Debate wrap up
I shirked my responsibilities last night. I was planning to watch the debates but had promised Lynette a night of sloth and debauchery. That's right. It was Trivia Night at the Legion Hall. Had Herself missed it, I'd have paid for it until next Thursday. So, I set the DVR to record the debates and we headed for Gautier.
The only trick was to watch the debates today and avoid any commentary from lesser pundits than myself who were sure to be crowding the airwaves today.
That chore done, I stand ready to share my impressions.
As usual, I can say any of the people I saw along with all the ones who have quit the race would be better Chief Executives than Obama or the sorry list the Dems have on offer.
As for the specifics:
I thought the under card was an excellent debate. While still not a fan, I think Huck handled himself very well. Especially effective was his take on taxation as we know it, whereby the government gets wrong the idea of rewarding what you want and punishing what you don't.
He is still promoting the myth that anyone who plans to fix Social Security or Medicare will do so by cutting off those already on the system. He knows this is not true and his constant lying about it cheapens his candidacy and puts the lie the his whole God-ditty-god-god blabbering out on the stump.
Fiorina did really well. I consider her to be one of the very few serious candidates. She nailed her opening and closing statements, drawing stark comparisons between herself and the criminal she aspires to face in the general election. Her weak points in elect-ability remain her strong points as a person. Although she is the best prepared of all candidates on either stage, she comes across as clearly rehearsed and refuses to increase the volume or bring in new talking points. She has an endless stream of ammunition at the ready, but it all sounds like a long commercial. How deadly she would be if she would invite controversy.
On this she could take a page from the Trump playbook. Make statements that give the media the vapors, then laugh in their faces when they speak ill of her. That combined with day-to-day Carly would rocket her to the top of the heap.
Santorum had far less Howdy Dootie and moderated his working man hero routine to the point where he didn't sound like a socialist this time around. I actually enjoyed listening to him last night.
Overall, for the under card, I give very high marks. The three of them outdid almost all of the main event participants without breaking a sweat. I think Rand Paul made a huge tactical AND strategic error in not showing up. Instead of using the smaller venue to smash his way back into the headlines, he almost guaranteed himself a spot at the kiddie table next time, if he survives that long. I was disappointed by his absence. He did everyone and himself a disservice.
The main event didn't disappoint. There were some good fireworks but there was enough order to let the candidates to get their brand recognized. This was better for some than others.
Trump has his best debate night so far. That isn't exactly clearing a very high bar. His thoughts are still incomplete and meandering. But he did have a moment or two where he looked serious. Basically, he did well because he didn't step on his own dick.
His pursuit of Cruz's birth status is imbecilic and his pretensions that he only raises the issue because he cares about potential lawsuits is cringe worthy. It was his intention all along that the Dems pick up on the idea of lawsuits. His humor and his reaction to Nikki Haley were strong moments.
Ted Cruz had some great moments. He batted aside Trump and questions about his financial filings with flair. His tax plan is clearly the best of the bunch. I say that, not having read Carson's. I will let you know if that view changes. He's between a rock and a hard place on the New York culture thing, having taken huge loans from the very crony culture he criticizes. But I don't see this as a serious problem.
Rubio was as polished as ever. He had a laser focus on his message. Sadly, that message has some serious big government underpinnings. He was disingenuous with his calling Cruz's flat tax a VAT. It was one of those moments you'd wish the kid would be that serious and sharp about something that was being stated accurately. In every debate, he has done something like this to kill the joy of watching him perform. At these very moments he also comes across as petulant.
I think the top three (Trump, Rubio and Cruz) are safe in their present positions for now.
Lindsay Graham did an excellent job of sitting in the audience and nodding.
While he had some of the best one liners including, "You had your chance you blew it", Christie is starting to look like the biggest big-government guy on the stage (no pun intended - heh-heh, that's funny because he's fat). The bromance I had for this guy in 2012 - when he should have run - is gone. He is too enamored with data collection and spends too many hours telling us how afraid we are. He sees the whole country as cowering under our beds. But he did have a good night and I suspect that will be reflected in the poles in New Hampshire.
John Kasich. Definitely a big-government Republican. He comported himself well and if the Republicans decided to go with an establishment candidate, he would be a far superior choice to Jeb. He too may see a tiny bump in Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming days.
And speaking of polls, what the hell was he doing on that stage and not Fiorina or Paul? If the polls are to be believed, we are in deep doo doo with that outcome.
Ben Carson's performance is a bit more difficult to characterize. He is clearly trying to present himself as the new and improved Ben Carson. Did he succeed? Is he starting to look presidential? I believe his natural demeanor and his comments admonishing his fellow candidates played very well. But to what end?
He looked good last night. I just can't decide if it means anything.
Jeb... Still looks frightened and nervous. He is still shaking his head "no" while making positive assertions. He still looks flustered at just being asked a question. WTF? He was governor of Florida, and a good one. What the hell is his problem? Is he still shell shocked that he is not the presumptive nominee? I just hope he steps aside and endorses someone while it would make a difference and doesn't stay too long or try to hold out his endorsement thinking he is the hottest dropout in the field. Both would cause no end of empathetic embarrassment.
Iowa is just around the corner. Who do you think will be the next to drop from the race? Let us know in the comments section below.