I’m really getting tired of these Republican debates. I don’t expect any real substance, and only minimal truth, and for the most part, the many, many candidates live down to my expectations, but more on that when I discuss The Donald at the end of this article.
Once again, CNN demonstrated, in glorious, unashamed excess, why the Republican National Committee should not allow it to so much as sweep the floors in any event in which Republicans participate. Main moderator Wolf Blitzer, token blonde female moderator Dana Bash, and even token conservative moderator Hugh Hewitt were determined to provoke arguments among the candidates—particularly Cruz and Rubio—and for the most part, were entirely successful. I have no doubt, however, that the Stupid Party will continue to allow, even encourage, CNN Progressives with bylines to unmercifully flog its candidates.
I came away with the impression that Blitzer, particularly, was doing his best to support Rubio, while harming Cruz, which might tend to suggest that Progressives, for the moment, fear Cruz far more than Rubio, and perhaps even believe Hillary would easily roll over Rubio.
The moderators also engaged heavily in asking ridiculous questions that demanded the candidates choose between absolute positions no one is espousing. For example, “is the Middle East better off with dictators.” What’s surprising is that the candidates generally handled that one so badly. No one likes a dictator or thinks dictatorships a good thing (OK, so Barack Obama does; I’ll give you that), but sometimes dealing with them, and having some influence for the better, is better for American national interests than abandoning a country to medieval barbarians and having no influence at all.
In terms of minutes, Cruz led—largely because he often inserted himself into the conversation whenever possible–followed by Rubio and Trump.
Though the night was supposedly about national security issues, I was most surprised by what I didn’t see than what I did. A few things I didn’t see:
(1) No one, in a convincing, believable way, professed to believe that America should not engage in war unless our national security interests are implicated, and that we never enter into war without the will to immediately do whatever—within the law—is necessary to win.
(2) No one, in a convincing, believable way, demonstrated that they truly understand the threat of Islam. Not one spoke to the utter incompatibility of Sharia with the rule of law or the incompatibility of Islam with individual liberty and democracy.
(3) Few really demonstrated knowledge of military issues, though Rubio was able to accurately discourse on the nuclear triad.
(4) No one demonstrated any martial prowess, anything of the warrior ethos and spirit. This is no doubt because only Lindsey Graham (I may be missing someone) has been in the military, and while he talks the rhetoric of the hawk, his military career was that of a sparrow, and he’s always willing to give in to the most leftist Democrats.
(5) No one, in a convincing, believable way, demonstrated that they understood that immigration is not a right, and that no one must be allowed into the country unless their presence will benefit all Americans. Diversity for its own sake is meaningless drivel.
Mercifully Brief Candidate Observations:
Donald Trump: Much mugging for the camera. He has mocking Jeb Bush down to an art, and there is much to mock. Trump, as usual, engaged in generalized bluster on every topic, sticking to his “I’m going to make America great again because I am and you’re not,” schtick. Much chat, little substance. More later.
Ted Cruz: Pundits are in agreement that Cruz bested Rubio on immigration, but Rubio bested Cruz on national security. I generally agree. Cruz won’t gain anything from this performance, but his gains are being won in careful politicking behind the scenes, where it will ultimately really matter. As always, he speaks well and his explanation of how Obama and Hillary made a mess of Egypt, Libya and the Middle East in general, was particularly good. Another good moment was his observation that any Republican candidate would be far superior to Hillary Clinton on national security.
Great Line Of The Night (from Cruz): “ I’ll build a wall that will work and we’ll get Donald Trump to pay for it.” Trump laughingly observed that he’d build it.
Marco Rubio: Rubio did better than usual, and was the object of attack for a number of the other candidates. I’ve written about him (here, here and here) when the New York Times and Washington Post repeatedly went after him for getting a few traffic tickets in 14 years and for doing well, financially, for his family, not so much to defend him, but to ridicule the Times and Post for their idiotic articles. He won’t gain anything from his performance—he and Cruz essentially cancelled each other out. He’s likeable enough, but I don’t trust him—at all—on immigration. But Cruz is right: he’d be far better than Hillary overall.
Jeb Bush: For whatever reason, he’s not up to the task. I’m not sure whether it is because he has been out of politics for many years, or whether being the Governor of Florida was one of those things where he was the right person at the right time, and is therefore unsuited for anything else, but the smell of political death is on him, and everything he says seems to be said in desperation and resignation. The Republican establishment would love him; he’s one of them. In a political family with as much experience as his, one would think someone would be telling him it’s over. For example, regarding war, he said we must have “a strategy to get in and a strategy to get out.” Uh, how about winning as an entrance and exit strategy, Jeb? Jeb might want to chat with his Father and big brother about that one.
John Kasich: His argument for the presidency has been reduced to repeatedly mentioning that no Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio. I was particularly struck by the oddness of his gestures. In these debates, he has always been loud and overly emphatic, but in this debate he took to making simultaneous, Austin Powers judo chops with both hands in time to his words: “No (chop) republican (chop) has (chop) won (chop), etc. (chop)…” Odd and desperate.
