Sunday, February 14, 2016

My take on the ninth GOP debate.

The Republican front runner. Michael Vadon

I watched the GOP debate last night and I thought about posting something about it right away. But that debate was so crazy I needed to digest it for awhile. It was a wild one and I am almost surprised that nobody threw a punch. There were so many fights and hard blows thrown all around that I almost wonder if the debate almost helps the Democrats. Indeed, I don't think any of the candidates held back, and even the more soft spoken candidates got into the action.

I do have to say that the crowd was completely nuts. And not in a good way. Though at times it seemed that they were in the pocket of the establishment candidates, other times it just seemed like they were cheering and booing at random. It got so bad during the fight between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz that I could barely hear what the candidates were saying or even who they were booing. If there is a huge loser from this debate, let it be the crowd. Even though the candidates were a little wild themselves tonight, the crowd was an embarrassment, and their reaction was more suited to a WWE event then a political debate.

It was a mixed night for the moderators. I think the questions themselves were fair and tough, just like debate questions should be. And there weren't the embarrassing snafus that happened in the last debate during the beginning of the debate. But the moderator team did not have control of the candidates at all. Everyone talked over their time, yelled at each other and talked over each other. The moderators should have done more to calm things down, but they seemed like they wanted to stir things up. Oh well, better drama sells more advertising.

As for the candidates themselves, I will do the same thing I do for everyone of these debates. I'll go through each candidate and explain how they did. I think it was a mixed night for everyone and I don't think there is a clear winner at all. I do have to say that my cable glitched out a couple of times when Jeb Bush and Donald Trump were talking. I don't think it really impacted how I reacted to their performances, but I figured I could mention, just in case I did miss something critical

Donald Trump:
Rough night for Trump. I don't think his performance was bad, just controversial. He got into it with Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and most of those fights were drag out knife fights with no quarter given or revived. Though I think that Trump won each of these engagements, I don't know if they will play especially well in the primary.

Trump hit Jeb Bush hard, even by Trump standards. Once again he went after his family, this time his brother, former president George Bush. Trump bashed George Bush, not only for his performance during the Iraq War, but for allowing 9/11 to happen in the first place. His argument was that Bush didn't do enough to prevent 9/11 and that he lied about WMD's in Iraq. I'm not sure how well this plays for Trump, as many in the Republican party still like George Bush, and hate the argument that Bush lied about the Iraq War. It's one that they have heard before and it usually comes from Democrats (and Libertarians).

It almost seemed that Trump was playing to a general election crowd, forgetting that he hasn't yet won the nomination. I think his bashing of Bush will play well among independent voters along with blue collar Democrats that aren't too happy with the choice between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Trump also defended Planned Parenthood, which will also play well for the same groups, but will be anything but popular for Republicans. And he also said that Social Security should be protected which is pretty far from the reservation when it comes to the GOP.

Ted Cruz, sensing the opportunity, attacked Trump for being a secret Democrat. If it had been anyone else making the claim, I think it could have gained a bit of traction but Cruz did it in such a stupid way. First, he isn't the one that should be attacking Donald Trump, because Trump just ripped into him (more on that later). Second, he did in in a rather tasteless way. He claimed that Trump would install an anti-second amendment Justice to replace Antonin Scalia. The man's body isn't even cold, so to make a point this way is rather disgusting. And to choose the 2nd amendment, which Trump is very obviously in favor in, instead of abortion, where his credentials aren't nearly as strong, is baffling. If you are going to go with the low blow, do the right one!

I do have to mention that I agree with most of what Trump said. I don't think I would have gone as far on Iraq as he did, but I do think the war was a mistake. And though I don't think Bush was a disaster as a president, I do think there is a lot of room for criticism for him. I also really liked that Donald Trump was the only one that had anything nice to say about Russia. I'm fairly disgusted by both parties stance on the Russia issue, so to hear someone that says we should work with them is a breath of fresh air, and a major reason I am seriously considering voting for Trump, should I get the opportunity to do so. I'm neutral when it comes to Planned Parenthood and I do hope to get back the money I have put into Social Security, much like many others who have paid into the system for years.

