No, Fiorina Didn't Win Last Night's Debate, Despite What The Villagers Wanted And What They're Saying Today
Going into last night's CNN debate, Trump certainly had a target on his back-- and he knew it. Last night and this morning the TV gasbags and clueless pundits all declared Fiorina the winner. But debate viewers didn't agree, not even close. She came in a very distant second to Trump in the Drudge post-debate poll. Trump was deemed the winner by 58.3%, with Fiorina at 15.9%, Cruz at 5.9%... all the way to Walker and Huckabee at less than 1%. The Time survey showed Trump with 64%, followed by Fiorina with 15%, Rubio with 5%, Carson and Paul with 4%, Jeb with 3%, Cruz, Christie and Kasich with 2%, Scott Walker with 1% and Huckabee with 0%.
Yesterday, GOP establishment operative Rick Wilson kicked the day off at Politico by telling the contestants-who-are-not-Trump that it's time to declare war on Donald Trump. His point was that they had to pulverize Trump instead of trembling in "existential panic over Donald Freaking Trump and his singlehanded destruction of the field of some of best and most qualified candidates in the last twenty-five years." Wilson suggested 11 principles for them to keep in mind when dealing with Trump. Here are some:
• Of course you have to attack him. One of the dumb, but cherished tropes of this campaign, especially after Rick Perry’s exit from the race, is that to attack Donald Trump invites instant decline and doom in the polls. While correlation and causation are the kind of low-class, stupid arguments only people who didn’t go to Wharton make, Trump and his enablers certainly encourage this among his credulous followers (and more than a few conventional wisdom-loving process-story journalists) who believe any attack on the godhead is doomed to rebound.Jeb's operatives said that Jeb would take Trump on. He tried but, unlike Fiorina, didn't land any punches. He demanded, for example, that Trump apologize to his wife for remarking that she's a Mexican immigrant, which she is. Trump barked back at him and Jeb withered away. Other than Walker and Huckabee, Jeb was probably the biggest loser last night.
With the scenery-chewing, oxygen-sucking political black hole that is Donald Trump, I have one question for the “don’t attack” camp; how’s that working out for you?
...I know you’re waking up, slowly. With the exception of you, Ted Cruz, who appears to be playing the role of political pilot fish to Trump’s Great White (the classiest of sharks; really, really, tremendous predator), most candidates have run a few hit-it-and-quit-it attacks, then fallen victim to the showman’s juvenile put-down machine more suited to an 8th grade locker room than a presidential candidate.
• Go after his money and his business record. Trump is not worth $10 billion. He’s not worth $5 billion. It’s fundamental to his brand image, his own (monstrous) ego needs, and the Trumpentariat’s love of him as the rich dude on the horse, unable to be corrupted by Washington’s venal blandishments.
On stage-- tonight and in future debates-- remind him he got his money the really old-fashioned way: from Daddy. Remind him that, for all his smack-talk about the Chinese, when he did business with them in the 1990s they beat him like a government mule and left him with almost nothing from the deal.
How have you guys never once asked him about his ties to the mob? I know, right? A guy in the casino business in Atlantic City in the 1980s and 1990s and with big Manhattan construction projects, pre-Giuliani? Go read Wayne Barrett or Tim O’Brien’s books, or at least have your oppo guys do it.
He fumbled the bankruptcy question the first time. That’s a hint for you. Come on...his companies filed bankruptcy twice for his casinos. Casinos, which are scientifically designed to take voters in his core demo and part them from their money, and this guy can’t make the payments? This line of attack should a slow pitch over the plate for any of you candidates.
If you, your strategists or your oppo people can’t understand the value of calling his B.S. on his money and making him break the celebrity character he plays on TV, please leave the race now.
• Laugh off his attacks. Stupid tropes like “low-energy” and “loser” and “you asked me for a donation” tell you this is a grown-up schoolyard bully and putdown artist... Don’t be afraid to throw your head back in laughter to the point where you get asked why, and reply, “This guy? President? You’re f-ing kidding me, right?” You want a headline from the debate? There you go.
• You can't shame him, so mock him. Trump’s narcissism renders him immune to shame for his lies, flip-flops, pandering, inconsistencies, elisions and general lack of substance. Enabled by 40 years of being carried in the sedan chair, praised along the way by an army of toadies and jocksniffers who would make the average courtier to Louis XIV blush, he’s accustomed to his minions telling him that his farts smell of daffodils and spring rain. Insult his vanity, not his record.
He cannot be shamed on policy, partly because he doesn’t remember what he said from one day to the next. He lives in the immediate moment, with no brakes on his internal monologue, no retrospection and no future accountability for his words. Don’t try. He won’t process it, and his supporters are locked in the Trump Reality Distortion Field.
• Don’t indulge his filibustering, lying and showmanship. Somewhere between 50 percent and 400 percent of the words that come out of his pie hole are lies, exaggerations, fantasies or mis-remembered quotes from emails with “FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD:” in the header. Interrupt him. Work the refs. Correct his lies.
• This is now reality television, not Lincoln-Douglas. If the Summer of Trump taught you nothing, realize that this year’s electoral Coliseum is filled with a rabid horde, screaming for amusement and blood. Be in the debate you’re actually in, not the one in your head.
