The biggest moment in last week’s CNBC Republican presidential debate came when Carl Quintanilla asked Ted Cruz a very serious and valid question, “Congressional Republicans, Democrats, and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown, and calm financial markets that fear of another Washington-created crisis is on the way. Does your opposition to it show that you’re not the kind of problem-solver American voters want?” It’s a question that a lot of Republicans would like an answer to. But not surprisingly, Cruz did not answer the question. Instead, he attacked the media.
Ezra Klein addressed the issue last week, Ted Cruz’s Best Moment of the Republican Debate Was Also Completely Wrong. He went through part of it, and I thought I would go through each of Cruz’s points because it is important to note just what big liars the Republicans are. After slamming the media in a general way, Cruz presented five specific complaints about the questions in the debate:
- Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?
- Ben Carson, can you do math?
- John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?
- Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?
- Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?
Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?
John Harwood did not ask that question. He instead said:
It says a lot about Ted Cruz that he heard “comic-book villain.” Everything that Harwood mentioned is true of Trump, as well as the other candidates to one extent or another. Cruz must know that asking questions about the candidates’ policies does make them look like comic-book villains. Regardless, Harwood didn’t say what Cruz claimed.
Ben Carson, can you do math?
Certainly Carson was not asked if he could do math. In fact, Becky Quick was very nice to him. She asked:
There was then a back-and-forth during which Carson simply reiterated that his tax plan made sense and that some day, when he comes out with the full plan, everyone will see that it all fits together. Certainly Ben Carson showed that he can’t do math. But he was never asked about that.
John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?
Cruz is more correct on this one. But this wasn’t out of the blue. And it wasn’t anything like what we got at the CNN debate. Kasich had already been railing against the other candidates; he just had refused to say their names. Harwood was right to ask:
That hardly seems inappropriate — especially given that the Republicans think it is wrong to even point out when they are wrong. Remember the 2012 debate when Candy Crowley said that Mitt Romney was wrong about what President Obama had called the Benghazi attack? So apparently, Republicans want debate moderators to mention no facts and to not ask the candidates to mention any facts. But that doesn’t mean that media establishment should follow along.
Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?
This one is just an outrageous statement. The issue of resignation didn’t even come up until Rubio didn’t answer the initial question. Carl Quintanilla’s question was fundamentally about the issue that Rubio is basing his whole campaign on: his youth. It’s a perfectly reasonable question:
The critical thing here is that he worked on the immigration bill. But when it got push back from the crazies in the party, he dumped it. He’s also made claims that he doesn’t like being a Senator. In a way, his approach is that of the party: unless he has all the power, it isn’t worth doing anything at all. I think the American people have a right to know that about him.
Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?
John Harwood’s question for Bush is harder to summarize because there was so much cross talk. But it came down to this:
It’s a horse race question. It’s also a gimme for Bush. It was a way for Bush to talk about what he offers that someone like Trump or Carson do not. And he used it for that purpose, but like with every other opportunity, he used it highly ineffectively.
All five of the questions that Ted Cruz complained about were perfectly acceptable. Ted Cruz brought up his complaints because he didn’t want to discuss the biggest issue with his campaign: his inability to work with his own party. So he used the tried and true tactic of lashing out at the questioners. All the questions asked were substantial — most especially his own. But the audience roared with approval when he provided the lack of substance that he was complaining about.