A Comment on Last Night’s Debate

I didn’t watch last night’s GOP debate, which, based on the accounts I have read, including Scott’s, was a good decision. Many morning-after accounts have focused on the fact that Fox included a liberal Hispanic reporter as one of the moderators, and, in addition, the nominally Republican moderators asked many challenging if not outright hostile questions.

See, for example, Ed Morrissey, who quotes some of the questions. I will reproduce only a few. This one came from Stuart Varney:

Senator Scott, you recently reacted by praising Ronald Reagan for firing air traffic controllers in the 1980s, saying, you strike, you’re fired. Would you fire thousands of striking auto workers today, Senator?

What an idiotic question! The air traffic controllers were federal employees who had pledged not to strike, the auto workers are not. The president has no ability to fire them, and his opinion as to whether they should be fired (assuming that would be legal under federal labor laws) is irrelevant.

More from Varney:

VARNEY: Together the CEOs of General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis make 336 times the number of rank and — the member — number of rank and file workers. That’s just part of a wider income inequality trend in the country. The richest 1 percent now controls one-fifth of all income. Vice President Pence, last week you said you side with American workers, but you also support how these companies operate. Which is it?

Another astonishingly stupid–and liberal–question.

From Ms. Calderon, who at least wasn’t participating under false pretenses:

CALDERON: Vice President Pence, in 2017, the Trump-Pence administration canceled DACA, which put the legal status of 600,000 Dreamers in the hands of the court. Dreamers work and they pay taxes. As president, if the Supreme Court ends DACA, would you work with Congress to reach a permanent solution for Dreamers?

This is my point: we won’t have Democratic debates this year, regardless of how things spin out with Joe Biden. But they had debates in the 2020 cycle. Can we even imagine the Democrats naming an actual conservative (not, say, a David Brooks) as a debate moderator? I can’t. And would liberal moderators ask the candidates challenging questions, sometimes of a beating one’s wife variety, from a conservative perspective? No. Questions would be along the lines of, why are you the best person to crush those evil Republicans?

Some say that Republican candidates need to be asked “tough” questions in partisan debates because they will get them from reporters if they become the nominee. For obvious reasons, no one says that about Democratic candidates. But the whole asymmetry that surrounds debates reflects Republicans’ internalization of the idea that liberals and Democrats are “mainstream,” while conservatives and Republicans are outsiders.

I see no reason to accept that view of the political landscape. Democrats can allege that they represent the mainstream, the norm, the center. But why on Earth should Republicans cede them that territory? In truth, the Democratic Party is extreme and in many respects wacky. Its representatives should have no role in the GOP’s candidate selection process, and Republicans should not vet their candidates on the assumption that Democrats’ talking points have any claim to validity.

Sadly, it appears that those principles were not followed in last night’s debate.

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