Watched both debates last night.

I know. I know. Still, here’s my report.

Florina. Best of the pack.
She replaces Trump’s faux outsider mythology with a true disdain for DC Dealing. Replaces Trump’s bluster with intelligence, articulateness, specificity and credibility. Would destroy Hillary or Bernie (or Bloomberg, Biden or Warren). Electable. Few care.

Christie-Cruz-Rubio. Tie for second.
Focus group apparently thought Rubio was awesome. I didn’t see that, but 75% of them switched their allegiance to Marco.

Many focus group people really didn’t like Trump skipping the debate. It’s possible they desperately want an alternative to Trump, and Cruz didn’t do well enough – thus Rubio. If the sample applies generally, Monday will be quite surprising.

Carson. Surgeon General.

Paul. The conscience of the debate. Should be on stage no matter his poll numbers.

Kasich. Should be on the Democrat undercard by himself. Or somewhere by himself.

Bush. His best performance. The bar is set below sea level, of course.

Gilmore. Who?

Huckabee-Santorum. Scurried over to carry Trump’s coat (as Gilmore said) after their typical performances.

Trump. Best debate performance yet.

Two other notes.

1- Having watched some old video of Trump, I wonder what happened to the far more articulate (relatively speaking) and polite guy in them.

He’s assumed his Apprentice persona. Or maybe I should say it has assumed him. We can be thankful he stayed away from the Honey Boo Boo show, I guess.

The election has morphed completely into a ‘reality’ show.

Next: Real Housewives of Chappaqua and Authentic Old Socialists of Somewhere that should be in Sweden.

2- Anybody starting to react to the sound of Trump’s voice they way they do to Hillary’s or Obama’s? I’m probably much more susceptible to Trump fatigue than most, but you gotta wonder how long even his acolytes can tolerate Trump 24/7. TV shows do get cancelled on short notice, and I’m disinclined to attribute persistent attention spans to the politically suddenly interested.

Dear Mr. Speaker,

Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House

Just received your “Personal Request” asking for my contribution to the NRCC. You say, “We must have every conservative step up…”

Since 2000, what did conservative voters get from “our conservative candidates?” Let me make a partial list.

Another huge, ineffective alphabet bureaucracy – DHS. A near quadrupling of the national debt. John Roberts. No Child Left Behind. Mortgages for the credit-challenged, leading to the financial collapse of the Western world in 2008.

The largest entitlement expansion since 1965. Hundreds of thousands of earmarks.

The nomination for president of John McCain, the ideal bipartisan statist. The self-styled Maverick who enjoys sticking it to conservatives.

McCain-Feingold. TARP. Cash for Clunkers. Sarbanes-Oxley.

Barack Obama. Obamacare.

In 2010, tea party conservatives gave Republicans control of the House and +7 seats in the Senate. Did the tea party get a thank you? No, they got blamed for not taking the Senate after the Republican Party abandoned Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and John Raese.

Mitt Romney. Barack Obama.

Common Core. A weaponized EPA.

Skipping ahead to 2014… You’re welcome.

What do I get next? – Your promises: “fixing a broken tax code, replacing Obamacare, strengthening our military, reducing our soaring debt. However, NONE of that is possible without your support.” Ha. None of it’s apparently possible with my support, either. (Oh, and you misspelled “repealing.”)

So last year, on your watch, we pass an Omnibus budget bill giving the Democrats everything they want. Right now, Majority Leader McConnell is preparing a perpetual AUMF, unrestricted by geography, our Constitution-busting president didn’t think to ask for.

Iowa Gov. Terry Bran­stad is demanding to be allowed to continue looting for ethanol. Bob Dole says he’ll forget to vote if the conservative who enjoys sticking it to self-styled Mavericks is nominated. Orrin Hatch predicts “we’ll” lose if Cruz is the nominee, “For us to win, we have to appeal to the moderates and independents.” Who’s us? What’s win? You keep using those words. It’s being amply demonstrated they don’t mean what you think they mean.

We have “conservatives” threatening to vote Clinton/Sanders if Cruz is nominated. Who’s us? What’s win?

These same fine conservatives are stepping up to support a crony capitalist friend of Nancy Pelosi. A Progressive until the last 2 years, who never uses the words “liberty” or “freedom” in a speech, but does tell us what he’s going to force a lot of other people/countries/businesses to do. With him, “conservatives” can “deal.”

Just how stupid do you have to be to think conservatism matters to the Republican party? Pretty stupid. I’ll bet that’s why the word “Republican” appears nowhere in your letter.

Looking into the void

There’s one star and couple of dust clouds that might become stars.

“The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
– H. L. Mencken

Huckabee, Christie and Kasich made good showings last night. Too bad. See above.

Bush comes to mind when reading “the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.”

Trump should be seen to have destroyed himself, but I’m doubting it will turn out that way.

Paul seemed pinched and sour, and it’s hard to imagine him as president.

Rubio and Cruz should pick up from their performances, but probably won’t gain enough.

Carson is such a very nice man.

Walker is unflappable. To the point of appearing passionless.

Some are complaining about the gotcha nature of the Fox questions, and that the moderators blathered for over 30% of the debate time. The latter I agree with, the former makes me ask the question, “If friendly questioning is necessary for a Republican to become president, what’s the GOP nominee going to do in the actual election?”

Stop whining about Fox and check out how it’s done: Carly Fiorina’s handling of Chris “tingly leg” Matthews (This is the full exchange, so even if you’ve seen an edited version of it already, you might find it worthwhile.)

And debate watchers are complaining that Megyn Kelly’s questioning was too aggressive?

As entertainment B-, as a debate D+.