The Republican Debate

Since I didn't have any grading this time, and since Republicans are harder to listen to than Democrats (and remember, I used to spend hours at a time listening to Creationists), I couldn't bring myself to watch the entirety of the recent Republican debate. I kept flipping back and forth between it and game two of the World Series (which, as a Mets fan, was also hard to watch.) But I saw enough of it to form a few impressions.

The first is that the CNBC folks absolutely disgraced themselves. They all need to go home and resign. I actually briefly cheered Ted Cruz, for heaven's sake, when he called them out on the utter stupidity of their questions. The problem wasn't just the questions themselves, which were mostly foolish and petty. It was that, having decided to go that route, the moderators were then entirely unprepared when the candidates pushed back.

Television political pundits tend to be entirely out of their depth when discussing anything other than horse race questions. Their favorite activity is making stuff up about what “the American people” are thinking. Mostly they don't know anything about anything, which is why they are reticent about having serious discussions about anything. If you want to see pundits who know what they're talking about, you have to turn to the sports channels.

Of course, Cruz then went way overboard when he suggested that the questions at the Democratic debate were softballs. That's just nonsense. Anderson Cooper spent most of the evening positively snarling at Hillary Clinton. It's just that Clinton handled everything so smoothly and effortlessly that it was easy to think she was being served up softballs.

Anyway, that brings us to the second point. It is now perfectly acceptable in Republican politics to tell bald-faced lies. Bald-faced. Kevin Drum rounds up just a few examples. Of course, most people have consciences that prevent them from being quite so mendacious as the current crop of Republican candidates. But the candidates figure that far more people will see the big, confident lie than will ever see the fact check, so they might as well just go for it.

The final point is that Jeb Bush needs to get out of the race. If this were an MMA fight, the official would have stepped in to stop it by now. Basically, Jeb thought that he was the inevitable nominee--I mean, Republican primary voters wouldn't really vote for one of the clown car candidates, would they?--and that he would only have to deal with a relatively civilized campaign against Hillary Clinton. It's hard to feel too sorry for him, though. The Bush family gave us Willie Horton, the pledge of allegiance, and the swift boaters after all.

End of rant. I feel better now. If we must have a Republican president (and I still think Clinton is likely to win in the end), then I really hope it's Trump.

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Why do you hope it's Trump? I know some other left-leaning folk who say that, but I'm curious to hear the thought process.

By Greg Friedman (not verified) on 30 Oct 2015 #permalink

As a left-leaning business owner, I am not totally opposed to Trump. He will be more pro-economy than any democrat and most republicans. Despite his insanity, he not really that ignorant. He knows he's playing to the base so he's hamming it up. His history shows that he is a moderate conservative at heart, and has some progressive values too. But he knows he has to cater to the conservative base so he's playing a clown. (Ben Carson, on the other hand, seems like a sincere buffoon.)

His anti-illegal immigrant position is a bit off-putting but he does not seem to be deliberately racist or anti-immigrant in general, and I am speaking as a legal immigrant from Asia.

Despite progressive propaganda, he is not anti-women. The problem is he is trying to show himself to be politically incorrect (again, to curry favor with the right), and tries to play up his alpha male position. Again, his history shows that he is not a chauvinist, at least not any more so than other people of his generation.

All in all, despite the public farce of his campaign, his presidency (if he wins) will not be a total disaster. For instance, he will not be as bad as GWB. (Admittedly, it is a pretty low bar.)

I would prefer a democrat president, but if it is destined to be a GOP victory, I am not closing the door on Trump.

Agree with almost all this, except those last 6 words! (if we have to have a Repub., I hope it's Kasich). But even while agreeing I'd say that sometimes one of those "petty" questions that candidates aren't expecting actually reveal something about the responder you wouldn't get otherwise, and vice-versa the substantive questions, because of time constraints, often yield simplistic, predictable platitudes/generalizations that aren't helpful; so, the occasional trivial question sure; a nightful of them, no.
Anyway, hard to believe we're still a full year away from the Pres. election... kinda nuts!

