Worse than the performance of the troika of press people was the realization, as we watched, that there was hardly a man or woman on the stage in Boulder we
would be proud to have as representing our nation. By whom we would not be embarrassed abroad. In whom we could place trust and confidence.
Beginning with the figure on stage left, Rand Paul. Although we had often admired his independence, Wednesday night he appeared more as quixotic, liable to want to force the Congress, the nation, and our allies into considering some off-the-wall hobby-horse that was consuming him. He promised us he would begin filibustering legislation first thing in the morning. Most of us have had more than our share of filibustering.
To his right stood Chris Christie, New Jersey’s governor who, according to polls, wants him to withdraw from the race. Christie’s response is that his constituents love him, are used to him, and don’t want to lose him. The other reading of the polls has his constituents replying they think he would not make a good president. Visually Christie belongs on ‘The Sopranos,’ and too often in the past he has used direct confrontation that seems to confirm his membership in that society. His real talent is in scoping out what the public wants, as he did during the debate. Lots of talk. Little action. A more vocal Obama in disguise, just a Republican.
Carly Fiorino stood ”proudly on her little flat feet to say…” once again how her business career had empowered her…the difficulty here being that her success or failure in business depends on who is telling the story. Her attack on Planned Parenthood during debate number 1 was such a gigantic lie that, to us, she’s unthinkable as a candidate of justice and civil rights.
Ted Cruz is proud of having done nothing. He is proud, he said, of leading the fight against Obamacare, proud of leading the fight against Planned Parenthood, proud leading the fight to close down the government. He’s a gifted speaker of overweening ambition and no accomplishment. This is the single most dangerous man on the stage. It is he who can make the right-wing in Kansas vote against itself.
Ben Carson looks sleepy because he is, and lazy. Here again is a candidate who has the time to study and doesn’t. His ideas, such as they are, are impenetrable. Yes, he speaks quietly. He has to. He has nothing to say.
Donald Trump “jes keeps on rollin’ and rollin’, and rollin ‘.” Amazing. He’s trying to tone down his enthusiasm and confidence, and not doing a great job of it. People love him because they love to watch tall buildings being demolished. But he’s trying to learn. “Hi, ya, Queenie! We’ve got lots in common. The people love us!” Would be our worst nightmare, but perhaps, in time, he could learn to stay silent and ask good questions. Meanwhile, he’s an embarrassment.
Mario Rubio is really slippery. His pushback against Jeb’s lecture on senate attendance was masterful. There is, however, the little matter of finance. This guy with a checkbook is a menace and worse at financial planning than we are. (Which is disastrous.) And it’s no longer necessary to tell us about his family and their struggles. Every family struggles. What’s important is his focus on the country, rather than on himself. Ambition is swell, but tempered with vision is what’s required. Too young, too unseasoned, too confused about immigration – his Achilles’ heel. Re his ambition: he’s going to be a candidate for the next thirty years.
Jeb Bush, for every new resolution to toughen up, get cracking, have fun, become a better debater and candidate, is standing in a sinking boat in a Florida bayou, eight years out of office and lost. That he plans to use his brother’s team of advisors is not reassuring. Probably the most capable candidate, he’s become a lump of coal – which you know he’ll promote. As well as any big business proposal or advantage sought by lobbyists. He would cost us a fortune.
John Kasich is middle-aged, grouchy, and effective. He has about as much chance as the proverbial snowball. He was a good Congressman, a good governor, and would make a reasonable showing but for being prolife. (Of course, in the end, aren’t we all?) He gets the short end of the stick in these debates and comes off as angry and scolding, which he is. Needs tempering but not too much. He really wants to do good things. We’re inclined to let him try.
As for the “undercard,” occasionally a flower bursts into bloom but the weeds are just too tall for it to be seen.