No, I’m not going to embed my dozens of Tweets, or the 60 or 70 interactions they attracted on Twitter. (Twitter isn’t deep, but it’s way livelier than blogging.)
But I’ll show you this one, which makes a good point I’d like to elaborate on:
Rubio keeps coming across as the one guy who both a) has some smarts, and b) knows how to land punches in this kind of format….
— Brad Warthen (@BradWarthen) December 16, 2015
Now, I don’t know what that means in terms of the horse race. It should move him a bit toward front, but the GOP electorate has been so extremely irrational this year that things that should give a guy a bump don’t deliver, while things that should finish him for good send him soaring.
Elsewhere, I lamented — on Jeb Bush’s account — the sad disconnect between what it takes to govern and the talents needed to shine in debates. There’s some overlap, but they’re not the same things. Jeb did better this time, but not better enough.
I felt bad for Christie, too, as another candidate who deserves a serious look who just can’t get the crowd to turn away from the sideshows and check him out.
That said, Christie and Kasich made themselves look pretty bad with their plans for dealing with Russia. I thought Kasich had gone off the reservation wanting to punch them in the nose, but then Christie wanted to shoot their planes down. Christie even managed to set up Rand Paul to sound more rational on foreign affairs, which is a hard thing to do.
So that kind of left Rubio and Bush as… well, here’s another Tweet:
Trying to keep score here: I’m thinking Rubio and Bush are the only two who haven’t said anything extraordinarily foolish tonight…
— Brad Warthen (@BradWarthen) December 16, 2015
Maybe that’s too harsh. Carly Fiorina didn’t really say anything extraordinarily foolish, although her assertion that people have said “no” to her all her life rang a bit empty coming from someone who was CEO of HP. But wait — come to think of it, they did say “no” to her later, and I know how that feels, so… In any case, she didn’t say much that impressed. Nobody really impressed, except the razzle-dazzle kid Rubio, who was playing the part of Lindsey Graham in the big-table debate, standing up for national defense.
Well, no, someone else impressed: Cruz did. We’re all starting to focus more on Cruz. Trump has been so distracting that few people have focused on the fact that Cruz is the real, dyed-in-the-wool, right-wing ideological extremist in the bunch — with a dollop or two of let’s-disarm-ourselves, Rand Paul-style libertarianism, which doesn’t endear me either.
Which makes Rubio look even better.
Speaking of Lindsey Graham: Philip Bump of The Fix made a strong argument for why Graham, who has dominated most of the undercard debates, should be allowed into the big ones, regardless of his poll numbers. In short, no one else could possibly be such an effective foil for Trump — and that’s something most of us would like to see:
Including Trump. Graham and Trump differ on issues, but Graham also seems to have a sense for Trump’s Achilles heel. The tycoon’s only demonstrated weakness against his opponents is when he’s the butt of someone else’s zinger — which we saw in the second debate after Carly Fiorina put him in his place. So far, the only significant on-going challenge to Trump in the debates has been questions he didn’t want to answer. He can’t be used to dealing with people who are able to spar as well as he can. Wouldn’t that be fun to watch?
You REALLY want Lindsey to go toe to toe with Trump? I can think of a few things Trump might say that would crush Graham and make him a laughingstock. Graham is a joke to anyone north of the Mason Dixon line. Jimmy Fallon and Jon Stewart have ridiculed him mercilessly just on his lilting speech alone.
Graham’s a pretty unflappable guy. He’s used to being despised, and it rolls off him.
When some supporters stood up to applaud when he took the podium at the SC party convention in the spring, the haters pointedly stayed seated. Graham grinned and suggested now might be a good time in the long program to take a break from sitting, stand up and stretch.
A lot of people did. But either way, Graham was completely unbothered by the hostility in the room.
I think he’d be glad to let Trump take his best shot…
I’m at 42, you’re at three… if you drop any further you’ll be off the stage.
I’m eager to see Christy stand face-to-face with King Hussein and tell him how we’ve got his back. I wonder if they’ve started the exhumation, or if Christy’s got a trick up his sleeve. I wonder about shooting down some Russian fighter jets. Maybe it would be better to shut down some of their bridges in Russia and tick off some of the civilians around Moscow.