Hooray for CNBC

 

Bush-RubioJeb Bush’s campaign may be mortally wounded. Limping in the polls despite his massive war chest, he stooped (almost literally if you check the body language) to attacking Marco Rubio in an attempt to revive his fortunes.

Rubio’s response, suggesting that Bush had been “told” to attack him, seemed like a bull’s-eye. Jeb Bush is an honorable man; a man raised to behave like a gentleman; but he was feeling desperate at Wednesday’s debate, and tried to play against type. It failed utterly. Rubio was ready, and parried Bush’s thrust by highlighting — for Bush and the audience — how very unbecoming the attack was. He made Bush look small, and you could almost tell that Bush himself felt diminished for doing it. This was not the “joyful” race he had envisioned.

Is it really so shocking that Republican primary voters have turned their faces away from Jeb Bush? Though he was an outstanding governor of Florida, his election would represent something unprecedented in American politics – a third president from one family. It bespeaks a wholesome anti-dynastic spirit in the electorate to say, “No, two is the limit.” Those were certainly my sentiments. Nor did his donor base guarantee anything. Who was the best-financed Republican candidate in 1980? Not Reagan. Not even G.H.W. Bush. It was John Connally. He got exactly one delegate.

On the other hand, since we’re predicting his political demise, it’s worth saying for the record that the anti-Bush vitriol among some on the right has been needlessly hysterical. There is nothing hateful about Jeb Bush or the Bush family. If they have a sense of entitlement, well, there are far worse things – like, oh, flagrant corruption such as we find in the likely Democratic nominee.

Many on the right are completely convinced that the “Republican establishment” foists “moderate” nominees on an unwilling conservative electorate cycle after cycle. This is myth. Henry Olsen, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tracks election results with meticulous attention and observes that the reason moderates (Olsen actually calls them the “somewhat conservatives”) get nominated is this: they get more votes. Though I wish the party were more conservative, and God knows I wish the country were more conservative, the voters are in charge.

In addition to Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz also had very good nights at the third debate. Carly Fiorina was strong and sensible too.

I think all of the Republican debates should be hosted by CNBC from now on. The network demonstrated a number of traits people loathe about the press – and the candidates, most of them anyway, came out smelling like roses.

In the first place, by declining to use a stopwatch and a buzzer, CNBC (like CNN before it) guaranteed that the moderators would have to stomp on the candidates’ sentences in a bullying fashion. This provided an opening for Chris Christie to quip: “That’s rude even by New Jersey standards.” By providing so few rules and leaving so much to “moderator discretion,” CNBC invited the disorganized melee that sometimes broke out. This is an object lesson in letting liberals run things.

Second, by proffering “gotcha” questions, failing to provide sources (“Where did I read that?” asked Becky Quick at one point), and arguing with the candidates, the immoderate moderators revealed their bias.

Third, by posing questions about trivia like missed votes, who said what about whom (and please repeat it here so we can have a food fight and higher ratings), and fantasy football betting, the questioners demonstrated that they are not up to the task of discussing the great challenges that face our nation.

The candidates, however, are. They sailed over the heads of the petty and niggling questions and managed to debate several serious points. 1) How to reform entitlements? 2) Is a flat tax feasible? 3) How can we generate economic growth? 4) What is the proper role of the federal government?

Well, not all of the candidates. The one candidate on the stage Wednesday night who had almost nothing of substance to say was the frontrunner. History suggests that the voters will not choose him when the time comes. But here’s a question for the conspiracists: If the Republican “establishment” always picks moderates, wouldn’t that be Trump?

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  1. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Susan the Buju:Does anyone care about how the candidates repeatedly try to capitalize on a lie? Or am I naïve? Ben Carson clarified (yeah, he has to do that quite a bit) his “10% tithing” suggestion which was an analogy, not a 10% tax, and the candidates kept going after his 10% tax after he clarified. That annoyed the heck out of me.

    Yeah, that bugged me, too.

    • #31
  2. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Pilgrim: Carson’s dismissal of involvement with Mannatech nutritional powder as “propaganda” because “there was no involvement” annoyed the heck out of me. That was a lie that would embarrass Hillary

    No it wouldn’t.

    • #32
  3. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    The Reticulator:

    Pilgrim: Carson’s dismissal of involvement with Mannatech nutritional powder as “propaganda” because “there was no involvement” annoyed the heck out of me. That was a lie that would embarrass Hillary

    No it wouldn’t.

    I agreed with Pilgrim when I read his comment, but I believe that Reticulator’s correction is accurate.

    • #33
  4. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    While I am panning Dr Carson:  His qualification that he headed the “Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins” means that he was in charge of himself and three other doctors.  In the military, that is called a “squad leader.”

    • #34
  5. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Pilgrim:While I am panning Dr Carson: His qualification that he headed the “Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins” means that he was in charge of himself and three other doctors. In the military, that is called a “squad leader.”

    Squad leaders are NCOs. As I understand it, you can have a successful career analogous to Carson’s in the military and rise to Lt. Colonel in the Medical Corps. You could not be an army surgeon in charge of other army surgeons and be an NCO.

    I agree that it doesn’t imply a lot of executive experience.

    • #35
  6. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    James Of England:

    Pilgrim:While I am panning Dr Carson: His qualification that he headed the “Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins” means that he was in charge of himself and three other doctors. In the military, that is called a “squad leader.”

    Squad leaders are NCOs. As I understand it, you can have a successful career analogous to Carson’s in the military and rise to Lt. Colonel in the Medical Corps. You could not be an army surgeon in charge of other army surgeons and be an NCO.

    I agree that it doesn’t imply a lot of executive experience.

    You are right, of course, but too literal.  I was trying to say that managing yourself and three others with the same training and mission is the lowest possible rung of management and to suggest the vaster than vast difference between a corporal and commander in chief.  (And actually I even got that wrong, a squad leader has ten soldiers at full strength, a “fire team” is four)

    • #36
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Pilgrim: You are right, of course, but too literal. I was trying to say that managing yourself and three others with the same training and mission is the lowest possible rung of management and to suggest the vaster than vast difference between a corporal and commander in chief. (And actually I even got that wrong, a squad leader has ten soldiers at full strength, a “fire team” is four)

    Still, it’s more executive experience than our current president had.

    • #37
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