I still think Trump made a big mistake by chickening out of appearing at last night’s debate, but I suppose I agree with him at least in thinking that Megyn Kelly goes way too far in an adversarial direction at times.
In this episode from last night’s debate, she went after Ted Cruz, armed with a prepared gotcha video, in which she tries to damage Cruz by attacking his record on illegal immigration.
Watching this, I thought that she was much, much too pleased with herself and that she was behaving unfairly as a debate moderator by singling out the front runner present for a specially elaborate attack. The tone of her questioning was too avid. Her appetite for Cruz’s destruction too clear. She was too obviously trying to promote herself professionally by moving beyond the proper level of neutrality to take on, only in one special case, the role of attack dog. I think Cruz handled her perfectly well, and I expect poor little Donald Trump could have managed as well, had he be possessed of sufficient fortitude to show up.
Watch the exchange. The gloating “Yes, it would!” at 0:10 I thought was particularly inappropriate.
The enthusiasm for Brave, Brave Sir Donald has, astonishingly survived in numerous quarters his cutting and running, his skulking away and buggering off, his funking last night’s debate.
This morning, Trump is winning Matt Drudge’s Poll (63.51%) and The Blaze’s Poll (54% – “by not being there”!). Go figure.
Yesterday, enthusiastic Trumpkins were all over the Internet explaining just how brilliant The Donald’s missing-the-debate strategy really was. It wasn’t about Megyn Kelly and her mean questioning back last August about misogynist remarks, no, no, no. Trump was dignifiedly boycotting the debate because he was righteously offended by being mocked in a press release issued by some of Roger Ailes’ subordinates.
FOX NEWS: â€œWe learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president. A nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.â€
Some conservative commentators and their friends on Facebook yesterday were assuring me that I was clueless because I had failed to do the research necessary in order to learn that Fox News had nefariously arranged to invite “a Muslim and an illegal alien” to participate in the debate questioning, thereby ambushing Trump. I watched (most of) the debate last night and never saw either of them. Their appearance must have been cancelled at the last minute when that political genius Trump craftily avoided the ambush, or maybe not, too.
Last night, I happened to catch Bill O’Reilly trying to persuade Donald Trump to change his mind and participate in tonight’s GOP Debate on Fox News.
O’Reilly was his usual annoying self, but I thought Trump was truly intolerable: egomaniacal (“I won all six debates!”), petulant, self-entitled, thin-skinned, vindictive, odiously tyrannical, and childishly spiteful.
I’m rather amazed that there are still lots of American adults out there still inclined to be supporting Trump after such an exhibition of irresponsible behavior.
El Rushbo, for instance, looked on yesterday, and interpreted Trump’s blowing off the Fox Debate as a commendable case of “not playing by the rules” made by the elites, and as a case example of the application of one of his own rules published in his book, The Art of the Deal. That rule being: You have to know when to walk away.
I rarely disagree with Rush, but this is one of those times.
Running for President of the United States is actually different from negotiating a real estate deal. Even if you are a bigshot and a billionaire, in politics, unlike your own private business activities, you cannot expect everything to be specifically arranged for your comfort and advantage. There is a complex process, partly derived from tradition, partly contrived by happenstance, ruled over in the final analysis by nobody in particular, through which American Democracy arrives at its decision and expresses its will. That process is bigger than Donald Trump.
A long time ago, candidates for the presidency were expected to sit in dignity at home, while others sought their nomination, and the country as a whole, in essence, politely invited them to serve. Today, Americans expect presidential candidates to go through a kind of ordeal involving submitting themselves to be tested on their personal history, political record, and grace under pressure by facing hostile questioning by the press and hostile attacks by their opponents. You know this, I know this, and Donald Trump knows this.
For a candidate to carry a grudge over one question for six months, to demand special treatment, to keep threatening a personal boycott of the debate process on the basis of his own self-perceived unique status, and then finally to announce that he will not participate in the final debate occurring directly before delegates actually begin to be chosen is fantastical behavior.
Trump’s refusal to participate is selfish, infantile, petulant, tyrannical, unrealistic, and it certainly should be self-defeating. He may have persuaded himself that he is proving to be oh-so clever, but I think most Republicans are going to agree with me that Donald Trump has definitively discredited himself as a presidential candidate.
