Atlanta, GA— In the fifth battle of the great Hunger for Power Games, the Tributes once again squared off in the endless war to become the most powerful human being alive on planet earth. In another beautiful venue in Vegas, hosted by America’s second most powerful cable network, CNN, and moderated by Wolf Blitzer, Dana Bash, and conservative talk show host Hew Hewitt, last night was quite a rollicking affair.
The moderators did well, especially Blitzer, beating down Cruz until he stopped stepping out of line, laying down the law on the unruly and sometimes downright unmannered John Kasich, and handling disturbances from disturbed audience members very well.
As for the warriors themselves, there was one that again stood out above the rest. He was the one that, in the pre-debate, one CNN pundit called “the man of the moment.” It was, of course, Ted Cruz. Cruz once again reminded Americans why he has risen to second place nationally and first in the all-important state of Iowa. Staying out of useless arguments with Donald Trump, as he had promised, Cruz brought biting attacks against the Democrats, saying that “Hillary and Obama” were looking for a “purple unicorn” when it comes to finding moderate rebels to replace the dictators that are fighting radical terrorism.
Cruz had the best line of the night, with his “All horse thieves are Democrats, but not all Democrats are horse thieves,” zinger, seconded nicely by his quip that he will build a wall along our southern border to keep out terrorists, illegal immigrants, and drugs, and that he would make Donald Trump pay for it. I expect Cruz to carry on from this debate to even better momentum across the nation.
The winner of the last debate, Marco Rubio, was partly outshined last night by Cruz, although he still did well. Rand Paul hurt him more than once, and Cruz went after him in a way we haven’t seen before. Rubio is a brilliant general in the war for the nomination, but his flank is horribly exposed when it comes to immigration and granting legal amnesty to millions who came to this country knowingly in an illegal fashion. While Rubio constantly tries to pit himself as tough on foreign policy, which is something many primary voters in the GOP want, he also has a weakness in that he could be portrayed as putting temporary security ahead of liberty, which is a cardinal sin, no matter who is doing it, and no matter how good their intentions are.
Last night could just be a bump for Rubio on his eventual drive for the nomination, something he is well poised to win, along with only two or three others or it could signal, looking back in a few months, the beginning of the end of the junior senator from Florida.
Donald Trump had his first really great night. He sounded like a statesmen, like a man who really cared about people, like a man who desperately wanted to save his country. He mercifully explained his “shut down the internet” comments at last, proving he is not simply an Asian Style despot who wants to end free speech. Trump could have won the debate last night with his calmness, his refusal to attack Cruz, and even defending of the senator, except for his face making at Jeb Bush. Bush deserved Trump’s “I’m at 42 and you’re at 3,” and maybe even a little mocking for acting like he was tough, but Trump didn’t need to do it. Trump is helped by the debate for his overall performance, but he needs to keep working on his self-control.
Carly Fiorina wore a cross last night, presumably because many evangelicals are not sure about her, and she wants to prove to them that she is one of them. While Trump was busy sniping, she had her best line of the night; “Margaret Thatcher said if you want something talked about, you ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Mrs. Fiorina continues to lag in the polls, and I do not expect her to win, but she once again proved -with her clear understanding of foreign policy and belief that liberty should not be sacrificed for security- that she deserves a look as a potential secretary of state.
Ben Carson had a horrible night, right from his opening statement when he asked for a moment of silence for the San Bernardino victims. I have no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Carson was anything other than completely sincere in his gesture, but this was a political debate, and such a move had no place. If Mr. Carson felt such a thing was needed, he could have asked Mr. Blitzer before the debate, and I am sure the moderator, being a decent man, would have been more than happy to oblige. Carson did poorly the entire night, and in the end I was left struggling to remember anything of note he had said. He will probably continue to fall in the polls, which I have predicted from the day he got in.
Rand Paul did not have his blitzkrieg night as he did last time, but he did do fairly well, once again blasting out his message of freedom first for all the world to hear. He just barely made it into this debate by the skin of his teeth, despite doing fairly well in Iowa. This might have been his last debate in primetime, but he will continue to be a shining light for lovers of liberty the world over, not matter what he does. And, who knows, if his upward momentum continues in Iowa, he just might be one of the top three there.
Chris Christi had another good debate, although he will never win the nomination for several reasons, among them the one that Rand Paul pointed out last night. Some people think he shut down a bridge because he was mad. Because the field is so crowded, Christie has avoided constant, wall to wall coverage of his past, but if he were to move up in the polls, you can be sure the mud would start flying until he was buried alive under it.
John Kasich…the governor from Ohio seems to live in a world of puffy white clouds, lemon drops, light blue skies and children’s nursery rhymes. The world is a dangerous place, not built for those who use their opening statements to beg everybody to be nice to each other, and make the millionth reiteration of the tired line “we are not Republicans first or Democrats first, we are Americans first.” Kasich tried to interrupt everybody again, although fortunately Blitzer shut him down. Kasich had nothing original to say, and nothing worth anyone’s time. Maybe now he will just leave, but I’m not holding my breath.
And finally, our old friend Jeb Bush. Exactly a year ago today, Jeb Bush announced that he was running for president. At the time I said that he was in fourth place, and I hoped he stayed there. Well, he hasn’t, he’s fallen even further. He was supposed to ride his name and his massive war chest like a magic carpet all the way to the White House. Jeb forgot, however, that one little thing that so many pundits forget or simply fail to mention when making political plans and predictions, and that is the people. The people just don’t want Jeb. They just really don’t. It’s not that he says highly offensive things, like Trump, or that he has little experience, like Carson. It’s just that they don’t want him. It’s not that they don’t know who he is, like Graham; it’s worse, they know him, and they still don’t want him.
Mr. Bush has spent well over 30 million dollars in early voting states, and still his message continues to drag. Last night he sounded pedantic, annoyed. It was as if he still cannot understand that nobody wants him. The Washington Post this morning asked him to get out of the race for the good of the Republican Party.
If Mr. Bush continues on, he will simply continue to drain funds from the viable candidates who really need them, draw staff from those who could use them, and divide the party even further. The Bushes have had their chance with the country, and it seems that nobody wants a third go round. So Mr. Bush needs to give all of us all what really want for Christmas. That is, to hear the sounds of announcing he’s done.
Andrew C. Abbott