Friday, February 26, 2016

Last Night's Horrible Republican Debate

"Hi I'm the new face of your party!"

Now that the Republican field is down to five candidates, I was hoping these debates would be more about substance and less about sound bytes. Instead, we got probably the worst presidential debate I think I've ever seen, filled with personal attacks, endless back-and-fourths, and the drudging up of old stuff nobody cares about.

Yeah, the last debate in South Carolina was filled with the same back-and-fourths, but at least it was about policy and the something meaningful; the Iraq War. The Houston debate, however, represents a new low in sleeze and juvinility in the Republican Party.

Trump was the big target, unsurprisingly. Does anybody really care about Trump hiring Polish workers from a contractor 35 years ago? What was Rubio trying to prove with that? Those workers were contract construction workers hired to demolish an old building in Manhattan, they weren't hired directly by Trump. It's unclear exactly how much Trump settled for on that. They sued for a million, but we don't know how much it settled for. Under oath, Trump said he didn't know the Polish workers were illegal and blamed the contractors. Is this shit really worth five minutes of precious airtime at a presidential debate?

Trump University, does anyone really care about that either? "Trump University" was really a series of self-help ballroom workshops that were common in the early 90s. Misunderstandings about it being a real university are understandable, but again, is this kind of crap really worth anyone's time? I would hope nobody cares about this.

Rubio also said that "if it weren't for Trump's $200 million inheritance, he'd be selling watches in Manhattan."

Well, that's just sad and vicious and comes across, to me at least, as totally phony. Granted, I'm a Trump supporter, but I'm being as objective as I can here. Who says that kind of thing during a presidential debate? I know Trump says some ridiculous stuff too, but it's Rubio himself who said "the time for games is over," "it's time to get serious," etc. Apparently not.

"The Rubio shriek brigade" - Ann Coulter

Does the RNC not understand that these choreographed applause lines and stacked audiences don't fool anyone anymore? The fourth wall has already been broken on that.

I found myself agreeing with Chris Matthews of all people when he said the back-and-fourths were "embarrassing in any presidential election." The endless crosstalk is getting ridiculous, and at this point everyone is guilty of it, including Trump. The difference is that when a New Yorker does it, it feels perfectly natural. When Marco did it, he looked like an annoying little shit.

Unsurprisingly, Ted Cruz's attacks on Trump were a little more substantive, but equally petty and misleading. Yes, Trump donated to various Democrats, as he did Republicans, when he was a businessman. Been over this so many times in previous debates. Is it possible to just move on and talk about other things?

"Trump may appoint liberal judges." OK, based on what? And don't say his record of donations to Democrats. Those were lobbying efforts to "get along with everyone." Trump has been a registered Republican since the 80's. Me, personally, I just don't buy it because there's no real evidence of it.

Ted Cruz's attacks on Trump for not being electable are kind of like throwing stones out of a glass house. First, Trump's general election poll numbers are improving quickly, and he will bring other states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania into play. Second, Ted Cruz's general election numbers aren't much better than Trump's! If that's the new criteria, we'd better just nominate the RINOs Marco or John Kasich. I thought the purpose of the Ted Cruz campaign was to STOP doing that.

Ugh, and finally, the taxes. They should have just moved to another topic after Trump said he would release them after being audited. That's a fair promise. I'm repeating myself now, but dwelling on this is just a waste of precious time that could be spent on policy arguments. That would be a welcome change of pace. 

As for "who won," I don't think anybody won. It was the worst presidential debate I've ever seen. Who's to blame for it? All three of them are to blame, but Rubio more than anyone. "Miami Sleaze" should be his nickname. Trump needs to learn how properly deal with attacks as a front runner does; simply move in the same direction of the attack, remain cordial (hard to do, but hey), factually rebut when needed and direct attacks to the Democratic frontrunner. Ted Cruz just sucked. Get some better talking points. 

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