The latest GOP television debate had something for everyone: Drama, comedy and a tragedy for the electorate if any of these candidates becomes president. The candidates spent more time talking about each other or themselves than on issues.
Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio did well in the second debate but will falter before the finish line. The main impression left with this viewer is that Jeb Bush will be accepting the party’s nomination as candidate for president with the conservative wing of the party howling in protest.
Ms. Fiorina said all along that she belonged on the debate stage with the top GOP White House hopefuls and her performance proved her right. She expertly hit Mr. Trump on his sophomoric suggestion that her face would make her unelectable. She also attacked the front runner by talking about his numerous bankruptcy filings.
Meanwhile, his use of illegal immigrants as workers on his New York City construction projects has yet to be explored. Errol Louis deftly said that Fiorina “successfully challenged Trump, criticizing his wisecracks about her personal appearance and challenging his credentials as a global businessman”
However, Ms. Fiorina’s credentials as a businesswoman — CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 until 2005 — cast doubt on her abilities. It is a recurrent GOP fantasy that a businessperson can run the nation well because he or she knows how to create jobs and opportunities, but businesses are corporations and corporations only care about the bottom line which is profit.
Salaries and health insurance for workers are costs and “successful” business people reduce, “downsize” or eliminate jobs and benefits while demanding increased productivity from the workers lucky enough to be left a job.
Mr. Trump pointed out that as CEO of HP, Ms. Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers and shipped jobs off to China. While her employees lost their livelihoods, she tripled her salary. The stock of the company plummeted anyway and she was forced to resign by the board of directors in 2005, with that landing softened by a “golden parachute” worth almost $40 million. The 30,000 fired employees had no such protection. Ms. Fiorina lacks the leadership needed by the American people.
Marco Rubio did well at the debate but was a very one-dimensional candidate who focused on security and foreign policy. He said, if elected, “I would immediately ask Congress for a supplemental budget authority to increase defense spending,” adding, “We need a strong America on the global stage, because nothing else matters if we’re not safe…. We are eviscerating our military [and] we have had rapid reductions in defense spending.”
In Iowa, Mr. Rubio complained, “We have an Army that just cut 40,000 spots.” He reiterated the theme at the second debate while he attacked Mr. Trump for not understanding our national security and foreign policy issues. The cuts called for by budget sequestration are scheduled for 2018.
Michael O’Hanlon, a defense expert at the Brookings Institution stated, “The term eviscerate is, to my mind, entirely unwarranted for a military that continues to spend almost $600 billion a year, well above the Cold War average and nearly 40 percent of the world’s total.”
Mr. Rubio does not explain why he is jumping the gun about manpower cuts or how he will finance his increase in defense spending. He will have a harder time explaining his immigration policy to the conservative wing of the Republican Party when Ann Coulter, darling diva of the conservative world, calls Rubio “Senator Chuck Schumer’s press secretary.” Mr. Rubio was a winner in the debate but will lose conservative support before the primaries finish.
Mr. Bush won points for standing up to Mr. Trump when he questioned Mr. Bush’s “liberal” immigration policy. He also looked strong when he defended his brother’s legacy as president but the ghost of his brother’s presidency will haunt him in the election to come.
Mr. Trump weathered attacks from all of the contenders who were prepared and happy to take him out. Although Mr. Trump did not wilt, it is apparent that he does not have the experience or ability to deal with the nation’s significant taxation, immigration and foreign policy issues.
The seven remaining top tier GOP candidates have no chance of getting the Republican nomination: Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and John Kasich. One can only hope that the eventual occupant of the Oval Office has the experience and consensus creating ability that is desperately needed in Washington D.C.