So I am currently in an undisclosed location with no television, which still did not leave me safe from political debates. Nevertheless, thanks to the inability of the FOX news stream to work, I had to listen to it on the radio feed while watching a picture about 10 seconds off from the talk on the home page.
Right Wing and Angry
I was struck once again how right wing the Republican Party has become. Jeb Bush, probably the most conservative governor of his (now past?) day, was one of the “moderates.” Projecting strength was the order of the day with Paul’s efforts to hearken back to a day when conservatives believed doing less was more falling flat.
Angry too. President Barack Obama isn’t just wrong. He’s a traitor who has perpetrated countless unconstitutional acts, weakened our military, and ruined America. Not many rays of sunny optimism save for the Horatio Alger competition at the end of the debate that would not have been out of place in a Democratic debate.
Good Questions, Some Bias
The three questioners from the right-wing media establishment asked good, tough questions. Their major negative moment was Chris Wallace’s decision to turn “illegals” into a noun, which I guess was shorter than “those brown people.”
The Republicans may be having a bromance with Trump but FOX wants to break them up. The three moderators were gunning for the Donald who repeatedly received questions that one would call “gotcha questions” except they were totally legit.
On the other hand, Marco Rubio received the easy softball about what he’d do to improve small business. Gave him the opportunity to hit the usual Republican erogenous zones. FOX man crush?
Contempt. This guy has it for everyone. One even had the sense that he had it for the people who let him on the stage. A one man walking self-admiration society. With Trump, the answers may devolve into word salad but it’s all about the attitude.
Bush Part III
Felt like he was serving reheated pablum from the previous Bush administrations only that he’s too bright to believe it, which tended to weaken the delivery. You never quite feel you know where he stands–a problem in an election where “authenticity” (even if from a fake reality TV star!) seems the order of the day. He tried to dog whistle the right at the end with a Terri Schiavo allusion but it didn’t seem like a night for subtlety.
Though he nonetheless came across as one of the adults in the room, Bush’s unavoidable ability to remind us of his brother and complete hogwash of an answer on how he would create 4% economic growth through magical thinking made him look less like a general election winner than before the debate.
Has somehow managed to make Republicans forget that he was one of the major sponsors of the much reviled immigration reform bill. Rubio had the most telegenic delivery in the debate. His youth combined with not being Bush made him seem a more likely candidate if the goal is to get the Republicans to nominate someone credible who can get voters to turn the page.
If he does become the nominee, expect Democrats to play the clip unceasingly on his opposition to banning abortion in cases of rape and incest in response to a question from Megyn Kelly. Many Americans are uncomfortable with abortion but this provides a clear distinction that any Democrat would be glad to draw.
Ted Cruz and Rand Paul
Fascinating to see how the Republicans are no longer just that into the two guys who enchanted so much after the 2014 elections. Paul was an object lesson on what not to say to appeal to Republican voters.
Cruz continues to try to win the game of who is the most conservative of them all. But somehow pressing that button isn’t working for him anymore–at least not yet. Completely uncompromising and a good example of how our dysfunctional government could become more so.
And the Rest. . .
Huckabee is extremely comfortable on television. Sorta like an infomercial that leaves me deeply uneasy. Republican commentators thought he did well and he certainly wasn’t gunning for my vote.
Ben Carson’s soft-spoken delivery left me utterly confused as to why he is a Republican phenom. Unless his job is to explain why it’s OK never to talk about race–his big applause line.
Chris Christie’s ongoing problem is that he is the Lucy Ricardo of the Republican candidates–he always has some ‘splainin to do and never sounds altogether convincing doing it. Couldn’t answer why his state’s bond rating has plummeted even though he’s done such a bang up job balancing the books. Loves the blame game–it’s always someone else’s fault. Doesn’t look like Gov. Hogan’s endorsement will pay off for Maryland in future.
John Kasich sounded like a reasonable guy with experience. This leads me to believe he is unelectable in a Republican primary, despite the clear affection from the hometown crowd. But it’s hard to imagine how any nominee would not give serious thought to putting this popular swing-state governor on the ticket.
Scott Walker made no memorable impression on me. No gaffes and nothing off from the Republican script.
As @PeterBeinart tweeted, “how on earth does Saturday Night Live parody this?”