Posted by: SWL | August 7, 2015

August 2015 GOP Debate Didn’t Let All Candidates Speak on All Topics

I cannot believe we’ve had a presidential election debate over a year before the election! 2016 election “news” has been pushing important real news stories (other nations’ response to the Iran nuke deal, progress [or lack of] in the fight against ISIS) out of the spotlight for weeks.

These debates can be useful. But the election is so far away that voters may become tired of the entire process. Or major national or world events may change the political landscape. In the 15 months before the election President Obama may get us into World War III over the Iran nuclear deal and the type of president voters want to elect could change dramatically.

Well, the debates will go on whether I like them or not. So, that said, here are my thoughts on the evening’s festivities.

First, the primetime debate was boring! Except for the first two questions, not all candidates were allowed to answer on each subject. If only Donald Trump is asked directly about healthcare, and 3-4 others questioned about the Iran nuclear weapons deal, and two queried concerning what they would do to save Social Security, voters do not get a clear picture of which candidate matches their views. I learned very little new about each man on the stage.

FOX News should not have tried to include every possible subject. After all, there will be more debates. It would have made more sense to ask questions about key voter interests (economy, foreign affairs, entitlements) OR limit questions to current events (Iran deal/foreign affairs, Supreme Court gay marriage ruling, Planned Parenthood video controversy). Mixing up the sequence of the respondents would be good, but each man should be allowed to speak on each subject.

Actually, now that I think on it more, why have specific – and often biased – questions? Why not just state the subject and let each respondent say what they wish on the topic?

Trump behaved better than I had expected, probably in part because of the tight control the FOX team kept on questions and responses. He’s probably correct that no one would be talking much about illegal immigration if he hadn’t brought up the subject. I understand why as a businessman, Trump has used US laws to benefit his businesses, and contributed to a wide range of political candidates to extend his influence. While business strategies could help the federal government in the fiscal arena, the presidency is more about politics than business. Trump just doesn’t have the personality/temperament to be the US president.

Jeb Bush has a good record as a former governor of Florida, but has views with which I disagree, mainly Common Core in education and parts of his immigration plan. He was the master at the debate in giving his view within the allowed response time. Although I would like to see a very conservative candidate become US president, someone closer to the center might be able to break the DC gridlock and actually accomplish significant things for the country. Bush would be a better consensus builder than Trump or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. But I fear the family name would make it difficult for Jeb to win the election.

I thought I would like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker more than I did at the end of the debate. He’s done great things in his state, but seems a bit blah. But that might have been due to lack of opportunities to speak with this debate format.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is a likeable guy. He’s funny and has a good grasp on the influence of social issues on the country. I agree with his general views, but think many of his specific plans have long-term bad consequences that have not been explored. His insistence that the Social Security system be left alone is foolhardy, even if the US adopted his proposed consumption tax. The SS system is too far gone to recover without reform.

Dr. Ben Carson is likely more intelligent than the other 16 put together. Well, maybe not, but the man cannot be faulted for his intellectual prowess. Although he is still learning about some national political issues, I have no doubt he could absorb all he needs to know before the first day in office if elected. He brings thoughtful comments to divisive issues that may get knee-jerk reactions from others that often have to be “walked back”.

I agree with Sen. Ted Cruz on most issues, but he has been pushing the boundaries of political civility recently (calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar) in a bid to stay in the news. He used the phrase “speak the truth” often during the debate.

Although I am a person who doesn’t like change in my personal life, I find Sen. Marco Rubio’s emphasis on the changing needs of the US economy refreshing. While others pointed out that our economy is not doing well, Rubio pointed out that the economy has changed greatly in the last five years and suggested Congress must make significant reforms to deal with reality. I think Rubio has the best chance to win younger voters.

Sen. Rand Paul: good ideas, interesting way of looking at issues (which should make voters consider more than sound bites), a bit too antagonistic.

Gov. Christie: give him credit for winning re-election as a Republican in a Democratic state, solid Social Security reform plan, wants to rebuild the military; also too antagonistic. (There’s a fine line between speaking your mind and insulting people.)

Ohio Governor John Kasich: have heard in other forums that he’s made economic progress in Ohio, know very little else about him – and this debate did not let me hear much from him.

I am hoping that now presidential election hysteria will die down for while and we can concentrate on some of the serious issues facing our nation and the world. Everything else does not come to a halt, waiting to see who the next US president will be.



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