credit: nytimes

credit: nytimes

Some seem to forget that we won’t be voting for president until November of 2016 and the new president won’t take office until January of 2017. So it is with considerable media hype and false excitement that the second Republican Debate is being held tonight.

I’ll be covering that festive occasion, but please keep in mind, gentle readers, that I’ll be grading as many as 300 assignments tomorrow and also have a rehearsal for my paying professional singing gig tomorrow evening. I’ll do my best to have everything up tomorrow evening, but may have to finish on Friday. Considering the timing of the election, I suspect we might be able to wait a bit. Back soon…

THE FIRST DEBATE (THE ALSO-RANS):

Lindsey Graham: Yawn. This is a man whose military career was fueled by his status as a senator. He was a military lawyer, yet all he could talk about was his fierceness in winning the war on terror. To hear Graham, one would think him the reincarnation of George Patton. He was loud and intense.

Bobby Jindahl: He was loud and intense. Constant attacks on the Congress and Republican establishment. He even argued for throwing away the Republican Party and starting a truly conservative third party. He’s smart, capable, and doesn’t have a chance.

George Pataki: He doesn’t have a chance.

Rick Santorum: His time has come and gone, long ago. No one likes someone who doesn’t know when to gracefully bow out, even if they are just waiting for a miracle. He doesn’t have a chance.

THE MAIN EVENT:

Winner: Carly Fiorina. It wasn’t close. More later.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS (Updated 09-17-18 2130 CST):

The debate, at a bit over three hours, was ridiculously long. Apparently it was originally planned for two hours, but CNN sold so many commercials, it was greatly extended.

I have had some measure of respect for Jake Tapper. No more. Many of his questions were unprofessional and were calculated to try to provoke confrontations between the candidates rather than to encourage them to illuminate the public with their positions and ideas. This went on for about 70% of the debate, including solidly for the first half.

In the Air Force One Pavillion, Tapper’s microphone was far too sensitive and loud. Tapping paper on his desktop was akin to a landslide.

Tapper was very nearly Candy Crowley-like in his dogged and whiningly juvenile pursuit of climate change orthodoxy, which gave Marco Rubio an opportunity to distinguish himself as being astute and entirely rational in exposing the climate change scam.

CNN, will apparently have control of another debate. This is, once again, indisputable proof that the Republic National Committee—for turning over two debates to the network that massacred their 2012 nominee–are the idiot leaders of the stupid party.

By any measure, nearly half of the questions of the debate were focused on Donald Trump. With eleven candidates, that was an obscene and unforgivable waste of the opportunity to inform the public. Carly Fiorina’s performance, considering that, is all the more remarkable. But Tapper and CNN trivialized the candidates and betrayed the public interest. At least we weren’t subjected to the execrable Candy Crowley.

Tapper formulated at least half his questions by saying—not always accurately—what one of the candidates said, and inviting another candidate to attack them, or just inviting candidates to attack each other in general. Candidates often had to correct Tapper’s inaccuracies and, for the most part, wisely didn’t play along.

I have no idea why Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash were present. Bash asked only a handful of questions—perhaps CNN thought they needed a blond female presence(?)—and Hewitt asked, what? Three questions at best? If Hewitt was present as a token conservative moderator, one would be hard pressed to identify him as such, which, considering the tiny amount of time allotted him, was not his fault.

I’m hoping that the other networks will learn from CNN and focus on serious, substantive topics in the future. Of course, networks that are little more than Democrat operatives with bylines can’t be blamed for acting like Democrat operatives with bylines (the stupid party rides again). As the field diminishes in size, that may help. If not, the candidates will have to simply refuse to play the gotcha, “let’s entertain the rubes” game.

Having now read polls like Drudge and others that indicate Trump as the winner with something like 67% and Fiorina in second place with 18%, I fear for the future of the nation. Are we really that shallow? Do we really care that little for competence and character in our president? Judging by Barack Obama…

CANDIDATE NOTES (09-18-15, 2200 CST):

credit: bloomberg.com

credit: bloomberg.com

Carly Fiorina: I’ve been bothered, thinking of what to say about her impressive performance. She made Donald Trump look like the loudmouthed jerk he often is, reducing him to embarrassed silence. When she spoke, everyone–including the other candidates listened. Her personal story of secretary to CEO is not a campaign invention, and there is reason to believe she still understands how to do all of the daily chores the fill that lives of commoners.

She observed that Washington is utterly corrupt and the political class won’t do a thing about it. When the pathetic Jake Tapper tried to get her to attack Trump, she didn’t bite. Her grasp of what’s necessary to rebuild our national defense and security was spot on and far surpassed anything the rest had to say on that topic. She was really the only one that effectively attacked the Democrats and Hillary, nailing her for having no accomplishments and calling flying an achievement instead of an activity, and called her out for lying.  She would obliterate Hillary in a debate.

