Thoughts on a Disappointing Debate: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 36)

To update those of you with whom I’m not Facebook friends (my FB friends are already WELL AWARE, given that I dominated many of their feeds Wednesday night), I indeed watched the second Republican debate.

Sigh.

Unlike my giddy reaction to the first debate, this one left me feeling kind of deflated.

—1—

Mostly because I’m just so tired of this Donald Trump thing – can’t we please get some folks to drop out of the race (thank you, Rick Perry!) so the not-Trump vote isn’t divided fifteen ways?

I would love to see the Republican field coalesce into four or five distinct choices so that the campaign (and future debates!) can become more productive and informative.

—2—

I also think that CNN did a terrible job of hosting the debate. For one thing – three hours? Why in the world did it need to last that long and how in the world did it not manage to cover more matters of substance given that it was so. flipping. long?!

For another thing, what the heck were they thinking, taking up time with stupid fluff questions on what candidates’ secret service code names should be and who should be on the $10 bill?

And most of all, why did they even bother having moderators? With all the “moderation” those people provided, they might as well have flashed big signs to the candidates instead:

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—3—

So overall, yes, I think the thing was a mess. An embarrassing, mostly unhelpful mess. I’m not against candidates challenging each other during debates – I think a healthy back-and-forth can be informative. But that’s not what we got Wednesday night. We got too many candidates on a stage for too long, where they were too often prodded into the presidential campaign version of a cockfight.

—4—

But it wasn’t entirely unhelpful.

I do think it served to clarify a few of the candidates somewhat. Carly Fiorina, who pretty much stole the show, came across as poised, competent, smart, and strong. Marco Rubio, who stayed so much above the fray that you could hardly tell he was there for half the debate, cemented his respectable (even presidential) image with some well-executed policy talk. John Kasich helped us to remember compassionate conservatism. Chris Christie firmed up his middle-class, regular-guy image.

—5—

Jeb Bush recovered a tad from his poor performance at the first debate, proving himself a little more energetic than we’d thought, but still just as much of a standard (boring?) establishment figure as we knew him to be — except maybe for his (Compassionate! Thank you, Jeb!) talk on immigration and his (pretty amusing) confession that he smoked pot as a teenager.

Ted Cruz and Scott Walker tried hard, but I think they’re competing for much the same constituency as Donald Trump and as far as I’m concerned, that ship has sailed, guys.

I hardly noticed Rand Paul at the debate – but maybe that’s just me. And I tend not to pay much attention to Mike Huckabee. (I’m sorry – my fault – I just see him as entirely unelectable, so I turn my attention elsewhere.)

I think neither of the two frontrunners going into the debate – Donald Trump and Ben Carson – gained anything by their performance there. They were who they are – one bombastic and ignorant, the other gentle and ignorant (sorry, friends-who-love-Carson). But I doubt either disappointed their supporters: They turned in the performances expected of them. I just don’t think they’re likely to grow their share of support more than they already have. They’ve peaked. (There – I said it. Feel free to call me wrong should/when the poll numbers prove me so.)

—6—

So like I said, while the first debate left me energized and excited about the official kick-off of the presidential campaign season, this one left me feeling deflated – almost weary of the whole thing already.

I sure hope some of the Republican candidates drop out soon – I’m ready for this thing to move on to its next stage.

—7—

I’ve got to end on a better note than that.

Wednesday night, because the debate started at 8pm Eastern, my boys weren’t yet in bed. They were in their pajamas, waiting for bedtime stories because Daddy was busy putting the baby down. (I’d made a desperate plea for him to do all of bedtime because I! had! to! watch! this! debate!)

They were initially very unhappy with my choice of television channels, but then seemed sort of interested in the idea that those people up there all wanted to be president.

“I want to be the president when I grow up!” said the oldest.

“I want to be a baker,” said the younger.