Yes, a lot of us agree with Trump that Republican candidates get a kind of hostile treatment from members of the press, including those working for Fox News, that democrats don’t get. Some reform of debate formats and a better selection of journalistic participants is highly desirable. Donald Trump had an opportunity to exercise his alleged leadership skills here. He could have gone to his Republican rivals, and said: “Look, guys, what are we doing holding debates on thoroughly hostile venues like NBC and CNN? Why do Republicans let the likes of partisan lefties like Candy Crowley run the debates? Let’s do all of them on Fox and get Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to do the questioning.” Then, he could have stood back, pointed to an improved process and stronger GOP prospects, and taken the credit. Instead, Trump has delivered a disgraceful exhibition of thin-skinned egomania and rich kid self-entitlement. He obviously has neither the brains nor the character to hold any elected office. If you had a business, despite his megabucks, you would not want a petty tyrant like him as a customer.
Donald Trump was always looked upon as a dubious presidential candidate, seemingly lacking in judgement, depth, and gravitas. But Trump decidedly surprised everyone by demonstrating unexpected abilities to debate effectively, to address issues, and to create a case for his candidacy based on opposition to conventional American politics, professional politicians, and political correctness.
He surged in the (very, very early) polls, by being entertaining, and –more importantly– by cleverly framing himself as the opponent of the same political establishment which much of America absolutely loathes and detests.
Serious conservative commentators and the GOP establishment were appalled, but people like me thought Trump was making some good points. He never really seemed all that likely to won the nomination, but in the meantime he did seem to be driving Republican politics in the right kind of anti-Washington, anti-business-as-usual direction. And, heck! if by some miracle, Trump actually won, he’d be bound to be better than Obama.
Well, lo and behold, all it took was the first official GOP debate on Fox News to do in the Trump candidacy. Curiously, Trump really actually did do just fine in the debate itself. But he began to self-destruct as soon as it was over.
The moderators are professional journalists. No one should have been surprised that they acquitted themselves as such. The leftist slander of Fox journalists as Republican toadies is so entrenched that people are surprised when they act professionally. No one should be.
Some conservative commentators criticized the Fox moderators for their tough questioning, but nearly all of the candidates were prepared to address them. The overall quality of the Republican candidates is exceptional; unfortunately, they are, for now, being overshadowed by Trump.
In New York Magazine Gabriel Sherman wrote about the conflict between Trump and Fox News:
Having spent the past six weeks rhetorically slashing at his Republican rivals, it makes perfect sense that Donald Trump would eventually run out of targets and find himself in a war with the partyâ€™s media arm: Fox News. At the GOP primary debate Thursday night in Cleveland, Trumpâ€™s on-stage clashes with the Fox moderators, and his post-debate complaints about the networkâ€™s treatment of him, were among the most talked about storylines to emerge from the Quicken Loans Arena.
If your take-away from the debate is that the moderators were not very nice to you, you do not look like a winner. You look like a whiner.
Megyn Kellyâ€™s first question in Thursdayâ€™s debate ostensibly addressed Trumpâ€™s insulting remarks about women. …
Kelly was asking whether Trump had the temperament to be president. Did he have the strength of character to be calm and collected under fire? Could he handle a crisis without flying off on a rant? Could he deal with foreign leaders when he could not impose his will on them?
The answer did not lie in his words, but in his behavior. Especially, in his continuing post-debate attacks on Megyn Kelly.
Now we know that the great Donald became undone when faced with big, bad Megyn Kelly. Keep in mind, as long as Trump is leading the Republican candidates in the polls, whatever he says reflects on the Republican Party.
Clearly, Kelly got to him. She got under his skin. She provoked an appalling rant, which did not subside after Trump got some rest.
But, certainly, I donâ€™t have a lot of respect for Megyn Kelly, sheâ€™s a lightweight. And she came out there reading her little script, and trying to be tough and be sharp. And when you meet her, you realize sheâ€™s not very tough, and sheâ€™s not very sharp. Sheâ€™s zippo.
