I’m not sure if there is a good way to handle a field of 17 candidates, as far as holding debates and candidate forums. It’s not like most of these candidates are fringe candidates with no shot to win. All of them have at least a puncher’s chance to win a primary or two. There’s just no way to have a debate with 17 people. Once you get past five or six it get too busy.
The bigger problem is having media people run these things. They want good TV and that means a bad forum for transmitting information.It also means using the “talent” used for the news programs and many of those people are as dumb as a plank. Stupid people asking liars their views on public policy is not a recipe for success, but it is how we do things in the Banana Republic.
The Kiddie Table
I felt sorry for this bunch. For some reason they held their debate in an empty auditorium so it underscored the fact that no one likes these candidates. It had a Model United Nations vibe to it, like they were high school kids learning about elections through a mock debate.The two airheads asking questions were what you would expect from announcers at the New Year’s Day parades.
Rick Perry: They asked Perry about Trump right away and he got angry and stayed angry the rest of the show. There was one point where I was sure he was going to fly into a rage. It was not until his closing remarks that he cracked a smile. Perry’s problem has always been that he cannot explain how anything he did as governor had anything to do with the Texas economy. He also has a little of the Bush mush-mouth to him and that brings up bad memories.
Rick Santorum: I don’t want to like this guy, but he is the best informed on the topics and he holds sensible opinions on most of them. He’s the one guy who truly understands that ours is a culture fight, not a math problem. On the immigration question you could tell he has thought about it. It was a good answer too. The trouble is he is detested by the press and the Republican establishment so he has no chance the get any traction.
Bobby Jindal: I got the sense that he was looking at Pataki and Gilmore and wondering if that’s not his future. Jindal has been a competent governor by the standards of Louisiana, but you have to have more than that to run for president. He’s a guy who would look great with a PowerPoint presentation explaining how accounting saved money on envelopes last quarter. His basic argument is he will run the Leviathan better than anyone else. He’s the Nehru version of Mitt Romney.
Carly Fiorina: I get why media think she is good. She’s what Washington thinks normal people sound like. Normal people think she sounds like the woman from HR. Her argument is that she will run the custodial state better than the others thus making Americans trust the rulers again. Like any technocrat, she thinks making the columns lineup on her spreadsheet is the solution to everything. She’s Mitt Romney in drag, but the media plans to drag her into the top tier because that’s the narrative.
Lindsey Graham: I take a back seat to no man in my loathing of Caitlin Graham, or the “Bro with no ho” as they say in the hood. But, I felt bad for him. He was nervous and his voice was cracking like a teenager. His answers bordered on the bizarre they were so rambling. The look on his face is what you expect from someone reading a note on a hostage tape. You have to wonder why he is doing this. He has no reason to run, nothing to say and he sucks at it.
George Pataki: Men who have spent their lives in politics, particularly in east coast states, get very good at these things. They have stood in front of empty rooms and packed houses. They have stood in front of old folks and high school kids, giving the banal speeches local pols give every day. Pataki is a very good speaker, but he would be better off in the Democrat party. His answer on abortion was what moderate Democrats used to say in the 80’s.
Jim Gilmore: People forget that Gilmore was a solid governor. It was a different time and a long time ago, but there’s something to say for being a good governor. That’s the trouble. It was a long time ago. He’s another guy who is a good candidate, doing all the little things you want from a politician, except he has no reason to be running. Come to think of it, he had no reason to run for governor.
Kiddie Table Post Game
The show after the show had the usual collection of chattering skulls from Fox. George Will made me laugh because he has been in the bubble for so long he’s not even sure what time it is. There was a time when Will was a big deal because he was the only non-liberal on TV chat shows. Today he looks like a guy who went to sleep in 1977 and just came out of the coma. It’s kind of tough to watch.
I predicted that they would all try to pump air in Fiorina’s tires and I was right. All of the skulls took turns slurping on Carly, insisting she stole the show. One of them was puzzled as to why voters have no idea why Fiorina is running. It’s one of those times where the media reveals something about themselves they try hard to conceal. In this case, they live in the media hive and see the rest of the country as an alien land. We’re talking monkeys to them.
