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Saturday, August 8, 2015

First Republican Debate – Presidential Timber or Dry Rot?

First appeared on Blogcritics.

prez1 I don’t know what I feel worse about – what happened at the first Republican debate or the fact that I wasted my time watching it. However, after the fact most pundits were saying that Donald Trump “stole the show” from the other candidates. I am not certain if that is the case or not, but I came away feeling something that I like just about as much as having a colonoscopy – that this country is heading into a quite strange and disturbing direction.

Could it be said that any of these ten men on that stage Thursday night has what it takes – that they are presidential timber? In my opinion guys who do not stand a chance showed the most signs of having the right lumber – Ohio governor John Kasich, who got support from his home state crowd,  former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, giving solid answers but looking at times outgunned, and Dr. Ben Carson, a seemingly good man in a truly bad situation.

The others came off as presidential wannabees – including the alleged winner Trump – and someone like Scott Walker almost faded into the background. Chris Christie tried to set the stage for a slugfest with Rand Paul, who acted like a fighter in the ring against two opponents – Christie and himself, but seemed mostly to be trying to punch his way out of a paper bag.

Sadly, it did seem that Trump was both literally and figuratively the center of attention. The dynamics of the alignment on stage put him front and center, and Trump put his best The Apprentice face on all night. When he got into a heated exchange with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, it seemed it was only a matter of time until Trump barked, “You’re fired.” Alas, that golden moment never came to pass. However, it must be noted that Trump’s interaction with Kelly came off as barbarian.
If he was trying to be funny (yes, he got laughs with his inappropriate Rosie O’Donnell soundbite) it didn’t work for this viewer. I felt he appeared like a bull in a China shop uncertain how to find the door.

Later on we learned that Trump was disinvited from attending a big conservative meeting being held in Atlanta because of his rude comments. These were not just from the debate themselves but later on when Trump continued to go after Kelly on Twitter and during an interview, when he said Kelly “had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” This guy obviously has zero respect for women, and that should cost him if he ever is the selected candidate.

I doubt Trump cares about losing this invitation. Poll numbers keep showing him at the top of the heap, but he shouldn’t go out and start celebrating and singing “My Way” just yet. Trump is easy to dismiss, as many already have, but he is too dangerous for us to do that. We have to recognize that there isn’t a splinter of presidential timber in this man, but that hasn’t stopped others of the same ilk from being elected in the past.

The problem here is that we are confusing popularity with leadership. Obviously, Trump is successful in running his company, and within the confines of that corporate world he no doubt is the biggest bully who rules the roost. That modus operandi may have worked well for him over the years in business, but it has no place in the White House. Can you imagine a phone call between President Trump and Russia’s President Putin? I picture Armageddon happening within less than thirty minutes.

prez3As for Megyn Kelly, none of us should feel sorry for her. Kelly is an established host on Fox news and she asked the tough questions. It’s painfully obvious Trump doesn’t like being asked questions to begin with, but he definitely has issues with Kelly that we must assume are based on her gender. However, to be fair, Trump also had harsh words for the male moderators on the panel after the debate, it’s just that he went after Kelly with such vitriol.

Getting back to the question at hand, I believe every American should take these candidates seriously because whether these men are presidential timber or dry rot affects us all. Dry rot is a serious and pernicious condition and it is clear that a number of men on that stage may have been infected with it. Dry rot can be cleared up if handled correctly; however, some of the candidates may be at the point of no return.

I keep hearing that people are sick of politicians and the status quo, and that is why guys like Trump and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side are gaining such support. Okay, I can understand that, but what have we come to in this country? Are we going to seriously entertain the notion of our nation being run by the 800-pound gorilla in the room? Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick,” but in Trump’s case he rants and raves, which is more like sound and fury ultimately signifying nothing, or perhaps just a big ape in search of bananas.

There are more debates to come on both the Republican and Democratic sides, and hopefully they will be more illuminating and better orchestrated. This gives Americans a chance to hear what the candidates have to say and to see how they conduct themselves, and everyone should take this presidential timber thing very seriously. We want to elect a redwood or a sequoia to the highest office in the land, not a mimosa or hackberry.

prez2So this brings us back to who won the debate. Having watched the entire broadcast I cannot say definitively that Trump won, but he did stand out amongst the others, so if that means winning so be it. The question we must ask ourselves is this – if Trump does indeed eventually win the Republican nomination and gets himself elected, how much does America end up losing?




  Photo credits: cnn, huffingtonpost.com, foxnews 

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