The Republican Debate

I actually watched the Republican “debate” last night. What follows are my thoughts. Before we get to that, you should know that I generally don’t pay too much attention to politics and really don’t know what I am talking about in this arena. Which probably makes me an equal to most of the talking heads. My impressions.

“Winners” – before we get to my list of “winners”, maybe I should explain why I put it in quotes. By “winning”, I mean to define someone who I actually remember today that they said something instructive or constructive last night. Or they looked or acted sincere.

My big winner was Ted Cruz. He seemed passionate and sincere – a true believer. I loved the way he blasted the moderators for what were, at the least, obtuse questions. They were obviously trying to stir up the hornet’s nest and were also trying to damage the candidates for the future. Cruz saw through it and called it out. Bravo.

Another winner was Carly. She answered each and every question very succinctly and came up with some very intelligent, thoughtful answers very quickly. She adeptly brushed off the “you tanked HP” crap from the moderators.

I also liked, but didn’t love, Rubio. Another person who I feel is a true believer. Very well spoken and put Jeb in his place when attacked. Quick on his feet.

Didn’t win, but didn’t lose category:

John Kasich – I have followed Kasich for a while now and he has a lot of great ideas, but he is clearly uncomfortable in a suit. He always looks awkward. I think he would be great in an administration, but I don’t know if his goofy persona will play in a general election.

Huckabee – I think Huckabee is a good and honest person, but I can’t really remember anything specifically he said last night. I do remember that he is eloquent and speaks clearly and slowly and methodically. I would love to have him as an uncle.

Ben Carson – I am not really feeling the almost asleep method of how he speaks, but when he does speak, it is pretty intelligent. No clue how he is topping the polls in Iowa. I think he would be a fine president, but I just don’t really get it at this point.


Rand Paul – While the Libertarian in me likes what Rand Paul has said in the past and said last night, he totally fell flat. I get why he doesn’t want to get into the scrum, but I feel like he sort of mailed it in. Probably the next exit from the race.

Chris Christie – You might disagree with me, but I don’t like the east coast asshole schtick. I am from the Midwest and I deal with my share of East Coast people, and many of them are rude and want to steamroll me and I hate that. He said some great things, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t like the delivery.

Jeb – You could tell he was desperate from the get go. He said nothing witty or remarkable. Probably time for him to pack it in as well.

Trump – same ol same ol. He’s just a blowhard. Says some good things about taxes and actually does a good job answering the questions. But I have always hated him so I probably am not giving him a fair shake.

Well, there you go, a totally amateurish take on the debate last night. Let me have it in the comments.

34 thoughts on “The Republican Debate”

  1. I watched intermittently as my wife wanted to watch the World Series. The moderators were awful and probably hurt their network which, I would think, wants to attract business people.

    “I don’t know if his goofy persona will play in a general election.” Kasich is a squish and needs a better haircut. He should be leading on experience but he has an off-putting persona.
    Autocorrect is determined to spell his name Katich. Anybody know what “Katich” is ?

    Christie had a good night but he is too far to the left for me. If he would come out for repeal of New Jersey’s goofy gun laws, he would rise in my estimation.

    Trump was fairly quiet. I don’t like him but think he could win because the GOP base is so angry. I am kind of resigned, as I have indicated here.

    I like Carson a lot and am waiting until he trips himself up on policy questions. So far the debate moderators have been clueless on policy so it has;t come up. That stupid girl moderator asking the 77% less compensation thing that has been discredited 100 times is an example.

    My favorite right now is Carly although I am warming to Cruz. I did not realize until last night that Rubio is so short. Not a good sign.

    Why is Huckabee still up there ?

    Rand Paul was attractive to me until he went after Cheney with DNC talking points about Halliburton.

  2. Trump won —

    1. He is still ahead nationally if not in Iowa for the moment.

    2. Trump made no mistakes.

    3. Trump made everyone thankful he got the debate limited to 2-hours in his closing statement and obligingly got the lying moderators to remind everyone why…by lying about the shorter time1.

    Cruz —

    He made 2nd place anti-establishment guy with the best lines of the night.

