Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
I realize that the Republican candidates are being hammered by the media for whining about how bad the CNBC moderators and their questions were, but I agree with them. The CNBC moderators were so bad that they made Anderson Cooper’s moderation of the Democratic Party debate look even-handed and skillful. They rudely shouted over the candidates, asked multiple gotcha questions that were designed to start arguements, and never once said, “Excuse me, Mr/Ms _______, but you didn’t answer the question.” They didn’t lose control; they never had it.
“The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match,” Senator Ted Cruz complained at Wednesday’s Republican debate. He proceeded to (quite impressively) list one stupid question that was asked each candidate. I agree with him. These people are auditioning for the most powerful job in the world; they should be respected and asked meaningful political questions– at least most of the time– instead of being asked absurd questions that are designed to sell soap. It was appalling.
The post-debate banter by the mainstream media has been surprisingly homogeneous: Jeb! lost and Rubio won. Really? The post-debate banter after the recent Democratic Party event was all over the map. Bernie won! Hillary won! Anderson Cooper won! The Democratic Party won!
I think there were several surprises in the debate that no one is reporting…
The tone of the evening was set with the first question. The moderators asked a common job interview “gotcha” question: What is your biggest fault. Ohio Governor John Kasich was first up. Instead of even offering a passing glance of an answer (as some others did), Kasich blew past the question and repeated his attack from earlier in the week about fellow conservatives being extreme and unrealistic in their economic views particularly concerning Medicaid expansion. As a fellow Ohioan, I see in Kasich a small town Ohio practicality when he talks about caring for others. (Unfortunately, he often mixes common sense and compassion with a bit too much right-wing Christianity.) I agree with Kasich on this, but he answered a question that wasn’t asked, and the moderators didn’t say, “Answer the freakin’ question.”
And that was how the rest of the evening went: gotcha questions and shouting from the CNBC moderators and candidates spouting whatever answer came into their heads regardless of the question and regardless of the truth. Geesh.
I think the biggest surprise of the night was how many of the candidates acknowledged income inequality, the shrinking middle class or related issues. Although they didn’t use progressive language like this, they did talk about people hurting and needing jobs. At one point it was so odd to hear so many of them talk like… dare I say… Democrats… that I wondered if they had watched a few Bernie Sanders speeches or the Democratic debates. Did they realize how far off the rails they had gone in earlier debates– particularly the ones where they bragged about defunding Planned Parenthood and other social service programs? In an earlier debate, Governor Chris Christie boasted about cutting 800 state programs, but on Wednesday he was Compassionate Christie– unless he was attacking Secretary Hillary Clinton (which he did repeatedly). Cruz said he was fighting for single Moms, and Carly Fiorina said that Clinton won’t fight for women. (What the…?)
Another big shocker was when Fiorina started in with the anti-Wall Street Sanders-public-banking-speak. Wow! She said that big governments stand with big business, and the powerful stand with the powerful. They don’t care about mom-and-pop businesses and community banks. Odd talk from someone who was CEO of a multi-national corporation.
Overall, Kasich and Senator Marco Rubio were surprisingly moderate compared to the others. They both came across as more reasonable — particularly when they talked about the shrinking middle class and economic inequality (although they didn’t use those terms.) Yes, some of the others spouted platitudes about the middle class, but my impression was that Kasich and Rubio had more substance to what they said. Personally, I think the media is giving Kasich short shrift, when they fawn over Rubio; I think they both did well.
The flat-taxers were out in force– particularly Neurosurgeon Ben Carson: 10% tax– or maybe 15%– on everyone. It’s so fair and simple. Not. Ten percent of $7.25/hour is a much larger proportion of that underpaid worker’s salary, and it would hamper his ability to pay other bills. Ten percent of a billionaire’s annual earnings is a lot of money, but it’s a drop bucket compared to their overall wealth.
I’d have to say that Fiorina was one of the scarier candidates. That woman is a badass. Wow– did she give the female moderator this piercing dagger eyes look when she asked about her ouster and HP business failures (or some such). Ending on a high note. (Sarcasm alert.) One of the big unanswered questions of the night was this…
So, Governor Jeb Bush didn’t shine like he needed to last night. He’s just the not bullshit orator that some of them are– particularly Fiorina, Christie, and Cruz. With such a large field, most of the candidates spoke less than 10 minutes during the whole event. Bush (6:35 min) and Senator Rand Paul (6:15 min) spoke the least. Fiorina (10:32 min) and Rubio (10:10 min) spoke the most. Seriously, media villagers Bush’s candidacy is on life support because he didn’t dazzle in 6:35 minutes? Is Rubio’s “win” because he had significantly more time to speak? Kasich, who I was alos impressed with, was up there in #3 with 9:42 min. (These time stamps are from NPR. AP has different data. The point is: none of these people had much time to make an impression. It’s Survivor on the grandest scale.) Bush is undoubtedly the candidate of the 1%. On his own, Bush has raised only $11.5 million— less than half as much as Clinton or Sanders, but he has over $108 million in funds from political action committees (PCAS) and super PACS (AKA dark money). If the Bush campaign does fold up it’s tent, who will be the recipient of the 1%’s largesse?
All of this begs the question: why are some of these people still running? Remember there are still candidates at the GOP “kids’ table” debate which airs before the main event. Several of them are hovering around 1%. Maybe the Republican Party could have a sane debate if they culled the herd.