The 2016 Debates: what the heck were they watching?


By Trevor Law

So as I am sure you have all heard that last Thursday the Republicans debated. Before we go any further you should all know that I am not a big fan of conservationism, and I wouldn’t be happy with anything they said, but I am not grading them on what I think of their policies, but on what Republicans think of their policies. Second I will be talking about the GOP establishments reaction to the debates, who frankly seemed to be watching a different debate. So now that this is out of the way, lets get down to it.

First off, they called out the candidates a little two early and so the moderators had to talk about the candidates, while they were standing ten feet away. It was frankly a Michael Scott level of awkwardness and I was cringing so much from it that I yelled out “what are you doing!”

micheal scott

After that, though, it got into full swing. I was very, very impressed with the moderators, and in particular Megan Kelly was what a good moderator should be, tough, unforgiving, and unwilling to let a candidate off the hook. I found she asked the questions the people in the GOP would want to know, and that is something she should be lauded for, not attacked for doing her job because you didn’t like the questions.

Yes I'm talking about Trump
Yes I’m talking about Trump

My reactions to the candidates questions ranged from “whoa that was a perfect answer” to “How did you get to this point in life?” because there are so many, I’ll just talk about the main debate, and not the kids table debate. I will just go from who I thought did best, to worst in this debate.Lets-get-down-to-business

Marco Rubio, I thought he did very well, he really didn’t have any weak moments, his mastery of the facts was spot on, his subtle jabs at both Bush, and Trump were near perfect. In short it made me realize why he has rocketed to the top of Florida politics, and why he has been such a force on the campaign.

Chris Christe, I was very impressed by Chris Christe as well, but where Rubio seemed to be patient, Christe seemed like a … well … exactly like what you would expect a politician from New Jersey to act: pissed off, and you are not really sure why. He made very strong points about social security, and went toe-to-toe with Rand Paul in a fight over the national security state. In short, he seemed like a moderate, with a good head on his shoulders, who was very angry at the world.

Donald Trump, I have tried for so long to not talk about Donald Trump, but he isn’t going away and now I have to give him space. *sigh* Frankly I thought he did very very well, he was wrong on basic facts, but the crowd loved him. A lot of people have been saying he lost but I don’t see how. He might not have gained any supporters but I doubt he lost many either. He showed himself to be Donald Trump. He thinks he is awesome, never done wrong, and is the master of everything. That is what millions of people in the GOP want and he gave it to them. He is also a great showman and in spite of myself I did enjoy watching him.

Jeb Bush, I thought he had an ok night. He was a fairly strong debtor and sold himself well, but it felt like he was a man out of time. It felt like I was watching old clips of a GOP debate from 2000. He just seemed so out of place on stage, even as he put in a perfectly fine debate performance.

John Kasich, I thought he was ok as well, but he seemed…unsteady the whole night, like he was trying to get his bearings. He got a big reaction from the crowd but that could have had more to do with home court advantage. I got the same feeling from him I did Bush, a man out of time, who his party has changed and he hasn’t really. Although he had a very strong a moment when talking about mental health in prisons. It was the only fact of the night I hadn’t heard and it almost made me want to vote for him – almost.

Scott Walker, If I had to describe his performance in one word, it would be forgettable. He really didn’t have that many strong, or weak moments, and he seemed to suck all the charisma out of the room when he talked. That being said he did have the best line of the evening. He made a crack about how Russia and China knew more about Hillary’s email than the American people. It got a huge laugh, and I am sure Hillary didn’t find it funny at all.

Mike Huckbee, Another very forgettable performance. I had to be reminded he was there at all. He never really stood out for good or bad reasons. Even when he went back and forth with Christie over social security I had to look up the remarks just to make sure it happened.

Rand Paul, What can I say about Rand Paul? He wasn’t bad, but more outclassed. He was the most aggressive person on stage and it made him very interesting to watch, but his blows never seemed to land, or worse, miss the mark entirely. It was like watching a lightweight fighter in a heavyweight bout. In short, I found him to be capable, but unable to really stand up to anyone on stage.

Ted Cruz, Man…I really didn’t like this guy. In terms of style he was very strong, but what he choose to harp on was freaking nuts! In the most nonsensical and insane moment of any debate I have ever seen, he wanted Obama to be more like Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the President of Egypt. Frankly he was calling for Obama to launch a dictatorship in the country with rigged elections and generally destroy democracy in the name of fighting terrorism. I am more shocked he wasn’t ran off the stage right then and there. (Editor’s note: This also shows how little Ted Cruz must know about foreign politics)

Ben Carson, His first question was about his qualifications to be President, and he fumbled it by saying if he didn’t know something he would ask. From that point on it was really hard to take him seriously. He didn’t seem like he belonged on stage at all, and while he might have had strong moments, never once could I imagine him taking on any Democrat, and not embarrassing himself.

Overall the debate showed Trump for what he is, a self aggrandizing bag of hot air, but that the GOP seems to like that, and that no one has any idea on how to take him down, and with the exceptions of Rand Paul, everyone is too afraid to try. Although Carly Fiorina did as well, so if she is in the next big debate we could see her possibly land some blows on him.

I need a drink

However  a lot of GOP establishment types seemed to be watching a different debate. Everyone seemed to think the field was really strong and did really well except Donald Trump. Now they may not have liked his answers but Trump was Trump, and he showed that no one seems to be able to take him down. Even though he was asked tough questions and the moderators tried to take him to task he brushed them off like they were beneath him.

My final thoughts on this, the debate really didn’t settle anything. The field will likely stay big and chaotic until after Iowa, or just before it when people are forced to face reality. I am sure Trump will go down, but that debate showed, that none of the candidates, or the conservative press, know how to do that just yet.

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