Where the rest of the candidates sounded like pot heads when the question of states flaunting federal drug laws came up, she was rational and strong, an actual adult, observing that we’re lying to the young: pot is not like beer, which is when we found out she lost a child to addiction, something most didn’t know, and one of the most powerful moments of the evening.

Barack Obama has so lowered our expectations, so degraded the office of the President, so deranged our image of propriety and adult behavior in our leaders, even Donald Trump seems a plausible candidate.

It finally occurred to me. What makes Carly Fiorina so impressive is that she is not only an adult, but one suffused with class and dignity, and a steel spine. Some are beginning to compare her to Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, who could visit the House of Commons, rhetorically slaughter her opponents, all the while forcing them to laugh and enjoy the experience.

Maybe, just maybe, Carly Fiorina is the woman to restore dignity and adult gravity to the White House. It’s impossible to imagine her taking selfies at state funerals and bragging that her nomination will stop the rise of the seas and heal the planet. Working one’s way up from a secretarial position can have that effect on the right kind of person.

Donald Trump: He began by mugging idiotically for the camera. The more he speaks, the less he says. He knows little about any of the issues. He reminds us he’s made billions, which is a genuine accomplishment, and he’s going to make America rich and strong and great again, and he’s not afraid to call a fool a fool. However, he often lets his mouth outstrip his brain.

We tend to appreciate success and self-made men. He’s gone bankrupt in the past? Why deny it? Americans appreciate people who fail big and come back bigger.

He’s popular now because he’s as brash as Obama, but we sense he’s not a destructive, America-hating narcissist. Oh, he’s very fond of himself, but unlike Obama, he has tangible proof of his business acumen and success. He has actually done things, big things, as he never ceases to say in place of actual policy ideas and rational principles. He’s entertaining, and I confess a certain appreciation for his fearlessness, but he’s no Carly Fiorina, and he could live ten lifetimes and never approach her class and dignity.

Due to Tapper, Trump had the most speaking time–about 18 minutes–and did calm down and become more adult as the long night wore on. One would hope presidential candidates were adult all the time.

Rand Paul: I still have no idea why he’s still in the race, or in the race at all. He’s prickly, ready to take offense at the slightest provocation, or no provocation. He’s one of the few to actually speak about the Constitution and he usually gets it right. He makes sense about 80% of the time and suddenly says crazy things, supporting things that Barack Obama has done that have caused enormous damage to us and the world. For example, he’s pretty cool with pot anywhere, man. Like, wow!

Mike Huckabee: He had a very gracious, complimentary opening toward the others, and had one of the best lines of the night, observing that we can’t afford to have another president who don’t know what he doesn’t know. He should have added that he also has to be willing and able to recognize it and learn something. He seems a genuinely decent fellow with good conservative instincts. For example, he said our conflict with Iran is about the survival of western civilization, something the others–with few exceptions–didn’t touch on. Another great line was that Obama sees the Iran deal as the Magna Carta, but Iran sees it as toilet paper.

I suspect he is like a somewhat more acceptable version of Rick Santorum: a decent, smart guy, a guy whose time has come and gone, but who keeps hoping for a miracle.

Marco Rubio: Many think he took second in the debate, and that may not be too far off the mark. He’s smart, likeable and has a real command of the issues, speaking about them more than superficially. That the New York Times has idiotically attacked him for doing well for his family and for having a few traffic tickets over nearly two decades, indicates the Democrats fear him, and perhaps rightly so.

He really distinguished himself when Jake Tapper latched onto climate change and tried to badger Rubio into drinking the greenie Kool-Aid. He was a calm and rational adult who recognizes that climate change is a scam, and he didn’t let Tapper get away with it.

His comments on Vladimir Putin, foreign affairs and national security showed him to be a man of substance who actually understands those issues and is on America’s side.   That would be a refreshing change in our president.

And then there is immigration. He can’t be trusted. He still doesn’t understand, and perhaps never will, that our immigration laws are for the benefit of natural-born and lawfully nationalized Americans and no one else. He just doesn’t get that foreigners have no right to anything lawfully due Americans.

He has done nothing at all to show me if elected, he would not betray America in this very significant and dangerous way.

Ted Cruz: He was a champion debater, and it shows, but he had little time in this debate. He accented his willingness to fight the Republican Congressional establishment, and has the history to back it up. He was the only candidate to directly and plausibly express an anti-amnesty stance. He promised–reliably, I think, to throw out the Iran deal his first day in office, and sees Iran as a deadly threat, promising it will never be allowed to gain nuclear weapons. I fear that unless Israel acts–that’s why Mr. Obama is going to see Mr. Netanyahu soon; to threaten him–Senator Cruz would be too late.

On the Second Amendment he noted that as the Attorney General of Texas, he played a significant role in winning the Heller decision, which is one of the most meaningful civil rights wins in history. He would be a formidable foe for the likes of Vladimir Putin, and would actually be on America’s side.

