POW! BLAM!! SPLAT! It was an episode of "Batman" at it's best. The Republicans finally had a food-fight. And there were blows landed, and points made. But, aside from its genuine entertainment value, not much happened.
The case against the Donald was made by, of all people, Jeb Bush, who had his best night. Rand Paul, sort of disingenuously, head-smacked Marco Rubio as a proto-Schumer-ite. Christie showed he could read a script and successfully pretend no one knows about New Jersey. Nobody's listening. Well, they're listening but they're not going to be moved much by this kind of debate.
The Republican electorate is the problem, not the candidates. The candidates are trapped in a world that is dominated by anger and alienation, not a contest of ideas or even personalities. Jeb is the perfect case. He sounds genuine and reasonable. He can attract voters outside the base. He performed well. He may well be the Republicans only hope against Hillary. And he sits at 6%.
Consider a general election against Hillary. The Republicans have managed to secure the 30 percent of America that fits the Tea Party mold. Hillary has real problems with the electorate. How to get that additional 20 percent?
She was busy yesterday too. Controlled, pointed, focused on the outrageous statements and positions of the Republicans. If that persona shines through then the swing voters who will decide the election will stick with her. Unless a case can be made.
By the Donald? Rubio? Cruz? Nope. Calm, charitable Jeb could do it.
So much is at stake in this election. Can the economy serve the interests of most folks? How do we navigate a world of inchoate violence? How should we treat each other, and our differences? The Republicans are slowly and inexorably removing themselves from real participation in those debates. The Party of Lincoln and Reagan is drifting out of reach. Don't blame the candidates, blame the voters. And if you're an R, pray for Jeb.