After sleeping on last night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate event, I offer a few notes and queries in the spirit of candid inquiry.
Jeb Bush’s decision to go after Marco Rubio was stupid in so many ways that I wonder what he was thinking. This is what I was thinking: your campaign is so over. And I doubt I was alone. For the record, let it be noted that Bush took up the fantasy football question before Chris Christie killed it.
I thought Rubio and Cruz emerged among the insiders as the most formidable adversaries of Trump and Carson. Between Rubio and Cruz I would go with Rubio as the rightwardmost viable candidate, I think.
Rubio had the line of the night. The media — they are the Democrats’ SuperPAC. It overlooks Hillary’s SuperPACS, but it’s a point that can’t be made often enough. As the CNBC moderators proved to a fare-thee-well last night.
Christie was terrific. I like his persona more than Cruz’s. He too deserves to move up among the insiders.
Of the outsiders I like Fiorina best, I think. By contrast with Carson, her persona is a bit grim and intense. I wish Carly could superimpose Carson’s disposition on her knowledge of the issues.
I respond to Donald Trump’s promise to restore American greatness. I respond to Trump’s promise to secure the border. I respond to his assertion that without borders you don’t have a country. And yet I fear that he is more likely to embarrass the positions he advocates than to advance them. The other top tier candidates have something to learn from him (as Bill Kristol has been pointing out for a while now).
I love and admire Ben Carson, but he is over his head as a presidential candidate.
It’s over for Rand Paul. My advice is for him to focus on reelection to the Senate and keep up his outreach to voters outside the Republican base.
John Kasich is bidding to become the media’s favorite candidate. If the media types voted in the Republican primary, they would probably go with Kasich. He seems to be following the trail blazed by John Huntsman in 2012. CNBC John Harwood’s invitation to Katich to repeat his recent critique of the Republican field said it all.
Speaking of John Harwood, who was the worst of the panel moderators? For sheer smug superiority overlaid on obnoxious left-wing mania, Harwood took the cake. But the competition was stiff and Rebecca Quick deserves serious consideration for the idiotic “77 cents” shtick. Ramesh Ponnuru takes that up in his Bloomberg View column this morning here.
Let us memorialize Harwood’s question posed to Mike Huckabee: “As a preacher as well as a politician you know that presidents need the moral authority to bring the entire country together. The leading Republican candidate, when you look at the average of national polls is Donald Trump. When you look at him do you see someone with the moral authority to guide the country?” When I look at John Harwood, I see a man who makes me want to vomit.
I recommend Jay Nordlinger on Twitter here. I appreciate his judgment, his wit, his attention to detail. He notices a lot of things that go by me. He is an observant guy. Jay had a string of excellent comments last night. Picking one at random:
Trump's hair ought to be in the Smithsonian, along with Archie's chair.
— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) October 29, 2015
Jay raised a literary point that (also) made me laugh. “‘Becky Quick’ — Shakespearean name. Shades of Twain, too.” Someone observed that it was Dickensian as well. That could be, but now I’m thinking of the lady as Mistress Quick. Shakespearean.
Among the losers we have noted last night, I would add Reince Priebus. He proclaimed himself disappointed in CNBC. I am disappointed in Priebus for entering into arrangements such as the one that delivered our candidates to the tender mercies of John Harwood. And I’m pretty sure the future debate events will give me occasion to repeat myself (as I am doing now).