February 14, 2016

#GOPDebate: Rapid reactions to South Carolina

Some quick takes on the latest round of GOP nuttery, with ABC having a good wrapup of the best zingers, whether connected to reality or not.

Biggest winner? John Kasich. He seemed moderate, not only on personality, but other than being wrong about replacing Nino Scalia, on the use of facts rather than denigration of them. Of course, this is soft bigotry of low expectations to appear moderate on the personal side at any event including Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, or moderate on having half a foot in the reality-based community compared to most Republicans, but it is what it is. And, I'm saying this not from any reality-based community perspective myself, but from a hypothetical GOP Establishment POV.

Biggest loser? Donald Trump. Whether South Carolina Republicans love the Bush family name that much, love endless war that much, or think that "support our veterans" extends to continuing to believe lies about Iraq, I don't know. Other than that, going back to the reality-based community, Trump, even by GOP standards, is the most detached from that, from thinking that Mexico can be made to pay for a border wall to thinking 100-year-old grannies are ripping off Social Security.

That said, the boos? The South Carolina GOP packed the debate hall with GOP establishmentarians. As the Wisconsin Democratic Party did on Thursday; in fact, I think that crowd was even more packed as pro-Clinton than Greenville was as anti-Trump. So, yeah, some of the boos may have been "canned" boos. All of them? I doubt it.

Second-biggest loser? Ben Carson. America's.First.Black.Pharaoh.™ gave no reason for him to continue in the race. Half the time, he came off as like #RobotRubio on Quaaludes.

Third-biggest loser? Even by the soft bigotry of low expectations, reality was mugged.

Second-biggest winner? Jeb! Bush. Again, another soft bigotry of low expectations measurement. He actually punched back against Trump at times. Given that he has Huckleberry J. Butchmeup backing him in the Palmetto State, as well as daddykins, mommykins and Dear Brother coming there this week, he became a winner by default for the reasons above that Trump was the biggest loser. Bush also had a partial foot in reality, being the only candidate to give an honest answer about replacing Scalia.

Third-biggest winner? Democrats, who will surely see the GOP race becoming even more muddled, not less muddled, after this. (I await post-debate polling in South Carolina to see how much Trump slumps.)

Let's call it a draw: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, arguing about who's more of a real fake Hispanic.

Other than that, setting aside the "reality" loser and "Democrats" winner?

Rubio was the third-biggest winner. Not a lot there, but he at least didn't look like #RobotRubio.

Third-biggest loser? Cruz. Got the liar tag hung on him. And, fortunately for Trump, it was Cruz who "belled the cat' on Trump on abortion. Interestingly, other GOP candidates basically hung Cruz out to dry on that issue, with no backup support for him.

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