    Bush —

    He just lost to Rubio as the GOP establishment guy.

    Everyone else —

    Chaff in the wind.

    Forget about ‘um.

  3. I still think Trump is walking a tightrope and disaster is on one side.

    We’ll see. We need the other serious candidates, including Carly, just in case.

  4. I watched the World Series because I’ve become intensely interested in baseball this season, but I did monitor comments and video snippets on Twitter which were pretty entertaining.

    One interesting thing I just became aware of is that Rubio and Cruz are the same age, or close to it with Rubio actually about 8 or 9 months older. To me Cruz seems about 20 years older.

    I always liked Fiorina, but she has no follow through. She’ll do well in the debates then disappear. She and Carson are proof that performance in the debates has no effect on standing in the polls.

  5. I’m with Ace on this one.

    In an interview shortly after the debate, Barry Bennett, manager of the Ben Carson campaign, called the session here in Colorado “unfair to everyone” and said the current debate structure should not remain in place. “I think the families need to get together here, because these debates as structured by the RNC are not helping the party,” Bennett said. “There’s not enough time to talk about your plans, there’s no presentation. It’s just a slugfest. All we do is change moderators. And the trendline is horrific. So I think there needs to be wholesale change here.”

    Bennett said he will call Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Thursday to propose a unified call for change. “Corey and I talk regularly, so I will talk to him,” Bennett said. “I will call Frank Sadler (Carly Fiorina’s campaign manager), I will call those guys and say listen, we can choose our own network and our own format. We don’t need to be led around like prize steers.”

    “I think at this point, if five or six of us get together, who generate the largest portion of the audience, we can force change,” Bennett said.

    I disagree on Fiorina but it is still way too early to be dropping any but the fake candidates like Huckabee and Santorum.

  6. Mike Huckabee is a gullible fool whose gullibility resulted in the death of four police officers in a Tacoma, WA suburb. Mike Huckabee felt sorry for Maurice Clemons so he let that budding young sociopath out of prison early.

    From Wikipedia: “Prior to his involvement in the shooting, Clemmons had at least five felony convictions in Arkansas and at least eight felony charges in Washington. His first incarceration began in 1989, at age 17. Facing sentences totaling 108 years in prison, the burglary sentences were reduced in 2000 by Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee to 47 years, which made him immediately eligible for parole. The Arkansas Parole Board unanimously moved to release him in 2000. Clemmons was subsequently arrested on other charges and was jailed several times. In the months prior to the Parkland shooting, he was in jail on charges of assaulting a police officer and raping a child. One week prior to the Parkland shooting, he was released from jail after posting a $150,000 bail bond.”

    A fool like Huckabee should never ever have a position of responsibility anywhere at any time.

  7. For years and years I have been advising people not to watch these debates for information. (If you want to watch them for somewhat the same reason some people watch mud wrestling contests, go ahead.)

    Instead, do a little research. A good place to start would be with the Almanac of American Politics, especially if your library keeps older copies. (It’s expensive, so I don’t advise buying it.)

    Find out what the candidates have done, not what they say in a format almost designed to confuse — with candidates who have strong reasons to confuse you.

    The skills on display in these “debates” are, if anything, negatively correlated with the skills needed in a political executive. For instance, how well a president listens is more important for decision making than how well he talks.

    Using these debates to judge candidates is like picking a football coach on their locker room talks — rather than their won-loss records.

  8. I’m following the series, albeit with the mute button always at hand (as I do with all television nowadays)Joe Buck is a lot, and now that he’s blonde, well…

    I saw some of the clips, Ted taking the bastards on was overdue, and I hope it gets even hotter for the “journalistas”. But how about that Mike? “took on the Clintons and lived to talk about it!”

    Jolly Good Show!

  9. If you are at all familiar with Almanac you’ll know that it will not tell you much, may not tell you anything, about candidates who have never held elective office.

    That doesn’t bother me because I think those candidates are, this year, all unqualified. To use the football analogy again, no one would hire an NFL coach who had no experience coaching. And being president is even harder than being an NFL coach.

    (I might make an exception for a successful general or admiral, especially if they had had served in a very political position, as Eisenhower did in WW II.)

