Dear god, what was that. What did we just watch?
This is supposed to be a list of winners and losers, but no one on stage managed to win.
Last time, I argued it was a mistake for Donald Trump to miss the debate, giving his field of competitors a chance to get some attention. Ultimately, it didn’t matter much, as the Trump juggernaut is plowing through a Republican field that is afraid to take him on directly.
This time, it was absolutely the right call. If the six candidates on stage proved anything tonight, it was that they aren’t fit to run the local animal control office, much less anything of actual importance.
Not only was the pro-Ukraine commercial a great advertisement, but moderators mimicked its talking points in questions to the candidates. Former governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, former Gov. Chris Christie, and former Vice President Mike Pence all chimed in with strong support for Ukraine. Only tech bro Vivek Ramaswamy clung to pro-Putin talking points.
The centerpiece of the Reagan Library is the Air Force One hanging over the space (which you can see in the top picture on this story). It would make for a much better backdrop than the rolling display they used. Luckily, the plane avoided being in the same shot as this cast of clowns.
It’s rote to blame moderators for shitty debates, but this time, they actually had great questions, and even the occasional follow-up. It’s not their fault the candidates rarely answered the damn questions, always blaming Biden for some made-up story (like DeSantis claiming that some baby died from licking fentanyl off the floor in Mexico), or screaming about the border.
Everyone on stage
Christie took a handful of swipes at Trump; few others did. They seem to be under the weird assumption that they can operate in a political environment in which they aren’t all lagging far behind the former president.
To change the narrative, they all needed to pile on against Trump, relentlessly, and he’s given them plenty of ammunition to work with. Instead, they sat there attacking each other, as if it mattered to anyone.
And to add insult to injury:
Of course we know that already. He’ll choose some nut like failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake or pillow man Mike Lindell.
Maybe they didn’t hear enough about Hunter Biden? But they were bored to tears. They did liven up when DeSantis bragged about his fascist book-burning crusade in Florida, however. But that also makes them losers.
Of course, he’s included in the “everyone on stage” above, but dear god, he had the center podium and the highest polling among this sorry sack of candidates, and he still couldn’t fill the space. While Haley took an odd swing at him, he was once again mostly ignored by the rest of the candidates on stage. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (who?) was more memorable, and he wasn’t memorable at all.
Even his one dig at Trump was so poorly executed, it gave President Joe Biden’s team the easy score:
He’s just an amateur, and I’m embarrassed for Florida that they elected him twice.
The breakout surprise of the first debate, Haley was godawful in the second debate. As our own Laura Clawson said in our staff Slack, “Last time, Haley managed to cut through the crosstalk and win a couple moments, seeming above it and knowledgeable. This time, she was either not heard from or dragged into the crosstalk in futile ways.”
She and Ramaswamy clearly don’t like each other, and now we know that she and her fellow South Carolinian Scott don’t like each other either. Good to know! It just does nothing to consolidate the non-Trump vote behind her.
She did try to do “policy,” at one point, which may have been her biggest mistake of the night. No one cares about policy in the Republican Party.
I guess someone told him to stop being an ass? As much attention as he got from the first debate, including the media boomlet following it, he wasn’t rewarded in the polls. His impact in this debate?
Yup, his hair.
The Republican party
What a cast of clowns. Ronald Reagan is likely spinning in his grave. If this is what they can vomit up, I am suddenly more optimistic about our future.
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