I wouldn’t be a blogger worth half my keyboard if I didn’t weigh in on the (R’s) 2016 Inaugural Inquisition (Debate) last night.
I bid you good morning or (if you followed Matt Taibi or JohnGaltFla’s drinking game) good afternoon.
Last night the Republican Party and FOX News ran the first of 3 “debates” prior to the beginning of the Caucus and Primary Season for the 2016 Presidential Election. I’m fairly hard pressed to describe what happened last night as a true “debate”. At BEST (and with a fairly enhanced charitable eye) it was a Pre-Season Meet The Candidates Evening in Prime Time. If viewed that way it was a modest success, giving those of us who haven’t been digging in depth into the republican Party’s Cast of Thousands of hopefuls, a look at where these folks stand.
Except that this view requires an extremely charitable eye. This is the first time in my 5 decades of political awareness I have seen a ‘debate moderator’ so patently show their personal feelings as they ‘moderated’ and asked questions. One begins to pine for the likes of Larry Spivak (Meet the Press for decades) or Tim Russert who were consummate professionals who never let their own political leanings interfere with their duties to their viewers.
Donald Trump walked into what would have once been termed a ‘Trick Bag’ last night (I leave the reader to research the definition, to see how egregiously nasty this tactic is for what last night was SUPPOSED to be). I’m convinced he expected to be attacked somehow, and the opening question was apparently not a surprise to him from his quick response and his verbal responses as Chris Wallace followed it up, JUST to drive home the point in case any of the brain dead had missed the implications.
I congratulate him on his handling of that opening with no aggressively expressed rancor. (“…better man than I, Din”)
From that point on it was QUITE clear that there had been a great deal of Long Knife Whetting at FOX this past week. Only the national polls will show whether the tactic worked as well as the rest of the attempts that the people who are afraid of Trump have used. My gut feel is he may have cost himself at most a half point in national polling, or perhaps he cost himself up to -3 points (yes, double negative. He may have risen a few points DESPITE the attacks).
Again I congratulate him for the way he handled the attacks while on the podium. I can’t speak to how he handled himself in the Spin Zone as I didn’t see that. More about my view of the other 9 seated at the Big People’s Table in a bit.
It is fairly clear to me that Carly Fiorina needs to be allowed a seat with the adults at the Big People’s Table the next time this travelling circus drops anchor, this fall. Yes, she needs to demonstrate that she has the following to have earned that ‘seat’ but based on what came out of the first heat. or the undercard, however you want to put it, she needs to be considered a contender the equal of any of the bottom half of the 10 who sat at the big table last night. She is strong, strongly opinionated, and has more than a little experience at the top (sharp) end of the pyramid. Essentially, she and Trump are the only folks on that stage who have had to make a payroll in their past (so far as I understand). That whole executive, buck stops here thing is important.
Permit me a relevant digression:
There is something that WAY too few people seem to consider, even after our experience with the current resident of the Oval Office, who has no kind of top executive experience. Being a committee person, or an assistant Chief (exec officer) or an assistant VP etc is IMMENSELY different from holding the top spot, where the actual decisions get made. While my organizational experiences are in much smaller entities, I still had to make specific, final decisions, and had to take into account the effects of those decisions on member/employees of my entities, on the mission OF my entities, and on the mission of the parent organizations in which my entities resided. SOME of those decisions involved life and death actions. I find it distressing that we as a nation are considering candidates for the highest EXECUTIVE office in the land who have never had to make firm, difficult decisions and to OWN them or who have never had to make a payroll. I recently listened to the President of a University managing to exculpate himself for the decision to eliminate football for the University. The reporter asked him if it was HIS decision and he answered with a discussion of 3 different committees who he said were responsible. THIS man must have studied from the same Executive Action Handbook as our current POTUS As I said, I have had to make executive buck-stops-here decisions, and I have owned EVERY ONE of them. It becomes easier as you make life or death decisions for a while (as a Paramedic). You find that owning organizational decisions gets easier…
Mayors understand this. Governors understand this. County Executives understand this. Business executives understand this. It is beyond me how we can think that a President can do the job without some experience in making decisions that must be OWNED,
Thus endeth the digression.