Kelly might not have been very tough, but she was tough enough to threaten the Donald. If he cannot deal with someone who is a “zippo”–presumably, he was talking about the lighters– how could he deal with someone of substance. He was so threatened and so disarmed that he started lashing out, irrationally. I suspect that no woman has ever addressed him with such disrespect. As is his wont, Trump responded with a disgracefully indecent remark:
And you know, you can see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever, but she was, in my opinion, she was off base.
When you canâ€™t answer the question, you attack the messenger. It is not a sign of toughness or of strength. It signals weakness. It shows that Trump can be easily manipulated. Those who think that Trump is a tower of strength should revise their opinions. Trump is more bluster than strength; more boasting than leadership. One should be able to tell the difference.
Ed Driscoll, at Instapundit, collects negative conclusions on Trump’s potential presidential performance from conservatives.
[Roger Simon thinks foreign adversaries would easily roll The Donald:]
Hereâ€™s how I would imagine they would handle Trump. They would love him to death, treat him like the king of the world, the genius at deal-making, ask him for advice on everything from golf courses to hospital maintenance, and if he got suspicious, love him even more, say great things about how rich he is, what a wonderful plane he has, ask for a tour, get pictures with him for People and Der Spiegelâ€¦ then, after he feels like heâ€™s been just the perfect president and has settled everything, thatâ€™s maybe six months, snatch the Baltic states (Russia), explode your bomb (Iran), move in on practically everything west of Honolulu (China) and look the other way when ISIS blows up three shopping malls in Dallas.
What would Donald do about it? Say â€œYouâ€™re firedâ€? Brag about his money? Iâ€™m not optimistic.
And when it comes to domestic matters, as libertarian blogger â€œPopehatâ€ tweets, â€œConsider the way Trump and his supporters speak of perceived enemies. Now, give them control of the IRS and Justice Department.â€
Michael Barone identifies the moral of the firing of Juan Williams by NPR and applauds the happy result for this particular victim of liberal intolerance.
Reading between the lines of Juanâ€™s statement and those of NPR officials, itâ€™s apparent that NPR was moved to fire Juan because he irritates so many people in its audience. An interesting contrast: while many NPR listeners apparently could not stomach that Williams also appeared on Fox News. But it doesnâ€™t seem that any perceptible number of Fox News viewers had any complaints that Williams also worked for NPR. The Fox audience seems to be more tolerant of diversity than the NPR audience.
The good news: Fox News president Roger Ailes has given Williams a three-year contract at an increase in salary. Hurray!
Peggy Noonan catches out Obama’s evasive manuevers and efforts to pull rank during an unusual interview this week on Fox News and in her own distinctive Celtic Bard manner produces an early draft of the epitaph for the current presidency.
[The interview Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report With Bret Baier was] the most revealing and important broadcast interview of Barack Obama ever. It revealed his primary weakness in speaking of health care, which is a tendency to dodge, obfuscate and mislead. He grows testy when challenged. It revealed what the president doesn’t want revealed, which is that he doesn’t want to reveal much about his plan. This furtiveness is not helpful in a time of high public anxiety. At any rate, the interview was what such interviews rarely are, a public service. That it occurred at a high-stakes time, with so much on the line, only made it more electric. …
[T]he Baier interview was something, and right from the beginning. Mr. Baier’s first question was whether the president supports the so-called Slaughter rule, alternatively known as “deem and pass,” which would avoid a straight up-or-down House vote on the Senate bill. (Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast cleverly notes that it sounds like “demon pass,” which it does. Maybe that’s the juncture we’re at.) Mr. Obama, in his response, made the usual case for ObamaCare. Mr. Baier pressed him. The president said, “The vote that’s taken in the House will be a vote for health-care reform.” We shouldn’t, he added, concern ourselves with “the procedural issues.” …
And so it ends, with a health-care vote expected this weekend. I wonder at what point the administration will realize it wasn’t worth itâ€”worth the discord, worth the diminution in popularity and prestige, worth the deepening of the great divide. What has been lost is so vivid, what has been gained so amorphous, blurry and likely illusory. Memo to future presidents: Never stake your entire survival on the painful passing of a bad bill. Never take the country down the road to Demon Pass.
I must confess that I look forward to the weekend editions of the Wall Street Journal, in which these days Peggy Noonan can be expected to be found, hair disordered, rising threateningly from the mist, to intone, week after week, a new malediction or fatal prophecy aimed directly at Barack Obama.
