The Grand Old Circus Made a Stop in Ohio Last Night

August 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Last night the top 10 GOP candidates for president faced off at the first official Republican primary debate.  More or less they all said exactly what you’d expect – universal condemnation of Obamacare, illegal immigration, Hilary Clinton, President Obama, and his lack of even more intervention in the Middle East.  Here is a brief rundown of the candidates and their notable moments:


Donald Trump – “The Donald” is a pompous, arrogant, combed-over clown.  I do have to give him points for his entertainment value, and his non-PC remarks.  He has no filter, which is likely why so many like him.  The debate opened with a question to all candidates, requesting a show of hands.  Any candidate who would not commit to supporting the eventual nominee and who would not rule out a third-party run was asked to raise their hand.  Only one hand went up. It was Trump’s.  As a result, I’m not sure how his poll numbers will fair.  That was an unpopular move with typical Republicans.

Jeb Bush – He doesn’t speak particularly well. He was the only candidate on the stage who supports Common Core education standards.  When questioned about it, he attempted to dodge the question by paying lip-service to local control of education and the rights of parents to take up complaints with the local school board.  When asked if he would have invaded Iraq, knowing what we know now, he claimed he would not have, despite formerly stating the he would have.

Ben Carson – Dr. Carson supports waterboarding.  We can safely assumed based upon his non-answer when asked if he supported waterboarding that he would support other forms of torture as well.  His response when asked about waterboarding was that he didn’t think the US should talk about the tactics it may or may not use.

Chris Christie – The governor of New Jersey is (as are pretty much everyone else on the stage) a typical neocon on foreign policy.  He is also probably the most outspoken supporter of the NSA’s domestic spying regiment in the GOP field.  He and Rand Paul engaged in a fiery exchange on the subject.  That was probably the highlight of the evening in which Christie evoked 9/11 while Rand stood by the Bill of Rights.

Rand Paul – Was a disappointment.  Not compared to anyone else in particular, since I didn’t have high expectations for anyone else.  But on his own, he was a disappointment, or at least I was disappointed by what I think could have been a much better performance.  Rand has been my choice since the beginning.  Lately he’s been slumping in the polls and rumors have emerged about issues internal to his campaign.  Last night he needed to be bold. He needed to get noticed.  He needed to stand out.  He started off the evening aggressively by going after Trump and Christie.  Unfortunately this involved interrupting, talking over them, and generally coming across as more rude and obnoxious than bold and assertive.

When asked about his criticism of other members of the GOP and how their actions brought about ISIS he backtracked.  That was the moment he needed, and he blew it.  Instead of blasting the GOP for the destabilizing war in Iraq which allowed ISIS to form he backtracked and said that ISIS created itself and drew no connection with warmongering on the part of the GOP or the failed foreign policy of the US government.  This moment, more than any other reminded me just how much Rand is not his father.  If it had been Ron standing there, he would have lit up his party and American militarism.

Rand was making noise prior to the debate about standing out as a dove in a field of hawks.  Sadly his interpretation of a dove lacks a spine.  It saddens me greatly to admit it, but I think Rand’s campaign is largely over.  It may limp on for a while yet, but after last night I don’t think he has what it takes to reignite the flame.  I hope I’m wrong, but I’m just not seeing it happen right now.

Mike Huckabee – He’s basically a warmongering theocrat. He supports war all over the Middle East.  He would like a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and abortion.  He also supports personhood recognition for unborn children which I think is a slippery slop that could lead to government investigation of natural miscarriages and other potential abuses.  I don’t have an issue with the concept – the unborn are absolutely living humans – just the governments enforcement of it.

Huckabee did comment insightfully that the only purpose of the military is to “kill people and break stuff”.

Ted Cruz – There was a time when I had hopes for Cruz, back when he was a tea party darling.  Since then he’s moved more toward the GOP mainstream.  Last night I didn’t find anything he said particularly noteworthy.  He didn’t get much speaking time, and the little he had was spent saying basically the same thing other candidates were on the topics of ISIS and immigration.

John Kasich – The governor of Ohio, a relatively unknown late comer to the race didn’t impress me either.  I did not think he came across as stoic or particularly impressive.  He did make a surprisingly enlightened remark about accepting the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage and expressing the need to love others, regardless of their choices.  I was surprised to hear this from someone running as a Republican.

Scott Walker – I found Walker to be pretty bland as a candidate.  He didn’t say anything particularly interesting or noteworthy.  He was very… typical.  He did reaffirm his belief in increasing US interventionism in the Middle East, saying that he would like to end Obama’s Iran deal on day one if elected, and that he would impose “even more crippling sanctions”.  He also stated, when confronted about failing to meet his economic growth goals in Wisconsin that, essentially he believes Americans would prefer someone who over-promises and under-delivers than someone who “aimed low”.

Marco Rubio – If this were a race for the most conventional Republican in the room, Rubio might just be it.  He basically walked the party line on every topic, from abortion, to immigration, to the economy.  I have nothing really worth noting about anything he said.  Since that’s the case, he’s probably going to be the nominee.

And there you have it. The utterly underwhelming GOP field.

Full transcript of the debate:

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