Ben Carson: What a nice fellow. Accomplished, mild mannered, soft spoken, and far, far outside his realm of expertise. He really knows very, very little and his innate decency would lead him to make decisions, with the best of intentions, that would be terribly harmful, unlike Mr. Obama who makes such decisions with the worst of intentions

For example, he thinks raising the minimum wage is a good idea and wants everyone to have a conversation about it, sort of a “let’s all sit down and come up with a solution,” sort of thing. He even suggested there should be a beginning minimum wage for teenagers and people on their first jobs, and a maximum minimum wage so people can support families. He has not a clue about policy and economics, but he’s really nice and well-intentioned.

It’s good to see him.  He raises the civility and decency quotient of any room he enters, but only a few minutes of listening to him should convince anyone serious about the next president that Ben Carson isn’t qualified by experience, temperament, or ability.

Scott Walker: I’ve held high hopes for him, primarily for what he has accomplished in Wisconsin, and because the Wisconsin progressives, and others from around the nation, have done their worst to do him in and failed. But he’s young, and inexperienced in the ways that will harm him most in this race, and he’s just not ready. It’s now or never for him if he’s to be president, but it’s not now.

He had very little time to speak, probably by CNN’s design. He understands that China and Iran are our enemies, but it’s not enough.

Jeb Bush: He began by calling himself a “committed conservative reformer, which means he’s none of those things. He was more energetic, and got back at Trump for his “low energy” ad, but I think I have to go back to Michael Dukakis–am I dating myself? I was pretty young then–to remember a less exciting candidate.

He will absolutely betray America on immigration, and his views on that subject seem mostly based on his Mexican wife, and on his over-the-head immersion in Hispanic culture. His claim to want traditional American values that have made America great was weak soup indeed.

He was weak on the Iran deal, suggesting that the way to handle things was to give Israel more weapons. Sigh.

He was cool on pot in Colorado, but drugs are bad! His solution was treatment and prevention, and he admitted smoking pot when younger and said his mother wouldn’t like him admitting it. He did not look like a responsible adult for that admission.

Most horrifying to genuine conservatives were his bizarre comments on the Second Amendment. He actually took a state’s rights position. While the context was access to weapons by the potentially mentally ill, the implication was he was just fine with letting the states decide if people have Second Amendment rights. He was also just fine with letting the government take people’s weapons without a hearing if a relative or someone like that accused them of being mentally unbalanced.

This is a committed conservative reformer? How can we tell him from Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?

He’ll likely have the money to stay in the race until the end, and he’ll surely be the establishment Republican candidate, which only demonstrates how far the party of Lincoln has strayed from the Constitution, and how damned happy and disgustingly smug they are about it.

Chris Kristie: Affable and smart, and he tried to pretend to be an adult, shaming Trump and Fiorina for talking about their business chops. Actually, Trump was attacking Fiorina, and all she did was defend her record, and quite effectively so. He told the audience that he was a solid Republican, and compared to what passes for Republicans in New Jersey, perhaps so, but as with Jeb Bush, if you have to claim it, you’re not it.

I’m not going to be able to get over him actually hugging and praising Barack Obama at a time Obama needed it to defeat Mitt Romney. He could have cooperated with Mr. Obama quite adequately and thanked him for whatever good he might have inadvertently done without looking like an Obama worshipper.

He claimed to be strong on the Second Amendment, which is yet another area where I don’t fully trust him. His usual explanation for such things is that he’s the Republican governor of New Jersey–a Democrat snake pit–so what do you expect? True, but…

John Kasich: He began by comparing himself to Ronald Reagan and observed that he thought he actually flew on the plane that served as the backdrop to the debate: Reagan’s Air Force One. Perhaps he did, a long, long time ago. He averred that the Iran deal is bad, but was very wishy-washy on doing away with it. In a strange bit of rhetoric reminiscent of John Kerry suggesting we need global permission to act in the world, he kept saying that where Iran was concerned we needed to work with allies, essentially implying a global veto on America acting in its own national interests.

Even though he’s the current and popular governor of Ohio, and has past congressional experience–he often brags about his long ago foreign policy chops–he appears to have learned little from the experience. His time has come and gone. I can’t imagine he actually believes a miracle is possible for him, though one can dredge up a great deal of self-delusion when running for the presidency, I suppose.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Too long, and the RNC should never allow a CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS employee anywhere near a Republican debate. Such people will never allow Republican candidates to have a discussion damaging to democrats or helpful to Republicans.

If the Republicans are serious, they need to focus on the most capable and electable candidates. They’re not Jeb Bush or Donald Trump, which is why the stupid party is highly likely to nominate Jeb Bush, and he will be highly likely to lose when far too many disgusted conservative patriots stay home, as they did last time.  Donald Trump ignoring his pledge to support the Republican nominee and running an independent campaign–which is a possibility that will not go away–may also be a factor.

The Republican leadership will not get the message then either.

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