It was not so very long ago that Peggy Noonan was supporting him. Peggy was one of the commentators on the right most firmly ensconsed in the establishment and, just like David Brooks, she was unable to resist the seductive appeal of Barack Obama’s pretense of dignity and moderation and his gift of gab.
When Obama proceeded to drop the veil of moderation, and revealed himself in practice to be a looting radical leftist determined to ram socialism down America’s throat, Peggy Noonan took the kind of personal offense that the Queen of Elfland might have taken when she discovered that the mortal who had gained her favor really intended to bulldoze her sacred grove and erect a strip mall.
Obama was extremely good at winning over the proudest and most cerebral of the center-right commentariat, and he has proven to be even better at disillusioning them and provoking their wrath.
Mark Steyn discusses the Obama-style of presidential leadership: Chicago tough on domestic media opponents, boot-licking to foreign adversaries.
If you’re going to attack the press, you need a lightness of touch, not a ham-fisted crowbar such as the White House wielded Thursday, attempting to ban Fox from the pool interviews with the “pay czar.” Another bit of venerable Disraelian insouciance, on the scribblers of Fleet Street: “Today they blacken your character, tomorrow they blacken your boots.” For two years, the U.S. media have been polishing Obama’s boots, mostly with their drool, to a degree unprecedented in American public life. But now it’s time for the handful of holdouts to make with the Kiwi â€“ or else.
At a superficial level, this looks tough. A famously fair-minded centrist told me the other day that he’d been taken aback by some of the near parodic examples of Leftie radicalism discovered in the White House in recent weeks. I don’t know why he’d be surprised. When a man has spent his entire adult life in the “community organized” precincts of Chicago, it should hardly be news that much of his Rolodex is made up of either loons or thugs. The trick is identifying who falls into which category. Anita Dunn, the Communications Director commending Mao Zedong as a role model to graduating high school students, would seem an obvious loon. But the point about Mao, as Charles Krauthammer noted, is that he was the most ruthless imposer of mass conformity in modern history: In Mao’s China, everyone wore the same clothes. So when Communications Commissar Mao Ze Dunn starts berating Fox News for not getting into the same Maosketeer costumes as the rest of the press corps, you begin to see why the Chairman might appeal to her as a favorite “political philosopher”.
So the troika of Dunn, Emanuel and Axelrod were dispatched to the Sunday talk shows to lay down the law. We all know the lines from “The Untouchables” â€“ “the Chicago way,” don’t bring a knife to a gunfight â€“ and, given the pay czar’s instant contract-gutting of executive compensation and the demonization of the health insurers and much else, it’s easy to look on the 44th president as an old-style Cook County operator: You wanna do business in this town, you gotta do it through me. You can take the community organizer out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of the community organizer.
The trouble is it isn’t tough, not where toughness counts. Who are the real “Untouchables” here? In Moscow, it’s Putin and his gang, contemptuously mocking U.S. officials even when (as with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) they’re still on Russian soil. In Tehran, it’s Ahmadinejad and the mullahs openly nuclearizing as ever feebler warnings and woozier deadlines from the Great Powers come and go. Even Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is an exquisite act of condescension from the Norwegians, a dog biscuit and a pat on the head to the American hyperpower for agreeing to spay itself into a hyperpoodle. We were told that Obama would use “soft power” and “smart diplomacy” to get his way. Russia and Iran are big players with global ambitions, but Obama’s soft power is so soft it doesn’t even work its magic on a client regime in Kabul whose leaders’ very lives are dependent on Western troops. If Obama’s “smart diplomacy” is so smart that even Hamid Karzai ignores it with impunity, why should anyone else pay attention?
The strange disparity between the heavy-handed community organization at home and the ever cockier untouchables abroad risks making the commander in chief look like a weenie â€“ like “President Pantywaist,” as Britain’s Daily Telegraph has taken to calling him.
The Chicago way? Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight? In Iran, this administration won’t bring a knife to a nuke fight. In Eastern Europe, it won’t bring missile defense to a nuke fight. In Sudan, it won’t bring a knife to a machete fight.
But, if you’re doing the overnight show on WZZZ-AM, Mister Tough Guy’s got your number.