Thursday night in Detroit, I finally found something more disgusting than gefilte fish: the GOP presidential debate. I was waiting for Jerry Springer to show up. OR Maury Povich coming on stage exclaiming, “You are NOT the father!” It was downright nasty.
Honestly, it’s not even worth going through the winners and losers. The big loser was the GOP. The, “Grand Old Party didn’t look grand at all. Instead, they looked gross. The Gross Old Party. Reince Priebus is faced with a crucial decision now: does he go with Tylenol or Excedrin? Which medication will take away this big fat headache? Consistent angry insult laden testy exchanges flooded the entire evening. You couldn’t blame folks for turning the whole thing off and wonder what in the world is going on within the GOP.
If there was any winner, I guess it would be John Kasich. He was the one candidate that decided not to jump into the sewer so he came across as level headed and policy oriented. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio can play at Kasich’s level but they’ve decided to dive head first into the sewer with Trump. I’m not convinced at all that this is the right strategy to defeat Trump. If you’re going to defeat him, you need to show a serious policy and presidential contrast. If you think Trump is not a serious candidate, then be the serious candidate and show the clear distinction. If you think Trump’s conduct isn’t presidential, then be presidential to show the contrast. Instead, Rubio and Cruz are trying to be Trump-light and you can’t win that game. I understand that they have to go after him and well they should. But there’s a difference between pointing out policy differences, discussing Trump University, etc and swimming in the gutter with Trump. Rubio is the main culprit of this but Cruz has been sucked in too. I think it’s far better to go with the Kasich approach. If you really want to expose Trump then don’t be like him. Be the polar opposite. You can still channel anger so you relate to voters but let Trump live on his own island. Don’t join him.
I think ultimately Trump won’t suffer in the polls after this debate because if anything, Kasich’s numbers will probably go up since he looked the most presidential on that stage. If his numbers go up a little, that’s just going to solidify the split and leave Trump sitting pretty.
The bottom line here is that the visceral reaction we saw on the debate stage in Detroit Thursday night really isn’t just about a couple desperate candidates who want to be president. Obviously, Rubio and Cruz are desperate to take down Trump before it’s too late. But there’s something larger going on here. I truly believe Cruz and Rubio think Trump will be a horrible president who will sink conservatism and republicanism. They’re fighting for that as well. But I must say it does lead to this question: if Cruz and Rubio truly believe Trump will be disastrous for the country, why would they support him in the General Election? The answer can’t just be simply that Hillary is worse. It can’t just be the lesser of two evils scenario. If I was a republican who thought a republican candidate would definitely be a disaster for this country, then I couldn’t put a check next to their name. I understood they took a pledge but that was before they saw the “full Donald.” How can you support him now? It undercuts your argument but I guess they feel they have no alternative unless they can come up with something before the convention in Cleveland.