The Adult Table
The pregame had A-list Fox stars and a packed house, which gave it the feel of a beauty pageant. I think if I were an atheist, I’d point to this as proof there is no God. If there was a God, he would rain down fire and brimstone on any country that picks its leaders this way. I have low standards for this stuff and I was embarrassed to be watching it. Maybe having a hereditary monarch is not such a bad idea after all.
Donald Trump: The problem business people have when running for office is they are not very good at being polite to losers. Trump is not used to humoring losers and so he gets ticked off dealing with the press. That’s fine on the stump, but in a debate he just ends up looking surly and unpleasant. Chris Wallace was there to submarine Trump and he did a good job at it. Trump did not help himself very much either. He did not kill his chances, but he is going to have be better at these things if he wants to be a serious candidate.
¡Yeb! Bush: I tend to think ¡Yeb! will be the nominee simply because he has the money, connections and the support of Conservative Inc. National Review has all their folks going off to ¡Yeb! camp through the summer so they can properly pimp him next year. The trouble is he is a dull as dirt. I can’t believe anyone walked away from this thinking he was their guy. I suspect his backers are getting very nervous right now.
Scott Walker: On paper, he should be the front runner. He’s a solid conservative. He’s getting better on immigration. he took the full blast of the Cult of Modern Liberalism and stood his ground. I doubt anyone remembers a thing he said in this debate. My sense watching him is he is playing for when Trump goes away so he can take down Bush one on one. He’s going to be the reasonable guy to the right of Bush.
Mike Huckabee: There’s a sizable Evangelical vote in the primary and Huckabee knows how to reach that vote. Like Rand Paul, he is a boutique candidate who can live off the land, hoping for something miraculous to happen. Nothing like that happened in this debate, but he did not say anything weird.
Ben Carson: I kept thinking Carson was invited because he promised to bring weed. I’m sure he is a nice man, but his answers were incoherent and he stumbled through his answers like a beauty pageant contestant. I’ve heard him a few times and he always sounds confused when answering off-the-cuff. I suspect he vaporized himself tonight as there are other options for people looking for a values candidate.
Ted Cruz: He’s the one guy who says exactly what he wants to say on every subject. He’s a trained lawyer and he is the smartest guy in the race. That shines through clearly when he is given time to speak. He comes off a bit too hot for these things and probably for most voters. he’s not a man blessed with charisma. I think he did enough to stick around for a while, but he really needs Trump to go so he can be the man of the right.
Marco Rubio: He pretty much disappeared. I never got the point of his candidacy. The reason the party is pushing him as Bush-lite is he is Hispanic, which they think is magical. The rest of us just think he is too young, too dumb and too inexperienced to be taken seriously. Like Carson, I think he goes flat quickly now that his voters have other choices that say the same things.
Rand Paul: Rand Paul is right about a lot of things. His highlight was when he disemboweled Tubby over the Fourth Amendment. There’s really nothing better than seeing someone knock a bully on his ass. After that he disappeared. I don’t know if it matters as he is a boutique candidate anyway. But, he probably did enough to stick around and that’s all that matters for him.
Chris Christie: The highlight of the night was Rand Paul slapping fatty around over search warrants. I can’t figure out why Christie is running. he should be going for the good government pitch, a prol version of ¡Yeb! Instead he is bellowing like a lunatic about things no normal person would get exorcised over. It’s like he thinks screaming is his thing and he has to do in order to be authentic.
John Kasich: What a jerk. That’s what I think every time I hear him speak. He could be a saint, but his TV vibe is fingernails on a chalkboard. He’s another guy who plays too hot for TV. He’s always shouting and pointing. No one wants someone in their living room who is shouting and pointing. I always wonder why no one asks him about being a big shot at Lehman right up until they collapsed.
The media will declare Fiorina the big winner from the junior circuit. That was obvious before this started. They like the idea of the long-shot female candidate trying to break up the pale penis people club. It’s a great example of the hive mentality of the press corp.
The big loser is Trump. He looked like a jerk and he did not seem to know much about the issues. Immigration patriots will be disappointed, but they were fools if they thought he was going to win this thing. Trump is a vehicle to shaking up the race and in that regard he was the big winner. My guess is he starts to fade, unless he gets better quickly.
The other big loser was Bush. He was just another dull white guy on stage. If you were a Bush man going into this, you saw several options that were better and similar to Bush on policy. Even Fox, which is Bush country, had nothing to say about Bush after the show. I may be biased, but Bush was a big nothing.