When Jim Cramer asks a question, you know everything's all boogered up. The first hour of the GOP Presidential Debate from Colorado will go down as the first official event of the post-journalism world. The debate ended with John Harwood lying about the debate's length. Having been an occasional guest of Larry Kudlow, I'm being nice. But the CNBC reporters couldn't write a story for my high school newspaper.
On the substance of what the candidates said, this was the best debate so far. It was the best only because Ted Cruz, early on, scolded the "journalists" for their TMZ-smug, self-absorbed, unresearched, DNC-talking-point question. And Cruz informed the world that he and his fellow candidates would discuss the issues of the country regardless of what CNBC's nattering nabobs emitted from the festering noise holes beneath their booger boxes.
I'll be brief:
Carly Fiorina educated the country on what crony capitalism is and why it's bad for everyone. (I hope Ann Wagner took notes.) Carly did a wonderful job of rejecting federal solutions to problems. While she was less in-command than in previous debates, her answers were perfectly and uniformly conservative. And, as always, everyone knew exactly what Carly meant, every word, every syllable.
Ben Carson made himself even more likable, but he didn't make himself much more viable, and that's a shame. Dr. Carson needed to establish some degree of wonkishness. He has one more chance to show a command of his own plans or he'll disappear after Iowa. To be open, if the primary election were tomorrow, I would vote for Ben Carson.
Marco Rubio was fantastic. While I have issues with his subsidies, he's the second-best debater of the bunch. And he probably ended one man's White House dream in the first couple minutes.
Jeb Bush is done, I think. Jeb limped into the debate having recently laid off a bunch of his staff. He tried to regain momentum by calling on Marco Rubio to resign from the US Senate. Rubio unleashed a hornet's nest of facts and logic that left Bush nervously grinning and hoping for a commercial break. Jeb showed terrible instincts by taking on a great debater and brilliant counter-puncher. While Jeb's positions have become more conservative over time, his campaign is probably over.
Ted Cruz may have turned around his campaign tonight. His opening attack on the media was perfect. His answers to every question were excellent. He deflected attempts to make him look like a nut. If Ted Cruz wins the nomination, this debate was his turning point.
John Kasich seemed angry and distant. He was right about many things he said--the danger of scaring old people, the need to strengthen families, the realities of balancing a budget. But he delivered his message like the old guy down the street who doesn't want kids stepping on his lawn. I thought his performance was weak.
Rand Paul, I'm guessing, has decided to use the campaign as a platform. I don't think he takes seriously his own chances of actually winning. His reasonable and accurate explanation of the Fed's threat to the nation was perfect.
Donald Trump was very likable and very good. He got caught in one flat-out lie, but this was still Trump's best debate from my perspective. Ironically, I think Trump's bandwagoneers will see his performance as weak, so it could hurt him. Still, I'm beginning see in Trump a man who could be President. Until recently, Trump's deportment was unfit for President. I hope the new Trump is the real Trump.
Chris Christie, I thought, had the best night of all the candidates. It has more to do with style than substance, but I'm betting the viewers will re-evaluate the New Jersey Governor, just as I'm re-evaluating Trump. His fantasy football rant was epic. Christie is the best debater of the bunch, and he's a genuinely warm guy. (That hug of Obama? Yeah, Christie hugs everybody. I've seen it.)
Mike Huckabee was delightful, but, like Rand Paul, Huckabee seems resigned to use the campaign as a platform for his views rather than a serious run for the White House.
As always, I'll steal Dennis Miller's line and remind you that these are my opinions, and I could be wrong.