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January 15, 2016

Brief Debate Notes

1. Ted Cruz won in three different ways:

First, he won on debate points. This matters the least, but it's still important. Especially just to deny this win to Rubio.

Second, and this is big, he stood up to the Big Bad Bully Alpha Male Trump and won. Other people have stood up to Trump -- and have come out looking foolish and diminished. Cruz prevailed.

Even when people say he lost on the "NY Values" exchange (an assessment I don't share), he then lost while doing the actually important thing, appearing to be an in-command alpha sparring with another alpha.

Third, he appeared more human and likable. This has always been his downfall. From the get-go, I've said that while I like Cruz on policy and his anti-establishment impulses, I just can't see him as a plausible president. He's a combination of geeky, faux-pious, and condescending.

However, in last night's debate, he came across more genuine and likable. He also kept his good spirits in every single argument, which I don't think anyone else did.

2. Trump kind of won just by not appearing to be a maniac.

On the podcast, I mentioned that he seemed to have command of the facts by noting that China's contract with Boeing calls the planes to be built in China. Ekdahl asked me if that was actually true, and I said, "Well, I've heard it before -- wait, actually, now that I think about it, I've only heard it from Trump."

Someone on Twitter claiming to be a former Boeing worker tells me this is in fact mostly false. He tells me that Boeing is permitting China to do some work on the planes, like putting in seats and giving them the final paintjob; but all other production will be done by Boeing in America.

So.... That seems "mostly false" to me.

That said, Trump's goal is not to win in these things, nor to even appear informed. His goal is just to not be so outclassed, or so uninformed, as to disqualify himself. He often flirts with exactly this, but "mostly false" is, for Trump, a victory. "Mostly false" means "slightly true" and that's good enough for him.

This was his best performance, meaning it was pretty weak, but again, he's not playing to win, he's playing just to not be disqualified in terms of complete incompetency and unsuitability.

He prevailed there... kinda narrowly, but he did.

3. Marco Rubio actually was angry -- no joking, he actually was trying to appear angry to "channel" the base's anger, I suppose. David French, I think, commented upon Marco Rubio's anger.

I don't think he did that well. He did okay. But it's critical to keep in mind the sales pitch of Marco Rubio: That this is a once-in-a-generation natural political talent; that he is so informed and so persuasive when he speaks that he brings people to tears, like Obama; that no matter how much you oppose Rubio's support for amnesty and college Kangaroo rape courts, you must vote for him anyway, because he's such an amazing candidate as far as performance and charisma that he's our only real shot at beating Hillary.

So here's the problem: When Ted Cruz, and maybe even Chris Christie and even Donald Trump kind of beat you, you can't offer yourself up as that once-in-a-generation talent, now can you?

His gun answer was good. People seemed to like his oppo dump on Cruz, but I imagine it's mostly people who hate Cruz who liked that (that is, Rubio fans, Jeb fans, etc.)

Overall -- a fine performance, but a fine performance isn't enough for him. He's been sold as exceptional. "Fine" doesn't cover the rent, Marco.

Also, his intense anger about everything, and his wild eyes flashing with emotion, were very upsetting to common, everyday independent voters. I hope he can moderate his angry rhetoric, because I don't ever want to have to comfort my crying children after witnessing a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from the Angry Marco Rubio.

4. Chris Christie told Marco Rubio to shut up, which was wonderful, and so while he kind of didn't do anything on stage except lie his fat ass off, I guess he at least showed some Alpha-ness and did himself some small amount of good. Though we'll see how he's standing after his Gigantic Lies about his past support for Planned Parenthood, Sonia Sotormayor, and gun control get fact checked.

There is no point discussing anyone else. They're not even worth bringing up for humor value any longer, or Just To Be Nice. They're done.

Reconsidering: If Marco Rubio's oppo dump on Christie, and Christie's dissembling in response, is enough to badly damage Christie in the coming days -- then Christie is removed as another car in the Establishment Lane, and Rubio, presumably, gains most of that support.

Therefore, depending on how the post-debate conversation goes, and how much the media (and how much the right's alternative media) wants to talk about Christie Problem, this debate could turn out to be an important tactical victory for Rubio. Not winning the war, but taking a key hill.

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posted by Ace at 01:25 PM

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