by Avi Davis
There are two pieces of big news which resulted from the third Republican debate which took place in Colorado on Wednesday night. The first is that the CNBC moderators were shown to be out of their league. They lost control of the proceedings early on and never really regained it and then compounded this failure by asking the most pointedly inane personal questions of the candidates, treating them as if they were circus animals being paraded for the network’s and audience’s enjoyment.
Ted Cruz of course slapped their insults right back at them when he lambasted their line of questioning which included crude characterizations of Donald Trump as a cartoon book character, Mario Rubio as an insolvent pauper, Ben Carson as incapable of “vetting” those who appropriate his image and Jeb Bush as a loser because his poll numbers have sagged. Clearly the CNBC moderators had geared up for a confrontation with the Republican candidates, thinking of every means they could to cast them as interlopers and incompetents.
Is it any wonder then that no less than four of the candidates made specific reference to the nastiness of the questioning and the clear attempt by the moderators to paint those standing of the stage as little more than a group of truculent children with no business contending for the highest office in the land? And Ted Cruz was right to compare the treatment meted out to the Republicans with the way the Democrats had been gingerly handled two weeks prior. If you remember that was a time when a proudly identified socialist unashamedly called for a political revolution in the United States – and his remarks did not seem to bat a lash on any moderator’s eye.
This is of course of a piece with the generally poor coverage of the Republican race. Donald Trump, in Oklahoma this week, goaded the cameramen filming him to pan on the 10,000 strong audience he had attracted, knowing, as he said, that the filmed and written reports likely to follow would not mention any more than a handful in attendance. Mario Rubio, questioned about the Sun Sentinel’s editorial in Florida that day which had called for the Senator to resign his seat because he was absent so often from Senatorial proceedings, illuminated that paper’s bias when he compared the Sentinel’s treatment of Senators Bob Graham,John Kerry and Barack Obama, when they all ran for president (missing far more Senate business than Rubio). He just laughed at the paper’s hypocrisy.
So here’s the story on the real winners and losers in Boulder on Wednesday night: The commentators were revealed to be petty, uninformed muckrakers with an axe to grind, trolling for any dirt they could dish up on the candidates; while the candidates themselves, to a man (and woman) carried themselves with dignity under an assault from their interrogators. A victory for civility over contempt and a triumph of clarity over obfuscation.
One does to have wonder about the commitment of those who run Cable news networks to the ideas of fairness and openness for which they pride themselves as compared to the actual practices of those who sit behind their news desks. In a fairer world each one of those CNBC moderators would have been fired after Wednesday’s fiasco- for not only their blatant prejudice, but also for diminishing the American people’s trust in the accuracy of their reportage.
So the moderators lost. But there was one other loss which occurred on stage that night that went largely unnoticed.
And that is the end of the Bush Era in U.S.politics. From the time of George Herbert Walker Bush’s rise to the vice presidency in 1980, until last night, it seemed certain that there would always be a Bush flapping his wings over or near the White House’s gates. It ended last night with Jeb Bush’s attempt to pour coal on the fire that the moderators had already lit under Mario Rubio, when he suggested that Rubio should resign his Senate seat. Rubio’s rapier response cut Bush to shreds and left him speechless and vulnerable. He ended the evening an also ran, his campaign huffing to an abrupt halt.
Once hailed by both his father and his brother, former presidents of the United States, to be the best politician in the family, he has actually revealed himself to be its worst campaigner – his lack luster debate performances and less than stellar speeches on the hustings, making him look uncomfortable and out of touch. It cannot be too long before the realization that there will not be a third Bush presidency spanning the last half century dawns on even the most diehard Bush followers and the Bush mint, which has determinedly hammered out two presidents over the past thirty-five years, will be shuttered for good.