Jonathan Bernstein on Substance in GOP Debate

Jonathan BernsteinThe circus was not in town. No personal insults, no demeaning taunts, no candidate bragging about his… well, you know. Instead, thanks in part to some solid questioning from Jake Tapper and CNN’s other moderators and a strategic recalibration from Marco Rubio after his collapse in recent primaries and caucuses, we had what passes for a serious policy debate on the Republican side.

It was not impressive…

They weren’t all terrible all the time. Rubio and Kasich do know their stuff in several policy areas, and Cruz actually did give a solid defense of international trade. But over and over, there’s just very little substance on the stage. For a major political party’s candidates for president of the US, it’s a sorry show, even if they did stay out of the gutter this time.

—Jonathan Bernstein
Posers on Parade as Republican Debate Veers Toward Substance

12 thoughts on “Jonathan Bernstein on Substance in GOP Debate

  1. Great link; thanks!

    I do wonder what the next GOP president (in a year or nine) will be up to, internationally. Whomever it is will have campaigned on “America being strong again” and doomed to invade somewhere. God only knows which target will be the certified Threat To Freedom. The Devil knows how well our war will benefit people living there.

    • I was wondering: how does the GOP reform itself? And I think the answer is: by getting to the point where it only appeals to a third of the nation. As long as it is even slightly competitive, it will not change.

      • This number seems to be coming, no? It seems that the non-crazy, non-dumb, non-psychopathic conservatives already are going Democratic.

        They’ve invested a lot in what amount to conspiracy theories. Already they’ve reached the point where liberalism is a conspiracy against America, Marxism in disguise; essentially all the university professors are fifth columns; the New York Times is basically Lenin’s mouthpiece, and so on.

        On the National level, it seems like it’s going to take the elephants a long time to come back; these insane conspiracy theories just don’t give anything to build on. At some point their leaders are going to have to admit they’ve been running on pure hatred for a long time, and that will have a very great short-term cost in support.

        It often takes smart people of good will a long time to admit mistakes and even longer to admit wrongdoing. The R’s leadership aren’t that smart and have not exhibited good will. I hope that grassroots Democrats in America will finally seize the opportunity to refocus their party, while the insane elephants roam the wilderness.

        • “It often takes smart people of good will a long time to admit mistakes and even longer to admit wrongdoing.”

          That’s a stunningly awesome sentence. Well done.

        • The Republican Party base reminds me a lot of the main character in Falling Down. He’s convinced throughout the film that he’s the good guy. Cracks in this idea only appear late and it is only at the very end that he realizes that he is the villain in this narrative. I still think if Trump runs, at worst he will get 40-45%. So I’m not so sure we are that close. As I’ve indicated, I think most Republicans will conclude that Trump is terrible, but certainly not as bad as Clinton. The ability to justify whatever your tribe is doing is amazing.

  2. I didn’t watch the debate but I did watch the reaction on Twitter and it did seem a bit more muted then normal. Hopefully that is the last debate and we can finish the primaries already. I am so sick of this election.

    • Well, if the GOP is determined to have “substantive” debates, I agree. I think they actually look worse when they discuss policy. If they would get the kind of questions that Democrats get, it would be clear as day that they have nothing to offer — indeed that they haven’t even thought about the issues. But the networks know that if they do that, the GOP will take its toys and go home.

      • And we cannot have that-they may not make $$$$ from the absolute nonsense that this election cycle has had. At least Trump is starting to lose primaries. Maybe that will help.

        • I don’t think so, because the other option is Cruz. Someone I read this morning talked about how the Republican establish doesn’t hate Trump for what he is, but for the fact that what he is is for himself. He’s unpredictable. So of course they will go with Cruz. But I’d like to see Trump win just to watch all the “reasonable” conservatives come to the conclusion that as bad as Trump is, Clinton would be even worse. And I guarantee you they will do just that.

          • It is going to be interesting to see how people in the Republican elite are going to have to hold their nose and vote for Drumpf or stay home.

            The wailing and gnashing of teeth is going to be amusing to say the least. I cannot wait to see what the National Review does in the general for endorsing.

            • That will be interesting. On one side, you have a woman who is perhaps more qualified to be president than anyone is history. On the other hand, you have an authoritarian nitwit. And at best, they will call for sitting it out. But I truly believe that 90% of the Republican establishment will find some reason why Trump is just fine. Like Carson said: there are two Trumps. There’s the authoritarian nitwit, and then there is the serious policy wonk that no one sees. Also: Benghazi!

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