Unfortunately, I was not able to live-tweet the main debate last night because I had an evening meeting and I didn’t make it home until 10:15. Given how totally entertaining I found the Republican Big Ten Debate last night (As opposed to the earlier-in-the-day junior varsity debate), I am nearly despondent that I had to watch it afterwards. Still, watching it afterwards gave me the chance to really focus and take some good notes and not have to annoy my husband by constantly pausing to comment. What follows are – from my perspective – some of the broad highlights (Is “highlights” the right word? That makes it sound like they were good…interesting points, trainwreck moments? You get it) for me.
I’ll go through in roughly chronological order, but I won’t include everything because there’s too much…
Most Bush Moment
One of Jeb Bush’s first questions was about his being a part of a political dynasty and whether that’s an issue. He leaned on his experience as Governor (obviously) and said:
In Florida they called me ‘Jeb’ because I earned it.
That’s as may be, but even if they’re calling you Jeb…that still includes your family name. Jeb Bush’s actual name is John Ellis Bush. He goes by his full initials as a first name. So you literally can’t call him by his name without using his family name. He’s chained to it forever: John Ellis Bush Bush. That’s awesome.
Trollingest Troll Moment
Megyn Kelly asked the question that was – for my money – the most telling question of the evening to Donald Trump. She pointed out that Donald has in the past, basically since Donald Trump has been part of our national conscience, called women things like “slob”, “disgusting”, saying that a particular woman would make “a pretty picture on her knees.” His initial response was to joke it off by saying “Yeah that was just Rosie O’Donnell.” In my head I heard the classic “hur hur hur” laughter of a troll who doesn’t have the confidence to stick the landing on their extraordinarily unclever comeback. Megyn Kelly pushes him to actually answer and he responds – in classic troll fashion – by blaming “political correctness”. You know friends, Donald Trump is an important guy and he simply doesn’t have time to be a decent human being…I mean be politically correct. Upshot? This:
Donald Trump is a classy guy. He won’t call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, but he’ll sure retweet someone who does. By the way, if you ever want to see troll central, check out Donald Trump’s twitter feed. There are more than a few “I’m a liberal…” and “I’m a Democrat but…” men who can’t wait to vote for Trump. I assume they share his utter disdain for women (and possibly everyone else who isn’t a straight white cis man.) Guys, you’re welcome to change your registration. We neither want or need you.
Most Typical Politician Moment
How appropriate that this award goes to the “aggressively normal” Scott Walker. Megyn Kelly asked Walker whether his views on abortion were out of step with most Americans. She mentioned that he doesn’t support a life of the mother exception in anti-abortion laws whereas 83% of Americans do. He basically went on to tell her that he knows that actually a lot of Americans really do agree with him. And he’s right, in that there are 320 million Americans so that’s still like 54 million Americans which is indeed a lot of people. You know what’s more though? 266 million people. I’ve been in a room while a politician pulled that “the people I talk to” bullshit. It’s really frustrating, especially when you’re not one of the “the people I talk to” and you’re literally standing right in front of a politician who is trying their best to pretend you don’t exist.
Most Terrifying/Stupid Defense of An Anti-Abortion Stance
Mike Huckabee will use the 5th and 14th amendments to make sure no women has the ability to control her own body ever again. You know, because these amendments can apply to fetuses, but can be easily suspended for walking, talking, sentient women.
Person Most Oblivious to Policy Conversations for the Last Five Years Minimum
If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration.
Donald Trump, ladies and gents. Do we even need to discuss the ridiculousness of that statement? I thought not.
Moment Most Likely to Make Liberals Giggle
EVERYONE SHUT UP! Chris Christie and Rand Paul are about to have a slap fight! I absolutely 100% squealed with glee while Chris Christie and Rand Paul were yelling at each other because last year this is exactly what I predicted would happen if those two guys were on a stage together.
Christie got to tell his moving (if ever so slightly fabricated) line about being appointed as a US attorney the day before 9/11, which I’m pretty sure made him the first person to mention 9/11. In the midst of his scrap with Rand Paul, Paul made sure to mention that he hugged President Obama at which point Christie invoked hugging 9/11 survivors.
Most Creative Way to Recommend the Flat Tax As a Prescription for All Our Ills
During a question about taxes Ben Carson said he wanted to build a system of taxation around tithing because God really got it right. He didn’t say the words “flat tax”, but that is exactly in every way what tithing is. It wouldn’t be a Republican debate if someone didn’t suggest it.
- Marco Rubio (and pretty much everyone else): “We have to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
- Rand Paul: Reagan reagan reagan reagan reagan. No joke. At one point he said Reagan like three times in one sentence.
Most Confused Old Man
John Kasich…I’m not even really totally sure that he was at the same debate as everyone else. His debate prep apparently consisted of a list of prepared talking points and anecdotes which he let out – with some exceptions – at totally random moments.
Most Unintentionally Honest Quote
In a list of things Ted Cruz would do on his first day as President…
…the next thing I intend to do is to ask the Department of Justice and the IRS to start persecuting[sic] religious liberty.
I’m not kidding. It’s in his closing statement. I thought at first he might have meant “prosecuting” instead of “persecuting” but that doesn’t really even make sense either. I’m honestly not sure how to interpret what he said to mean anything that doesn’t circle back to something that moves America closer to becoming The Handmaid’s Tale.
Most Uncomfortable Moment
Ben Carson decided that his night wasn’t going well and just skipped directly to doing a bad stand-up routine as part of his closing.
Most Kindergarten-Level Understanding of Equality
Ben Carson again! Dr. Carson is a neurosurgeon in case he hasn’t mentioned it twenty thousand times. And as a neurosurgeon he’s operated on people’s insides so he knows that on the inside we’re all the same. Racism solved!
Most I-Don’t-Think-That-Means-What-You-Think-It-Means Moment
Jeb! kept calling on us to get on board the “energy revolution” train. Except that at no point did he mention anything other than fossil fuels. Fossil fuels aren’t revolutionary. They’re pretty old. I can’t even make a joke about how old it is in relation to other energy technology because I’d have to compare it to itself.
So, to wrap up. This was an entertaining time. I’m interested to see what the movement in the polls looks like in the next week or so. Here’s my final thought on everyone:
Donald Trump – He was exactly who you thought he’d be and how you thought he’d be and if you were at all surprised then you haven’t been paying attention.
Jeb! Bush – Bumbly. Not Rick Perry bumbly, but not great. Could well be surpassed by…
Marco Rubio – Sure he may have claimed never to have supported a life of the mother and rape exception to anti-abortion laws when that’s not actually the case, but other than that he gave a solid if uninspired performance.
Mike Huckabee – Slow drop in the polls, but he won’t pull out. After all…he doesn’t believe in birth control.
Ben Carson – Precipitous drop in the polls. People think he knows a lot about medicine and not much about anything else and he did not do a lot to dispel those notions.
Ted Cruz – I literally almost forgot about him. What does that tell you?
Scott Walker – “Aggressively normal” is probably a good description. He’s mayonnaise on crustless white bread and proud of it.
Ron Paul…I mean Rand Paul – That’s not me being clever. As I was trying to remember all the candidates in order I accidentally said Ron Paul, which accurately describes how he did. The only difference is that his dad comes off as a crazy old coot and he looks like a perpetual twelve year old.
Chris Christie – He did a really good job of bloviating on a stage with world-class bloviater Donald Trump. He also mentioned 9/11 the most times. So…he’s like the Rudy Giuliani of this race?
John Kasich – Why? I mean he seems like a nice gentleman, but I have no idea what he thinks he’s accomplishing.