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Thursday, January 14, 2016

The GOP Debate of January 14 (UPDATE)

Not bad. Not bad, at all.

Most of the questions were pretty good--the dumbest one? Whether Trump would place his large real estate empire in a "blind trust" if he became president. Trump, surprisingly, didn't seem to know the law on that and what a "blind trust" entailed, and gave a confused rambling answer, when a simple "yes, of course" would have sufficed.

Hard to tell who "won." They all did well, with the weakest performances coming from Gov. Kasich and Dr. Carson. I thought Rubio was superb on foreign affairs, but Christie did very well there, too. All were pretty good on ISIS, with Rubio and Cruz the best, and Carson and Bush the weakest. Cruz handled the "natural born citizen" issue well--e.g., pointing out that Trump's mother was British, and that some might, therefore, not consider Trump "natural born." That said, Trump also scored a few points off Cruz by noting that the Dems will raise the "birther" issue, and that might even cost Cruz a Veep slot with Trump! Trump can be good, no doubt about it. Trump also proved clever on the "New York values" issue, and I thought he turned it around on Cruz in a slightly unfair way, i.e., invoking the city's response to 9/11 as an example of "New York values," but that's the way it goes when you run with the Big Dogs: on occasion, you will get bit.

Trump came off very weak on international trade. His rant on China and Japan trade was pure nonsense, and showed he has no idea of the complexity of international trade and the layers upon layers of treaties, regulations, and procedures that govern "free" trade. Imposing tariffs is neither as simple to do nor the simple answer he seems to think. Jeb Bush was better technically on the issue. That said, however, it seems unlikely Trump's comments on trade will hurt Trump, and Bush's won't help Bush.

Cruz came off well on taxes and provided a simple and easily understandable explanation of his proposal. Rubio, however, was right in noting that despite Cruz's claims, Cruz's plan would not abolish the IRS, as some sort of government agency would have to exist to collect taxes and enforce compliance. It, nevertheless, was a good exposition of ideas.

Rubio and Cruz were excellent on gun control, and effectively took apart the Obama gun control argument. All of them, in fact, were good on gun control, although at least Christie and Trump have not been well-known for supporting gun rights. Let's say, however, thinking can evolve . . .

By contrast the Democratic debates and candidate pool look very gray and even sclerotic. Any one of the Republicans would be a far better choice than anybody offered on the Dem side--even if it is the cancer-curing Joe Biden.

UPDATE: See Cruz's brilliant non-apology apology re NY values (thanks Instapundit.)

21 comments:

  1. This was probably the best of the GOP debates so far. As you noted, Trump was incoherent on trade issues -- while his position is clear, it makes no sense to anyone with the slightest understanding of how these things work in the real world.
    It occured to me (and I'm surely not the first to realize this) that just as Obama swept up the Dem-leaning low-information voters, Trump is doing the same with the right-leaning ones -- something that's obvious if you read the comments under any Wall Street Journal opinion piece that's even slightly critical of The Donald. It's a bit scary to think that without the interference of those horrible "party elites," such voters on both sides can carry the day. No one was more elite than William F. Buckley Jr., and I wonder what he'd be writing if he were still around to witness this campaign.

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    1. Harry:

      "Trump is doing the same with the right-leaning ones."

      From what I'm seeing, Trump is sweeping up a fair number of Dems, too. That is an interesting development, and one that probably bodes well for a Trump candidacy. More and more I am coming to the conclusion that voting should be limited in some way. Far too many people with no appreciation for the consequences of their vote are able to walk into a polling place and cast a ballot. Viz 2008 and 2012.

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    2. At the very least, voters should still be alive.

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    3. Good point. Except in Chicago, of course.

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  2. I certainly hope that early state voters say to themselves, "With Cruz we get all those things we like about Trump, but without the bombast". Cruz has been running a good campaign so far, and he doesn't gaffe like the Donald.

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    1. I also like Cruz--generally very conservative. But I see a lot of good in a lot of the other GOP candidates, too.

      My issue with Trump is that he was a supporter of Obama and the Clintons in the past, and suddenly becomes a "conservative" during the past several months. I remain very suspicious that he threw his hat into the GOP ring to pay back a favor to the Clintons, then suddenly found he could resonate on his own.

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    2. " I remain very suspicious that he threw his hat into the GOP ring to pay back a favor to the Clintons, then suddenly found he could resonate on his own."
      I too Kepha.
      James the Lesser

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    3. I'm pretty sure that Trump has held at least some conservative positions for many years. He has certainly been thinking about federal policy for a long time. I just downloaded his 2000 book, "The America We Deserve." I'll report back once I finish it.

