Friday, August 7, 2015

What We Learned From the First Republican Debate

The questions to me were not nice.
Donald Trump

Poor baby. Listen, Don, when you're leading the charge up the hill, you will be the first one to get shot at. It is a tradition as old as time itself.

So, what did we learn during the republican debate last night?

First, Fox News thought so little of the seven participants in the night's undercard they didn't even admit the public into the hall to hear them speak. It wasn't so much a sponsored debate as it was a direct insult---one which was specifically designed to shatter egos and dry up future donations to their campaigns.

In fact, the only way Roger Ailes could make it any clearer he wants Carly Fiorina and the other six hopeless losers immediately out of the picture is to leave the severed heads of horses in their beds Monday morning.

That being said, judging who came out on top in the main event, which really can't be called a debate, but rather a reality TV episode, is a subjective art. Everyone has an opinion about who won, just as everyone has an opinion about which vegetables are best breaded and fried.

The Huffington Post didn't completely dive into that oily pool. It divided up the candidates into three groups. First were the brawlers, who consisted of Donald Trump, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul. Then came the grownups--Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Finally there were the irrelevants, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, and Ben Carson.

The Hill rated, Trump, Kasich, Rubio, and Christie as winners. In what could be called the so-so duo there was. Huckabee and Cruz. It counted Bush, Paul, Walker, and Carson as losers.

And on and on it goes. From this perspective it is clear, Marco Rubio and John Kasich did their campaigns the most good. Kasich had the advantage of a home town crowd and deftly played to it. Rubio, whose first answer was rattled off so fast the initial thought was he had eaten a black molly just before showing up, settled down and seemed on point the rest of the night.

Chris Christie probably improved his standing, as weak as it might be. He was in control of his facts, as dubious as they were, shrugged off the inevitable insult about hugging Obama after Hurricane Sandy, then absolutely gutted Rand Paul when it came to national security.

The two biggest losers of the night appeared to be Senator Paul and Jeb Bush. Paul, already had his nose bloodied after trying to give the Trumpster a poke or two, then he was finished off post haste by Christie. Bush looked about as comfortable as an 8th grader forced to stand and recite Marc Antony's eulogy to Caesar in front of his home room class. Given his performance, the only saving grace the former Florida governor has, at least momentarily, is the control of a Super Pac with more money than everyone else in the campaign, except his nemesis, Uncle Don.

Dr. Ben Carson's night certainly could have gone better. You know you're having a tough time when your most memorable line of the evening was, "I wasn't sure I was going to get to speak again."

Ted Cruz seemed equally lost in the crowd and he knew it. With about 15 minutes left to go he was so desperate to make an impression he pleaded with the Fox panel of moderators to respond to a question asked of someone else. The answer he got was something along the lines of, We'll  return to you Senator, but now we have to go to a commercial break.

The best that could be said of Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee is they didn't entirely fuck up. That's hardly a ringing endorsement, but at this stage just surviving could be considered an accomplishment. Overall, Huckabee probably didn't suffer any damage. Walker might have though. Entering the evening he was in the top tier poll wise, but his performance clearly didn't justify his current popularity.

Then we come to Brother Trump, who was, well, The Donald. He was center front, looming imperially over the stage, booming loud, and egotistical to a fault. Think Stephen Colbert, only without the sophistication, eagle, and pistachios. His infamous coarse responses to attacks against him morphed into snide one liners spoken with the air of a man dealing with utter dolts.

On the downside it became quickly obvious he had no clue how to conduct himself in last night's format. At times he seemed to believe he was making a canned stump speech to a crowd of tea party slugs. However, despite these short comings, like Walker and Huckabee, he didn't completely screw the pooch and, more importantly, he was just agile enough that no one managed to deliver the knock out punch he so richly deserves.

Of course, no matter what his success, El Donald can't stop being the vengeful, petty, bullyboy that's his true nature. Early this morning his twitter account began to spew a caustic series of posts condemning Fox News moderators, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and, in particular, Megyn Kelly.

It would seem Mr. Trump, as most vicious demagogues do, seeks to excuse his brutishness by making himself the martyr. In short, to question any awful thing he ever did, or said, is a personal affront which must be answered with overwhelming savagery.

In that regard he has a lot in common with radical Islamists.


Ladies and gentlemen, the bar is open. Please remember to tip well.

sic vita est


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