Friday, August 07, 2015

The Opening Salvo - Last Night's Debates

What can we take away from the FOX news GOP debates last night?

The first and most important thing is that it gives the lie to President Obama's current approval numbers, which I've always questioned. Over 24 million people watched the debate last night, an audience that shattered all previous records for a non-sports event.

These people are hungry for change,literally starved for it. They may not say so to a pollster, out of fear of the regime targeting them, which they've seen happen all too much. Or of being labeled 'rscist'. But they're not deaf dumb and blind to how the country is being destroyed.They were watching to see who among these men could be relied on to save it.

And there's also immense anger at the betrayal of the Republican establishment, whom did nothing they promised during the 2014 campaign. That is what explains Donald Trump's high poll numbers, and last night's huge audience.

I disagree with much of the criticism being tossed at the FOX moderators last night. First, handling that many people is extraordinarily difficult anyway, but I thought FOX managed it fairly well. And I liked the way they kept things moving. I also disagree that the questions were overly barbed or biased, although there were a couple I think the event could have done without.

This is the big leagues, and the Republican candidates had better get used to this sort of scrutiny, the kind Democrats never face. If you think last night was bad, wait until you see how Candy Crowley and CNN treat the GOP lineup. And don't ask me why the GOP agreed to Candy Crowley as a moderator after what she pulled in 2012. You wouldn't like my answer.

The candidates? In the lower tier, Carly Fiorina did very well, and may have launched herself into top tier. She went after Hillary Clinton with both fists and was extraordinarily on point. Unfortunately, I researched Ms. Fiorina thoroughly when she ran for senate in California, I'm very aware of her record. I'll be sharing that with you in a separate piece.

In the top 10 tier?

Donald Trump was initially the focus of attention, but that shifted very quickly. The overall impression on anyone with an open mind is that with a few exceptions, this is a highly qualified group of people.

I thought Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee did extremely well. For many people it's the first time they've seen either man in action, and both were articulate and intelligent. I would also say that for those people thrilled by Trump's anti-establishment rhetoric, both of these men came across as choices with actual records of long standing opposing the status quo and that GOP establishment. And both candidates are going to have an appeal to people of faith...of all colors and backgrounds.

Donald Trump trotted out the expected applause lines, but was hit hard on his donations to the Clinton Foundation, his past support for abortion on demand and his sudden conversion to being a Republican after being a life long Democrat. His answers to these questions struck me as pat and rehearsed. The real kicker, of course was when he was asked if he would commit to not running as a third party candidate and he refused.

His performance last night will reinforces suspicion in many quarters that he may very well be running as a faux candidate to split conservative votes and deliver the election to Hillary Clinton, with whom he's on very good terms. It is not out of the realm of possibility in the least. Especially when we're talking about the Clintons.

Personally speaking, I've already been here before with Ross Perot, who delivered the White House to Bill Clinton in 1992. Yes, dear readers, I fell for Perot's song and dance and voted for him, and it's the one vote I ever cast I wish I could take back.At least Perot had the honesty to run as an honest third party candidate from the jump. Donald Trump apparently lacks that honesty, and as far as I'm concerned that's the end of the story for me unless he changes his mind. For those of you enamored of Trump's anti-GOP establishment rhetoric, there are other candidates running more worthy of support if you're being intellectually honest.

Rand Paul and Scott Walker had some really excellent moments, and Walker in particular was able to show off his outstanding record as Wisconsin's governor. He's also noticeably more comfortable at the podium, and in discussing foreign policy. Rand Paul thrilled the entire crowd when, in response to a question on same sex marriage he responded "I don't want the government registering my guns or my marriage." He also deserves credit for pinning down Donald Trump on his refusal to commit to not running as a third party candidate.

Ben Carson was a pleasant surprise, showing off a sense of humor that went over very well, and a knowledge of security and foreign policy matters that showed he's been studying up.

Marco Rubio did well also, although his performance was fairly rehearsed. If you like Marco Rubio, you were pleased with his showing. If you don't, and especially if you still don't trust him on illegal migration, it didn't change your mind.

Jeb Bush had a coupe of stumbles, but again did OK if you like Jeb Bush. After all, he was a very good governor for Florida and accomplished quite a bit. The illegal migration issue will either lose him or get him the nomination. His attempt to differentiate 'legal status' from citizenship struck me andpropbably a lot of other people as desperation.

Christy-Creme is finished. I can't imagine why anyone takes him seriously.He's been a lousy governor of New Jersey with a poor fiscal record, and is simply the last quivering corpse of the endangered East Coast RINO species. And I can't imagine why John Kasich was first tier. He had his moments, but it's hard to imagine him as president.

What was most interesting to me was the high quality in general of the candidates. With th possible exception of Cristy-Creme and perhaps Mr. Trump, these are serious and qualified people...some more than others in my view, to be sure.

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