|The winner of the debate|
Rubio is a good looking, yourng guy who smiles a lot. He looks like a puppy who wants to be loved; that night he put away any concerns that he might not be tough enough for president. Trump is essentially a clown, and the best weapon against him is ridicule. Rubio has hit upon this, and his blows were telling. Trump looked like a blustering fool.
Why has nobody done this before? Why does it happen only now, at the eleventh hour? My guess is that everyone was afraid of Trump's very personal insults.
Cruz had the second-best night, and landed a number of good blows on Trump as well. It will not do him any good, though, probably, because Rubio was better. Rubio looked as if he were having fun. Normally, I would consider his blows too low, too personal, but it is a matter of fighting fire with fire. Trump gets personal immediately. Trump was repetitious, had few real answers, and some of his positions looked silly. Rubio slaughtered him on Obamacare; Cruz slaughtered him on not releasing his tax returns. Rubio was great in accusing Trump of repeating himself; it defused a criticism of himself while skewering Trump, who really does repeat himself constantly, unlike Rubio, and Trump made himself look a stiff by apparently not getting the joke. It was masterful and memorable. Trump's responses were, as usual, but more often since he was under such strong attack, mostly just to insult anyone who challenged him. It was so transparent, it was funny. I cannot imagine why anyone has supported Trump all along, but surely now that he has been revealed as the unserious candidate he is, it will no longer be cool to admit you support or ever supported Trump. It suggests you are a sucker. I really cannot see why his support does not collapse now. But I've said that before, and been wrong.
Points to Rubio for knowing, and saying, that South Korea at least is shouldering the burden of its own defense, and not freeloading on the US.
Kasich was pushing hard, but the polls make him an irrelevancy. I did not get him on keeping health costs down by paying more for low prices. Seems like a simple contradiction in terms. Nobody called him on it; it is in nobody's interest to waste time arguing with Kasich, because he is not going anywhere. He also lost me on religious liberty, insisting that religious institutions have the right to freedom of conscience. He was too careful to always say religious institutions. By inference, it appears that he does not believe individuals have the same right in their daily lives. This implies a radical diminution of conscience rights. He also ignored the fact that requiring business proprietors to sell to anyone who asks for their services or goods is a violation of freedom of association. And he falsifies the issue. Nobody is refusing to serve gays; the problem is catering gay weddings.
The moderators seemed pretty bad, but to be fair, they had a very tough job. The candidates were talking over each other, insulting one another and thereby requiring an unscheduled response, and speaking out of turn. Wolf Blitzer should be shot for shutting down Ted Cruz twice. Dana Bash also talked over Rubio's best line, about Trump's repetitions, but Rubio wisely was too impolite to listen. It would have been a shame if the line had been lost or not heard, for the sake of both history and entertainment value. The Hispanic moderator, Maria Arraras, was an embarrassment; all her questions were about specifically Hispanic concerns. First, they were a kind of ideological, self-imposed ghetto; they implied that Hispanics were not fully Americans, but a special interest group. Second, thry solicited pandering; this was demeaning. Third, the questions were of little interest to the audience at large. She even, inanely, called for a wall along the Canadian border, in the name of fairness, if a wall was going to be built along the Mexican one. This deserves ridicule.