Roger L. Simon

The Missing Man in the Big GOP Debate

It was a fun Republican debate Thursday night, definitely the most spirited, with some of the best interchanges since Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but, sadly, the candidates must have missed the new memo about who their adversary is supposed to be, giving the whole event a decidedly retro feel.

Listen guys (and gals — this would definitely include Carly, who was, no surprise, the star of the undercard), you were running against the wrong Democratic candidate tonight.

You’re not going to be running against Hillary. Our Lady of Chappaqua has 150, count ’em, 150 FBI agents looking into her doings. What single person in our history has had anything close to that? Maybe Al Capone, but he wasn’t a politician.  You think they’re not going to come up with something?  For all we know, she’s already plea-bargaining her pardon.  If you don’t believe me, check out DC Whispers’Bill & Hillary Clinton Fear the End – Go Into Survival Mode.”

No, no Hillary. You’re going to be running against Bernie (or Joe Biden or Jerry Brown or Fauxcahontas, but most probably Bernie, because he’s done all the spade work and his supporters are going to be mighty angry if the Democratic Party fat cats cut him out).

And here’s the bad news — Bernie is a much more dangerous opponent. Most of the GOP candidates have been thinking — oh, well, he’ll be much easier to beat than Hillary.  He’s a socialist, for crissakes.  Didn’t Margaret Thatcher put an end to that silliness decades ago?

Well, no. What do you think ninety percent of the college professors in America have been teaching for the last twenty-five years?  And who have been their students?  Just about everybody.  No wonder Bernie, as of this moment, is winning head-to-head against all the Republicans, while Hillary is going nowhere.

Oh, well.  Maybe they’ll wake up to him for the next GOP debate.  In the meantime, on to Thursday’s shootout….

For one of the smartest guys around, Ted Cruz sure served up the biggest softball of many a political season when he tried to pick on Donald Trump for coming from New York… or should I say in this instance New Yawk? Not surprisingly,  Trump was more than up to it, possibly sealing the nomination for himself with his impassioned defense of his home city on 9/11.

Well, maybe that’s too much to say — and Cruz had previously gotten his innings on Donald on the tedious birth/citizenship issue — but nevertheless it was Trump’s night, partially handed to him by Cruz.  He also had fine moments justifying his (and our) anger at the condition of the country and replying to a question on what he would do with his huuuge business if elected.  And when it’s Trump’s night this late in the game, that could mean, well… we’ll find out soon enough.

Trump did so well, in fact, that he obscured another excellent performance by Cruz (except for the foregoing) and an even better one by Marco Rubio.  Both Rubio and Cruz have gotten very good at this. (And struggle mightily, as I have pointed out before, to differentiate themselves when their actual voting records are remarkably similar.)  Actually the two men have always have been first-rate debaters, which made Ted’s bobble all the more surprising.  Rubio scored especially well Thursday on foreign policy, as he tends to. The Luntz focus group gave him high ratings on gun control as well.  It will be interesting to see if it’s reflected in his poll numbers.

As for the others, Carson had announced on The O’Reilly Factor that he was going to come out swinging this time.  He didn’t.  This may have been the good doctor’s last hurrah.

Christie, as usual, had his moments, but I doubt they will be enough to bring him into the upper tier.  If he doesn’t come in second or third in New Hampshire, he’s gone (or should be).

Jeb?  Sanders’ catch phrase is Feel the Bern.  Jeb’s should be Feel the Burn — only in his case it’s money.  Every time he talks all I can think of is barrels of cash going over a waterfall.  This time was no different.

About Kasich I have nothing to say.  I never saw the appeal and still don’t.

Well, that’s it. Soon enough, people will actually… vote.  Think about that.