Perhaps nothing demonstrates the depths to which the Republican Party has sunk in this race than to watch one of their candidates defend the size of his…um…hands in a presidential debate.

YouTube video

Of course Trump did that because, after slamming “Little Rubio” for being small, the Florida Senator made the accusation about the size of Trump’s…um…hands prior to this debate. That is pretty much what this contest has come down to. And it’s why I said yesterday that one of the things I’m hearing from my Republican friends is that they worry about the message Trump’s presidency would send to their kids. It’s not just the vulgarity of the diatribe in the clip above. It is the spectacle of grown men taunting each other like school yard bullies. After last night’s debate, perhaps these affairs are going to require a rating as “not suitable for young children.” As much as I have disagreements with all of these candidates, what disturbs me most is the debasement of our entire democratic process.

Essentially what we’re seeing is that – in an effort to defeat Donald Trump – the plan is to attack him the way he attacks them. So they’ve joined him in the gutter. Here’s how Josh Marshall described that after last night’s debate.

Once Trump pulls you down to his level, even when you fight back, you’re still down at his level. And he’s better at this than you are.

There was one point maybe in the 3rd quarter hour of the debate where Rubio and Trump were basically just yelling at each other. It was very messy. Trump was clearly unable to dominate the stage. And yet, as I watched, I thought: this is not doing Marco Rubio any good. It may be bloodying Trump but not to Rubio’s benefit. They knocked him off his perch a bit but they looked like ridiculous animals wrestling with him on the ground.

Perhaps Republicans had no choice but to play this game with Trump rather than offer an alternative. I’ll simply remind you what Michael Grunwald said a few days ago.

Margaret Hartmann described the result.

We now live in a world where presidential candidates shrug off the formerly fatal sin of flip-flopping, repeatedly hurl childish insults at their rivals, and joke about the size of their penis. Check out the best and worst moments below (but let’s be honest: if you don’t want to see the American political process turned into a reality show, they’re all the worst).

That about sums it up: the GOP has allowed Donald Trump to turn this presidential primary into a reality show.

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