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I think I’d worry more about following the first path than the second.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Please stop over to Kelly’s to check out the other Friday Quick Takes.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

Thoughts on a Disappointing Debate 7QT36

7 Quick Takes on Last Night’s Debate (Vol. 35)

Has it really been a full week since I’ve posted? Nah… can’t be. At least it doesn’t feel like it, because I’ve been doing so much writing. (Which has felt great!) I was trying to get something out in time for last night’s debates, but I just couldn’t pull it off. C’est la vie.

 

The silver lining to the situation is that I now have enough written to kick off a little series (Is this my first series? I think it might be) next week:

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I’ll begin with a few posts on (you guessed it) what I want in a President and what my Catholic faith has to do with it. Then I’ll follow with several posts on (you guessed again) how I think the individual candidates measure up.

Should be fun!

Now, on to this week’s 7 Quick Takes regarding last night’s prime-time Republican presidential debate.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

—1—

First of all, this thing (the prime-time debate) was so much more fun than I expected it to be! I was kind of dreading watching the debate, approaching it as a sort of duty. I figured it would produce an annoying combination of boredom and discomfort, and I feared that most of the candidates would cower in the presence of The Donald. (Cringe.)

But no fear! Right out of the gate, the challenges started coming fast, with Fox panelists asking really tough questions of the candidates – especially of Trump. The first was perfect:

“Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?”

Of course Mr. Trump raised his hand. Good to have that out there in the open – he won’t promise, in the event he loses the Republican primary, not to run an independent campaign during the general election. Lovely.

And it went on. I don’t think time was distributed quite fairly – a few candidates (namely, Ben Carson) seemed to get passed over for the more interesting-to-the-panelists candidates (including John Kasich, who barely made it into the group of ten, based on his poll numbers) — but I thought each candidate was asked fair, tough questions. There were some interesting exchanges and verbal tussles (namely, between Rand Paul and Chris Christie), and some great quotes and one-liners.

In sum, I’m no fan of Fox News, but I was generally impressed with how they conducted the debate.

But, I was really annoyed by that last question, on God, asked by a Facebook user:

“I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.”

I’m not opposed to the candidates being asked questions regarding their faith and how it plays into their policy priorities. (That’s kind of my thing here.) But the way it was phrased just seemed silly to me. And it probably seemed gleefully absurd to most Democrats.

—2—

More fun than the debate itself, perhaps, was following along with others via Facebook and Twitter. I was taking notes on my laptop to prepare myself for writing this post and at one point I typed: “Okay, having a hard time keeping up here now because Twitter and FB are way too much fun.” They were! I’m honestly looking forward to the next debate.

Here’s some of what I was tweeting and re-tweeting:

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—3—

Now for my take on the winners (as I declare them to be):

Marco Rubio. He looked great — came across as really composed and comfortable – “presidential”, even. He was articulate and on-point and made valuable contributions to the debate. I couldn’t help but relish the idea of him going up against Hillary Clinton in a general election debate. I went in liking the guy and came away more impressed than I expected to be. He might just have what it takes.

John Kasich. I also went in liking him and he did not disappoint (except for maybe bringing up the fact that his father was a mailman a few too many times). He had good, well-put-together answers and came across as both compassionate and competent. We need a dose of both right now.

Ted Cruz. I am no fan of the guy. Honestly, between his Evangelical-preacher demeanor (sorry, Evangelicals), his willingness to advance himself at the expense of the Party, and his position on immigration, he bugs the heck out of me. But I think he did a good job last night. He was composed and articulate and probably persuasive, if you didn’t already think he was a big creeper. (I wouldn’t know, being a member of that camp myself.)

Mike Huckabee. Again, I’m not a big fan. There’s nothing (or not much) I substantively dislike about him, but I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in hell with the general electorate. So, you know – why bother? But he did well last night. He looked more comfortable than any of the others (save maybe Rubio) – really in his element. And his responses were smart, colorful, and likeable.

