I watched the Fox News Republican presidential primary election debate the other night and posted a just-before blog (rife with typos because I was in a hurry and hampered by technical problems), and then I meant to post some real-time reactions while it was in progress, but that didn’t happen, and now I just want to make some commentary before analyzing things further in a future post.
But, before that: I read a pretty good (interesting) piece from the Opinion section of the New York Times (pre-dabate) that spells out why Republicans should not go for Donald Trump, and I just watched a video on Politico with the same theme. I give you the link to the former:
And now my somewhat-stale-now real-time reaction to the debate when it was in progress, plus some added commentary:
So surprise, surprise, the Fox Business News moderators in the first few minutes of this debate seem to use, what would you call it? leading questions? Ones to induce and support Obama criticisms.
(FOX NEWS; WE REPORT, YOU DECIDE)
There was a dust-up, fully expected, I think promoted ahead of time like a phony wrestling match, between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Trump claims that legal experts assert Cruz is likely not eligible to be president because he was born in Canada. Cruz in turn said he is a lawyer who has tried constitutional cases and that he was not going to take legal advice from Trump — Trump had advised Cruz to get a ruling on the issue.
(Maybe Trump and Cruz are real adversaries and not a tag team, but in my opinion they, well especially Trump, belong on some phony “reality” show or wrestling spectacle and not what is supposed to be a serious contest for the leader of the world’s super power.)
Even though in general someone not born in the U.S. is not eligible to be president, the exact law on this is muddy I have read. John McCain, who ran for president, was born in the Panama Canal Zone, but was considered eligible. I won’t go further with all that now.
So the candidates are taking advantage of legitimate fear in the nation over terrorism and security and the perception, that seems to have some merit, that President Obama does not take our security fear seriously. I mean he did say in his State of the Union message that the threat of terrorists is overblown.
But Obama is a thinker and more nuanced. He rightly claims that the U.S. needs to figure out a way to fight terrorism without getting bogged down in foreign wars and without going through the folly of nation building.
I could also note, however, Mr. Obama has had going on eight years to figure this out, and to my observation has not.
One ironic thing I see is that the subject of Obama reducing the size of the military was brought up. Well, if I recall, part of this is due to something called the “sequester” that forced congress to cut funds for defense because it could not come up with a budget agreement. The sequester was a last-ditch effort to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, something Cruz seemed perfectly okay with in order to get his way in budget negotiations.
And have not the Republicans held a majority in both houses of congress for some time now? Why have they not used that majority to push through legislation to save the military and in fact expand it? (And I for one would be 100 percent for that).
And why do the Republicans refuse Obama’s request for war authorization in the Middle East?
They claim he has too many restrictions on an authorization he submitted. Well they could amend that.
Interestingly, Obama claims he does not need it anyway, just wants the congress to go on record in support.
I suppose he is conducting military operations on George W. Bush’s congressional authorization for the War on Terror — that seems open-ended.
But the populace on a whole wants military success without losing people.
Polling shows a majority of the public opposes foreign wars. GOP candidates know that, so they have a hard time calling for so-called boots on the ground, just ask Lindsey Graham. But at the same time nothing holds them back from criticizing Obama for not fighting harder.
In addition, making clear statements such as we must defeat the terrorists is a lot easier than saying we have to fight terrorism but balance that with not getting mired in foreign wars and nation building… yada, yada, yada.
Trump called Jeb Bush “weak” again. What else is new?
Trump talks loud (simple words/simple thoughts), throws out insults, bullies his way through, without necessarily saying things that actually would hold up to scrutiny, but a little bit of Adolf Hitler and a little bit of Joseph Goebbels, and he just might make it. A lot of the voters probably have no knowledge or memory of those two. Just before my time, but I know some 20th century history. How quickly we all forget.
The only sober and wise and intelligent and reasoned ones on the stage are Ohio Gov. Jon Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (and I have my doubts about Bush). Neither man seems to have a chance at this time. Dr. Ben Carson is out of his league. He sounds like a nice religious guy, and maybe a little out of touch with the real world. He needs to be either in the operating room or Sunday school or maybe, since he is retired, out on the golf course.
For that matter I would just as soon Trump was out on one of his courses and not on the campaign trail.
Marco Rubio seems way too young and just full of shallow and misleading talking points.
And I forgot to mention Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey — Big guy, tough talker, but maybe too liberal on some issues for the current GOP base (liberalism, even a little bit) is a no-no in the modern Republican Party.