Maybe yesterday!

Munch - The Scream
Detail from The Scream (Edvard Munch, 1893)

| I tuned in to the 6th Republican debate last night from Charleston, SC. Oh, my! The GOP has become a party of Little Red Hens. The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The sky is really falling!

And it's all the fault of Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton.

The so-called debate was all about bluster and bellicosity as most of the candidates puffed out their chests and tried display more belligerency than the others.

Mainstage debate candidates

Mainstage debate performers: L-R Kasich, Christic, Rubio, Trump, Cruz, Carson, Bush. The kids' table include Fiorina, Huckabee, Santorum. Paul said no thanks.
Check out Cruz' wide stance, like he's getting ready for a gun-fight; can't tell if Rubio is wearing his "cute boots"

There were a few moments of levity.

But mostly it was about offering a dark, sinister, nilistic counterpoint to Obama's State of the Union speech two nights before.

Stuart Carlson
Stuart Carlson

There was one moment in the debate when the moderators insisted on an answer to a question, and the answer was a genuine statement of policy that deserved to be explored.

BARTIROMO: Just to be clear Governor, where and when would you use military action?

CHRISTIE: Military action, Maria, would be used when it was absolutely necessary to protect American lives and protect American interests around the world. We are not the world's policeman, but we need to stand up and be ready.

But more attacks and counter-attacks were teed up, and the moment passed.

Now that the Trump-Cruz bromance is over, some sharp blows were exchanged in the debate. Cruz showed that he is formidable in a debate format, and for a moment he rocked Trump back on his heels with his discussion of the "natural-born citizen" issue, noting that some think that means that not only the person but the person's parents have to be born on US soil — which would disqualify Trump whose mother was born in Scotland. Yo mamma!

Rubio also had a strong night, but there is something very unsettling about him, performance-wise. He gives the unmistakable impression that all these arguments are memorized in advance, perhaps as part of a larger speech, and he just waits for the right cue to recite the passage. Nothing is ever spontaneous or genuinely responsive to a point made to him. I read once that Cruz also practices sentences and paragraphs for best delivery at an appropriate moment, but he is better at it than Rubio.

But in the end it is all very, very sad. These guys are the prospective nominees of one of the two major parties in the USA, and none of them excites. Trump incites but his ideas do not excite because he has none; he's all bluster and braggadocio. The two players on the stage with the greatest claim to "adult in the room" status — John Kasich and Jeb! Bush — simply do not have the campaigning skill to break out. They both need a merciless editor who can take a blue pencil to their verbose, meandering answers and cut them down to pithy bullet points. Both also need some sartorial guidance to cast off their Mr Rogers look, because they can't make it work.

I look forward to the great winnowing down that will come with the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, and the South Carolina primary. I expect that one or more of the remaining gaggle will drop out then.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018

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