Donald Trump strode into the gaudy Venetian, in Las Vegas, for the CNN-Facebook Republican presidential debate, with a primary lead for the history books. As Weekly Standard put it
, "Trump's lead over his primary opponents is larger than both Ronald Reagan's was in the 1980 race, and George H. W Bush's was in the 1988 contest." Not that you'd know it from the media's Trump-In-Decline School Of Alternate Reality, but "on a national level, Trump is clearly in a stronger position than Hillary Clinton is."
So, while Trump's debate was meaty on meaning; thin on policy—"our country doesn't win anymore. We don't win on trade. We don't win on the military. We can't defeat ISIS. We're not taking care of our great people, the veterans—the candidate was comfortably presidential and graciously conciliatory to the tools of the Republican Party organ.The Republican National Committee had been plotting to stop a Trump nomination by forcing a procedural sleight of hand—a brokered convention—warranted only when a candidate fails to secure the most delegates in the primaries. Republican Party kingmakers and monied interests had also convened to float the possibility of supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton—anything to thwart Trump.
Yet humbly did Trump profess
his total commitment "to the Republican Party."
I feel very honored to be the front runner. And I think I'll do very well if I'm chosen. If I'm so fortunate to be chosen, I think I'll do very well. Polls have come out recently saying I would beat Hillary. I will do everything in my power to beat Hillary Clinton, I promise you.
So it is hoped that by professing his great respect for the Republican brass in Vegas, Trump has not let down his guard or "sold out."
Other than the conciliatory tone, there were no surprises about Trump's performance at "the final Republican debate before the election year begins." The Lines—"We either have a country or we don't have one, I want a strong border and a wall, walls work, ask the Israelis"—all worked for the umpteenth time.
Touchingly Trumpian, too, was the, "I don't want our country to be taken away from us, and that's what's happening. The policies that we've suffered under other presidents have been a disaster for our country. We want to make America great again. And Jeb [Bush], in all fairness, he doesn't believe that."
The early, second-tier Republican performers remained hopelessly afflicted with War Tourette's, even spoiling for skirmishes with Russia. Gov. Mike Huckabee distinguished himself by coming closer than all contenders in seriously commenting about Islam: "[Our job] is not to protect the reputation of Islam. It is to protect Americans first and foremost."
Both Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz may have believed themselves to be brave when they repeated the term "radical Islamic terrorism." Uttering it is supposed to signal seriousness about terrorism, in Republican circles. It signals confusion.
The mouthful, "radical Islamic terrorism," is itself an error because it's a redundancy. Islam is radical. It has never undergone a reformation. Most Muslims do not act on their radical religion, but the authentic, un-reformed Islam is dormant in the faithful.
Gratitude is owed to moderator Wolf Blitzer for reminding the likes of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who yelled his yearning for George Bush—that after 9/11, it was "W" who told the nation that Islam was peace. Predictably, Graham, who polls a steady 0 percent with Americans, maintained his lead with the news nitworks. More than anyone at the kiddy dais, Graham's fulminations excited the dark desires of CNN "analyst" Gloria Borger. Women love an energetic regime changer.
Another neoconservative, Sen. Marco Rubio, became the object of Sen. Rand Paul's barbs. The Rand Rubio offensive was wise and well-rewarded. Alas, Rand, who shone during the debate, forgot to back off Donald Trump. Who knows? If Rand stops nipping at The Donald's heels, Trump might give the little guy a position as Secretary of State, in charge of foreign policy. And that would be a good thing.
On the foreign policy front, an alliance emerged that saw Trump, Paul and Cruz unite to advance an America First foreign policy, and to volubly oppose the foreign policy forays of Rubio aka Genghis Bush aka Dick Cheney aka Jeb Bush aka John Kasich aka Carly Fiorina.
Thus when Chris Christie—who also shares the ideological cockpit with the neoconservatives—vowed to down Russian planes if they crossed a no fly zone he'd establish in Syria; Paul was quick to interject: "There's your candidate to start World War III."
"If we want to defeat terrorism, the boots on the ground need to be Arab boots on the ground," insisted Sen. Paul splendidly. Then he went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like, "If we ban Muslim immigration, the terrorists will have won."
"The terrorists win if Americans don't do as the politicians say" is reverse psychology and cliché rolled into one. The prez also keeps saying, "Dare do x, y or z on matters Muslim, and you guarantee that ISIS wins." Or, "ISIS wants you to do x, y, and z."
First, how do these asses know what ISIS wants? Or, are Barack Obama and Sen. Paul simply ass-uming they know? It is more likely the two politicians are using reverse psychology to get Americans to comply with their own
In any event, if ISIS wants you
, America, to do what in your
estimation is best for you
–perhaps ISIS is right and the president is wrong. Perhaps ISIS is right and Rand Paul is wrong. So, Sen. Paul, we'll take that long moratorium on Muslim immigration. It's a winner for Americans. If ISIS approves, too, so be it. ISIS is happy; we are happy; everybody is happy; we all win.
After being set up for a confrontation, Both Trump and Cruz refused to beat up on each other. CNN moderator Dana Bash looked dejected, but was infinitely better behaved and more able than Fox News' Megyn Kelly had been at the first-ever debate. (Last night, Kelly tweeted out Cruz's coded anodyne assurances to moms: "I will do everything necessary to keep our children safe." F-ck the kids, Kelly. We're trying to have an adult conversation, here. Adult lives matter, too.)
Speaking of a drone, Ms. Fiorina failed to get past her funereal introduction: I beat breast cancer. I buried a child. I began as a secretary. I was called a bitch. Oy!
To sum: A vital node in the neoconservative network, Marco Rubio, was exposed for his open-borders record and odious alliance with Democrat Chuck Schumer with whom Rubio formed the Schubio Gang of Eight.
In their rosy post-debate analysis, Rubio's fans at Fox News failed to note how he stumbled further into incoherence by insisting a moratorium on Muslim immigration was unconstitutional. Not according to constitutional scholar Peter J. Spiro, who wrote
in the New York Times that, "Trump's anti-Muslim plan is awful. And constitutional."
Trump would have "plenary power" to protect Americans from the sporadic but predictable eruptions of the Islamic faithful. Such exclusion of or dissociation from Islam's practitioners would approximate a defensive, leave-me-alone act, more commensurate with the libertarian non-aggression axiom than the military adventurism beloved by Democrats and neoconservatives alike.
Ultimately, 2016 will all come down to the only candidate who uttered the following plain but poignant passage:
"I feel a very, very strong bind, and really I'm bound to this country."©ILANA MercerWND, Quarterly Review, Praag.org,The Libertarian Alliance, The Unz Review, December 18, 2015