The third 2016 GOP Presidential Debate took place as the polls began to shift. Carson moving up, Fiorina moving down, Trump sort of hovering. It’s no surprise that as the media has begun pointing at Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Rubio gave a strong enough performance that the media and public saw him as the victor. This may be the tail wagging the dog, which 2012’s musical chairs might have been, and it might be a real criticism of the media.
Meanwhile, Texas Senator Ted Cruz channeled Gingrich from 2012, pulling one of those ‘I-speak-for-all’ moments out to say the media sucks. While the media is certainly not the best institution, needing much improvement, the way a Cruz or Gingrich says it differs from more centered analyses. They basically mean that the media is inherently biased, putting facts aside, against the right. They tend to see the press as a picking wheel, with more of the slots occupied by pro-liberal than pro-conservative choices. Of course, that’s just not how it works.
Neither does it work, in my mind, to stand before the public and say, on the one hand, the Federal government cannot work, and on the other, that they want to lead that unworkable curse of an institution. Many of the candidates said it. For example, Bush admitted to a reflexive aversion to letting the Federal government do anything, down to regulating fantasy sports (though admitting it should be regulated).
To hear them tell it, there is a bona fide curse on the Federal government akin to the one on the Chicago Cubs baseball team, preventing the bureaucracy from ever doing a thing correctly. And yet, state governments apparently can do everything right, if we just let them. Hand a block grant of this or that back to the states, and watch as the rainbow-painted puppies sprout from the earth.
To hear them tell it, we don’t need to elect them as president. We need to have a Constitutional Convention to gut the powers of the US Government, possibly re-adopting the Articles of Confederation. Yet, they don’t actually come out and call for that. In their bizarro version of America, we just need to elect a president with enough courage to run through Washington, D.C., in a hockey mask, wielding a machete, slashing everything in sight. That’s what they’re campaigning on.
“It will never work, it’s just a money pit,” your mechanic says to you. “If you let me fix it, I’ll rip out the dashboard, seats, the AC system, and the windshield.” You would walk out immediately. Such a plan is simply preposterous. And yet, practically to a man, the GOP candidates seem to want exactly that, just like they did the last time around.
If, as expected, Marco Rubio now ascends in the polls, it probably doesn’t point to his ascendancy at all, but to a repeat of the 2012 GOP candidate rollercoaster finally kicking into high gear. The media’s tail might have just started wagging in earnest for the GOP’s dog.
As to the debate format itself, these networks need to expand the early, low-polling debate to equal the main event. This would mean the main contenders get more time, while the struggling bulk of candidates might still get more visibility with a larger debate. It’s senseless that the barrel bottomers get more TV time with fewer viewers.