Alter & Christie debate if GOP should panic as Trump and Carson maintain their leads. Is the problem an angry base (Ron) or extreme/ignorant base embracing unqualified POTUS candidates (Jon)? Then: what's worse at Mizzou -- PC or racism?
By Mark Green
On 4th GOP Debate: The Trump-Carson Panic, Cont'd. Consensus alert - no real difference on panel on Carson-Trump.
They agree that the surgeon is a nice man, perhaps a fabulist, but clearly waaay over his head as commander-in-chief. His debate implication that it'd be a cakewalk to send in American troops to seize Iraqi oilfields away from ISIS, presumably staying forever, doesn't impress Ron and Jon: Ron: "That's puzzling and disturbing. This is not a time for an amateur hour in Syria. Carson doesn't display elementary knowledge about the world." Jon: "Is he different than an Obama who spent four years on Senate Armed Services and studied these issues for years? Yes."
They also agree that the billionaire is not a nice man, beyond boastful, with views on immigration and latinos that could contaminate his party when someone else is nominated. So why have these two been embraced by Republican voters? Christie believes they're angry that they've sent conservatives to Washington yet neither spending nor entitlements have been constrained.
Alter, however, thinks it because "they're so extreme and low-education" that they buy what Howard Beale is shouting. He adds that Carson's several references to 1913 when Wilson created the Fed and federal taxation is in "Glenn Beck land, implying we should return not to a pre-New Deal era but a pre-Wilson era 100 years ago. That's not conservative, it's reactionary, extreme." But presumably, he adds, Republican voters will get more serious closer to the election. "I have a 30 year rule of saying 'never say never,' which I'll now violate - neither Trump nor Carson will never become president of the United States."
On 4th GOP Debate: Bush and Kasich. Ok, never for them. Can Bush and Kasich still rise as potential establishment choices in a final face-off after the initial contests? Ron thinks so. But. "Bush did better in the debate. Many Republicans I speak to say that he can survive until Iowa and New Hampshire BUT then if he doesn't improve, they'll look to alternatives, like Kasich and [Chris] Christie." Can Bush become 45 by digging deep, like the Johns did - Kerry in '04 and McCain in '08 - who were also in single digits before roaring back to win nominations.
After four debates, why isn't Kasich - a smart guy with arguably good record in DC and Ohio - doing better? Ron, who advises him informally, worries that 'he had poor podium presence" by seeming to be brusque and interrupting, not to mention that his views on mass deportation and taxes were more moderate than the others.
On 4th GOP Debate: Latino Senators compete on immigration. Trump's looney comments about federal deportation squads rounding up millions for deportation because the popular Ike had "Operation Wetback" (not sure Donald fully vetted this one) got no takers at the debate. But it does make immigration a) a litmus issue in the nominating process and b) potentially poisonous one for a GOP which needs near 40 percent of latinos to win a general election.
Over to the two Cuban-American senators in their first-terms. "The gloves are now off," says Ron of Cruz's post debate attacks on Rubio which attempt to remind Republican voters that the Florida senator was once part of the "Gang of Eight" promoting a path to citizenship - which is "amnesty" in Cruz's view. Both Christie and Alter think that this is smart short-term politics for Cruz but terrible in the long-run. Says Jon: "Look what happened to Perry. This is not a compassionate party when it comes to immigration"...but if Republicans don't get close to 40 percent of the vote in 2016 and beyond, they can't the white House.
He adds that a Supreme Court decision on Obama's immigration executive next summer won't have a significant political affect either way, other than again highlighting the issue. Or as Jeb Bush said in the debate about Trump's rants, "the Clinton campaign is doing high fives" when they hear us talk about this.
Host: Cruz will continue to bloody Rubio here for one other reason: if it helps him win the nomination and lose the general, he'll still be a young senator. Rubio, however, is giving up his seat to run for president and has to concern himself more with the November election than the July Convention.
On 4th GOP: Fuzzy economic math. To hear all the candidates, the economy is awful...yet unemployment has been halved to 5 percent under Obama, with 68 straight months of growth, as the US economy is the strongest of any industrialized country. And though the Republicans keep confusing the debt and deficit, in fact the deficit has fallen two-thirds."
Is the GOP relying on fake numbers and debating points? When the top editor at the Wall Street Journal asks Fiorina about Bill-Barack's far greater job growth than W's, 43's, she responded that she had met a forty-ish women who had trouble sleeping worried about her children's future. Talk about anecdotage and truthiness.
Ron gamely argues that many have dropped out of the work force who don't now show up in the unemployment numbers and Democratic Obama shouldn't get too much credit on deficit reduction because it traces in part to sequestration that he opposed.
But the fact is that growth under Democratic presidencies has been significantly greater than under GOP presidents, certainly recently, and deficits have fallen two-thirds under Obama, in part because of health care savings from Obamacare. It'll take someone like Cruz to play with statistics to argue otherwise, as he attributes early growth months of 2001 from Clinton's boom to Bush and the astonishing negative nine percent 'growth' in the last months of Bush to Obama. Figures don't lie but liars figure.
On University of Missouri. Was the issue that led to the resignations of the school's top two administrators an example of petty political correctness or the fundamental issue of de facto racism? We hear an indignant Megan Kelly on Fox News express contempt for those who want students to report any "insult" to the police. And then Joy Reid on MSNBC explains that the problem is ignored institutional racism as well as whites the right anxious that their country is being dominated by liberals bullying conservatives, especially Christian conservatives.
Ron, himself a black conservative and now a professor at Georgetown -- says that he's of two minds here. There was evidence - swastikas, N words, drawings of nooses -- that had created an oppressive atmosphere at the school which many students felt had gone unaddressed. But he and Jon worry that so-called "microaggressions" - like some Yale students wearing offensive Halloween costumes when Halloween is supposed to be juvenile and offensive - leads to a PC culture that silences speech or expression..
Jon, however admits that while this was his first impression of the Mizzou controversy, he changed his mind won seeing that there had been a pattern of discrimination that went unaddressed to the extent that many faculty and black and white football players had sided with the student protestors.
Host: in other words, context counts. Is the issue a few jokey, stupid remarks or a pattern of what's called in the workplace a "hostile environment" since that too is a contained space. Also, some conservatives exploit the PC label to attack the reaction rather than the abuse. Or in the phrase of Bill Maher, "Denying racism is the new racism."