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The GOP debate: R-rated?

March 4, 2016

Welcome to the dirty world of national politics.

As has been the custom in the past, a group of interested people met to watch the debate. This was the largest group yet at 31, perhaps reflecting the realization that voting day is fast approaching.

As usual, there were entrance and exit polling boxes.  More on that later.

If gentility is your yardstick for political debates, you were definitely in the wrong room last night.

For the three people in the room that didn’t understand what all the fuss was about uh, Trump’s glove size, they are now educated.  They say that no day is wasted if you learn something new, so on that level maybe that’s a plus.

Most people aren’t usually interested in politics, so they tend to judge the process from afar.

They do understand that elections have consequences, and if this group was nothing else, it was united in its disapproval of the consequences of the last two contests.

To the extent that they got a pretty unvarnished view of the remaining GOP rivals, the debate was a success.

Trump’s detractors have been saying for months that he just isn’t competent enough to do more than talk a good game. That opinion was clearly bolstered last night.

His lack of ability to articulate specifics and his made-up math is no longer excused by his political ignorance.  He’s had eight months to get his facts straight, and it was obvious that neither he nor his team have bothered with factual accuracy.

Marco Rubio apparently doesn’t have the political astuteness to know when enough slime is enough. One time has shock value.  Attacking your rivals on policy is one thing. Keeping your entire argument on a personal level is quite another.

Ted Cruz has great credentialing when it comes to never, ever compromising his core principles. He fails miserably when it comes to knowing when to use a strategic retreat to win the war.

John Kasich was the most qualified person on the stage last night that probably won’t be the 45th president. If anyone up there has a legitimate bitch about the media stifling his campaign, it’s Kasich.  Still, he’s been in the game for a long time, and should know the work-around for that problem.

If the goal of this debate was to throw the eventual outcome into a brokered convention, Fox certainly aided and abetted the likes of Mitt Romney and the so-called establishment.

Fox, like every other network news organization out there this election season, set the stage for a brawl from the first question.

The Fox moderators already knew what the answer would be when Chris Wallace started the bout with a question designed to get Trump’s back up at the beginning. After all, the network had just finished carrying about 30 minutes of his reaction to Mitt Romney’s two cents worth during Trump’s stopover in Maine five hours earlier.

That probably ticked off this little microcosm of the voting public more than anything else. All 31 people in that room know that the moderators at any news outlet strategize their debate format.

They felt, to a person, that if Fox or any other media group wanted to lift the tenor of the debate out of the gutter they could have at least opened the thing with a serious question.

One man put his feelings about it like this:  “This is about the future of our country, not their !%!@#*! ratings. How about taking that seriously?”

That’s maybe a little harsh.  If nothing else, this free-for-all brawl format does expose the soft underbelly of the candidates. The person that can keep their cool amidst the chaos does deserve another look.

Which brings us to the entrance and exit polls. Both polls ask, “If the primary election was right now, how would you vote.?”

Entrance:  Trump 9, Cruz 10, Rubio 7, Kasich 2;   wouldn’t vote for any of them – 3

Exit:  Trump 5, Cruz 9, Rubio 7, Kasich 10 ;  wouldn’t vote for any of them – 0.

Like all polls this one was just a snapshot in time, but the effect of this debate performance is interesting.

Eight states and one territory have GOP contests between Saturday and next Tuesday, with 328 Republican delegates up for grabs.

We’ll  see soon enough if the debate hangover is still evident then.

From → op-ed

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