  10. John Kasich is not merely a squish. He is a classic Ohio Republican. John Boehner is another. They all take after Jim Rhodes, a man who served 4 terms as the governor of Ohio in the 60s and 70s. Rhodes only gripe with big government was that he was not getting to spend the money. I have known many of these people very well, and they hate conservatives and libertarians, and they are vocal about it. You really don’t want Kasich to be the Republican Presidential Candidate.

  11. “You really don’t want Kasich to be the Republican Presidential Candidate.”

    I respected him in Congress but he has wimped out in the Governor job. He tied to do what Walker did and then retreated when he got union pushback.

    “That doesn’t bother me because I think those candidates are, this year, all unqualified.”

    I disagree. I would prefer a governor for the experience and had hoped Mike Pence might get in. I liked Walker but he seemed to decide, sort of like Barry Goldwater, that he did not want to go in debt for a futile gesture. We lost a great possibility when Mitch Daniels bowed out of politics but he had a special and very understandable family reason.

    I am tired of lawyers and especially one term Senators. That’s why I like Carly. Too bad she ran for the Senate in California where sanity emigrated years ago. Just imagine what Meg Whitman could have done with this state but even she would need a competent legislature.

    We are in very dangerous times. Maybe this is as dangerous as Weimar Germany in 1930.

  12. “I did not realize until last night that Rubio is so short. Not a good sign.”

    BTW Google says: Marco Rubio 5’10”, Rand Paul 5’8″, Ted Cruz 5’8″, Donald Trump 6’2″, Jeb Bush 6’3″, Chris Christie 5’11”, Ben Carson 6’0″. Carly Fiorina is 5’6″, but she can wear heels. I think Rubio was disadvantaged last night because he was between the two tallest guys. Of course George Pataki is 6’5″, but nobody cares. Google does not give a height for John Kasich, but I have meet him, and I don’t look up at him. I am 5’10”.

    Now that the Democrats have settled on Hillary, Rubio doesn’t have to worry about the general, or wear lifts.

  13. >>In an interview shortly after the debate, Barry Bennett, manager of the Ben Carson campaign, called the session here in Colorado “unfair to everyone” and said the current debate structure should not remain in place…

    That came from a news article that I read as well. I can’t help but think ‘too little, too late’. Where were these folks during the four years they had in the run up to these debates? They haven’t seen this before? This is news to them? One cynical comment I read speculated the RNC is more concerned with the money they get from networks than the damage they inflict on the candidates, the GOP and the country.

    The major criticism I had of Ted Cruz going in to these debates is that I’d never seen him demonstrate the slightest bit of leadership. Being president requires more than being a wonk, it requires an ability to persuade from the podium and to rally people to your cause. Last night was first glimmer I’ve seen from him. I was glad to see him rejecting the absurd premise of the question and take the keys away from the Gatekeepers. He keeps that attitude up he may make some headway.

    I still prefer Fiorina. She’s smart, savvy, understands the problems facing business and families, is a free market Libertarian, has experience running a very large organization, has has a record of being able to make hard decisions and a willingness to take the knife to bureaucracy. We could use someone like that. I think she’d do a great job. Shame she’s never gotten any traction. It’ll be the country’s loss.

  14. If you are interested in Fiorina’s record at HP, I suggest looking at two recent, substantial articles on it in the NYT and the WSJ. I thought both were reasonably fair.

    (I followed her career while she was running HP.)

  15. Can you provide links to the articles? There is a lot of nasty comment from ex-HP workers who got laid off and probably more from other IT workers who got laid off but not by her.

    Tom Perkins had a good rebuttal to some of it.

  16. Mike K. – This Google search will get you to the October 6 WSJ article: “Fiorina + record + HP”

    (The article title is: “Carly Fiorina’s H-P Tenure: A Disputed Legacy”)

  17. Jim, the NYT article sounds true and does not reduce my support of her.

    A comment after the WSJ article.

    “A seemingly unbiased article on Carly Florina’s tenure at HP. Not so fast. Two of the experts you quote, Bill George and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, are Progressive Clinton allies who shill for both the Clinton campaign as well as the Clinton Foundation. ”

    I still support her. Mistakes are not as bad as absence of new ideas.

