Actually, the first thing I’d like to know is how many of you watched it.
I didn’t. Well, I tried — about a half-hour into it — and I couldn’t. I mean, technically couldn’t get it on my TV. You see, this wasn’t an event for the American people; it was an event for Fox News. It was only available if you had cable, which I don’t. It certainly wasn’t on WACH-Fox 57, which I can get. Oh, I watched for a few minutes by a path that looked like a workaround, but it only offered me 10 free minutes, and at least half of that was commercials.
Of course, I’ve read various accounts of it, and listened to the “The Daily” podcast this morning, which was devoted entirely to it. So I have some thoughts. Those of you who watched the whole sorry spectacle (and I feel for you) may have a great deal of, um, enlightenment to add. If you’re not in a coma or something.
Here’s what I have:
What passes for a ‘profile in courage’ in the GOP — It’s been many, many years since we’ve seen anything we could call an actual presidential debate — you know, something that sheds light on the degree to which the candidates possess qualities that it would be useful for a POTUS to have — instead of a circus contest to see how many clowns can crowd onto a stage, while trying to goad each other into gaffes. It’s about as dignified as the Three Stooges. We reached a new low last night (really, in the parts I heard, Quemoy and Matsu weren’t mentioned even once), and possibly the lowest point was when the participants were asked whether they’d support Trump if he were both convicted of a crime, and nominated. The three hands on the right shot up, with Vivek Ramaswamy succeeding in his mission to convey the greatest enthusiasm. DeSantis, in the middle, looked to both his left and right before deciding he’d better put his up his, too. Then Pence did. Christie started to raise his, then shook his head, pointing his finger downward and twitching it back and forth. Asked to clarify his gestures (I think it was a form of New Jersey Sign Language), he hemmed and hawed and said “someone’s got to stop normalizing this conduct,” and overall gave the impression he’d never given the question a moment’s thought, and was trying to think what to say as he said it. And yet this was the closest anyone came to answering negatively, making his performance a Republican Profile in Courage, 2023 edition. How do I know all this, since I didn’t watch? Here’s the video.
Calling the kettle black — Nikki Haley was exactly right when she said to Ramaswamy, “You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.” And the rest of us were right when we said that about her when Donald Trump named her to be ambassador to the U.N. And if you think he did that because he thought she had such experience, you’re as wrong as you can be. He did it to make his buddy Henry McMaster governor. You know, the first statewide elected official in the country to ditch Reaganism and support the abasement of the country.
That said, did Nikki have a big night? Lots of observers think so. — Of course, it depends on how you’re scoring it. A number of people made the observation that she was the one person up there who was campaigning for the general election instead of the primaries. That means speaking in terms that are less objectionable to rational human beings. And she was rewarded with a lot of praise for that modest achievement — she was the consensus star of the evening, for instance, among NYT opinion writers. And David Brooks out-and-out said, “Nikki Haley Is the Best Trump Alternative.” That’s pretty clear. He adds, “She seems to be one of the few candidates who understands that to run against Trump you have to run against Trump.” Maybe so. As a big Brooks fan, I’m listening…
Trump showed them all up, and stole the spotlight — He did this by traveling to Atlanta this evening and turning himself in at the jail. America eagerly awaits the mug shot. But wait, you know what? I remember hearing before all this that he was supposed to be doing something with Tucker Carlson. Did that happen?
That’s probably enough to get us started. Thoughts?