Some Second Thoughts on the First GOP Debate

Did Fox News’ reporters behave like professional journalists or like typical media sharks during the first GOP Presidential Debate on Thursday?

The answer depends upon your view of their strategy. If you believe the latter, it’s no wonder you’re upset. But you might consider that their strategy was to take a deliberately tough stance. Believe it or not, this stance was better for Fox and better, in the long run, for the candidates.

No matter whether the panel asked the questions in soft form or with hard balls, the candidates would have given the same answers. They were bound to.   As a result of the hard ball form of questioning, the candidates appeared more sympathetic and were able to deliver a consistently more Conservative response than they would have had the panel been sympathetic and coddled them. Soft ball questions would have pushed them towards more moderate responses.

Fox News would have come under attack and the Conservative response would have been irreparably undermined. This way, Fox News retained its credibility as a legitimate news organization and the Conservative response came out fighting, splendidly, articulately, and most importantly, factually.

Perhaps the strategy was unintentional. If it was, the result was still the same: the Conservatives, while differing somewhat on their methods for dealing with issues, were united in their general attitudes towards such issues as the economy, illegal immigration, national security, and most social issues. Immigration and social issues were what divided the Moderate Republicans, John Kacich and Jeb Bush, from the rest of the pack.

The War on Women issue was an unwonted personal attack on Donald Trump on the part of Megyn Kelly. She addressed the question specifically, rather than generally, to Donald Trump, which made it a bona fide “attack” rather than a legitimate issue, and she presented no concrete facts that he was misogynistic, and only a questionable emotional assertion that he is sexist.

Donald Trump is not the only celebrity Megyn Kelly has attacked over what she considers offensive comments about women. Earlier in the year, she supported Trump over comments about illegal Mexican (and also South American) immigrants into the United States. She’s also attacked Erik Erickson and Lou Dobbs over similar comments.

We were watching the pre-debate show with Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Kelly. Their comments were so absurd that the audience sat silently at what were supposed to be jokes. I cringed and picked up a book or magazine.

“I hope they don’t do this during the debate,” I commented and went back to my reading, hiding behind my magazine.

My friend was paying more attention to what they were saying. According to him, Kelly made some rather telling remarks:

“I don’t like him [Trump]” and “I’m going to get him tonight.”

If this was her attitude just prior to the debate, when it was too late to replace her, then her role as a journalistic moderator is greatly in question. The moderators demanded proof from Trump about his assertion that Mexico is intentionally sending illegal aliens over its northern border into the United States. Yet Kelly made unproven allegations against Trump that he’s made misogynistic comments about women.

According to the Washington Post, there are five instances (including Rose O’Donnell) of Trump allegedly making insulting, misogynistic or sexist comments to or about women.

  1. Rosie O’Donnell.  He called her names in 2007 speech, to which he admitted during the debate.
  2. Arianna Huffington.  Another Twitter post that may or may not be attributable to him.
  3. New York Times columnist Gail Collins.  She claims she received a note from him which consisted of a copy of her column in which she criticized his financial dealings.  Over the column was drawn the face of a dog.
  4. Bette Midler.  Another Twitter comment about the singer.
  5. Brande Roderick.  A former contestant on The Apprentice whom he criticized for wanting to take breastfeeding breaks during a legal deposition.  In a taped interview with her lawyer, the lawyer said that she got down on her knees in order to take some unspecified action.  Trump stops the lawyer and comments to her that it “must be a pretty picture, you getting down on your knees.”

Only two of the five stated offenses are admissible. Ms. Kelly should remember that, as a moderator in a debate, her job is to ask legitimate questions, even about his attitude towards women, but to remember that she’s a journalist, not a prosecuting attorney anymore. And apparently, even the most ardent of media attack dogs seem to feel that his comments on his own television show are neutral territory. Not sure why, but that’s what they’re saying. So that’s down to four charges, only one of which is provable.

Trump, for his part, needn’t have played Kelly’s game but pointed to female executives in his own organization. A woman sits on his board of directors: Catherine Hoffman Glosser, Executive Vice President of Global Licensing. All he had to do was use her, and his daughter, Ivanka, as examples, and any other women within his organization who serve in an executive capacity.

Trump has considered presidential runs in the past, so he surely knows that such an office requires more gentlemanly behavior than usual and that making such comments will come back to bite him. On the other hand, we can hardly criticize him for sexism when the Media and the public gave former Pres. Clinton a genial pass when it was discovered he was having sex with an intern in the Oval Office, and lied about it. John F. Kennedy was an inveterate womanizer.

We don’t need bimbos in the White House. Neither do we need female journalists acting like aggressive prosecutors ready to devour any man who doesn’t put women on a pedestal. Gentlemen treat women who act like ladies like ladies, with respect. Men who act like beasts and treat unladlylike women like bimbos – well, the two types deserve one another.

Trump obviously enjoys beautiful women. But he will not pay them deference if they attack him unnecessarily, if they’re out for vengeance rather than the truth. Neither Trump nor Kelly had really prepared for the so-called “War on Women” issue in the debate.

Trump needs to be better prepared, in general, for the next debate. This should have been rather obvious. A debate is not the time for off-the-cuff banter. The participants must give direct, fact-based answers to the questions. Not opinions. A little humor and banter can be thrown in to lighten things up. But facts, as in numbers, statistics, historical facts, reign supreme at a debate. The answers, while you don’t want them to sound prepared, nevertheless must be well thought-out ahead of time. The candidate must have a prepared, rational answer for each issue that will come up in a debate, a news conference, a town hall meeting, an interview.

