by Brad Nelson 9/16/15
1) Donald Trump: 27.8
2) Ben Carson: 14.0
3) Jeb Bush: 9.2
4) Ted Cruz: 7.4
5) Scott Walker: 5.6
6) Marco Rubio: 5.4
T-7) Carly Fiorina: 4.4
T-7) Mike Huckabee: 4.4
9) John Kasich: 3.6
10) Rand Paul: 3.2
11) Chris Christie: 2.8
The only reason I’ll be tuning in tonight is to view Trump. This is not because I’m a big Trump supporter. It’s that because he’ll make it a show. Without Trump, there’s no reason to believe that what any of these candidates — including Cruz — will say will matter in the least. If Bernie Sanders gives a speech and he says he wants to nationalize the car companies, you can believe he’ll work for that.
But as for the GOP, there’s no reason to believe that any of these candidates would act in a forceful way to enact their stated policies. And I include Ted Cruz in that (my favorite of the bunch). He seems too much like the conservative equivalent of John McCain. He has his Senate seat to fall back on. You’re not going to see much bridge-burning rhetoric out of him. It will be smooth, practiced, and mostly forgettable. And I say that as a real fan of his. Don’t expect him to seize the moment.
So, given this earned cynicism regarding the GOP, we’re left with what is, in essence, a rather interesting reality show. And it’s a true “realty show” in that this debate will likely be as phony and as tightly scripted as any cable “reality” show.
And in season one, episode two, the drama now centers on if the Establishment candidates will come together and all hammer on Trump, for at this point it must be clear that none of them can win until Trump is politically marginalized. And as a sideline watcher, you wonder if this rational motivation will be overcome by the desire of all these big egos for taking center stage. As much as people spin conspiracy theories about Trump being a Democrat plant, or Carly being the designated Trump basher this week, at this level you’re talking narcissists across the board. These people have big egos. To expect anyone to not use this national exposure for their own benefit and to act for the interests of another is a bit naive.
Still, it’s a good bet that the journalistic tramp, Megyn Kelly, did have some kind of agreement with her bosses to try to take Trump out in the first debate. And it is pleasing to my ear to hear that this journalistic Tramp, and Fox News itself, has taken at least a small hit in their ratings now that they’ve been exposed as a mere mouthpiece for the GOP Establishment (or just journalistic pretenders as are most of the others).
Anyway, post your thoughts here on the debate as they come to you. No holds barred. Be as kind or cruel as you think frankness dictates. I go into the debate with these thoughts about each candidate:
1) Donald Trump: Will he have even marginally prepared himself for these debates or will he just wing it? He needn’t sound more practicably political — that’s one reason he is where he is. But he can’t just keep piling on more barbs, insults, and glib one-liners. That house is bound to collapse of its own weight at some point. As much as I love to see him bashing Bush, he’s got to not only have a clear vision of where he wants to go (articulated, in brief, regarding the various issues of the day) but when it does come to winging it (perhaps his strong suit) he needs to do a better job of it. I highly suspect that the other candidates will be prepared with some zingers that they’ll try to make sound folksy and impromptu (“There you go again”) leaving Donald unprepared and overwhelmed. They might well out-Donald him, and it really shouldn’t be that difficult for a couple of these to do so.
2) Ben Carson has nowhere to go but the future Surgeon General’s office or maybe on the ticket as the VP. He just doesn’t “have it.” What he doesn’t have is straight-talking conservatism. He’s milquetoast and PC on too many issues. He’s so far riding on the fact that he is indeed a decent and accomplished man. But politically it’s doubtful he could ever be much more than just an office-filler, biding time and making speeches. I haven’t much enthusiasm for him as a presidential candidate.
3) Jeb Bush. His money can still buy several Mother of all Negative Ad Campaigns that could be enough to put the smear on Jesus Christ himself if he were running. But I think this guy is done. No one wants any more Bushes just like no one wants any more Clintons. He seems a nice man who probably should have been a high school principal and gone no further. He’s a doddering “nice guy” who seems to have a multicultural romantic Spanish fixation. He ought to run for president of Mexico, not of America.
