So far, the Republican debates have been mostly a race to the bottom. With each successive debate, in some fashion, the moderators have gone downhill faster and faster, asking more inane questions.
Things bottomed out at last week’s CNBC debate, which was ostensibly about economics but in reality was an out-of-control high school home economics class. And yet the Establishment criticism of CNBC continues mostly to be muted. Only from the right is heard justified outrage.
Why? Because the groupthink culture of Washington trumps reason. Notice that some of the other cables and networks have been restrained in criticizing the performance of the liberal CNN or the liberal Comcast, aka CNBC. They may be doing business in the future with their anchorettes and news readers. It’s happened before. It will happen again.
CNBC was especially conflicted in its role hosting a Republican debate, first by its liberal customs, secondly by its pro-Big Wall Street cast, and third by allegiance by journalists to the culture of those around them. A triple whammy for the split personality Republican Party, struggling to throw off the shackles of losing Big-Government Bushism and return to the populist, pro citizenry, anti-bigness, winning philosophy of Ronald Reagan.
The two sides are talking two different languages, with the liberal media, Wall Street, Big Government, the RNC and Bushism on one side and many of the candidates, the Tea Party, the conservative movement and the new media on the other. They don’t understand each other and, complicating things, the Establishment is overtly hostile to the populists, as evidenced by the questions asked so far in the three debates.
Wouldn’t it have been bracing for Chris Christie or Ted Cruz or Donald Trump to take control of their own destiny last week by telling CNBC’s unctuous John Harwood to “Be quiet!”
Wouldn’t it have been bracing for Chris Christie or Ted Cruz or Donald Trump to take control of their own destiny last week by telling CNBC’s unctuous John Harwood to “Be quiet! This is our debate, not yours!”
That would have been breathtaking and presidential, all at the same time. People are tired of the soggy, saccharine collectivism of Barack Obama and want manliness (or at least strength, as Carly Fiorina has repeatedly shown) in their president and presidential candidates once again.
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Reince Prebius’s late-coming protests over CNBC’s conduct are just so much eyewash. He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar and now is trying to reframe the debate, as if he were on the side of the candidates all along. In fact, it was always wrong to turn the debate negotiations over to the RNC. They are good at raising money and then wasting it on high-priced consultants, but they aren’t very good at anything else. Plus, they are on the wrong side of the cultural divide.
That brings us to the out-of-touch, pro-big business, pro big government, anti-populism of the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper made a habit of attacking and belittling Ronald Reagan. In 1980, the paper wrote of the Gipper, “For political packaging, we do not need to turn to a 69-year-old,” a sentence objectionable on many levels. The paper made a habit of cheap-shotting Reagan. The Journal supported Gerald Ford over Reagan in 1976 and made clear it preferred George Bush, Howard Baker and John Connolly over Reagan in 1980.
So after the unfairness and harshness and inanity of the previous carnival shows, the dullards of the RNC propose for the next debate to hand over the destinies of the candidates to the Wall Street Journal and Gerald Seib. Seib is a longstanding liberal columnist for the paper.
For the Journal to get right with the Right, it needs to realize there are profound changes going on inside the Republican Party. The party is turning away from Big Government Republicanism, and returning to its anti-Establishment roots. The paper needs to finally acknowledge this by turning away from their own culture and recognizing the growing dominance of the Tea Party culture.
Meanwhile, the candidates need to take control of their own destinies. They need to ask themselves, Why? They need to get back to basics. Why debate? To showcase a contest of ideas and not dance like puppets for the entertainment of the empty suits and mannequins and news readers of cable television.
The news coming out of the day says the campaigns have cut out the Republican National Committee from future debate negotiations. This can only be good news.
And apparently they have. The news coming out of the day says the campaigns have cut out the Republican National Committee from future debate negotiations. This can only be good news. The candidates are taking control of their own destinies.
This is about corrupt bigness versus the citizenry. The job of the RNC, as a part of the big culture of Washington, is to get along with other members of their culture, not to look out for the interests of the candidates.
The candidates should have Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, two of the most ethical and substantive and principled Reaganites around today, to moderate the debates in cooperation with the Heritage Foundation, ground zero for principled conservatism. It should feature questions from Ed Feulner and the great conservative historian, Lee Edwards, to add weight to the event. I’d also add a role for Joe Scarborough, one of the best and fairest questioners around today, and a role for Newt Gingrich, as a successful statesman for the movement. It should all be broadcast on Newsmax and other legitimate conservative cable systems.
The 2016 candidates should no longer allow the master of hidden agendas, the Republican National Committee, to determine their own fates, instead taking control of their own. Reagan was best when taking control of his own destiny, just as the GOP aspirants are now apparently doing.
This truly is a Ronald Reagan moment.