Watching last night’s debate was pitiful, not for the lack of good questions, but for the clear effort to diminish the front runner, Donald Trump.
Kicking off the debate with the “pledge” was both a stupid stunt and lacking in any real “aha” moment. Trump’s been clear, and I for one am glad he answered the way he did. He stuck to his earlier comments and was not shy about his position on the matter.
However, the subsequent line of questioning was equally ridiculous and lacking in substance. Questioning Trump’s tweets about women and then his contributions to both parties were simply done to embarrass Trump and get a rise out of him during the debate. No other candidate was so queried, and no other candidate was asked to defend their positions from ten to twenty years earlier. At times, I thought I was watching Candy Crowley on the moderator panel in the person of Megan Kelly.
So, while Trump was himself to a large degree, you could tell he was seething. The line of questioning was meant to tweak his ego and to embarrass him. And frankly, it made him stronger as those of us who believe the entirety of the establishment is there to protect its own confirmed it. Trump’s performance was not without some problems. He was not specific in some of his answers and generally offered few prescriptions for change at the level of the other candidates on stage. But that simply showed us that the other candidates were better politicians, not necessarily better candidates. No, Trump showed us he is a business guy who is angry about America’s declining position in the world and would likely fight for the country, should he be given the chance.
Most interestingly, the immediate post-debate focus group interviews by Frank Luntz showed a definite reduction in support for Trump. However, the morning headlines and social media all indicated wider support for Trump. Even Lindsey Graham jumped to Trump’s defense. It was fair minded people, many of whom have evolved over a lifetime of experience, just like Trump, who became more convinced of his strengths, something the pundits and pinheads are surely to be surprised by. And for the Trump supporters, the debate confirmed their views that the game is rigged and, like reality TV, there is always a “script” to ensure ratings and improve the dynamics of this political race. In other words, diminish Trump to reduce his forward momentum and make it all interesting.
However, in the process of dealing Trump vapid questions on 3rd party runs, tweets, and donations, Fox News diminished itself. Trump will likely come out stronger for the many supporters in the Republican Party. Fox News diminished itself by acting more like a bully in the bully pulpit than truly respecting the fact that Trump, not the career politician, has tapped into a frustration that is palpable and will vote Trump in 2016. And now, likely to vote Trump 2016, even if he chooses a third party run. Was Trump being Trump? Of course. Was Fox being Fox? No, they seemed more like MSNBC. The subsequent polls will be interesting. But one thing is for certain, Fox news diminished itself and Trump will be triumphant.
Mark A. Skoda is a founding member of the Reagan Lincoln movement within A Shining City On A Hill. The organization is made up of self-described conservatives, Tea Party activists, Independents, Libertarians, disillusioned Democrats, and even traditional Establishment Republicans who are truly oriented in the tradition of Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln. In addition, he is active in politics on the local and national level advocating for fiscal responsibility and improved government. He has spoken at numerous trade and political events, and provided commentary while appearing on television and radio. Mark has been featured in print nationally and has appeared on CNN, FOX Business, Glenn Beck, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, Associated Press, LA Times; internationally on BBC Radio and TV, NHK Japan, Dutch National TV, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, France and Australia.