• Stop worrying about the edge cases of the Trump demo. Are you worried about alienating the Trump demo? Want to be their new hero when he implodes? Well, stop. You will never be Trump. You will never light up those dark corners in their limbic system with the fear and loathing of The Other he inspires. They are worshiping Donald Trump like a cult leader, not a political leader. You can’t bring them home until he is destroyed. You won’t win them over by moral suasion, policy, politics, arguments about electability or ideology.
• Don’t try to outbid Trump’s version of crazy. You can’t out-crazy him on anything. Nothing you do will be as fabulous, as world-class, as elite, and as terrific as Trump’s fantasies. He can always up the ante. If you want to build a 60-foot wall he’ll want to build a 90-foot wall. If you say you’ll deport 11 million people too, he’ll go up to 30 million. If you say you want to eliminate the 14th Amendment birthright citizens protections, he’ll want to undo it retroactively back through generations. If you say you want to arrest illegal alien criminals and deport them, he’ll propose armies of robot wolves to hunt them on pay-per-view. You can’t outbid him on this, and if I have to tell you why you shouldn’t try you should not be in this race.
Rand Paul must have figured his campaign is in do-or-die mode anyway and if he didn't take Trump down he was bound to be the next Rick Perry roadkill. And he wasn't shy about telegraphing his intentions. Tuesday he told the Daily Caller:
I think he deserves both barrels. I want to make sure everyone in the whole country knows he’s a fake conservative... I think ultimately when voters fully grasp who he is and what he supports, I think they’ll run away with their hair on fire... The message hasn’t penetrated yet that Donald Trump isn’t one of us. He’s barely a Republican. He’s been a Democrat. He’s been a huge supporter of Harry Reid, Charlie Rangel. He’s the consummate insider, buying and selling politicians.John Harwood's much-discussed interview with Carly Fiorina Wednesday was headlined with her threatening to go after him. Harwood noted, by way of introduction, that the failed CEO "has been campaigning in cowboy boots, and Republican front-runner Donald Trump is about to get kicked."
Even Boing Boing got in on the Trump piñata game. "He’s like an eighth-grade girl," Rosalind Wiseman told Olivia Nuzzi of the Daily Beast. "As an educator who works with children, it’s an amazing thing to watch," she said, "because you really wish the adults would be the adults and be able to check the person who’s abusing power and being so callous to other people." Wiseman is the author of a book about middle-school girl bullying called Queen Bees and Wannabes, which served as the inspiration for the movie Mean Girls. Trump might behave like a mean girl, says Wiseman, but his wealth and privilege mean that he hasn't ever had "a moment of reckoning," like most bullies do, which "gets them to reform their behavior." Because Trump has never had to deal with any consequences for his bad behavior, he will continue to bully people.
The very first question from Jake Tapper at the JV debate, to Piyush Jindal, was why he attacked Trump. Jindal reiterated that Trump is a narcissist. The rest of the kiddie event was dull and uninspired, although Lindsey Graham was hysterical about "killing them there before they come here." It didn't matter what the question was, that was the answer.
The first question at the adult debate was Tapper asking Fiorina if she'd feel comfortable with a President Trump's finger on the nuclear button. She refused to answer, other than denigrating Trump as "an entertainer," ironically in the presidential library of a former entertainer. Trump immediately attacked Rand Paul asserting he didn't even belong on the stage.
Trump knows how to shut Jeb up:
Jeb, apparently confused, came back babbling about how his brother kept America safe. The biggest attack on American soil in over a century happened not just while George W. Bush was president but because he and Cheney were grotesquely hubristic and unbelievably incompetent. They aggressively ignored evidence that an attack was coming, and over 3,000 Americans were killed on 9/11 because of Bush and Cheney. Jeb and the other lunatics on the stage last night seem to think Hillary Clinton was more-- even criminally-- responsible for four deaths in Benghazi. The whole debate was an exercise in hypocrisy.
|Climate change? Not for Republicans, especially|
not for Florida wingnut Marco Rubio
I don't recall the word "poverty" coming up except one time when one of the clowns claimed Obama caused it. Toward the end of the debate, when they got to the funny questions about what their Secret Service nicknames would be-- Trump said he'd pick "Humble" after Jeb claimed "Eveready"-- someone asked about climate change (see the photo just above this paragraph for the candidates' spectacular performance art in response). Only 2 of the 11 candidates even acknowledged the question, with Rubio, a total climate-change denier from Florida (as his own state's coastline is sinking beneath the waves), making some kind of incoherent statement that "America is not a planet." All the candidates agreed that marriage equality was wrong, and most of them agreed that mass deportation is fine and that Planned Parenthood needed to be defunded or worse.
Bernie summed the whole thing up well in a short Facebook post that had 158,751 "likes" this morning when I woke up:
The evening was really pretty sad. This country and our planet face enormous problems. And the Republican candidates barely touched upon them tonight. And when they did, they were dead wrong on virtually every position they took. The Republican Party cannot be allowed to lead this country.If you feel inspired by last night's debate, you can contribute to Bernie's campaign here.
That's why we need a political revolution.