Say what you want about Megyn Kelly, but I actually missed her tonight. The Nurse Ratched of ABC News just can’t hold a candle to her.
The debate got off to a miserable start even before all the candidates got out on stage. The bottleneck backstage wasn’t helped by the fact it was all caught on camera. I felt bad for the stage manager who peeked out around the wall to furiously wave Ben Carson on stage. In the end, the whole clusterfrack made it look like Donald Trump and Ben Carson were expecting to make a grand entrance. Plus, in the disarray, they forgot to invite John Kasich out at all. I didn’t think it was physically possible to cringe with every inch of my body. Turns out, I was wrong.
The opening questions ostensibly regarding “preparedness to lead” were just an excuse to leap on the “nontroversy” between Cruz and Carson and between Trump and Cruz. It was a waste of time and voters garnered nothing out of it.
Tonight was Marco Rubio’s night to be on the hot seat and Governor Christie really decided to zero in on him like a pitbull on a postman. And truthfully, Christie drew blood early on.
Now, I don’t think anybody “won” this debate. But some of them had good nights, some not so much, and some had downright terrible nights.
Who had a good night:
I think because the three governors knew tonight was make or break for them, all three did very well. Trust me, I’m no fan of John Kasich, but he had his best debate night tonight (except for the arm-flailing). Likewise I wish Jeb would just go away, but he as well rose to the occasion. Christie came out strong and stayed strong throughout the night. These three know they need to do well in New Hampshire or it’s all over. They were prepared for that tonight and did well.
Who had an okay night:
After getting hammered terribly by Chris Christie in the opening segment of the debate, Marco Rubio found his footing again and did okay. It was nowhere near his best debate performance in large part because of the repeated bludgeoning he took from Christie. But, as always, Rubio knows his facts, knows his talking points and can stick with them. The problem is, Christie calling him out on his talking points made those moments where he hit on his talking points ring hollow.
There were a few points where Rubio really shined. What he said about Obama not being incompetent, but rather being fully aware of what he was doing was very solid. Likewise, his strong attacks on Hillary were the best of the night. And finally, his response regarding abortion was a home run. It was excellent the way he turned the tables and called the Democrats the extremists.
Ted Cruz needed to hit it out of the park tonight, and I don’t believe he did. He had some very good moments — like his slapping away Martha Raddatz’s hypothetical question about North Korea and his discussion about substance abuse. But overall, Cruz just didn’t have the consistently good night that he has had in the past and really needed to have tonight. I don’t think he hurt himself too much overall, but he probably didn’t help himself in Tuesday’s primary.
Who had a bad night:
Donald Trump had a terrible night. Not that he ever does well in these debates, but wow. He was belligerent, defensive, and more inarticulate than usual. The more defensive he got, the louder the audience booed. His answers were a mish-mash of words haphazardly strung together with his rally talking points. But without a screaming crowd of adoring fans cheering him on, it came off sounding simultaneously canned and ill-prepared. Considering that so much hype was built up on “Trump’s return to the debate stage,” he had to do a hell of a lot better than he did. And he came nowhere near it. And just when you thought he was done crapping the sheets, Donald used his closing remarks to go out with a snotty attack on Cruz “stealing Carson’s votes.” Thankfully, the audience liked it about as little as I did.
Ben Carson just didn’t have a good night tonight. I think asking him about the Iowa issue at the starting gate was a bad thing for him. On the one hand, he cited Reagan’s eleventh commandment about not going after a fellow Republican, but immediately after doing so, he went after his fellow Republican Ted Cruz. For me, this set the tone for Carson’s whole evening. I felt like his attempts at humor relied too heavily on complaining about not being called on or not being able to weigh in on certain topics and that got old after the second debate this summer. At some point, Carson has to stop whining and start looking Presidential, and I’m afraid that opportunity has come and gone. Carson made a point of saying he was in this race, but the impression I got from his debate performance tonight was he’s already checked out.
Sorry if this is brief, but holy cow, Lupus is kicking my ass tonight. So even Dianny didn’t have as good a night. Thank God I’m not running for president.
UPDATE: Poll results
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Books by Dianny:
RANT 2.0: Even More Politics & Snark in the Age of Obama,
Liberals Gone WILD!!! The Not-So-Silent Conquering of America,
RANT: Politics & Snark in the Age of Obama,
and two novels: Sliding Home Feet First and Under the Cloud
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