Look, I don’t really have the energy to do a good job reviewing tonight’s 3.5 hour debate, because, well, I just got done watching a 3.5 hour debate. I guess 3.5 hours of debate beats 3.5 weeks of non-stop Fed/interest rate talk, but I think some people have better diversions from their day job than I do. I digress.
It was a long debate – too long – but there were some illuminating moments. There is no point to mentioning how unpresidential and weak and ignorant and narcissistic and shallow Donald Trump is, because anyone reading my blog already knows that, and if they don’t, they aren’t going to agree now. He is incorrigible, but not as incorrigible as his minions are. I assume Sean Hannity went on air tonight to praise his advanced studies on immigration and serious, impressive approach to, say, jurisprudence, but for my readers whose IQ exceeds Sean Hannity’s, which is to say, all of you, Trump was a disaster. The air is coming out and the only question is how fast. I assume his handlers will take that slap mark off his face that Carly left squarely on it. Highlight.
Carly was strong, really strong. She should have left the Christie thing alone when he rightly scored points for pointing out the irrelevance of Donald’s and Carly’s pedigree. Going back to it a second time was not necessary, but all in all she was really outstanding – sort of an anti-Hillary: Impressive story, well-spoken, likable, informed, intelligent, charismatic.
Jeb had a disastrous first half of the debate, and did do better in the second half. His line defending his brother was ironically the strongest point of his campaign so far. Jeb’s problem, though, is unsolvable – totally unsolvable – and that is that he is lacking in mojo, and mojo is not to be bought with PAC fundraising. He is bright, and he is a solid conservative, but he is a yawner, and that is not going to work this time around – I promise you.
I don’t have anything to say about Rand Paul or Mike Huckabee.
Scott Walker tried. He was well-prepared with cute lines. But he comes across desperate now. He barely had the mic. He just doesn’t seem relevant. For him to get back into this thing it would be a far bigger comeback than what John McCain experienced in 2008, and that thing was for the record books. I like the Governor, but I do not believe he is Presidential.
Dr. Carson had a bad night. It was supposed to be his night to pick up those Trump folks who maybe perhaps have a brain or a conscience, and he did not do so. He started slow, and he didn’t pick up much throughout the night. His Afghanistan material was abysmal – like shockingly bad. You can tell he doesn’t have a campaign filled with consultants because I assume if he did they would have told him to do a better job tonight.
Christie had a good night. He is going nowhere, but he had a good night.
I want to give Ted Cruz a chance, I really do. But I have no tolerance for his hypocrisy on the Justice Roberts issue (he CLEARLY and EMPHATICALLY supported a Roberts nomination at the time), and his disingenuous use of the “amnesty” term is unbecoming someone of his intellect. He is bright, and he is formidable, but he grated on me tonight.
Kasich had a bad night, and perhaps one he won’t recover from. That may be too dramatic. But his waffling on the Iran deal is ridiclous – there is no “if” when it comes to Iran funding Hamas and Hezbollah – we KNOW that they ARE doing so. We don’t have to see IF they will do so. His people have him tunnel-visioned on this 1990’s nostalgia thing, as if American fondness for the balanced budget will give HIM more points than Hillary CLINTON in the end. Totally bizarre. Kasich is a strong candidate because he governs a state that probably delivers the Presidency, and he is a grown-up. But he had a bad night. He can recover though.
I am perfectly fine with readers believing my own biases for Marco Rubio prohibit me from giving an objective assessment of his performance, but I would suggest that anyone who watched the debate who does not believe Rubio simply SHINED is the one lacking objectivity. Solid on Russia. Solid on Syria. Solid on ISIS. Best foreign policy credentials on that stage. Best economic message – solid vision of hope and aspiration. Articulate. Out of the fray with Trump the Clown. Really a great night overall.
So here we are. Two down. I don’t remember how many to go. Tonight should have counted as two. We have three or four people I’d like to see up there. It will take awhile. The report card tonight:
Rubio and Fiorina – the winners
Kasich and Carson – the losers
Huckabee – kinda sad
Rand Paul – I found a guy who dislikes him more than me (but I dislike that guy)
Christie – good night
Walker – mediocre
Bush – some warm; some cold; so lukewarm
Cruz – irritated me tonight
Trump – I’m excited to hear Trump will have a team to tell him the names of world terrorist leaders. I’ll pay him to stop giving people five on stage and making me wince at the awkwardness