This will be short. I had a regularly schedule rehearsal last night (Thursday, 01-28-16), so I saw relatively little of the final Republican Debate before Iowa voting. From what I saw, there was little to say that I haven’t already said. Most, if not all, of the candidates are sticking with their stump speeches, and the only new additions are generally jabs at other Republican candidates. Few are laying a glove on Hillary Clinton other then ritualistic, generic denunciations.
Various pundits have declared Marco Rubio the winner. Others, probably more numerous have declared Donald Trump the winner because he didn’t show up, which means he was the focus of non-attention, and won by not winning, or spoke by not speaking, or zenned himself silly or something like that. What I’m taking away from all this…let’s save that until the end, shall we, gentle readers? For now, a few general impressions.
Donald Trump: Did anyone miss him? I certainly didn’t. Speaks much, says little, few, if any specifics, endless bluster, a short fuse, and very think skin, all wrapped up in an impenetrable shell of malignant narcissism. Hmmm. Does that sound like anyone we know…?
Jeb Bush: Nothing new here. He still seems to believe that giving away the nation on immigration is a winning strategy. Amazing. It’s “compassionate conservatism, the rebirth!” Yet, many pundits claimed this was his best debate performance thus far, possibly heralding an amazing leap in the polls, and a pathway to the nomination. Meh. The odor of desperation is stronger than ever.
Rand Paul: Is there anyone that cannot see that he had no chance in hell even before he began campaigning in earnest? They have me saying the same things over and over now, but he sounds rational, and suddenly, when one least expects it, the crazy aunt our forefathers kept in the attic suddenly emerges, and we appreciate their wisdom, and their attic.
Ben Carson: He’s learned quite a bit, and speaks with more assurance, but he’s still a nice and accomplished surgeon without a clue in the political world, and without a chance at the nomination.
Chris Christie: Did you know that people in Washington don’t speak the same language the rest of us speak, and Chris Christie is darned tired of that? Wow. I’ve never seen that approach before. He doesn’t know he’s not going to be the nominee? Really?
John Kasich: Yes, he’s the governor of Ohio and has done lovely things there, and when things go wrong, the Governor of Ohio has to get on top of them fast! Fast, he says! Has he mentioned that he’s the Governor of Ohio?
Marco Rubio: Could very well be POTUS, but probably not this election cycle. Yeah, he was more or less the leader of the Gang of Eight in trying to give away the immigration farm, but he hasn’t changed his views on immigration, ever. Honest. He has just changed his focus or emphasis, or technique, or underwear, or something. All I need to know is that, for a considerable time, he was in lockstep with Chuck Schumer. Look in the dictionary under “not a conservative,” and the first definition is: “in lockstep with Chuck Schumer for any reason and for any amount of time.”
Ted Cruz: Many Senators hate him. The other candidates hate him. That means I automatically like him. He remains, hands down, the best technical speaker, and his genuine accomplishments on behalf of the Constitution are voluminous and impressive. His command of the issues is equally impressive. He was able to summon a deadly accurate list, including relevant force levels, of the devolution of our military forces under Barack Obama, in what was probably the most meaningful point of the evening.
One of the more interesting parts of the debate was Megan Kelly’s relentless attempt to suggest that Cruz was flip flopping in his immigration stance, and lying about it as well. This largely focused around amendments he offered to a Democrat immigration bill that Cruz characterized as poison pills designed to ensure the bill would not pass, which it did not. For those not familiar with the term, a conservative inserts amendments into a Democrat bill they know Democrats will never accept, which then becomes a means of killing the whole bill.
What is interesting is that in her interview with Cruz after the debate, Kelly admitted, several times, that she had done significant research, and Cruz was right. His amendments were poison pills, and he had not changed his stance or lied about it, yet that was the impression she left with viewers of the debate, such as Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:
Cruz was hit with clips showing him insisting that his proposed amendment to Rubio’s Gang of Eight immigration legislation, under which illegal immigrants could obtain amnesty, was not designed to kill the bill, as he now claims it was. In multiple clips, Cruz said he wanted the bill to pass.
Cruz had no answer for this, other to wrap himself around Jeff Sessions and some conservative talk radio hosts. This shouldn’t be good enough, but it leaves him better positioned than Rubio because at least Cruz never supported a path to citizenship.
Mirengoff apparently didn’t see Kelly’s post-debate interview with Cruz.
There is a bit more than nine months remaining before we vote for POTUS. Most Americans don’t start paying attention until well after the respective party conventions. When the vice presidential candidates are announced, America goes wild with…well, actually, America pretty much snores awhile longer, and then with about a month, er, make that about a week, before the election, most Americans start trying to figure out who the candidates are, and what the hell is wrong with them anyway?
For whom do they vote? The candidates that are least repulsive? The candidates that remind them least of relatives they never liked? The candidates least likely to stampede the women and children and frighten the cattle?
At the moment, I have four general criteria I’m applying:
(1) They must know what the Constitution is;
(2) They must have actually read it more than once, and recently;
(3) They can be reasonably trusted to at least try to uphold at least 50% of it, and;
(4) Their default position on any new legislation–and on removing federal involvement in any and everything–must be: “the federal government has no business being involved in that.”
But hey, we have more than nine months, and I haven’t spoken with Chuck Schumer in like, forever…