It was a night to remember. After a few moments of respect for the passing of a Supreme Court Justice, the gloves were off and Michael Buffer could not have predicted what was to follow. There was very little jabbing as the rule of the night was ‘throw the haymaker’. As Jennifer Rubin wrote in The Washington Post (021316), ‘But not even the death of a Supreme Court justice was enough to derail the political bloodletting.’
Here was a businessman from New York blistering both the former President’s brother, but also the audience. And for good measure, he blamed the former President for 9/11 and the ill advised war in Iraq. A Republican saying this about a former Republican President? He interrupted. He yelled over the other candidates. He insulted the the other candidates. He went over his allotted time. And as John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post (021316), ‘The whirlwind he creates turns into a vacuum that sucks all the air out of the place’. The brother of the former President responded in kind. He said to the vacuum cleaner, ‘It was okay to denigrate me but he (the businessman from New York) should leave my family alone.’ He compared the businessman from New York to Reagan: “Reagan did not tear down people like the businessman from New York. He (President Reagan) tore down the Berlin Wall.” Later in the evening he made an effective defense of executive leadership, ignoring the businessman from New York who tried to insist he never went bankrupt. Literally verbal blows were being handed out one after another.
And in the other corner two Cuban sons tried to out do each other, one suggesting the other didn’t know Spanish and then a retort in Spanish by the accused. Verbal abuse flew back and forth.
The moderator had to suggest he had to turn the car around and start all over.
In the third corner the Governor from Ohio, positioned on the far left of the podium this evening, tried to stay above the fray, but the fray was continued unabated.
In the fourth corner, the retired Doctor, positioned on the far right of the podium this evening, was nearly invisible…a position he has taken ever since he decided to take time off for a book tour after he was battling for the lead in popularity. Talk about a voice not being heard.
It was that kind of an evening as over 11.6 million viewers watched with gloves on.
It has been that kind of an evening as the final six contestants were battling for survival. Outsiders vs insiders, politicians vs business and professional people, conservatives vs moderates, them against the establishment. Jeb Lund, writing in London’s The Guardian (021416) said ‘The Republican Debate was an ecstasy of noise in which everything was indistinguishable. We are long past you-can’t-do-that-on-television. We are long past manufactured controversy. We are fully into clown slap fight.’ He continued, ‘The madness spread through the debate: a great circle of abuse spun around fast enough to fling all sense away. Rubio hates Cruz who hates Trump who hates Bush who hates Trump who hates Cruz who hates Rubio.’
It was an eventful evening in South Carolina on a winter’s Saturday evening.
Happy Valentine’s Day.