Friday, April 12, 2024

Sensationalism Over Realism In Do Or Die GOP Debate


Thursday night’s debate is being considered the most consequential of the 2016 Republican primary campaign and it’s true. With only weeks to go before the first votes on the season are cast, last night’s debate highlighted the glaring realities of the race.

Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz had the most heated exchange between them thus far over Trump’s insistence on attacking Cruz over his citizenship status because he was born in Canada. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the GOP establishment’s last hope in the race, was stagnant. Sensing the immediacy of the evening, Rubio seemed panicked and frantic to blurt out one-liners and rushed talking points without the authority of his past performances or, certainly, of a commander in chief. He, along with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida’s Jeb Bush and the others did not have the stand out moment they needed to propel themselves over the crowded pack.

In a rare moment that saw Trump on defense, the GOP national frontrunner explained his recent attacks on Cruz, saying it was “because now he’s going a little bit better. No, I didn’t care. Hey look, he never had a chance. Now, he’s doing better. He’s got probably a four or five percent chance.”

Cruz also got an earful from Marco Rubio, denoting the increased prominence of the Texas senator in the race as the poll leader in Iowa and with an ever-clearer path to the nomination. “You used to support the doubling of the green cards, now you are against it. You used to say you were in favor of birthright citizenship, now you say you are against.” Remarked Rubio, calling attention to Cruz’s checkered immigration record in the Senate.

All told, the candidates predictably shied away from specifics and instead offered up red meat to the base, knowing that it was their best chance to drum up support in the home stretch. It all came to a climax with a declaration by Ted Cruz, in a booming sentiment that perfectly exemplified the GOP’s obsession with sensationalism over realism. “I give you my word, if I am elected president, no service man or service woman will be forced to be on their knees, and any nation that captures our fighting men will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America.”