On Thursday night in Cleveland, the Fox News moderators did what only Fox News moderators could have done, because the representatives of any other network would have been accused of pro-Democratic partisanship.
They took each of the 10 Republicans onstage to task. They held each of them to account. They made each address the most prominent blemishes on his record, the most profound apprehensions that voters feel about him, the greatest vulnerability that he has.
I didn't watch. Instead, I am doing what I usually do, which is to read the coverage the next day, trying to pick out what's important. That's usually a good way to avoid millions of meaningless platitudes, but in this case, I'm not sure it was a good idea. It looks like this debate may well have been worth watching--and not just as a piece of reality TV theater.
How It Played | Three Cheers for Donald Trump (NY Times)
The clear winner in this room of mostly empty beer mugs and moldering finger food was Donald J. Trump, whose closing statement earned a protracted, if sarcastic, ovation. Chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” filled the beer hall, teeming with voters eager to see him run next year.
“Is it a shock that in 2015, a reality TV show host would be the best presidential candidate?” asked Andrew Sloat, the president of the New Kings Democrats.
“In a room full of progressives,” he added, “you better believe we’re rooting for the crazy guy.”
|Trump is good at getting a reaction, but it's hard to believe how well he's playing|
with some parts of the Republican electorate.
What I don't understand--really--is how all the coverage says that the Donald lost, but post-debate polls seem to be loving him. At a certain point, the sideshow is just the show.
Analysis shows that Trump got the most speaking time last night, and besides Bush, he's the only true household name. Maybe he's just the anti-Bush for people who really don't follow politics. It's definitely true that folks are exhausted by the rank-and-file's endless bullshit political-speak. Say what you want about Trump, but he calls it like he sees it. Trump may be an asshole, but it's also true that Political Correctness is a real thing that drives real people absolutely batty.
The Bush gaffe-train threatens to undermine the central conceit of his candidacy: electability, a traditionally Bush-ian effort to present a – take your pick – kinder, gentler and more compassionately conservative GOP, the kind that can induce swing voters to return the Grand Old Party to the White House. Jeb Bush runs vowing to eschew tea party anger, but in the age of Obama the extent to which Republican partisans are ready to give up indignation in exchange for victory remains an open question. Bush is, as National Review's Rich Lowry argued last December, a pre-Obama conservative with an entire "epoch" in GOP politics having passed since he last ran for office. As a result, while his substantive credentials are largely solid he is (self-consciously) mismatched to the tone of the present day GOP.
Either that, or people remember his brother and don't want more of the same.
Kasich, on Gay Marriage (via Slate):
Did anybody actually watch this thing? Got anything to add?