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  3. Mr. Mad,
    Re: the Democrats. I think said this here a long time ago (I blab in so may places, it's hard to remember)that I had a "feeling" that Hillary's (you can add Jeb) time had passed, passe if you will. Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic, but I think that also applies to the Democrats and their ideology in general. It'll still carry a good sting, but it's waning. I think people need to understand that "Socialism" is on of those beliefs that though is very wrong has and will have a strong attraction forever. Some form of it was what the Founders were thinking of when they said that "freedom required eternal vigilance", the struggle is getting better, but is far from over.
    James the lesser

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  4. Notice that few if any candidates on either side of the *ahem* party fence talk about sustainability with respect to budgeting and living within our means. To me, it is the elephant in the room that nobody talks about because it threatens the existence of this country as we know it. Politicians by and large do not like to deliver bad news.

    This fact of huge deficit spending with no means of paying it back is not unique to this country. It is a worldwide disease of government. Look to centuries of history to see what happens to nations that spend beyond their means and go bankrupt.

    Obama is a symptom of the greater problem. The greater problem is congress (with a lower case "c"). By and large, they have shirked their power and responsibilities under the Constitution (with a capital "C"), and let Obama get away with his agenda, with nothing but harrumphs from congress.

    The President is not the king. He is the executive officer of the US Government, and like any chief executive, he has delineated powers and responsibilities. I cannot see how a new president will make a lot of positive change with the existing congress. Someone like Hillary will accelerate the decline and collapse of the federal government.

    I am a can-do optimistic person, an engineer, and a problem solver. I want to see things work for the better, but I need something a little more substantive than hope and change with respect to the status quo. Though I do not like to say it, that is how I see it.

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  5. Dip, I've already gotten into tiffs on Facebook and in other fora about Cruz' eligibility. As an old consular officer, all I can say is that Cruz is not an immigrant--he is a born citizen, just like my two sons (born in Taiwan and Thailand respectively). Also, John McCain was actually born in a hospital in Panama City rather than in the Canal Zone, I understand.

    Again, thanks for your earlier post about Cruz' eligibility. It seems that virtually no-one I know (apart from former FSO who have had to do their consular tours) has any clue about the jus sanguinis provisions of US nationality law.

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  6. That said... it would be *hilariously sad* if Cruz was nominated and then had his campaign derailed by scotus accepting a birther case, handing the election to..... Madoff..err Sanders... whichever Bernie guy is lying to everybody... can't keep 'em straight.

    At least Hillary would be about the standard Clinton Kleptocracy... she's in it for her vainglory, her sense of self importance... way better than Obama and his "I'm going to 'fix' america and all their freedoms."

    - reader #1482

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    1. I'm not sure the SCOTUS would accept a "birther" case against a Cruz candidacy. The statute law is pretty clear that if you're born abroad to an American parent who meets transmission requirements, you are born a US citizen. Appeals to Emmerich Vattel's definitions of citizenship would pale in comparison to the English law to which the American founders were heirs.

      My big worry about such a case going before the present SCOTUS is that five liberal judges would declare even illegal immigrants eligible.

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  7. Is Ted Cruz a naturalized citizen? No? Then he is a natural-born citizen, who had a claim to Canadian citizenship, which he formally renounced. Case law, Constitutional law, Common law, are agreed in this.

    In WWII, our pilots dumped baskets of tin foil strips, called "window," out of the bombers, strips which drifted earthward, and, while still aloft, confused NAZI radar. NAZI radar was VHF radar, so it was rather fuzzy, like the thinking of Low Information Voters. Donald Trump reveals himself for the demagogue he is, by using this distraction tactic.

    Is there anyone who could possibly have any reason to suspect that Mr. Cruz would put Canadian interests ahead of American interests? No, that is preposterous. Is there anyone who might suspect that O'Bama might put the interests of tin-pot Third World Kleptocracies ahead of American interests? Well, since it's been mentioned...

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  8. Pete, I started my comment yesterday afternoon, before your appeared. Then the grand children came over for their Friday night baby sitting, and I saved my draft, and sent it this morning, before I noticed that you had already said it, and better. Sorry.

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  9. I think there is a question about whether an attack by a Democrat SoS on Cruz's candidacy could derail his election. Mark Steyn is my go-to guy on many things, including this. http://www.steynonline.com/7422/the-winnowing
    "Despite all the attention to this issue in the last week, still only 46% of Iowa Republicans are aware that Cruz was not born in the United States. In fact, there are more GOP voters in the state who think Cruz (34%) was born in the United States than think Barack Obama (28%) was. Donald Trump knows what he's doing when he repeatedly brings up this issue- 36% of Cruz voters aren't aware yet that he wasn't born in the United States, and 24% of Cruz voters say someone born outside the country shouldn't be allowed to be President."

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    1. I'm optimistic that a Cruz candidacy in which his birth to an American mother resident in Canada becomes known will have the beneficial effect of educating the public about (1) nationality law, (2)status of Americans living abroad, and (3) we are connected to the rest of the world.

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  10. I'm not usually a fan of the "non-apology apology" form, but way to go, Cruz!

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