For just the second time this campaign season I decided to tune into the GOP debate (not the JV portion that went down at 6 p.m., but the main event that ran from 8 to 10). It was a good debate with a lot of good ideas and an occasional confrontation or two. Here are my thoughts:
– Carly Fiorina won the debate, with Donald Trump coming in a close second. Good ideas are obviously important. Delivering your ideas with force and confidence is just as important. This is where Fiorina and Trump excel. I’m tired of losing presidential elections. The GOP lost the last two against a very beatable candidate because it nominated two milquetoast moderates. I’m tired of milquetoast moderates. I want a candidate who is willing to hit the Democrats right between the eyes. This is what I’m looking for in 2016. Do you have good ideas and are you willing to do a smackdown of Democrats? This is where Fiorina and Trump impress me most.
– I like how several of the candidates want to scrap the current tax monolith and replace it with a simple flat tax, and some of them even want to do away with the payroll tax. Not only would personal and business tax rates be cut, but the cost of compliance would also be eliminated, which adds to the appeal. I also appreciate how some of the candidates want to undo reams of government regulation. It was also assuring to hear many of them advocate for increased military spending because of the persistent threat of militant Islam. I don’t like how some of the candidates just assume that we have to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. This is exactly what the Democrats want. Deportations can be done.
– The two “uh-oh” moments came when Rand Paul asserted his belief that man is at least partly responsible for climate change. (And he had been doing so well up to that point.) The second came when John Kasich lamented that there’s too much greed on Wall Street and that it needs to be reigned in. (John, a lot of us have our 401K’s invested on Wall Street. Believe me, I am totally on the side of Wall Street.)
– Ben Carson is such a fine and decent human being, one of the most accomplished individuals on stage, in fact. I wouldn’t mind at all having him be our president. But he is just so underwhelming. I know it’s his mild-mannered persona. (This is where we need an extrovert.) My fear about him as the GOP nominee is that he wouldn’t hit the Democrats between the eyes with enough force.
– Jeb Bush is another fine and decent human being. The entire Bush family is. They are truly wonderful people. But he’s just not presidential material. We don’t need any more career politicians. I foresee his candidacy going the same route as McCain’s and Romney’s.
– I have a great deal of respect for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. They held their own last night. Neither rose to the top, but neither did himself any harm, either.
– John Kasich used to be a solid conservative. But his politics have gone the way of many career politicians: farther and farther leftward. He is good at talking the talk in a debate, but I get the impression that he is just telling us what he thinks we want to hear.
– Rand Paul is a smart guy with a lot of good ideas. I don’t agree with his unwillingness to increase defense spending, but he forever lost me on the climate change issue.
So there you go.