  18. Here’s another one written at the time of the Compaq merger concerning the angst about the loss of the “HP Way.”

    In fact, if all concerns about The HP Way had been heeded, HP might not have ever developed its most lucrative product line today. Dick Hackborn, a member of the HP board and 30-year veteran of the firm, tells of resistance he got from some HP executives to introducing the company’s first line of printers, a business decision the critics argued was contrary to The HP Way. The printers HP was bringing to market carried lower margins than previous products the company made, Mr. Hackborn was told by skeptics.
    Printers and printer supplies are now HP’s most profitable line of business

    “Whatever The HP Way was then and whatever it is now are different. Change is inevitable.”
    Some of that change came in 1999 when HP’s initial technology, electronic measurement devices, was spun off into Agilent Technologies Inc. of Palo Alto. Many observers call Agilent “the real HP.”

    The company culture was informal and decentralized when it was starting out, but by the 90s the culture was far too loose. Making a profit wasn’t a concern. The “HP Way” basically became guaranteed employment for little results.

    She did the best she could to salvage whatever was left from a dying company.

    The same situation occurred at so many other tech companies. We saw it in Chicago at Motorola, another family owned stalwart with a culture long on stability and short on innovation that eventually imploded.

  19. >>Many observers call Agilent “the real HP.”

    I think many observers would be wrong. Keysight, which split off from Agilent in 2014, is the the real HP legacy company. They’re the ones building oscilloscopes and logic analyzers. Electronic analysis equipment was HP’s forte for almost its entire existence.

  20. One note on Fiorina – she has virtually no donor base and no ground organization. As opposed to Jeb! who has both but no actual voters. While she does come off well in debates and speeches, this is not a sign of a campaign that actually expects to win.

    She’s running for veep or a cabinet position.

  21. Michael, well they were right. That article is from 2002.

    What really held Fiorina back at HP was that she gave too much deference to the obsolete company culture. It was always hanging over her head and framed every big decision, best exemplified with her Rules of the Garage ad campaign. As Google and the other next generation Web 2.0 companies have shown, the real “way” of success in the new millennium was talk with noble platitudes and then act ruthlessly.

  22. “I would prefer a governor for the experience…”

    Me too. At the very least someone who has long term experience running a large, complex organization. I don’t want another wet-behind-the-ears Senator who can’t manage himself out of a paper sack, as we have now.

  23. “She’s running for veep or a cabinet position.” I would agree with this as four or five others are. Amazing that Carly is polling better than others with tons o money and big ground games.

  24. Interaction with several HP people and former HP people, in the pre-Fiorino era, leads me to believe there really was a culture problem there. Quite a few of these individuals (and they were at a range of management/executive levels) had far higher opinions of themselves than was justified.

    OTOH, there are reports that Fiorino was pretty narcissistic in her approach, specifically, that she had the photos of the founders in the lobby taken down and replaced with her own. If this is true, then even if she did not direct this to be done personally, it suggests that whoever was responsible for the lobby decoration must have believed she was the sort of person who would like this.

  25. Grurray…from the Rules of the Garage link:

    “No Politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage)”

    It is also ridiculous to believe that in a “garage” of multiple thousands of people there is not going to be politics, and there is not going to be a need for something resembling bureaucracy. IMO, a leader who does not recognize these basic facts is likely to wind up presiding over an environment in which the bureaucracy and the politics are especially rampant and especially toxic.

  26. It would be good to have a governor – but the ones that seemed to have really accomplished something (Walker, Perry, and in his own way Bush and even Jindal) couldn’t really do the image & campaigning. I don’t know why, (Bush does seem over.) A lot didn’t get in. Perhaps they have more trouble putting on a national campaign – I don’t know.

