Sunday, August 9, 2015
King Kong Trump
The fall out from the GOP Battle Royale is proving to be more interesting than the debate itself. I could only stomach it by reading a transcript and watching a handful of clips like Megyn Kelly challenging the Donald on his misogynistic comments on the campaign trail. Donald got so upset afterward that he has been slamming Megyn on twitter, where else, claiming she had it in for him. I guess Trump didn't get the memo from Roger Ailes, don't mess with Megyn.
It's not like Megyn can't take care of herself, but she is the darling of Fox Network and one of the most popular news anchors on television. She is loved by the conservative right and has quite a few friends beyond Fox's narrow audience because she is not afraid to challenge conservatives, especially on women's issues. Donald may have picked the wrong fight here.
Of course, Donald's performance was woeful, as was that of all of them. Reading through their responses to the introductory questions, they had a hard time dealing with any of the questions. Governor Kasich greatly inflated his role in the Clinton-era budget management, claiming he was "the lead architect" on those budget talks and that he shaved $5 trillion off the deficit. No need to even bother to fact check, but Megyn let him slide on that audacious claim.
When asked to explain New Jersey's credit nightmare and woeful private sector growth, Chris Christie bluntly retorted, "if you think it's bad now, you should have seen it when I got there." Um, Chris, it was obviously better, otherwise the Garden State wouldn't have had its credit rating downgraded nine times.
Sadly, this was the type of bluster that occurred throughout the night. Having failed that question, Chris felt the need to go on the offensive, challenging Rand Paul on his filibuster of the Patriot Act. The Fatman wanted everyone to know he is a true patriot, even if Rand's concerns are not only legitimate but shared by a great cross section of the country, including Tea Partiers. However, the embattled governor was playing to the assembled crowd like most of the candidates, even when he knows zero about foreign policy.
The issue of "executive" experience vs. "legislative" experience came up when Chris Wallace asked Marco Rubio how he felt when Gov. Jeb Bush tried to distance himself as a leader, not "blending into the legislative crowd." Rubio apparently didn't want to challenge his former governor and opted to highlight his own experience including that as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. This was interesting, since later Bush proudly proclaimed himself as "Veto Corleone" as governor for vetoing 2500 line-items in the budget. Rubio would have been the one to submit those budgets, at least at the tail end of Bush's tenure.
Mike Huckabee went after Planned Parenthood when given the opportunity. He doesn't want to defund this organization, as Governor Walker says he has done in Wisconsin, but would write them out of existence by taking the issue of abortion to the Supreme Court, where our highest court in the land would be unable to deny that a fetus has the right to the same "personhood" as any American citizen as defined in the fifth and fourteenth amendments, citing "clear scientific evidence." The Good Doctor Ben Carson would later support him on this position.
All these candidates act like Planned Parenthood is only in the business of abortions, when abortions only constitute 3 per cent of its annual budget. The bulk of their money goes to women related health issues such as cancer screening and prevention. The Republicans have made Planned Parenthood into this year's "welfare mother."
Short on facts, long on hyperbole, the top ten candidates battled for two hours, apparently showing a great deal of fatigue as they looked weary, or should I say wary, of the questions in the second half. To Fox's credit, the panel asked some tough questions, but you got the feeling these questions were designed to let the candidates discount those criticisms. Donald didn't seem to understand this format, a rather typical one at Fox.
To hear Lindsey Graham, they talked more substantively on the issues in the earlier "bathroom debate," as he dubbed it. The seven bottom tier candidates had a chance to square off in front of an empty arena at 5 o'clock. They had to address their responses to the cameras instead.
Trump fared no better or worse than the other candidates. In fact, many were saying Jeb Bush was the big loser because he chose to play it safe, blending into the patriotic backdrop rather than offer any strong responses. But, Trump has since made himself the big loser by going after Megyn Kelly in exactly the same way she described him in her question. As a result, Trump now finds himself dumped by Republican-sponsored events like the upcoming Red State Gathering in Atlanta.
It probably doesn't matter for Donald. He has managed to form a loyal base of support in two short months on the campaign trail by presenting himself as politically incorrect. So what if he makes an ugly reference to Megyn's menstruations, his base will love him all the more for it. In his own unique way, he has made himself into the victim. It is very hard to imagine a billionaire tycoon as a victim but Donald has the audacity to claim that Megyn, and in turn Fox News, had it in for him, when this news network has done the most to inflate his candidacy.
I guess Donald now considers himself bigger than Fox News, bigger than anything on earth. He is King Kong himself. He wanted to take Megyn with him, but now he doesn't know what to do, trapped atop the Empire State Building, or in his case Trump Tower, shouting in all his misplaced pain and agony.