My thinking is similar to Dan's (above). While I am pretty liberal with regards to politics in general, Trump has stated, in the past, that he likes the concept of a single-payer healthcare system, he doesn't think Planned Parenthood should be defunded or closed down, and he recognizes the need for having strong Medicare and Social Security. These are all liberal policy stances. I'll vote for Trump in our caucus but I'm going to vote for the Dem nominee in the general election. I admit that I get a slight feeling of delight out of seeing the GOP establishment going crazy over Trump's level of success. GW was, without a doubt the worst president in my lifetime. He makes Richard Milhous Nixon look good.

The online betting sites are going with Rubio, with current odds of him being the nominee at about 6/4, or 40%. And it looks like some pundits (for example David Brooks at the NY Times) are also swinging around to Rubio.

My wife volunteers with the Deocratic Party, and I have doen a little volunteer work with them too. Around here (VIrginia suburbs of DC), I know of no democrat who is excited about Clinton; there seems to be what I can only describe as an unease about her. Not outright hostility or rejection, but defintely not wholesale support. I get the impression that they wish there were someone else they could support.

So it looks like this election may be shaping up like the last Virginia Governor's race: the Democrats nominate someone no-one really wants (McAuliffe), and the republicans nominating someone so bad (Cuccinelli) that the democrat will win anyway.

I'd take several of them over Trump, primarily because while they'll all reduce financial and industry regulation and lower taxes on the rich/increase the deficit, the rest will likely appoint a set of sharp (albeit conservative) advisers and then actually listen to them on foreign policy. The only adviser Trump is likely to listen to is his ego. Given his past support for the Dems, I don't think he's anywhere near as socially conservative as the others and he won't spend political capital trying to push a socially conservative agenda the way some of the others would. But the risk of some truly monumental dumb-headed international policy decision are just too big for me to prefer him. On international relations, I truly think he'd be worse than Bush II.

There's still plenty of time for Romney to swoop in and save the GOP from itself. I don't think he will, and in the long run I think it would be bad if he didn't. The best case scenario would be a kind of Goldwater redux: a wingnut like Carson or Cruz getting totally stomped in the general might finally break some of the fever and get the GOP to rebuild itself along saner lines, marginalizing some of the crazies. I'm not holding my breath, though; that party needs a generation's worth of repair and shepherding to bring it back into the real world. I fear that it won't happen until Christianity is reduced to a plurality among the constituents.

By Another Matt (not verified) on 31 Oct 2015 #permalink

Not sure what #2 means by Trump being more pro-economy than any Democrat...the economy has generally done better under Democrats; most recently with Clinton eclipsing Reagan, and Obama doing better than Bush.

By Greg Esres (not verified) on 31 Oct 2015 #permalink

I'm a Democrat, and I'm obviously staunchly anti-economy.

By Another Matt (not verified) on 01 Nov 2015 #permalink

Intermission between the 11/10 GOP debates. The first one was largely substance free, with a lot of rhetoric about drastically reducing or eliminating (!) income taxes but not much else (IMO). I think the two biggest whoppers of the first debate were:
1. Chris Christie on China...ho-ly crap...did I just hear you say you would engage in cyberwarfare with China? Do you realize you just declared a cold war and broke treaties with one of our biggest trade partners?

2. Bobby Jindal repeating over and over again that we can't send a 'big government republican' to the White House. Dude, you're a Governor. Of a State. You know, the largest political unit we have below the Federal Government. Your State is bigger than most countries. You're one of the three biggest Government Republicans on the stage!!!

Now let's see what will happen in the main event. Let's get ready stumblllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllleeeee!

Well the second debate was somewhat boring in terms of policy positions. There was a heated exchange between Rand Paul and several others about fiscal and foreign policy conservativism vs. growing the military, but other than that there was only one real whopper that stuck with me. The topic was tax plans, and at one point I believe it was Rubio who got challenged by the moderators who said that estimates were that his tax plan would cost close to a billion dollars to implement. Rubio (or whomever was speaking)'s response was: that's cheaper than the plans of all the other candidates on the stage.
Another ho-ly crap moment. The GOP caniddates are basically admitting that none of their tax reform plans will be even revenue-neutral, they will cost the country money. And yet nobody commented on the fact that this means higher deficits and is pretty much the exact opposite of fiscal conservativism.