Reflections on the first serious GOP Statesman's debate

Article author: 
Fred Elbel
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
11 March 2016
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

The CNN GOP Presidential debate on March 10, 2016 was the first serious debate. The moderators refrained from attacking candidates and abstained from goading candidates into attacking each other. The media ratings game and donor-class driven political agendas fell by the wayside as a serious debate on issues of substance commenced.

It was a statesman's debate.

Trump gets full credit for moving the Overton Window - the range of ideas acceptable for public discourse. Without Trump, immigration would not even be a topic in the GOP debates. The choke-hold that the donor class has had on this and other nation-breaking issues has been released, and they are flailing madly to regain control.

Here are a few articles reflecting on the debate:

The Statesman’s Debate: How CNN Made The Presidential Debate Great Again, Breitbart, March 11, 2016.

...Gone were the interruptions, the insults, the moderator struggles, and the complaints about not getting enough time. There were no charts, video clips, and few questions that invited candidates to attack each other...

It worked. The candidates were appreciative of the change in tone, praising CNN’s approach in the post-debate interviews...

Tonight’s GOP debate — basically a non-event, PowerLine, March 10, 2016.

...The mild tone of the debate was due, in part, to CNN’s approach. Perhaps feeling embarrassed by their previous outings, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash asked policy questions almost exclusively. Food fight questions were left for near the end, and then only of the tepid variety.

More importantly, Trump’s rivals weren’t interested in a food fight. Marco Rubio faces a make-or-break contest in Florida. He cannot afford a Chris Christie style suicide mission (though some might say he has already conducted one).

John Kasich has to win in Ohio. He has stayed alive by being above the fray. Tonight was no time for him to get down and dirty.

Ted Cruz pressed Trump the hardest, but almost entirely on policy...

John Kasich has to win in Ohio. He has stayed alive by being above the fray. Tonight was no time for him to get down and dirty.

Ted Cruz pressed Trump the hardest, but almost entirely on policy. Cruz will always do well when debating policy, and he did so tonight. The same goes for Rubio...

Trump still hasn’t mastered policy, but he is good at funneling policy questions into his wheelhouse, which is trade. When he debates trade, he injects the force of his personality and his reputation as a dealmaker into the debate and more than holds his own...

Debate Grades: Trump Comes Out on Top, Breitbart, March 11, 2016.

Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, if tonight’s debate mattered at all.

That’s not because Trump was so stellar. It’s because the other candidates were apparently under the dramatic misimpression that they were competing for the Belle of the Miami Cotillion.

The goal of the other candidates was simple: demonstrate that Trump is unfit for the presidency. Nobody did that.

The debate was substantive and policy-driven. Boring, in other words...

Yes, he said some completely idiotic things about the Israelis and Palestinians, for example – once again, he drew moral equivalence between the two sides...

Donald Trump Restores the Historic Jacksonian Alliance with One Simple Formula: Oppose the Donor Class, Breitbart, March 11, 2016.

Whatever happens next, Donald Trump has already made political history. He has restored the most powerful political coalition in the annals of US elections—namely, the cross-regional, strange-bedfellows alliance of North and South.

Yes, Trump has revived the coalition that, across the centuries, has lined up behind such disparate figures as Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton...

So can Donald Trump, this century’s answer to Andrew Jackson, go all the way? Can he make 2016 into another 1828? It’s too soon to tell, but the indicators are favorable: The Jacksonian Alliance is now on the march, heading toward Washington...

GOP debate winners and losers, The Hill, March 11, 2016.


Businessman Donald Trump

One of the ironclad rules of political campaigns is that a front-runner gains from a debate that produces no game-changing moments.

By that standard, Trump had by far the best night on Thursday. His rivals highlighted their differences with him, but there was little personal enmity. Trump maintained a calmer demeanor throughout and was never knocked off his stride...

The party establishment may not yet be reconciled to the prospect of Nominee Trump, but there will at least be a collective sigh of relief about the more measured exchanges on Thursday night in Miami...


Democrats and fans of recent GOP debates 

Democrats had reacted with undisguised glee to previous Republican debates, which they believed damaged the party’s brand and curbed its capacity to reach out to voters in the center ground. There was much less for them to latch onto on Thursday...

Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism, Unz Review, March 10, 2016.

...Trump’s run has opened the way, for the first time in more than a generation, toward progress and return—progress beyond ossified ideologies, and return to a superior understanding of man, politics, America and the West itself...

Trump is, in the decisive sense, more conservative than the entire conservative establishment. Unlike them, he is actually trying to conserve something bigger than his job and status: namely, the American nation...

The first task is a simple reassertion of American nationhood and sovereignty. Which begins, yes, with regaining control over our borders and dismantling our insane immigration policies, both formal (e.g., the idiotic visa lottery) and informal (the bipartisan consensus not to enforce any law that results in less immigration—at least from non-European sources).

Let the full enormity of the crisis we face finally be realized. The left supports mass immigration and the Davos economy—top plus bottom against the middle—for obvious reasons. Republicans support it in fealty to their true masters (their donor class)...

[long article, but a good read]


Interestingly, candidate position inconsistencies on the TPP trade agreement and H-1B job displacement were revealed during the debate:

Rubio, Cruz, Kasich All Backed Obamatrade, Pretend They Didn’t at Miami Debate, Breitbart, March 10, 2016.



The notable impact of Donald Trump shifting the immigration Overton Window has been sorely felt within the Democratic party:

Democrats clash over immigration at Florida debate, The Washington Post, March 9, 2016:

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton accused each other of either failing immigrants or pandering to them during a spirited debate Wednesday evening defined in part by the candidates’ most direct attacks on one another and on Republican front-runner Donald Trump...

In front of an expressive audience at Miami Dade College, each candidate pledged to go further than President Obama to protect immigrants in the United States without proper documentation and to give them a path to achieve U.S. citizenship...

Clinton said she was disturbed by many things that Trump has said and stood for, including his call for a ban on Muslims seeking to enter the United States. She called such positions “un-American.”

“I think what he has promoted is not at all in keeping with American values,” she said. She mocked Trump’s plan to build what she called a “very tall wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sanders also stopped short of using the term “racist,” but he called Trump’s promise to deport all of the approximately 12 million immigrants who are here illegally “vulgar.”..


2016 presidential primary debate schedules, Washington Post, March 9, 2016.