I don't think this night hurts Trump too much, but he has had better debates. It's not going to help either. His supporters aren't going to abandon him over tonight, but I don't think he will gain any voters in the Republican Party either. His comments will play well for independents and dissatisfied Democrats, but not so much with his parties base. Still, all he needed to do to win South Carolina is survive the onslaught and I think he did. And he might have helped himself long term, if he makes it to the general election.

Finally, I don't think for a second that he will give up his profanity. It's half of his charm, even if some people don't like it. He should have just doubled down. I would have loved it if he had dropped an f-bomb right then and there.

Ted Cruz:
Terrible night for Cruz. He got hit by almost everyone. The only persons that I don't think attacked him were John "never attacks anyone" Kaisch and Jeb Bush, and Bush only ignored him because he was busy attacking Trump. Even Ben Carson called Cruz out and Trump and Rubio really hit him hard.

Trump was probably his harshest critic calling him a liar for his actions in Iowa. Once again, it pays to remember that Ted Cruz told his supporters that that Ben Carson had dropped out of the race. Trump also accused him of more shenanigans in South Carolina, saying that robo-calls in that state claimed that Trump wasn't even on the ballet. My google-fu has failed me, so I don't know if that is true or not, but it doesn't matter. Cruz already has the reputation of a lair and tonight didn't help things.

Marco Rubio also hit Cruz hard as well. Unfortunately, I couldn't even tell what they were fighting about at first because the stupid crowd drowned them out. I do know that Rubio called him a liar as well, mentioning Iowa, Planned Parenthood and and marriage. Strangely enough, Cruz tried to speak Spanish to Rubio, but I have no idea what he said. I don't think that moment will play all that well for Cruz. One thing that Republicans, especially anti-immigration ones that may like Cruz, don't want to hear during a debate is one of the candidates speaking Spanish. And from what I have heard it wasn't even fluent Spanish. I think this hurts Cruz and hurts him badly.

I do have to say that Ted Cruz was wrong about something I know quite a lot about. He claimed that arming the Kurds was the best way to defeat ISIS. As the moderator (or perhaps one of the other candidates pointed out, I can't remember) arming the Kurds won't do much because they won't expand beyond their lands. It's not a bad idea by any means, any plan that pisses of the Turks is good in my book, but it won't be the panacea that wins the war against ISIS. I do think we should do it anyways, since they are putting some pressure on ISIS, but Cruz was wrong to act like it would solve the war.

Marco Rubio:
A better night for Rubio. Not that is a hard thing mind you, his last debate was an utter disaster. Rubio needed to prove that he hadn't completely lost his debating abilities and I think he did that. He was still robotic and he seemed like he was reading from a script at times, but at least he wasn't repeating himself like a jackass. He was probably very happy that Chris Christie wasn't there to trip him up.

I'm not sure there is much other good news for Rubio though. I do think that his defense of George Bush, which was much better then Jeb Bush's defense, will probably help him among voters that still like George Bush, however few of those may be left. He also did it in a way that made it clear that he was talking about Donald Trump, but also didn't provoke a response from him. In short, he got all of the credit that Jeb Bush got for defending his family, but without the damage done by having Trump eviscerate him.

I think Rubio got the better of Cruz as well. He correctly called out Cruz for his dishonesty and I think that will serve him well. But it is important to remember what they were fighting about in the first place. Rubio was hitting Cruz on immigration which is not something Rubio should ever be talking about. Rubio is in favor of amnesty, which is a four letter word for Republicans. Though his plan isn't all that different then anyone in the room that isn't named Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, going at length to defend amnesty is not going to help him.

I personally did not like his performance though I can see how others did. He had a huge shot against Jimmy Carter that just completely fell flat for me. To me, Carter isn't the failed president that was replaced by Reagan. He's just a humanitarian, who occasionally does good on the world stage. I wasn't even alive Carter was president, and I think younger voters are going to think that the attack was out of nowhere. I also hated the fact that he kept going on and on about tax breaks for families. As a single guy I could care less about families. I am already subsidizing them enough, thank you very much.

