I watched both of the Republican debates yesterday. I know it's awfully early to be watching this. The field is still too wide. There is nothing decided. Technically I cannot vote in any primary because I'm registered unaffiliated. But I still felt like I should watch. One of these people is going to get the nomination and I want to hear what they say when they are talking to their base, on their news station, in front of their audience, when they are trying to break through. I don't want to just get introduced to the them when they are trying to appeal to me, but when they aren't.
I also am not a fan of soundbite politics. I knew that the almost 3 1/2 hours of coverage yesterday would get trimmed down to the juiciest of bites today and that those might or might not have anything to do contextually with what was actually asked and even answered so I wanted to watch.
The first debate was quieter. Very small audience so not raucous cheering and booing like we saw in the second. And not a lot of cross talk between candidates. This group seemed to at least be somewhat aware that though they are running against each other for the nomination they are running in the same party.
Things I took from that one:
Rick Perry is doing better this time than last. But he was heavily medicated and recovering from back surgery last time so that's not a huge stretch. He is REALLY interested in border security. That's pretty much it.
Carly Fiorina came ready to throw down. If she could insult a few people or the entire group of "progressives" in her answer she was thrilled. She was also very composed and ready. But I still have to ask why they drop the "in to the ground" part off every time they announce she ran HP.
George Pataki was asked a question leading with "you are the only pro-choice republican candidate..." so pretty much the finish to this is "bye, Felicia..." Sorry, George, not sure why you came out tonight.
Rick Santorum is still Santorum and ready to fight gay marriage, though it seems everyone else is pretty still about that one being settled. But you know, he's not ready to allow the Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage anymore than Lincoln was satisfied with Dred Scott...which actually made me say out loud to the TV, "What the fuck? Seriously? Gay marriage is equivilant with a ruling that black people are property not people? Are you high?" So yeah, Santorum has no shot of getting the presidency. Sorry, dude, but you have to appeal to a wider swath than who ever it is that you appeal to.
Jim Gilmore. Well now I know who Jim Gilmore is. Sort of. I mean, I had to go look up his name just now because I honestly couldn't pull it, all I could think was, "the other guy...used to be a governor of ummm..Virginia?" So yeah, he didn't make a huge impression.
Bobby Jindal. When asked why people should vote for him when his own state can't stand him you sort of understood what Fox believes his chances are. He is trying to take the hardline stance. One of those being that there should be no hyphenated Americans, and anyone who immigrates here should be forced to only speak English, so there was that...
And then there was Lindsey Graham. This man must never make it to the Oval Office. I'm not even super comfortable with him knowing where the Oval Office is to tell the truth. If he were elected president we would be going to war. Like now. And forever. He was very clear about it. Said it over and over again. No matter the question he would pivot back to war. Just scary as fuck.
Over all they are all going to repeal Obamacare (though what they are going to do about the millions left uninsured was left unanswered), tear up the Iran deal (though how they think they are going to get a better one was left unanswered except, we just will), defund Planned Parenthood and fight ISIS/ISIL either by more air strikes or by WAR BITCHES!! CONSTANT ONSLAUGHT OF WAR!
In my opinion if there was a winner it was Fiorina. Perry maybe came in second.
Then the main event and I won't break down each of them. You all were more likely to have watched that one. Just my main takeaways...
Man, Fox does NOT want Trump in the race anymore. They built the monster and are now trying to figure out how to take it apart. He's having none of it. The opening salvo of "take a pledge to support who ever gets the nomination and swear fealty" struck me as awful. Especially when you have some really divergent beliefs over the 17 candidates. How can you say you would support any one of them? Crazy. When Trump makes the choice that strikes me as the least insane and most thoughtful there is a problem in the room.
Scott Walker was asked about abortion and made clear that he is not backing down from his no exception to rape or health of the mother stance. I wrote about that particular bullshit addendum here a while ago, so I wasn't surprised by his stance, but I am surprised he has the fortitude to stand by it. And to then drag Rubio over to it as well. The Planned Parenthood debate rages on...
Jeb Bush seemed a little out of sorts to me. Is it because we all (well most of us) think his brother wasn't the brightest bulb in the box that we now look at Jeb through that lense or is he really not that bright? Like he's barely keeping up with the rest of the class?
The only candidate asked about race was Ben Carson. So that's not racist at all... I mean everyone needs their one black friend to tell them how all black people feel about things, right? Just had to shake my head. The man is a neurosurgeon and seems like a nice guy but he is not ready to be president. Just not. If he wants to be in politics he should maybe start smaller and get at least a little bit ready?
Rand Paul yells a lot. Like A LOT. And he yelled at as many people as he could. He and Chris Christie basically re-enacted the debate Guillani and Ron Paul had last election cycle about surveillance so that's obviously not going anywhere either. He also took a shot at the "hug" from Obama that Christie got during the hurricane Sandy time. That shit makes me crazy. You want to talk about what is dividing the country? It's shit like that. The man was governing a state that just got hit by a massive natural disaster, the President of the United States is there and offering support and the federal dollars that his state needs and you all are upset because there was a moment of friendliness in the face of disaster? What the actual fuck is wrong with you people? Seriously...
Kasich came out well I thought. Seemed thoughtful and like someone who might possibly find some middle ground in issues. He obviously had home-stage advantage too, but the fact that the crowd liked him (unlike Jindal your state hates you from the early debate) so it was interesting.
The candidates were asked about the standards, immigration (BOO! WE HATE IT! BUILD A WALL! Let's watch Bush get uncomfortable because he has a more nuanced take on this); ISIL, (BOMB THEM! Mock the well established fact that people without options are easier to radicalize than people with jobs and opportunities); Planned Parenthood, (Defund them! Investigate them! Make them an excellent fundraising point!); Obamacare, (Repeal and replace the same fucking thing we've been saying for years and haven't done or come close to doing or come anywhere near finding what we would replace it with!); God, (He loves Republicans and not Democrats and will tell us exactly what to do everyday we are president and God Bless America, just look at how we are being persecuted for our beliefs as we stand on this stage invoking God and his blessing on our country and candidacy and nobody finds this odd, see the persecution??).
The things I found most interesting and it was clear in both debates, Fox seems to know exactly who they want the front runners to be and questions (tone and content) seemed to show that. They might have all faced somewhat challenging questions for them on perceived weaknesses but the difference in level was interesting. Watching the first debate they really seemed to want Fiorina and Perry to come out well, and they mostly did. The second it seemed like they really wanted Bush to make a strong showing but he didn't help them out at all. They wanted Trump to flame out not thinking that it's his flame outs that people seem to love. And why is it okay for him to slam Rosie O'Donnell but not Megyn Kelly? You have to be mad when he's an ass to the less attractive lesbian if you want me to take you seriously about him being mad at the smoking hot news-personality. I think Rubio came across well and Kasich. I still think they (and the dems) should be more worried about Rubio than they are. He's young. He's smart. He's got a good back story. He's got Florida. I think he's a challenger.
Oh Huckabee and Cruz were there too...yeah.