Debate Follies

Did you watch the recent Republican presidential debate? Yes? No? Well, I did, and I sure came away with some definite impressions.

First, let me get the matter of the questioners’ conduct out of the way. Let’s just say that they won’t be getting any awards for brilliance: “What is your biggest weakness?” This is a question worth asking? What was the expectation? That each of the participants would admit to being an idiot? The answers, such as they were, were no more intelligent than the question. While things didn’t get much worse than that, they certainly didn’t get a lot better.

Still, the real issue is what we heard from the nomination seekers. Let’s start with Jeb Bush.

Bush, in the face of falling poll numbers and correspondingly falling contributions, decided it would be a good idea to attack fellow Floridian Marco Rubio. It was a mistake from which he never recovered, as Rubio’s response demolished him. Already lackluster, Bush did nothing during the debate to make himself attractive as the party’s nominee.

Carly Fiorina didn’t so much as flame out as, well, not flame in. Her problem is that she was an awful CEO at Hewlett-Packard, presiding over the disastrous acquisition by HP of Compaq and watching HP stock tank as a result. No matter what she says, she obviously couldn’t manage HP effectively, and as a result can’t convince people that she can manage the country.

Ben Carson? Wake me when he wakes up. I swear, listening to him is better than Ambien. If, however, you do listen to him, what you’ll learn is that a) he’s a religious nut and b) he knows nothing about taxation, budgeting, or how he’d work with Congress.

Donald Trump wasn’t even very entertaining. Maybe he was depressed over the fact that Carson leads him in several polls. Or maybe he was just tired. Or maybe he’s so far out of his league in terms of knowledge of how to govern that he simply couldn’t say anything substantive.

John Kasich was more animated than in his prior debate exposure, but every sentence out of his mouth seemed to start with, “In my state of Ohio,” a repetitive mantra that ultimately was boring. John, we know you take credit for everything good about Ohio, but how the hell will you do it all for the country?

Ted Cruz, who all the political pundits say is a great debater, seems to be great only at not answering the questions he’s asked. One may give him credit for his diatribe against the media, but it’s old hat. All Republicans complain about the media, the War on Christmas, welfare cheats, Planned Parenthood… So, Ted, tell us something we haven’t heard from the Tea Party. Do you really want this whiny guy to occupy the White House? And given his background, analogous to that of President Obama, why aren’t other Republicans asking for his birth certificate?

It’s hard to know where to begin with Mike Huckabee. Personable, articulate, and somewhere out there beyond left field. Just listen to what he says. You want to live in a Christian theocracy? He’s your guy. Well, unless you want to be even more fundamental with Carson.

Chris Christie comes across like a charging, belligerent bull. He’s the steamroller in the competition, attempting to roll over the issues with aggrieved bombast. Yes, just what we need in the federal government today: more bombast.

Rand Paul often says things that seem to make a lot of sense. Then he veers into the ditch saying stuff that makes no sense at all. He didn’t say much of anything to stand out from the crowd during the debate.

Marco Rubio, came across as the most capable and presidential of the participants. Not, you understand, that I would support him. No, I’m still a card-carrying, ACLU and Planned Parenthood supporting, unreconstructed liberal, and proud of it. But Rubio, in fact, behaved well, was articulate, and didn’t come across as a nut case.

Mostly, the nomination seekers all laid out grandiose plans that ignore the fact that the Presidency isn’t a monarchy. If you believe that any of them can singlehandedly make the changes they’re proposing without a peep from Congress – even a Republican Congress – I’d like a few of whatever pills you’re swallowing. My advice: don’t dive into the rabbit hole with any of these guys.

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