Rand Paul. Another one of whom I am decidedly not a fan. On him, though, it’s mostly a matter of substance – I’m just about as far removed from a libertarian as a Republican can come. The guy might be perfectly lovely – I don’t know and I honestly don’t care. To his fans, he probably came across very well. He spoke a fair amount, he got in several (seemingly well-rehearsed) one-liners, and he had a nice little tussle with Chris Christie. (All of which is why I’m putting him in the “winner” category.) But he still seems like such a niche candidate to me. I don’t think he translates any better to the masses now than he did before the debate.

Ben Carson. This one surprised me. Being from Maryland, I’ve known of him (as a famous pediatric neurosurgeon) for years, so I’m naturally fond of him. But he’s a complete political novice (more so even than Mr. Trump, who excels in the politics of business and television), and I really expected him to flounder. He did nothing of the sort. He didn’t get much air time, but he used his opportunities well, coming across as intelligent and comfortable; he even seemed like he was enjoying himself. I didn’t love all his answers, but I thought he both held his own and made a generally favorable impression. His campaign has more of a future than I’d thought.

—4—

And my take on the “meh” middle and the outright losers. (But what do I know?)

Scott Walker. He could really go either way. His answers seemed solid, so I know some people will put him in the “winners” camp. But he just seemed so flat to me. I guess I had a more fiery impression of him, because boy, was I unimpressed with his demeanor. He did nothing to stand out and in such a large field of candidates, I think that will be a handicap.

Chris Christie. Again with the going either way. He seemed very him on his answers, which his supporters will like. But he also seemed flat, which (again) surprised me, given his reputation. Moreover, I just don’t think he did much to win over the (sizeable) number of people who are lukewarm-to-hostile on him. I was kind of bored with his contribution.

Donald Trump. I just cannot stand that man. He was obnoxious and his answers were shallow and abrasive — exactly as I had expected. But I’m still shocked that as many people like him as they do, so who knows — what I saw as the height of annoying they may have seen as appealing. I have no idea. I give up.

Jep Bush. I like the guy – I always have. But for all his experience and money, he has a HUGE hurdle to overcome, given his surname. (I mean, while writing this I accidentally typed “George Bush.”) And I don’t think he performed nearly well enough to begin to move past it. I thought he looked uncomfortable and out of his element. It was painfully obvious just how long it’s been since he’s participated in a debate. Worse, his answers were just kind of okay and he didn’t seem to exude any of his brother’s joy or energy. He struck me as a candidate from another, less interesting generation. I walked away thinking of him as a less formidable competitor than I expected.

—5—

I didn’t get to watch the 5pm, second-tier debate (witching-hour viewing with three boys under the age of six? not gonna happen), but I’ve heard that Carly Fiorina did really, really well. I’ll have to check it out. I know very little about her.

—6—

You know I’ve got to say something more about Trump.

He dominated in the run-up to the debate and maybe he’ll dominate in the wake of it, but I’m glad that he didn’t get more air time during the debate than he did. Because just the idea of Donald Trump was so distracting to me, I had a hard time focusing on the others.

I can hardly describe to you just how much that man bothers me. I could go on and on. But at one point I posted the following on social media, and I’ll let it sum up my opinion of the guy:

“I’m trying to take notes on this thing, but every time I get to Trump, I can’t seem to write anything but: JERK.”

—7—

As for those I’m more favorably disposed to, I went in liking Bush, Rubio, and Kasich, but I wasn’t sure if any of them really had what it takes. Based on their performances last night, I’m less sure than ever about Bush. But I’m more hopeful than I expected to be about Rubio and Kasich. I plan to look into them further. Both strike me as pragmatic and positive, and compassionate to those who are struggling. It’s a good start.

~~~

Thanks for indulging my poly-sci-major giddiness about yesterday’s debates. I hope you’ll come back next week for the beginning of my little series. And I hope you’ll head over to Kelly’s today to check out the other Quick Takes! Have a great weekend!

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