Recently, I have been neglecting this blog for a number of reasons, but I cannot avoid a quick preliminary response to the first presidential debate of the 2016 season that took place yesterday in Cleveland for the GOP.

This was without doubt the best political debate that I have watched during my entire life, in three different countries. It was fast-paced, sharp, and consequential.

Without doubt the credit for this hugely successful performance goes to the moderators. Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace are clearly the best political team on the market these days, by miles.

First of all, they kept the debate moving along, largely by controlling the buzzer but also while allowing controversies between the debaters to develop from time to time, to a certain level. But most important, and the secret of success here, were their questions. Rather than ask the typical bland questions, and the same one for all ten, they were extremely well prepared with individually tailor-made questions; not rude, but aggressive enough to be interesting and address each contender’s weak points.

It was simply fascinating, riveting, and as I said—consequential.

The three main consequences were:

  1. Trump: Of course, I think he blew it. I am not the typical GOP primary voter and I was vehemently anti-Trump before, so I may be shocked when the polls come out, but I honestly think that he blew it. He was stripped naked and was shown to be the narcissistic, rude person that he is, lacking any policy and fact underpinning. The President of the USA cannot be someone who keeps saying bombastic and bland things lacking any real substance and, on top of it all, being rude in the process. At least, I think that. Although, on this last count the current occupant of the White House is doing a darn good job! The ONLY thing Obama is doing a good job on is being rude and lacking appropriate decorum for the presidency. Trump is clearly as good as Obama on this front.
  2. Scott Walker: Generally his performance was bland. Natural. That, in itself, while not very different from many others on stage was disappointing from the only newcomer, young, successful, governor positioned amongst the top three in the polls. However, this boring performance pales in comparison with what I believe to be the one moment in the debate where he lost the potential of ever becoming POTUS. Maybe he can still make the GOP nomination, although even that is doubtful. In response to the (of course, obligatory) question on abortion, it transpired that he is an extreme pro-lifer, rejecting even a life-of-mother exception to a blanket prohibition on abortion. I understand pro-lifers and am far from being simply pro-choice myself, but I was not aware that Walker objects to this very minimal exception. That is an extreme position; a position that, according to the moderator Megyn Kelly, is opposed by 83% of the American people (including me) and is honestly a position that, in my view, will be dispositive to his chances of winning the presidency. Democratic spokespeople on the scene were not slow in pointing out this outrageous position. Walker’s lame explanation that this exception is a false choice because there is always a medical way to save the both the pregnancy and not harm the mother, is, indeed, lame. If there is such a medical solution, then by definition the exception to the abortion ban is not valid as the life of the mother is not at risk. If, however, the doctor decides that there is no such solution, then the life of the mother is MORE important than the life of the baby, a living person though it may be.
  3. Carly Fiorina: I always liked Fiorina. From the first time she came to my attention when she ascended to the CEO role at HP, followed by her courageous and visionary acquisition of Compaq. I stood by her when a cabal of bitter, old, white, male chauvinists fired her from that position unjustifiably, and during her failed run for the senate seat in California—one of the most Democratic states in the nation. She ran against, probably, one of the most unpleasant senators in the USA: Barbra Boxer. Fiorina’s bout with breast cancer in the middle of the campaign clearly did not help. She showed her mettle during the early debate for the seven contenders that did not make the top ten. She won it by a landslide. I do hope that her poll numbers will now increase substantially.

Finally, I thought that within the very limited amplitude of performances above the zero value where most contenders were, Rubio was close to the peak. I do not think that he gave an earth-shuttering performance, but he was well above average.