I love to watch all of the iterations of the presidential debates, from the primary debates to the ones between the eventual candidates. Wednesday’s GOP primary debate on FOX was an apotheosis of the genre—hack candidates on a hack network, with a hack moderator.
I started with watching some of the FOX pre-game. Laura Ingram was laying out the level of all of the important policy things that the eventual candidate would need to do, such as firing all of the air traffic controllers like Reagan did, or firing Anthony Fauci (which, strangely, she didn’t mention that TFG actually didn’t do).
All of us understand that all of this is theater because unless something incredible happens, TFG will be the GOP 2024 presidential nominee. Everyone on that stage is running either for the vice presidential slot, as a Hail Mary candidate, or simply in it for the money (hi Doug Burgum!). And we all understand that this isn’t an actual debate since everyone on the stage was a talking point machine because all of their policy ideas are unpalatable to the US electorate.
Going into the debate I thought this would be the end of Ron DeSantis’ campaign because the more the electorate sees him, the less they like him. I don’t think he did himself any favors at the debate. He was yelling the entire time, and he constantly whines. And he told 2 stories that seemed fake and reporters need to follow up on them. But everyone’s obsession with Vivek Ramaswamy took the spotlight off him and might have saved him.
Mike Pence and Asa Hutchinson were the emeritus professors you invite to give a paper at the conference out of courtesy. They are from an entirely different era and they have no new ideas. I doubt Hutchinson makes it to the next debate, but Pence will stick around.
Doug Burgum seemed OK enough, but then he got a chance to talk and he jammed in a bunch of wingnut nonsense. He had his moment in the sun, and we won’t miss him.
Martha McCallum noted that Tim Scott had been in office for 10 years and asked him what he’d done to fix economic issues. Scott essentially said “nothing”. Also Scott informed us that he’d fire Christopher Wray, who TFG chose. He’s still not ready for prime time but he’s bland enough to remain in the veep sweepstakes.
Chris Christie tore into TFG but it’s pretty much the same old stuff. No one in the current GOP electorate is interested in him. Plus Christie went hat in hand to Trump Tower in in 2016 to ask for a job in TFG’s administration.
Nikki Haley is no Elizabeth Warren, but she effectively tore into Ramaswamy’s Putin rapture. She’s a pandering transphobe and an extremist on abortion, but she will survive and be at the next debate.
Vivek Ramaswamy is Ron DeSantis’ brother from another mother. They’re both creeps who love violence and who would implement fascism once elected. Ramaswamy was hyped up and DeSantis was stilted, but they spew the same crap. If you look at their closing speeches you will see the same format, in fact. Ramaswamy flew too close to the sun though, and I don’t know what that’s going to do his numbers in the long term. Our Fearless Leader wrote about him on Tuesday and you can read it here.
In the end the GOP primary debate crew is locked into a hopeless electoral landscape with sharp restrictions on what positions they can take. This was highlighted in the discussions about climate change and abortion. This is where the GOP will continue to lose voters, especially young voters:
43% of Gen Z & millennial Republicans believe that upholding women’s reproductive rights is “very important,” compared to 25% of older Republicans.
— John Della Volpe (@dellavolpe) August 23, 2023
I think Haley won the debate and Ramaswamy won the fight for attention. They’re both Pyrrhic victories because TFG is the nominee barring any kind of extraordinary development.
It’s the same as it ever was. You know where I’m going with this.