Friday, October 30, 2015

October 30, 2015--Woman Enough

I managed to keep myself awake for the entire Republican debate. I even ignored the struggling New York Mets.

Though the CNBC moderators were as inept as has been widely reported (Carl Quintanilla, for example, mocked Carly Fiorina's three-page tax reform proposal, saying skeptically that it must be in "very small type"), they did a better job than in the first two debates of giving air time to the marginal likes of John Kasich and Rand Paul.

The reporters, though, missed opportunities to follow up forcefully. When super-slick Marco Rubio deflected Jeb Bush's well-rehearsed attack--"If you don't show up for your three-day French work week in the Senate, you should resign"--with an equally well-rehearsed response--"John McCain, Barack Obama, and John Kerry did the same thing"--an easy followup would have been to ask him if "three wrongs make a right."

Talk about situational ethics of the sort conservatives selectively hate; but in this perverse political climate, Rubio was enthusiastically applauded by the media-hating audience.

The morning after the debate I checked the cable talk shows to see what people were saying.

The consensus was pretty much that Rubio or Ted Cruz won (largely by attacking the "mainstream" press--Fox of course excluded), that Bush made things even worse for himself, and that languishing Chris Christie (who was the establishment's favorite and seemed invincible four years ago) helped himself. Maybe by next week at this time he'll be the first choice of  six or seven percent of GOP voters.

Fiorina and TRUMP appeared to at least hold their own, though The Donald didn't dominate or hold center stage as he did previously. But John Kasich was probably destroyed by TRUMP's put down--blaming him (falsely) for the downfall of Lehman Brothers, where he was employed, and the subsequent economic meltdown. Kasich could only mumble incoherently in response.

He will soon go away, joining Lindsay Graham and Bobby Jindal at the children's debate table in George Pataki Land. Yes, Jindal, in a manner of speaking, is still in the race.

Most interesting, perhaps, is the continuing popularity of Ben Carson, who, in effect, by saying very little and saying whatever he said so softly that he needed closed captioning, Carson managed to make it appear that he wasn't there or, minimally, was looming as the new frontrunner above the grungy fray.

This was strategically brilliant since he has very little of substance to say about policy issues. When challenged that his 10 percent flat tax proposal would blow the deficit even higher, he said, "OK then, let's make it 15 percent."

So his appeal is in not in the policy arena but rather in the affective or emotional realm.

On MSNBC, the reporter covering the Carson campaign interviewed a few of his supporters to discern why he appeals to them.

One said it's because he's "calm." Another that it's because he has been so "blessed by God," and the third that "America is sick and we need a doctor to heal us."

I was struck by how these views are so feminized. Calmness, godliness, comfort, and healing.

At a time when the two women running for the presidency--Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton--because they are striving to convince us that they are ballsy enough to be commander-in-chief and would not have a problem bombing the whatsis out of ISIS, Carson has chosen to put on display his softer, feminine side.

If Fiorina and Clinton  are "man enough," Carson is "woman enough."

It could work. At the moment it is.

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