottom, or thereabouts. Trump took the rhetoric into the locker room by using a euphemism for the exact body part we’re talking about when he described what happened to Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election.
He raised it to another level by repeating a crude insult directed toward Ted Cruz that referred to Cruz as something biologically unique to a woman.
It is a juvenile playground name-calling fight, with the candidates mocking each other’s looks, height, ear size, hair and perspiration level. Given the egos and testosterone - not to mention the desperation of Trump’s opponents - it stands to reason the insults would eventually reach (or return to) crotch level.
This is the state of the national Republican Party: The presumptive presidential nominee defending the size of his southern region, after one of his opponents made it a campaign issue.
The party of Abraham Lincoln has become the party of Larry Flynt.
Maybe that’s fitting. Trump isn’t nothing but a hustler anyway.
McFeely is a columnist and radio talk show host for Forum News Service. Email him at mmcfeely@wday.com .

Related Topics: ELECTION 2016
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