Contemptuous disgust is the emotion that patriots feel these days when we have to endure bureaucrats and talking heads on television, or anywhere else for that matter. But contempt and disgust are far too mild to describe the reaction of most of us in the wake of the GOP presidential debate in Boulder, CO on Wednesday night.
Could there be any more embarrassing of a performance on the part of the American media than that provided by imperious John Harwood, snide Becky Quick, and buffoonish Carl Quintanilla? If we were watching Homer and Marge Simpson strutting around in a nudist camp, it would be more cringe worthy maybe.
The horrifying aspect of this abysmal TV charade is that the three CNBC moderators are no doubt feeling like they shined in the spotlight thrust upon them. Because of the “self-induced blinders” that blot out reality for liberal know-nothings, they are probably feeling proud of themselves. This, despite the fact that a sixth grader could see they were puerile, illiterate, and excruciatingly biased.
The Night’s Winner
The evening was saturated with rancor and stupidity, yet several wonderful moments were given to us.
Ted Cruz clearly stood out as the winner of the debate with a brilliant attack on the moderators that brought patriots of America to their feet cheering. Thirty minutes into the proceedings (marred by shocking fatuity from the questioners) Cruz was asked about the spending bill just passed in the House. He deftly sidestepped Quintanilla and seized the moment to unload on the god-awful behavior of CNBC.
Shakespeare’s famous quote – “There is a tide in the affairs of men” – came to mind while watching Cruz’s brief but brilliant oration. Or perhaps English professor, John Keating, in Dead Poets Society, telling his students to “Seize the day.” It was great theater, and it was a signal that there is a strong, articulate conservative waiting in the wings if Trump falls because of the narcissistic load he carries and if Carson slides into the likable but unqualified for the White House category of political aspirants.
“Let me say something at the outset,” Cruz fired back to the doltish Quintanilla. ”The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. [huge applause] This is not a cage match…look at the questions – ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?” [thunderous applause]
Cruz then scolded the moderators as if they were schoolboys: “The questions that are being asked shouldn’t be trying to get people to tear into each other. It should be what are your substantive positions!” [more thunderous applause]
Cruz is highly intelligent, a Harvard graduate, and a polished debater. We just saw with his sterling performance in Boulder why he must not be counted out. His poll numbers are meager at present, but his audacity is huge. He seized the moment, which is what leaders do. They react spontaneously in the face of danger or evil or stupidity and dazzle with their oratory and their conviction.
The Rest of the Pack
How did the rest of the candidates fare? Not nearly as well as Cruz. Rubio stood out with his assertive speaking style and personality. He has an agile brain that spews information in an engaging, staccato manner. It’s a winning approach for debates. But unfortunately he is not a true conservative; he is very weak on immigration and the principles of freedom. He strikes me as a cherubic Machiavellian who will always be suspect. Not a man we want in the White House.
Donald Trump was strangely subdued as if he was trying to dial it back and appear presidential. The Donald has a big problem. If he tones it down, he loses his charisma and drops in poll numbers. But if he continues to fire up the furnace of insults he puts himself on the path to inevitable disenchantment from the electorate. Verbal brickbats and ridicule can only carry one so far. My guess is that he is drifting into the danger zone, and with his mediocre performance in Boulder, his “aura of inevitability” will start to show cracks in the coming months.
Jeb Bush, the poor little brother and tag-a-long of the Kennebunkport presidencies, seems so forlorn trying to bravely follow in his father’s and brother’s footsteps to do his family’s bidding. But his enthusiasm is, like manliness at a soiree of fops, noticeably absent. The stature of his father and the Texas charm of his brother are nowhere to be seen. The first two Bushes were disastrous from a patriot’s perspective, but Big Jeb is a lumbering giraffe that makes them look like fleet gazelles in the arena of politics. Life has cruelly placed Jeb last in the dynastic dream of grandfather Prescott, and unfortunately the country has soured on Bushes. Thus the ponderous Jeb is left to flounder in futility as luckier and more self-assured candidates speed past him.
Ben Carson is the human embodiment of Winston Churchill’s famous quote about Russia, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Sphinx-like in his persona, he gazes out at the world with mystery written all over him. Is he wise and profound, or is he just bold and opportunistic? A brain surgeon certainly must have a steel core and a calm disposition. He must possess a level of courage that escapes ordinary men. And I’m sure Carson has all these attributes. He is totally unflappable, but his demeanor borders on the somnolent. Could this man govern the most powerful nation in the world in the tempestuous times that are descending upon us? Immense doubts linger in one’s mind. Being president of zonked out America in a world of ISIS, mastodonic China, and the cauldron of conflagration that humans have made of modernity will require more than the requisite skills for brain surgery.
John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Chris Christy, and Mike Huckabee make up the rest of the roster. They have as much chance of winning the GOP nomination as a pond of toads has of winning the Mirror Ball on Dancing With the Stars.
What are we to conclude from all this? Ted Cruz would make a fine president. And CNBC’s three stooges make CNN’s talking heads look like Tom Jefferson when we know they are the spawn of Saul Alinsky breast-fed by Hanoi Jane.
Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas and the Director of Americans for a Free Republic www.afr.org. A graduate of Beloit College in Wisconsin, his articles have appeared in such publications as The American Conservative, Insight, Liberty, The Freeman, The Social Critic, The Dallas Morning News, and the San Antonio Express-News, as well as on numerous Internet sites.
He is the author of The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values
Email: NelsonHultberg (at) afr.org