A couple of loose thoughts on the GOP Debate.
Last night’s GOP Debate had some definite trainwreck moments in almost every imaginable way from more sides than I expected. (To be fair, I watched Star Wars Rebels introduce two new villains who were still less threatening than some GOP candidates.) I don’t even need to comment on policy issues I found bad (an unpredictable Trump with a gun? Uhhhhhh… The further stigmatizing of the mentally ill in defense of guns? uhhh…)
One of the hardest points to watch came early, when almost every candidate avoided the (horrible) question about the GOP candidates’ greatest weaknesses. First of all, there are a lot of legitimate questions we all have for them: how do their tax plans work? How do you possibly imagine shutting down the IRS? You were kidding about building a literal wall, right? But the candidates decided to not honor this question and just…pontificate. Or Cruz let us know he’s the world’s best DD or that Bush just hates when people tear America down (before he attacked her Senators and officials but hey). At least Trump was honest here and said he’s too trusting and not forgiving. I was definitely shocked there!
I would be remiss to go too far without noting Cruz’s diatribe against the liberal media that someone wrote for him at home that he was on the edge of his seat waiting to break it out. A legitimate question was asked, finally, and he side-stepped it to complain about illegitimate questions (my favorite was whether or not Donald Trump is a super villain). “How about talk about the substantive issues people care about?” “Okay how about the one we just asked” “No, no, let’s go back to the bad ones.” There were bad questions, but I think when you’re handed a good one you need to capitalize on it and answer it.
Now, this won’t excuse the really bad job that the moderators did. People across the spectrum were complaining about how poorly it was handled. Candidates interrupted each other for time, moderators and candidates were interrupted, candidates were not asked to speak to each other so they were forced to, it was all bad. Let’s not forget Becky Quick’s amazing stumble over a source for Trump’s comments that…gosh I hate to say this…Trump handled better than expected in asking for a source. Quick, if you were outsmarted by Trump, I hope this is a growing moment for you. CITE YOUR SOURCES. The crowd booing at the question about Dr. Carson’s comment showed that no one cared about this issue; compare this to the crowd that didn’t boo questions about Clinton’s e-mails. (To be fair: the crowd booed when Huckabee was asked to judge Trump’s ethics as a leader and I totally thought that was a great question, but maybe not for asking a specific candidate).
I do think we’re watching the Bush campaign enter its death bed. It’s strange that the most well-financed campaign from the start of the season is hurting for money already. The campaign itself is cutting down on employees and cutting back on funds and Bush himself is showing incredible signs of fatigue. He started strong with an attack on Rubio for his absence at Senate votes (a surefire way to a Republican’s heart), but the rest of the debate showed him kinda flounder his way through. It got to the point that the campaign manager attacked CNBC for Bush’s lack of air time.
Rubio made a good point (in a bad way) that the media supported Clinton throughout the Benghazi trial. With 11 hours of trial material, I did find it out that we have only seen minutes worth of the process. (Not that I particularly know what’s going on nor do I think it will affect her campaign anyway…) But I don’t want to blame that on a liberal bias more than I want to blame biases on either side preventing a fair discussion.
Moving forward, it would be great to cut people with less than 5%, not 3%. I think the bar being so low gives the impression that the GOP has many capable front runners, which it really doesn’t. Raise the bar to 5% and make everybody happy with the amount of time they get when it’s not wasted on less likely or viable candidates. Get new moderators who want to let the candidates speak and speak to each other. Get moderators who don’t interrupt the candidates. Lord. And most importantly, the GOP candidates need to learn how to use their time better. If they’re afraid that it’s going to be taken, take advantage of what you know you have, be more succinct and upfront/blunt, and move on. No pontificating.
I think Slate was able to rewrite a lot of these questions in a much more direct and hard-writing way that would have satisfied most candidates here.
That being said, I still think the best question for the Democratic debates would be asking whether or not Hilary Clinton is a human every single time a question is asked.