So, I'm a little late chiming in because I wasn't sure what I watched on FOX the other night actually qualified as a debate.

The standard rules were, I guess one would say, "relaxed" for this event. Not every candidate was asked to answer a question in a particular topic. In fact, not every candidate was called on in each particular topic. Some candidates were asked more questions than others. Some were asked harder questions than others. Some were asked really stupid questions. And one candidate even seemed to have a target on his back.

In my opinion, this was more of an interview than a debate. And a pretty "softball" interview at that. Even so, all ten republicans seemed to want to be any place other than on that stage. I saw very little enthusiasm in most of the candidates with the notable exception of Gov. Kasich. He was pleased to get home court advantage and the Ohio crowd loved him. None of the rest of them hit any home runs and only a couple even managed to get on base.

Here are the big hitters from the "debate"

- The best one-liner of the show came from a candidate (Dr. Ben Carson) who doesn't stand a snowballs chance in hell of even making it through Super Tuesday.

- The best Clinton attack came from Marco Rubio "How can she lecture me on living paycheck to paycheck". I still can't picture him getting the nomination, though.

- The one guy who came across as the most reasonable candidate is Gov. Kasich in his response on receiving Medicare funds and his comments about addiction and incarceration. He is my definition of an electable republican.

- The two best sound bytes of the debate go to Rand Paul. First when asked about foreign aid he said, "We cannot give away money we don't have. We do not project power from bankruptcy court." And then when Gov. Christie calls his position on the Patriot Act "ridiculous" Paul responds with "You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights". True enough.

Here are the strike outs;

- Jeb Bush must have taken a Zanax before going on stage. This was his chance to fire up the fundraisers and faithful. He didn't.

- Ted Cruz. He was there, right. I heard them announce his name, but can't remember if he spoke or not.

- Mike Huckabee starts to sound like the fringe lunatic that he is when he can't seem to move off of his "fair tax" position, then wants to hire lawyers so unborn fetuses can sue for protection under the 5th and 14th amendments, and then, rather than allowing gay people to serve in the military, he spouts off about that not being the place for social experiments because the military's actual role in this world is to "kill people and break things". You see, in his world, unborn fetuses deserve to live. Military age Americans and who ever we declare the enemy don't. Get it?

- Gov. Christie has anger issues. That's not a good qualification for president.

- Gov. Walker to me doesn't have a genuine bone in his body. It feels like every word that comes out of his mouth is bought and paid for. Like a voice over should announce; "This response was brought to you by..." every time he answers a question. He's the Mitt Romney of this election cycle.

And finally,

- Donald Trump. Well, what can we say? He was there. He said a bunch of stupid stuff. He was narcissistic, belligerent, dismissive, arrogant, and wrong on most topics he spoke about. In other words, he was Donald Trump. This "debate" was his to lose. But I'm not quite sure he did bad enough to hit that mark. And what does that say about the Republican Party?

My take-away from this debate was that these 10 guys are hung up on three things; Planned Parenthood (this election cycles PBS/Big Bird), NOT talking about race (because racism is dead, right?), and an unhealthy fixation on Hillary Clinton (who I think they all have a small crush on. Even Carly Fiorina).

All of which are wedge issues. All are exactly NOT what we want our candidates to be talking about. Where was Climate Change, Election Reform, rebuilding the middle class, reducing our dependence on oil, the environment, the problem with for-profit prisons, leaving women's bodies alone, etc. etc. etc.

And then I remembered, this "debate" was hosted by FOX... and it all made a special kind of sense.


Eric J. Kiser

Eric J. Kiser

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