YHABFT: Thoughts on the First 2016 GOP Presidential Debate

[Note, on my other blog, Selenian Boondocks, I started a category called YHABFT (You Have a Blog for That). I sometimes have thoughts that I could try cramming into a twitter stream of consciousness, but I did that one too many times and Ben Brockert and Will Pomerantz started reminding me that “You have a blog for that” when I got too carried away. I’m just trying to save them the hassle of reminding me.]

I was able to watch a bit of the GOP debate tonight (before Fox pulled the plug on the UK news site I was using to watch it), and figured I ought to mention my thoughts. I’m trying to keep electoral politics on Selenian Boondocks to a reasonable minimum, unless it intersects with space policy, so I decided to post this here.

A couple of points up front about my political leanings to set the tone:

  • I’ve never voted for a presidential candidate from either major party–I think I’ve voted Libertarian most of the last three times.
  • I have registered “for that party that let me vote for Ron Paul in the primaries” both of the past two elections.
  • I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, and third party candidates, so I’m not the kind of person the GOP can consider a safe vote.
  • A candidate doesn’t have to be perfect to get my vote, but I do have to feel that their pluses outweigh their minuses, not just that they’re not as bad as the other major party candidate.

With all that said, here’s a couple of thoughts on the part of the debate I saw (roughly the middle 60 minutes of the two hour debate):

  • I can’t stand Trump, and I don’t think he’d make a good leader, but I don’t think his performance lowered my opinion of him.
  • I’m really not a fan of Chris Christie and his stance on domestic spying, and there’s almost no chance I’d vote for him if he got the GOP nod, but I had to give him points for his answer on the need for entitlement reform. I’m libertarian enough that I’d like to see Social Security go the way of the dodo, but since it isn’t going away, at least making minor tweaks like he suggested to make it less likely to blow up on future generations is a good thing, and it was ballsy to make that argument, even at a GOP debate. I don’t like him, but my respect for him increased.
  • Ben Carson was a total disappointment. None of the answers I heard from him impressed me at all.
  • I didn’t like Ted Cruz to start with, and some of his answers tonight made me even less of a fan.
  • Rand Paul is one of the few on the GOP side I’d be likely to vote for, but he only did so-so. At one point I think he interrupted Trump incorrectly, which came off kind of amateur hour. I did like his defense of the 4th amendment though. And his nuanced answer on the Iran Deal was better than I had expected with his attempt at pretending to be a hawk lately. But overall not a home-run performance for him this time around.
  • Kasich impressed me with points he made in two of his answers. I liked him making the point that while growth is important, it’s also important for conservatives (and libertarians) to reach out to those “in the shadows” so that all Americans feel like the American Dream applies to them too (he said it better than I could). I wish he’d gone into more detail on that though, because while the platitude is definitely good, the details matter. I also liked his answer on the “what would you do if your daughter was gay” question. I’m also pretty old-fashioned when it comes to questions of sexual morality, but agree with the sentiment that we’re supposed to love people, even if we disagree with what they’re doing. Kasich overall left me with a higher impression of him than I started with.
  • Probably the most surprising one was that I agreed with a decent amount of what Jeb Bush said. I still doubt I’d vote for him, but his comments on the importance of leaving educational curriculum and standards to the state were good–I just wish he’d do a better job of explaining what he means by “supporting Common Core”, because the two opinions at least on the surface seem to differ a lot. I really couldn’t stand the mach swagger BS persona that the GOP built up around his brother during his 8 years as president, and shudder at the thought of a Bush vs. Clinton rematch (could someone talk one of Perot’s kids into jumping in to make things interesting?), but have to grudgingly admit that I thought he also managed to earn some extra respect from me. Especially when he got in an aside about making immigration easier as part of his answer to some question.
  • Walker did ok on several questions, but I really thought his answer on his immigration 180 was pathetic. It really came across as “I had a principled view, but know I couldn’t get elected if I defended it.”
  • I can’t really remember anything positive or negative about Rubio’s answers, and didn’t like Huckabee’s answers (except for once) but can’t remember details about what he said overall.
  • I’m also glad I’m Mormon, because otherwise, I’d probably be in the hospital from alcohol poisoning from doing a drinking game (one shot every time someone invokes Reagan, etc.)…

In case anyone cares.

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