A More Civil Discourse

If you anticipated last night’s GOP debate on CNN at the University of Miami with dread and trepidation, no one would have blamed you. Since Donald Trump first declared his candidacy, the debates have been one endless series of side-show carnival tactics, with Trump insulting the other candidates, calling them names, making crude and sometimes even profane comments, throwing temper tantrums if anyone criticized him, and engaging in team tactics to take down targeted opponents.

 

The final straw was when Chris Christie accused Marco Rubio of being “robotic” in his campaign speeches. Rubio tried to make a point about Obama betraying the country.  Christie and Trump repeatedly interrupted him, forcing him to repeat his statement, making their case that he was robotic.

 

In subsequent debates, campaign stump speeches, and press conferences, after Christie dropped out, Trump belittled, demeaned and goaded Rubio. Rubio’s numbers began to free-fall.

 

Then Rubio wised up. As my Bronx mother might say, Rubio “went after him.”  He hammered Trump, insulted him, made fun of him, mocked him, interrupted him, and did everything humanly possible to irritate The Donald.

 

His strategy worked. Losing his concentration – and sometimes his temper – the attacks left a befuddled Trump so that the way was left open on the other side of Trump for Ted Cruz to deal the lethal, if more scholarly blows.

 

The strategy worked. Donald Trump’s lead was lessened to within 2 to 3 points.  In proportional states, he was forced to share delegates, diminishing his chances of winning the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination.

 

The Locker Room pundits tisked, and fretted, and pshawed, crying foul at Rubio’s unseemly lack of sportsmanship.  When Fox News’ Dana Perino tried to point out to Bill O’Reilly that the post-debate primary numbers showed that Rubio’s tactics, indeed, worked, he brushed her off.  She reminded him that Trump had used these methods in every debate.

 

“Well, that’s just Donald being Donald,” O’Reilly replied. “We’ve been watching him for years.  We expect it of him.”

 

Rubio’s donors were said to be unhappy and that they were pressuring him to drop out of the Florida race. Jeb Bush was brought in to broker a peace between the non-Trump candidates who needed no such peace accord (well, Ted Cruz was beginning to bash Rubio and vie with him for the Florida, which he has the right to do).

 

Apparently, Rubio took their advice into consideration and decided to see how he polled in the Sunshine State after the debate. Rubio’s performance was superb.  The debate was entirely civil, informative, and insult-free.  It was a triumph for Rubio.

 

A subdued Trump minded his manners at the podium. Some debate fight fans wondered why Rubio didn’t strike.  He didn’t strike because he didn’t need to.  He hadn’t started the mud-slinging but he sure finished it.  The result was that he and the other candidate were able to answer the moderator’s questions and finish their sentences without being interrupted.

 

Rubio’s answer to the question of whether or not to broker a better deal with Cuba, as Trump suggested, was classic.

 

“Here’s the deal with Cuba,” he said. “First free all political prisoners.  Institute freedom of the press.  Stop the military from running the country.”  (This is a paraphrase of what he said).  Then we’ll consider re-establishing relations with Cuba.

 

Bravo, Mr. Rubio!

 

Ted Cruz had some marvelous moments, too. He tutored Donald Trump – and the American voters – on the problems of instituting 45 percent tariffs on imports.  The foreign company doesn’t pay the tax; we do.

 

Then there was this beauty:

 

Here’s my philosophy. The less government, the more freedom. The fewer bureaucrats, the more prosperity. And there are bureaucrats in Washington right now who are killing jobs and I’ll tell you, I know who they are. I will find them and I will fire them.

 

That’s what the American people want to hear. What the American didn’t want to hear was John Kasich’s support of Common Core.  The candidates have spoken about H1B visas, for foreign workers, and so forth.  What we need to hear more about is upgrading the education of American students, not simply making the tests harder to pass.

 

Donald Trump was well-behaved and properly chastened. In one point, Trump was right and the other three completely wrong.  It had to do with Islam’s threat to America.  The moderator wanted to know whether Trump meant an all-inclusive ban on Muslims or whether he might admit that there are some moderate Muslims who would be offended when America needs the support of Middle Eastern countries in battling ISIS.

 

“How many Muslims are actually are a threat to the United States?” the moderator asked.

 

“A lot,” Trump responded. “A LOT of them.”

 

Certainly enough of them to warrant upgrading our security screenings. Will it be an easy task?  No.  Ted Cruz opposed the NSA’s proposal to expand its surveillance of phone calls.  He and Rand Paul are correct.  In the hands of a despotic president (like Obama or Trump), wholesale surveillance is liable to abuse.

 

The other candidates preferred to keep our troops out of the Middle East for as long as possible, do the job, and come home again. If ISIS cooperates, that is.  They said we needed to concentrate on domestic policies.

 

They also claimed it wasn’t “presidential” for a President of the United States to so blatantly offend the world’s over 1 billion Muslims. To the American voters, all too aware of the growing crisis in Europe, a politically correct president (we already have one) would not necessarily be acting in their best interests.

 

Still, news reports say that the Middle Eastern nations are terrified of ISIS. Mostly monarchies, they see themselves going the way of Egypt’s ruler, and Tunisia’s.  Somalia hasn’t had an elected government in decades.  Admittedly, it wouldn’t do for a hot-headed president, no matter how justified, to go setting off World War III by giving the Middle East the middle finger.

 

Somehow, the future President of the United States must somehow dial back the anger of the American voters. He can best do that by negating the obsequious deal with Iran completely.  Don’t overturn any more Middle Eastern potentates, no matter how counter-intuitive that may seem to democratically-run Western nations or their muckraking media.

 

For the time being, we can be satisfied that schoolyard tyranny was struck down last night and civil discourse prevailed. It couldn’t be done without a fight.  But now that the fighting is over and virtue has triumphed, we can get on with the important process of selecting the Republican nominee for the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

Thank you, Mr. Rubio, for your service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on March 11, 2016 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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