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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 29, 2015

 
Debate recap. Bring on the smellin' salts!

by digby

My debate recap at Salon:
“He needed a moment to assuage donor fears and it backfired. As much as people may say the Bush name is a hindrance, the reality is that his last name is the only thing keeping him in the conversation right now.” — A South Carolina Republican operative
Ouch. That pretty much sums up all the reviews of Jeb Bush’s performance in last night’s CNBC debate. What was billed as a make-or-break night for him didn’t turn out very well. He appeared listless and dull on stage and afterwards snapped at a reporter who asked him what he thought of his performance saying: “It’s not a performance. I’m running for president of the United States.” It was not the night he needed to stem the bleeding of his wounded campaign. He’ll almost certainly trudge on for a while, but it’s clear his heart is not in it anymore, if it ever was.
Donald Trump and Ben Carson both did what they had to do — they delivered for their followers. Trump bragged a bit and called the moderators nasty; Carson smiled and gibbered incoherently and the status quo was maintained. As much as the media wanted them to melt down on stage, it didn’t happen. In fact, both of them are actually improving as candidates and debaters, which is rather chilling.
John Kasich and Chris Christie both tried to be the “voices of reason” and ended up sounding like dads who are always mad. Christie’s pitch all night was as the dude who was eager for an opportunity to smack the uppity Hillary Clinton: “You put me on the stage with her next September and she won’t get within 10 miles of the White House.” Kasich tried to attack the crazies and just sounded like one himself. Carly Fiorina, meanwhile, lectured pedantically in her trademark staccato style, while Rand Paul blathered about the Fed and Mike Huckabee reiterated his ingenious plan to cure all diseases so we won’t need health care anymore. Other than that, they didn’t really register.
I wrote yesterday about the potential for a Marco Rubio vs Ted Cruz cage match and I think that was shown to good effect. As Washington Post reporter Robert Costa observed, “Cruz continues to run in his own lane on the party’s right.” Trump fan Laura Ingraham tweeted, “None of the other candidates attack the GOP elites like @tedcruz. He’s right–they meet behind closed doors on how to attack Republicans.” There is no higher praise among the righties. Cruz remains the best positioned to seize the outsider mantle should the real outsiders fade. Rubio, on the other hand, went after Bush hard and attacked Clinton with a metaphorical meat ax; he was the only one to bring up the Benghazi hearings and it got huge cheers from the audience. He was better than he’s ever been — confident, articulate and aggressive.
The rivalry between these two youthful conservative powerhouses has begun. I still suspect this may be where we end up. Both of these guys are pretty good politicians. In a year when the circus wasn’t in town, they would be the frontrunners.
But for all that, the big loser last night wasn’t any of the candidates. According to the shrieking malcontents in the GOP, led by Ted Cruz, it was that notorious “liberal media” outfit CNBC. That’s right, the big-moneyed Wall Street fan club that features the likes of Rick “Tea Party” Santelli and Lawrence Kudlow is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the socialist Democratic party. Who knew?

The Republican party issued a collective howl of hurt and anger over the unfairness of the debate moderators.  Why, they all had to have a group hug and good old fashioned cry. 

I'd hate to see how they'd hold up under 11 hours of questioning. 

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