Quick thoughts ahead of GOP debate, 3rd March 2016

by awindram

Some quick thoughts ahead of tonight’s GOP debate:

How does Trump show himself to be Presidential? Does he even know what that would look like?

Trump in his rally in Maine today spoke of how his wife, Melania, wanted him to act more Presidential. Minutes later Trump alluded to Romney having being prepared to perform fellatio on him in return for his endorsement during the 2012 election – so much for seeming Presidential.

This is the problem with a reality star as a political candidate*. Successful reality shows work by taking horrible people, putting them in a room, and filming them as they talk nonsense for hours before distilling it all down into an entertaining few minutes.

And this is precisely how the Trump campaign has been working. In his rallies he spouts nonsense and then the news media cuts it down into the most provocative soundbite and then amplifies it.

It used to be that the world raised an eyebrow at America’s willingness to vote an actor for President, but, a least, an actor is acurltely aware of how tone and demenour effect a performance – the only performance Trump is capable of is himself unabashed.

Is there any enthusiasm left for Rubio?

Yesterday it was reported that Fox News head, Roger Ailes, was “finished with Rubio.” In addition, Romney in his attack on Trump refused to endorse any of the remaining candidates. A week ago it seemed all the establishment was coalescing around him. If the love-in with Rubio is over, it will be interesting to see what the news coverage of him will be like tonight, and, equally, what tactic he takes in tonight’s debate.

In addition, if Rubio does go after Trump, do Cruz and Kasich simply let him do all the grunt work or do they join in, too?

Personally, I don’t think stooping to Trump’s level is a great look for anyone, particularly Rubio who seems to get flustered when faced with Trump’s non-sequiters.

Will Romney’s speech make a difference?

It felt like the GOP electorate today had to sit through a special assembly called by the school Principal as he’s disappointed with recent behavior.

Listening to Romney was a good reminder of his own failings as a candidate. He certainly looks the part, a President from central casting, but when he opens his mouth he’s utterly uninspiring; he looks urbane, but sounds like a crusty grandpa.

As an aside, there’s something of the preacher to many successful American politicians. It’s a rhetorical style that fits easily within a political environment obsessed with calls for a higher power, and so often requires a leap of faith from supporters. Romney simply doesn’t possess it. I wonder if it’s cultural? I can’t think of any charismatic LDS preachers, I know they don’t have a professional clergy as such, I guess they end up relying even-tempered, unexcitable  patriarchs in their community, and that’s how Romney comes across most of the time, there’s a strong base level of competency in his speeches, but he is unable to make them soar – you don’t leave inspired, but neither do you leave despising him. It’s a bit like being accosted by Mormon missionaries; they leave you unconvinced by their arguments but thinking they are superficially polite and a little on the dull side.

I’m not sure if it was the right move for Romney to make the speech he did, and I certainly don’t think the son of George Romney is the one to chide Donald Trump for inherited wealth as Mitt did at one point.

Let’s see whether it has the desired effect or just enrages a base already disillusion with its establishment further.

Will anyone miss Ben Carson?

Only the fruit salad lobby.

*Trump being the first reality show candidate, though Palin was a proto-reality show candidate.