Jeb Bush:
Rough night for Bush, as usual. I do think that he was a bit more engaged then he usually was and he did his best to fight Donald Trump. I just don't think it was good enough. Like I said before, the most memorable thing Trump did last night was hit George Bush. The fact that Marco Rubio is largely seen as having the better defense of George Bush then his own flesh and blood brother does not bode well for Jeb!

And Jeb did the same old ineffective attacks against Trump that everyone has heard before. Trump's mean, he's sexist, his businesses went bankrupt. We have all heard these attacks before and they haven't worked. Ted Cruz did a much better job attacking Trump, with fresh allegations about being a secret liberal, but Bush didn't have anything close to that kind of attack. And if Bush had made that attack it might have stuck, but because Cruz did it, it won't.

Jeb also said quite a few things that I disagreed with. For one he claimed that he wouldn't have a litmus test for Supreme Court justices. That just seems insane to me. I don't know if he misspoke or what, but I can't imagine that moment will play well among the GOP. After all, we got burned and burned hard by John Roberts, who ended up being the one that decided Obamacare. Everyone needs to be vetted and vetted hard.

Even John Kasich seemed to get the better of Jeb Bush. Bush inexplicably attacked Kasich over medicare expansion in Ohio, which is an issue I don't care about at all. I do think that Kasich won on performance in that battle due to the fact that he seemed awful reluctant to attack anyone. When you force John Kasich to attack someone and your name isn't Donald Trump, you know your campaign is in trouble.

Ben Carson:
Yet another poor debate for Carson. At least he seemed somewhat awake this time, but I really don't think that Carson is cut out for debating. He tried to get into the fights with Ted Cruz but he just wasn't able to do much with the time he got. I do like that he spent what little time he had not attacking the other candidates in his party but attacking people like Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders.

It's to the point where I can't even think of anything else to say about Ben Carson that hasn't already been said. He got wrecked yet again, and the only thing I really remember about his night is that he really wants you to visit That's not a good sign.

John Kasich:
Another fair performance for John Kasich. To his credit, Kasich did not get into the mud with the rest of the candidates and I think he looks better for it. Instead of attacking people, other then his small skirmish with Bush, he focused on his issues. To the people that dislike all the chaos and fighting, Kasich will score points.

Still, I don't know who Kasich is trying to appeal too. Though Donald Trump was attacked for being a "fake conservative" it is amazing to me that Kasich wasn't attacked as well. He gave a rather impassioned defense of amnesty and it was amazing to me that nobody attacked him for it. I do think that if it had been anyone other then Jeb Bush attacking him on Medicare, it might have made some waves as well, but since it was Jeb! doing it...

I have to say that I personally hated it when Kasich suggested that we arm the government of Ukraine. The last thing we need to do is escalate the conflict there, which has settled into a nice stalemate. Given the fact that some of the pro-government militias are far right, the suggestion might lead to us arming literal Nazis. That's something I'd like to avoid if possible...

Rough night all around and not a good night for the GOP. I don't think anyone won tonight but I do think that Bush, Carson and Cruz had worse nights then everyone else. I also wonder if Trump did any damage to his campaign. Paradoxically, I expect his national polls to go up due to this debate, but he may have hurt his campaign somewhat among Republicans. As for Rubio and Kaisich, they did just well enough that I think their campaigns will survive for a bit longer.

And finally, I have to repeat that the crowd in this debate was just terrible. I'm starting to think that if they had bused in a bunch of drunk degenerates from every dive bar in the state, the crowd would have had more class. I could get over them being a bunch of donor class people booing Donald Trump, but they were booing everyone, and then cheering them, sometimes at the same time. They were completely inconsistent and rather annoying and I hope the next debates have a less stupid crowd. I'm not holding my breath though...

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