When I didn’t watch the most recent GOP presidential candidate debates, I thought I was safe. I didn’t even watch Chris Matthews’ take on the event, opting instead for a rerun of Vera on my local OPB station. But GOP debates are like Doritos: they’re irresistible if they are just there on the counter—just like all the articles about the debate.
People got excited about Donald Trump’s absence from the debate. To quote Robert Borosage:
“Without the bawdy showman, the entire cast seemed smaller, the divisive questions of the Fox moderators more petulant, and the debate endless.”
Borosage went on to talk about what else was missing from the debate—the economy. No questions about how to help working people, especially with the threat of a potential global slowdown in the Gilded Age inequality. Climate change was present only in “a gotcha question to Marco Rubio about cap-and-trade.” Instead it was all standard Fox stuff: inflation of ISIS and immigrants, rants about President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and the every-present question of “electability.”
Candidates’ predictable answers were building walls, fighting Planned Parenthood, supporting more guns, throwing more money at the military, and, naturally, repealing “Obamacare.” Rand Paul threw out some red meat about giving blank checks to the intelligence agencies that trample American rights and the questionable approach of fighting ISIS while trying to overthrow the group’s biggest enemy, Syrian president Bashar Assad. Nobody took his bait.
The take from the Boston Globe:
Trump won because he avoided the fray.
Ted Cruz failed when his attempt to his Trump boomeranged. Flip-flopper Marco Rubio attacked him by saying, “The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you’ve been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes.” Cruz’s awkward explanations left him looking like a loser.
Rand Paul and Jeb Bush showed much better than the past without Trump’s insults, but their performance won’t help their single-digit ratings.
Ben Carson was notable for his soporific style and his customary absurd statements. Vladimir Putin “is a one-horse country: oil and energy.” His quoting of the preamble to the Constitution got part of it wrong.
Chris Christie typically brags about his decision-making and accountability, but his defense about Bridgegate is that he fired people for politically-motivated crimes because he didn’t know anything about what they were doing. Not accountable, Christie. He closed with complaining about not being able to find his wife for several hours after the World Trade towers went down on 9/11.
Rubio went farther with fear-mongering than Cruz, calling ISIS “the most dangerous jihadist group in the history of mankind” and saying it wants “to trigger an apocalyptic Armageddon showdown.” “Apocalyptic” is his new favorite word. Although ISIS has killed fewer people in the United States that those who die from falling televisions, he described its threat as “unprecedented.” He wants to violate the Constitution by sending terrorists arrested in the U.S. to Gitmo and commit war crimes by “relaxing” the rules of engagement in fighting ISIS. Four times, he said, “When I am president.”
Since the debate, the media is having a field day with Hillary Clinton’s emails, stressing her “lies.” Much of the media doesn’t stress the fact that Ashton Carter, Secretary of the Defense, relied on a personal email account to conduct a portion of his government business during his first months at the Pentagon. Or that the GOP lies so much that fact-checkers are becoming more indifferent. Among the lies on the debate state, these five stood out.
False: The Affordable Care Act has forced millions into joblessness and part-time work. True: Since the ACA’s employer mandate went into effect at the beginning of last year, the U.S. economy added over 2.4 million jobs.
False: “Last year there were 81,000 pages of government regulations.” True: The Federal Register has over 82,000 pages of regulations but a massive number of these pages don’t contain regulations or rules.
False: Neighbors of the San Bernardino attackers knew of their plans in advance. True: There are no credible reports to support this attempt from conservatives to justify their racial profiling and Islamophobia. After the attack, neighbors and friends said that the couple “didn’t attract attention or suspicion.”
False: Rubio never supported blanket amnesty. True: Rubio keeps saying this to save his skin, but his record shows that he backed a limited path to citizenship in 2013.
False: Trump never asked for Megyn Kelly to be removed. True: Trump did claim that he didn’t once ask that Kelly be removed, but he did ask for this many times.
When candidates weren’t outright lying, they were “stretching” the truth.
Clinton didn’t say she would put Barack Obama on the Supreme Court; she said that she’d take it “under advisement.”
President Obama said that the January 7 shooting of a Philadelphia police officer may have been connected with terrorism but that he would let the city police department make that decision.
President Obama also didn’t kill the 2007 comprehensive immigration bill supported by George W. Bush when the president was a senator. The only influential part he played was to argue that workers should remain on the payroll during appeals to not being on a database of those legally authorized to work.
When John Kasich defended his Medicaid expansion with reducing prison recidivism in Ohio, he used numbers of inmates released well before he permitted the expansion. He also bragged about the 400,000 jobs gained in Ohio during his term, but that rate is well below the national average.
Cruz claimed an amendment he offered to the 2013 immigration bill “didn’t say a word about legalization,” but the effect of the amendment would have been to allow legalization of those in the country illegally.
“The smallest Navy in 100 year”? According to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, there are other ways to measure seapower than just the sheer number of ships. He said, “We also have fewer telegraph machines than we did in World War I and we seem to be doing fine without that…. Look at the capability. Look at the missions that we do.”
Fact-checkers may need to change to a different process. For a shorter list, they could determine which statements in each GOP are true.
With Trump absent from the Fox debate, moderator Megyn Kelly picked Ted Cruz as the scapegoat. To destroy his credibility, she showed four video clips of his speeches in which he was working toward legal status for undocumented immigrants, something that Cruz denies ever having supported. Believing themselves to have knocked off the top GOP competitor, the conservative network is going for the next one. The question is which presidential candidate that the network will promote for top dog.
My Doritos chip bag is now empty. I’ll have to get another one to survive the first primary of 2016. On Monday, February 1, 2016, 120,000 voters in Iowa will determine their preference for president within each party in a non-binding caucus. That’s 0.00082017073 percent of the registered voters in the United States supposedly giving direction to the rest of the country, but the preoccupation with this primary has created a lot of jobs.