    The neat thing about Fiorina is that you can watch her mind work and it is a pleasure – she works from assumptions I find moral and attractive, she sees means that are practical and work, and she ties it all together. (I’m not sure if this is from a really strong liberal arts degree, her two mba’s, or being the daughter of a lawyer/judge widely respected – though clearly a lot of it is just brains and being in touch with reality.) One of the Fox hosts, however, had complained that they tried to get her on after the last debate and she kept turning them down. It may be true that she isn’t serious about the presidency, since those forums can lead to money and poll points.

    Rubio shone and so did Cruz. What was especially attractive was the kind of leadership Cruz showed, not just in going after the moderators but by doing it in a way that united the Republicans. He may seem divisive in the senate, but what he did Wednesday was remarkably and quickly unifying – and boosting to the morale of those guys on the stage. And Rubio’s crack about the biggest pac being the main street media turned around all those biased money questions.

    Probably the moderators still don’t think they did anything stupid, unprofessional, disgusting. But they should. Of course, this is the same media that produced a star who could make an argument that new “Truth” movie is honest and a pretty unanimous argument that Hillary Clinton’s dissembling won the day.

  27. @Ginny – I read somewhere – probably the WSJ – that the chartered plane taking all the CNBC crew going back was very quiet – I think they knew they screwed up – or more likely – overstepped their bias to the point it was obvious to all.

  28. I have read or heard that Cruz has a good “ground game” and that may be very significant. The 2012 election was lost, I think, because the GOP did not have a competent GOTV campaign. They scheduled the convention too late in the year, possible due to the Nixon-era concept that voters did not pay attention until after Labor Day, or possibly just due to ineptitude. Gingrich gave the Democrats the material to use against Romney with his attacks on “Vulture Capitalism” and the GOP could not respond all summer because they did not yet have an official candidate.

    Republicans seem much more concerned with following rules and laws than Democrats but that is a characteristic of most of us, I suspect.

    I don;t know if Carly is winging it or has an organization. I hope she does.

  29. I admit I didn’t think too highly of Cruz until recently. I felt he was a bit of a self-promotor. However, after seeing the betrayal by the so-called “Republican” majority in Congress the past year, as one of the few credible conservatives in the race he’s now looking like a safe port in the political storm of the GOPs failed leadership.

  30. I agree that Cruz is for real and, while I do not like first term Senators as candidates, he could go the whole way and I would be OK with it.

    I’d still rather see him as Chief Justice.

  31. Cruz has GOTV and registration drives in the first six voting states.

    Reportedly Cruz also has county GOTV supervisors in every Virginia country.

    Below are two reports from Virginians over on the Conservative Tree House weblog —

    FYI – Cruz does have a campaign for signatures in Virginia. It was working the right venues to get the needed signatures. I know, I signed a petition for the 10th congressional district.

    I also know Cruz hired a few (3-4) peeps to get signatures. Funding then stopped and one of the few were transplanted to Iowa (one of the best who would be ‘pitch perfect’ for Iowa ops).

    So hi activity through 1st week in Oct followed by a stop in funding and re-focused effort in Iowa. I also know that Cruz’s data operation are using SW that has not been used in a national, US campaign. They brag about their data operations. I have a modest amount of insight to these things. I do not believe the Cruz campaign and their data operations statements.

    There are few GOTV programs that can manage a national campaign. The Dems have 1. Can’t use that one. There’s i360, currently in use in VA for our state Sen and other local races. This is a ‘live’ test for 2016. The other is rVotes built by the same developer team that built the Dem tool The last is Voter Gravity which has capability but has real weaknesses compared to i360 (GOPe tool) and rVotes.

    So short version, Cruz campaign probably needs to score well in IA and NH to remain viable. I think they will qualify for VA, barely.

    For reasons particular to VA, the GOPe is STRONGLY incentivized to make sure everyone who’s close is pulled across the line for primary qualification. For history just look back at 2012 and the issue of VA ‘slating.’ Trust me, GOPe will tread lightly on qualifying peeps. As I write, there are GOPe peeps who cannot travel alone in 2/3 of VA congressional districts due to slating. Slating was Team Cantor’s tyrannical attempt to crush the TEA Parties and independent conservatives in VA. Slating more than any other issue is why Cantor lost. The slating effort created the hidden, below the radar, anti-Cantor army that pulled Dave Brat across the line.

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