4) Ted Cruz will likely remain strong on technical points and weak on the kind of rhetorical points it will take to move his campaign forward. Everyone concedes he’s smart, very conservative, and willing to take on the Establishment. But is he too constrained by the need for a gentlemanly “tone” to actually connect with your average American? He’s not quite as intellectually dull as Paul Ryan, who could also (as Jeb Bush did) put even his own supporters to sleep. But he’s in that ballpark. He needs to lead, follow, or get out of the way. I’d prefer that he lead. Strongly. But it’s likely he’s more of a Senator by disposition.
5) Scott Walker. In every race there’s always a “What happened to him?” candidate where you wonder why he didn’t take off or do better. The best I’ve been able to piece together is that his national campaign has been scripted by consultants, so whatever appeal Scott Walker might have had was wasted behind too-clever-by-half consultants prevaricating on the issues. He’s done. Toast. But look for him to say one smart thing and the Republican Establishment to hail his return. But there’ll be no return. He missed the boat.
6) Marco Rubio. The only mystery regarding tonight’s debate is if we’ll learn further details about how he walked twelve miles to school every day, fought bandits on the way, and then built a log-cabin school house when he got there using nothing but his bare hands. As I’ve said about Rubio, he’d be nowhere without the patina of being “the nice, American-made Cuban.” Well, you live by multiculturalism and you might well die by multiculturalism. And I think politically it’s been the latter for him. Besides the mere image of “the bright, young, Cuban,” there isn’t much more there. But he’s one of the main Establishment alternatives to Jeb Bush, so if he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot, look for National Review to declare his campaign “revived.”
7) Carly Fiorina. It will be interesting if Trump hits Carly with her weak business record at HP. I’ve heard that after she was ousted as CEO, their stock shot up. I suspect she was (in this day of PC) a sort of affirmative-action CEO meant to inoculate the company from un-PC charges and make them look hip and modern. Carly, at best, is a Democrat in outlook. She’s Hillary in her fixation on women’s issue as if men didn’t even exist. She’s likely peaked, but she, above all the other candidates (you live by multiculturalism, you can die by it…but in the short term, there are gains to be made) she has the opportunity to press her victimhood status (of being a woman and being on the receiving end of barbs from The Donald) into some nice sound-byte moments. You can expect that entires staffs of writers have been crafting sound-bytes for her for the past several weeks. The question is whether she can deliver them convincingly. It’s not as easy as some make it look. Still, of all the candidates, she is best in the position to make strong gains if, sadly, only because of the PC demagoguery she’s bound to recite.
8) Mike Huckabee. Huckabee seems very very solid in the niche he’s created for himself. But it’s a relatively limited niche. A presidency does not loom in his future. Still, his ease in public speaking means there’s always an opportunity for him should he decide to actually stand for something.
9) John Kasich is, to me, one of the most insincere politicians out there. But the thing is, he seems so transparently insincere that his insincerity comes across as almost sincere in this age when they’re all liars anyway. Much like Jeb Bush, he’s part of the girly-man wing of the GOP Establishment who have found great success in the meme of “Don’t scare the ladies.” But after his words about God wanting to expand Medicaid, it’s hard to take him seriously. You have to wonder how far Left Ohio has gone in order to elect him.
10) Rand Paul is irrelevant. Not going to win. And despite his supposed libertarian exterior, he’s an Establishment lackey. He’s as false as his father. That seems sort of silly to say since we are talking about politicians. But even for a politician he’s a bit much to take. Bobby Jindal should be on that stage in his place.
11) Fat Boy is in a very inconvenient spot right now. A couple years ago, when Ann Coulter was drooling all over him, he was the darling of those who were looking for a Crusader against the Establishment. Sadly, he’s PC on most things including global warming and Islam. He’d be better than Bush or Rubio, for sure. If there really is a Vast Right Wing conspiracy out there, it would behoove the Republican Establishment to drop Rubio and Bush and do all they can to re-brand Fat Boy as the Trump alternative: brash, sassy, and un-PC, and yet ultimately safely in the camp of do-nothingism. We’ll see. But Trump has stolen his thunder at the moment.
If anyone can find a hard link to the where the debate can actually be found streaming, please do so. The debate will take place here at the Reagan Presidential Library. I don’t know who the moderator(s) will be or the format.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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