Carly Fiorina: It’s unfailingly remarkable that when she talks, everyone listens. I continue to really like her, but she is fast becoming an obvious Republican choice for Vice President, which would be a great position for her—and the country. After Joe Biden, she’d bring an air of genuine competence and gravitas to the office, making it symbolically, at least, much more than a bucket of warm spit. To find no photos of a Vice President hovering over and touching unwilling women would be refreshing, particularly to the women. She was the candidate that demonstrated the strongest connection to martial principles, noting that she would not only rebuild our military, but “bring back the warrior class,” of military leaders, genuine fighters instead of the hand picked Obamite social justice warriors now in charge.
Ben Carson: Wonderful fellow, inspirational life story, good man. Eloquent argument for why few human beings are true Renaissance men. Most people struggle to do one thing very well, and Carson was a great pediatric neurosurgeon. He’s so obviously not up to the task that many people of good will are becoming increasingly embarrassed for him.
Chris Christie: Quick on his feet and seems to have a grasp of the kind of conservative basic principles he ought to be talking about. Points for calling Barack Obama a “feckless weakling.” But I absolutely distrust him on the Second Amendment, and then there was his lauding and embrace of the same feckless weakling… Too little, too late, and something about him worries me…
Rand Paul: He had a small group of rabid supporters in the house that screamed and applauded—in exactly the same way, which was a bit creepy—whenever he said anything. If he blew his nose, they would have done the same. He continues to make general sense in his defense of the Constitution, but one quickly gets the feeling that he is an inflexible absolutist, and likely, at any moment, to don a tin foil hat to prevent the aliens from the Crab Nebula from stealing his thoughts. He’s not going to come close to the nomination. He knows it, his weirdly screaming cheerleaders know it, the nation knows it, and so do the Crab Nebula aliens.
What the …?
Trump remains at the top of nearly every poll, and by significant margins. What’s going on? For what it’s worth at this point in the race, here’s my theory:
Barack Obama has succeeded in his fundamental transformation of America in some ways, all of them destructive. Americans now have no faith in the presidency, or in any other political institution or its inhabitants. Many even distrust their local police. Mr. Obama has not been successful in making any but those already harboring racist tendencies a racist, but he has stirred up a great deal of unease among Americans that reasonably hold no racial animus toward anyone, and who believed that those days were, thankfully, long dead and buried. He has loosed the racial grievance mongers on us all, and turned the Department of Justice into their personal attorneys and protectors.
Barack Obama has so lowered our expectations of the morality, character and honesty of our self-imagined elite that we no longer expect politicians to be competent or honest, nor are we outraged when they are not and when they commit all manner of misfeasance and crime that would have seen politicians of past generations run out of office, run out of town on a rail, and thereafter, jailed with the key thrown away. We’re used to politicians talking and doing nothing, or doing only that which is inherently destructive to America, western civilization and liberty. We’re used to lawlessness and corruption on a previously unimaginable scale. We’re resigned to such absurd political correctness that it is destroying our institutions of higher learning, driving moral people out of business, and actually costing American lives. We’re also used to a President of the United States actively expressing and acting on Marxist/Socialist principles, and in international relations, embracing our enemies, spitting on our allies, and displaying such weakness and stupidity, we reasonably fear for the survival of our nation and western civilization.
And then comes Donald Trump. He is the anti-Obama, at least on the surface. He is gloriously, boisterously politically incorrect. He calls the fools and knaves that inhabit the federal bureaucracy and its elective offices the fools and knaves they are. He is a trash-talker, but he is also a doer, a man of genuine and impressive accomplishments, a self-made man who made his money the old fashioned way: he earned it. He’s a wheeler and dealer and seems to do it honestly.
Trump doesn’t know all of the policy minutia, but when he says he’ll fix immigration, and fix our military, and make America great again, we believe him—we’re anxious to believe him—and not without cause.
Trump obviously believes in America and Americans. He doesn’t have to say it. It’s obvious. He actually seems to like America’s allies and understand who our enemies are. A man who wrote The Art Of The Deal, knows how to negotiate, but more importantly, he knows who his friends and enemies are—they’re our friends and enemies–and we’re anxious to return to those more comfortable, rational days.
When Trump is asked exactly how he’ll do something, he often replies ‘I just will,” and we believe it, not because we believe every word he says, but because he has a solid record of accomplishment, and he’s not going to be even remotely worse than any Democrat.
Ultimately, we can have faith that Ted Cruz is right. Even if we don’t elect the perfect Republican/Conservative, Donald Trump will be far, far better than Hillary Clinton, and what the hell? He can’t do more damage to America in four years than Barack Obama did or than Hillary Clinton will. He might even make things better.
It’s a strange time. This election is about whether American life will become stranger and more dangerous, and whether it is possible to regain the best of America, while improving on the worst.
Have I mentioned I’m getting really tired of these Republic debates?