Everyone knew this debate could be pretty entertaining with reality TV star Donald Trump in the field, and The Donald didn’t disappoint. There’s no point in rehashing all of his comments. Needless to say this clown show isn’t good for the Republican Party.
Putting the Trump show aside, here are some initial observations:
– I was impressed with the questions from the Fox panel of moderators, and frankly I didn’t expect that. Sure, some of the questions were bizarre, and the Facebook participation didn’t help, but the moderators asked very tough questions, which is what you’re supposed to do. GOP partisans will likely complain, which means Fox actually approached this correctly. Fox also found ways to get real discussions going between candidates who disagreed on some issues.
– Marco Rubio showed off his political talents and should get some favorable coverage, but he also came out against rape and incest exceptions to abortion, which will be a huge problem for him if he ever makes it to the general election. For that reason it was a bad night for him.
– Scott Walker was less impressive, which surprised me. His answers will probably please GOP primary voters, as Walker know how to tick off talking points. But he comes across as a smarmy politician as opposed to the next leader of the free world. I thought he’d be the biggest threat to Democrats, but now I’m less concerned. Also, he went one step further than Rubio by saying he also didn’t agree to an abortion exception for the life of the mother. Seriously!! This could be fatal to his general election campaign.
– John Kasich impressed me. He has a reputation here in Ohio for having a temper and sometimes being a bully, but he focused on optimism, growth and inclusion in his answers. He’s going with a positive message and does a good job of weaving his credentials and accomplishments into his answers. He should start getting more attention after this debate. Still, once people take a hard look at his record in Ohio, they may conclude his economic achievements in Ohio have more to do with President Obama’s policies like the auto bailout.
– Jeb Bush didn’t impress me at all. Is he out of practice? He’ll never have a good answer for the Iraq War.
President Obama was re-elected last night with an impressive margin in the electoral college. The popular vote margin was much narrower, but it looks like he’ll be over 50% with roughly a 2 point margin.
I’ll have much more to say about this, but most of us will acknowledge that this was a very important election. The pundits liked to mock both campaigns for not discussing big issues, but that truly missed the point. Both sides offered very different paths for our future, and most voters understood the profound differences.
With an Obama victory, his signature accomplishment from his first term, health care reform, will now be fully implemented. Mitt Romney would have either repealed or gutted Obamacare, but now the notion of universal health care will be cemented as part of the social compact. We’ll all have to wait and see how Republicans react to Obama’s victory, but hopefully on health care we’ll see a shift away from a reflexive attempt to overturn Obamacare to constructive negotiations to improve it and cut medical costs in general. We’ve heard Republicans pontificate for years about malpractice reform. Perhaps now we’ll actually get some constructive proposals.
We may have a continuation of the political wars, but now we know that any deal will have to be more balanced than the GOP plan of just hacking away at spending on the elderly and the poor. We’ll see how that plays out.
It will also be interesting to see if some conservatives will break out of the right wing media bubble. Conservatives were told to ignore the poll numbers that pointed to an Obama victory, and that the “real” numbers would lead to a Romney landslide. These projections were pure fantasy, just like the Romney/GOP budget numbers that claimed you could miraculously balance the budget by slashing taxes. We live in a divided country and many on both sides are guilty of just listening to their own partisan news sources, but the dogma and partisanship on the right has become absurd. Even respectable pundits like George Will and Micheal Barone drank the Cool Aid and ended up looking just as clueless as partisan hacks like Dick Morris with their predictions of the Romney landslide.
Finally, conservatives and Republicans need to stand up to the lunatic fringe. You can’t encourage the crazies on your side, and then lament when idiot candidates like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin say stupid things about rape and abortion. You can’t cater to the haters who demonize illegal immigrants and then complain that you got crushed by the Latino vote. We’ll see if there’s anyone in the GOP who has a spine. Chris Christie is an obvious candidate as he’s called out the crazies before, but now he’s on serious probation with the right for saying something nice about President Obama. Perhaps Marco Rubio can help on that front. We can expect serious fireworks within the GOP as they hash out these issues. If they don’t work it out, I’ll be happy to see them forfeit the Latino, African American, Asian and much of the female vote in future elections.