Ok, America, you now have a clear choice between the party of hope and optimism and the party of gloom, doom and fear. The most surprising thing at Tuesday's night's 5th Republican presidential debate was the absence of Chicken Little himself. This event could've been called The Sky is Falling Show.
For over two hours, the overriding message from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and, to a lesser degree, Chris Christie, Ben Carson and Rand Paul was that the United States is unsafe, unrespected and a disaster. Only Jeb Bush and John Kasich presented a positive message about America's standing and the expectation of a greater future. It was all fear, fear, fear...
The biggest takeaway, as in all the previous debates, is how woefully unprepared and ill-equipped Donald Trump is to be president and commander-in-chief. His inability to answer a question about which components of the nuclear triad need the most attention should be an immediate disqualifier in and of itself:
"Well first of all, I think we absolutely need someone we can trust who is total responsibility who knows what he or she is doing that is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I'm frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was against going into Iraq because you are going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it, I called it very strongly and it was very important. But we have to be extremely vigilant and careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game. I would have said get out of Syria, get out. If we didn't have the power of weaponry today, the power is so massive that we can't just leave areas that 50 years ago or 75 years ago we wouldn't care, it was hand-to-hand combat. The biggest problem this world has today is not President Obama with global warming, which is inconceivable, this is what he's saying. The biggest problem we have today is nuclear proliferation anding are some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. In my opinion, that is the single biggest problem that our country faces right now....For me, nuclear, the power, the devastation, is very important to me.
Jibberish! The way I tried to blabber-bluff my way out of tough 8th grade science questions. He might as well have thrown up his hands and said, "Hell if I know!"
When you toss in Trump's incessant sighing, eye-rolling, mocking and scornful faces, dismissive hand-waving, bullying and audience-berating, it's truly hard to fathom how anyone with even a half a brain can support the candidacy of this empty-suited blowhard fraud. He is without question the most unqualified presidential candidate in the nation's history.
We witnessed Trump's implosion last night. While I suspect his poll numbers will drop as a result, they may for a blip even rise first. But make no mistake: Republican voters saw a man who, as Bush recently claimed, is unhinged. And there's nothing uglier and more embarrassing than an old, angry, insulting megalomaniac pathetically vying to utter an intelligent thought without sounding like a nasty junior high schooler. As I've been saying for a couple of months, it's over. Forget the polls. His reality show primary campaign popularity will not translate to actual votes when it's time to pull the curtain. And he'll likely not even be around by then to find out.
So who won the debate? Bush finally demonstrated some impressive cajones as he battled Trump on foreign policy and personal qualifications, calling the bloviating businessman "a chaos candidate." For the first time since Trump entered the race with his infamous "Mexican rapists" speech, it was Bush who quite visibly got under The Donald's skin, not the other way around.
It won't be a surprise to start seeing Bush's heretofore anemic 3-5% numbers begin climbing appreciably. I disagree with almost everything he stands for, but he's an adult. Mature. Respectful. Smart. Knowledgeable. And get this...presidential. Honestly, the way Trump acts like a whiny, petulant, belligerent narcissistic buffoon I wouldn't want him on my kid's PTA let alone sit in the Oval Office.
Cruz? He'll probably win Iowa, but like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum before him he'll disappear after that. Keep an eye on Chris Christie, whose likable 'every man' persona, reputation as a 'straight shooter' and reasonably moderate positions keeps him in the running as the dark horse. But despite what the polls say, it's still Jeb's race to lose.