As for Fox News, if they’ll be doing another round of debates, they need to replace Kelly with a more objective female reporter/moderator, not one with an agenda.

I’ve since rearranged my assessment of the candidates in order of best to least. Rand Paul, chiefly, winds up at the very bottom. After having listened to repeated broadcasts of his relentless rants and interruptions, I came to the conclusion that for someone who touts the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution, he had very little regard for the rules of the debate.

His interruptions did make for a more interesting debate and he could be forgiven for that, and if it had been anyone else, even (or maybe especially) Trump, would have been. But Rand cannot be forgiven for hypocrisy.

  1. Ted Cruz
  2. Chris Christie
  3. Mike Huckabee
  4. Marco Rubio
  5. Scott Walker
  6. Ben Carson
  7. Donald Trump
  8. John Kacich
  9. Jeb Bush
  10. Rand PaulMike Huckabee is in third because he was shown a great deal of deference by the panel.  Huckabee was a former Fox News commentator.  That’s not to say he didn’t do a tremendous job.  But he didn’t say anything Chris Christie wouldn’t have said, given the chance.

However, it is interesting to note – and his campaign should make the most of it – he had been elected Lieutenant Gov. in a special election in 1993, after Bill Clinton was elected president. The incumbent governor Jim Guy Tucker resigned in 1995 following fraud and conspiracy convictions.

In his autobiography From Hope to Higher Ground, Huckabee recalled the chilly reception that he received from the Arkansas Democratic establishment on his election as lieutenant governor:

“The doors to my office were spitefully nailed shut from the inside, office furniture and equipment were removed, and the budget spent down to almost nothing prior to our arriving. After fifty-nine days of public outcry, the doors were finally opened for me to occupy the actual office I had been elected to hold two months earlier.”

The Arkansas Constitution, like nearly all state constitutions in the United States, does not allow convicted felons to hold office, so Tucker was forced to resign. However, Tucker, insisting he had a strong case for appeal, rescinded his resignation as Huckabee was preparing to be sworn in on July 15. Within a few hours, Tucker reinstated his resignation after Huckabee threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against Tucker. Huckabee was sworn in as Governor of Arkansas on July 15, 1996.

Huckabee was on track to win the Republican nomination in 2008. But then, Texas gave its 1,191 delegates to John McCain, ensuring that Huckabee would not win. As a result, we got Barack Obama instead.

And who do we have to thank for this delegatorial gift during the 2008 Republican primaries? Why, none other than James Richard “Rick” Perry, Governor of Texas 2000-2015. Thank you, Rick Perry, for giving us one of the most unelectable Republican candidates in recent presidential election history, John McCain, guaranteeing the election of Barack Hussein Obama.

As governor, you may have kept Texas’ border guarded, but gave the keys to the door to the worst president in American history – and he has now granted them full amnesty and sanctuary. No wonder you’re down at the bottom of the 16-candidate list.

This, people, is why primaries matter.

Ted Cruz, keep the flags of Conservative discontent flying! You’re the main man, even if you are short. Chris Christie, though we Conservatives haven’t been especially fond of you here in New Jersey (or you of us), your role in the War in Terror does count for something. Quite a bit, in fact. 9/11 was only the opening shot. The main battle is ahead of us and you’re probably the guy to orchestrate our defense. However, please don’t nominate any more Muslims for judicial office.

Mike Huckabee. Don’t apologize any further for Conservative views and we might just consider you for office.

Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Ben Carson. You’re all young guys. Keep fighting and gain as much support as you can. You all have a future as President of the United States ahead of you. Ronald Reagan didn’t win the first time, either.

Donald Trump. Listen to advice when it’s given to you. Remember the difference between a campaign speech, a press conference, a television or radio interview, and a debate. You have to play by the rules of the game, not your rules. You wouldn’t play by your own rules during a game of golf.

As for women. It’s okay to hold women to as high a standard as men. That’s what they say they want. But don’t resort to name-calling if they don’t meet the standard of respect, even if they do call you names. Follow my mother’s advice to my older brother about girls.

He complained about the bad behavior of some of the young ladies whom he was dating. He wanted to get even. But my mother told him this:

“It doesn’t matter how they behave. What matters is how you behave. Even if they don’t behave like ladies, you must act like a gentleman. Even if they don’t act like ladies, you must still treat them like ladies because you’re a gentleman.”

Take some courses in being a gentleman, not a wrestler of ladies, and you’ll do fine in the political arena. You must know many military veterans. Every one of them, to the last man, will tell you about what the military taught them about treating all women with respect (whether they deserved it or not).

Ask them.

The histrionics about the first debate are running high. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard.

Here in the Northeast, it’s a beautiful, sunny day. Now that I’ve spent half my Saturday writing this blog post, I’m going to go out and take a walk in the sunshine.

A post-Blog script:  I was mistaken about some of the exchanges that took place.  One of them was between Chris Christie and Rand Paul.  It was Rand Paul, not Chris Wallace, who brought up “The Hug.”  My apologies to Mr. Wallace and to anyone else whom I might have misquoted.

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Published in: on August 8, 2015 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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