Thursday, September 17, 2015

Will This Debate Start Clearing The Field?


Well, it is safe to say that high school is back in session. Of course, we didn’t need to look at the calendar to figure it out, all you had to do was watch the first 45 minutes of the Republican Presidential Debate last night on CNN. Thanks largely to comments carelessly caste by the bombastic Donald Trump, the first part of the over saturated debate consisted primarily of name calling, quips, and generalized statements rather than substantive discussions which should have been the primary focus throughout the evening. Thankfully, once the back and forth between the candidates took on a serious tone, Trump faded into the background having little input on the points being made.

I continue to be dumbfounded by the polling numbers which have shown significant support for the former Apprentice host and after last night those figures are even more confusing. Fortunately, there were a number of people on the stage that treated the event the way it should be, as an exchange of ideas and challenging the ideas of others. And while there were many that neither helped nor hurt themselves last night, there were a couple of candidates that showed some real promise. Of course, we will have to wait and see if it has any impact on their respective polling numbers.

Honestly, I haven’t paid too much attention to Carly Fiorina during these early stages of the campaign season. However, her performance in the secondary debate last month and on the main stage last night demonstrate that she is a viable choice. I have actually been quite surprised by how quickly she has developed her political persona and impressed by her ability to educate herself on the various topics that will surely shape the political landscape over the next year. The only thing that she really lacks is political experience but that can also be a good thing. We will just have to wait and see how she handles the additional pressure as she gains more of the spotlight.

While not my preferred candidate and having previously been hesitant to back him, I have always been a supporter of Marco Rubio. He delivered succinct well informed responses to the questions put on the table displaying a broad but deep knowledge both of foreign and domestic policy. In addition to the intelligence he has shown, I agree with many of his positions and respect his combination of tact and straightforwardness. He has also been willing to forge his own political path at times but never too far from the main road. These are the things that make this Senator, at least in my mind, the front runner for the presidency regardless of what might be reflected in the polling numbers.

Sadly, Rand Paul’s performance last night didn’t help his campaign. While he got a couple of good lines in he didn’t clearly convey the knowledge, passion, or eloquence that many of us know that he possesses. Barring a tremendous comeback (see Reagan in 1984) there seems to be a marginal chance that he will make it to the stretch run. I still support his campaign but I am also a realist. Besides, maybe he can be more effective as a cabinet member and run again in the future.

The other candidates didn’t really stand out, at least for any good reason, to me with many of their words falling into the category of generality throughout the debate. However, at least there were the performances of note, Fiorina and Rubio, and hard hits, Trump, which will hopefully realign the field in the coming weeks and months. It would also be nice to have a smaller field moving forward as having a crowded field is not helping anyone.