Republican Debate, the Day After

Amy Davidson, writing for the New Yorker, called the Republican presidential debate “crowded, bloated, sour, and Trump”.  Politico didn’t  think much of it either, calling it “the debate from hell” and comparing CNN moderator Jake Tapper to a “teacher trying to control a class of over-excited third graders.”

After sleeping on it, my reaction is that the smart play for Republicans is a Kasich/ Rubio ticket. That brings two must-win states, Ohio and Florida, into play. Kasich would, I suspect, be acceptable to the business wing of the Republican Party, the corporate bigwigs and wealthy donors who have lined up behind Jeb Bush but who surely have to be very nervous about JEB!’s lackluster performance. And Rubio would satisfy the bomb-throwers, the anti-science rabble who want the country to go back to the 1950’s, lily white and able to invade other countries at will.

We’ll see how all of this unfolds. Presidential elections are always consequential. With the crazy wing of the Republican Party in full sway, this one seems more than most.

My biggest single disagreement with Republicans has to do with basic world view. “American exceptionalism” seems to drive a right wing belief that whatever goes on in the rest of the world has as its fundamental reference point what the United States think, does, or refrains from doing. I find that hubris in the extreme. While the United States and Israel make convenient external whipping boys for the unraveling Middle East, what’s going on there is not remotely about us. Rather, it’s about centuries old religious and factional conflicts. Some of our values, like the extreme preference given to individual freedom at the expense of the common good, are in direct conflict with cultures we seek to dominate. President Obama has a sense of that. No one running to succeed him seems to, not even Rand Paul. Paul objects to our intervention because it rarely seems to work as we’d hope, not because intervening is wrong in the first place.

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