Now to the rest of the nine at the Big People’s Table. Understand this is MY take. There are lots of takes out there but I know this one and it is MINE…
Dr. Ben Carson. Heckuva nice guy, but, I’m unsure he knew what he was getting into. Sure it’s REALLY easy to speak to people who agree with you, to adoring crowds, but that’s not QUITE what a POTUS DOES. He’d need a LOT more executive experience (even if it were the National neurosurgeons group) before he should be out playing in the kind of traffic (and by the “rules”) in a POTUS campaign.
Dr. Rand Paul. Gentleman needs to stop dealing with people like a number of doctors I have fired as my personal physician over the years. Rando, you are NOT God, even if you ARE a board certified physician. Regardless of the volume of his followers he REALLY needs to be at the other table next stop.
Chris Christie. Enjoyed the fight he was willing to bring to the event. Unfortunately I’m unsure that he gained enough from this different national exposure to qualify for the Big Table next stop. He has a LOT of baggage, a LOT of folks dislike him (but they are VERY hung up on the whole Ideological Purity of Conservatism thing). It’s a long way to the Convention, so I’d want to watch him a while longer.
Huckabee. GREAT closing thoughts and neat dig at Trump, but I am not convinced he can win a nomination. I’d enjoy seeing him pull 5-10% of the delegates just to help make things interesting at the convention (more on an interesting convention down the page).
Jeb Bush. One of the 3 or so who actually behaved in a Presidential manner and looked presidential. Unfortunately he looked like his Dad and brother. It’s just not happening for Jeb this year. Wrong party, wrong dynasty, etc, etc, etc.
Cruz. First time I’ve seen him in something other than a commercial or someone else’s quote sound bites. Interesting guy, liked his point about electing people who don’t do what they say when they get to DC. But there is something I can’t get my arms around that bothers me. Will have to look at him more closely.
Rubio. If I were picking “most likely to succeed [at SOME TIME]” this would be my guy, except, not this year. Got 3 words for him “John Fitzgerald Kennedy”. Marco needs to go look at JFK’s narrow “loss” to Estes Kefauver in the 56 convention (back when BOTH posts were contested in conventions). I remain convinced that JFK carefully lost the VP nomination in 56. There was no way Ike was NOT going to serve two terms. JFK went back to the Senate, picked up a LOT of tokens and cashed them in during a hard primary campaign in 1960. If Marco is NOT Kasich, Trump or Walker’s VP nominee, he will do WELL the next time he decides to go for the Brass Ring.
Walker. I came into this thing liking what Trump was saying but liking Walker a lot more for a POTUS candidate. I still like him for a candidate, but he needs some more exposure for other people to see what he stands for. Last night was a decent introduction, he had his moments, and I believe last night helped him. Think he should be assured of his seat at the Big Table next time.
Kasich. Yep, favorite son here. Home court advantage, home crowd, yada yada yada. I expected him to do well, given my experience of him in his last 2 terms as Governor. He most certainly did NOT hurt himself by coming to the game with substantive answers, delivered as an adult, while looking like he could handle the POTUS responsibilities. My opinion is that with either rubio or Walker as a running mate the Democrats will have a LOT of trouble WHOEVER they unearth to replace Hillary who I suspect won’t be a candidate for much longer, given her current VERY sticky baggage.
In terms of the upcoming Convention. I expect that this may well be the first, working, contested Convention since the middle of the 20th Century. A LOT of the 40-50 yr old kids are of the opinion, and quite comfortable with Conventions being Coronations. I have the feeling that this Republican Field consists of enough fighters that when these guys come back to Cleveland next summer, there will NOT be a clear winner, and we will get to watch the first “smoke filled room” convention since the 50’s. In today’s ‘Selected not Elected’ ‘Transparency’ process oriented society this should be a LOT of fun to watch, particularly if Summer 16 turns into a “The Whole World Is Watching” summer. While Cleveland won’t have much of a patch on Dick Daley, we HAVE pioneered a plan for this sort of thing. Yep, the Social Justice Warriors are pissed about 48 hours of detention but it SURE cools down the hot heads.
At any rate, the next 12 months (+/-) are gonna be FUN!!
As always, the above are MY opinions and no one else’s, Your Mileage may vary, this WAS done on a Closed Course and y’all oughtn’t try this at home without seat belts and eye pro.