Jim Crawford: Debate offered no substance

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 30, 2023

If you missed the second Republican presidential debate last night on Fox Business, lucky you!

It was a food fight that sixth graders could have fought, full of sound and fury and lacking only in meaningful content, as seven poor characters struggled and flailed to explain why they wanted to be president.

None wanted to be president badly enough to speak the words that cannot be spoken, that Donald Trump is a danger to democracy that must be defeated to avoid the Republican Party from being cast into permanent minority status for decades to come.

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But credit to Nikki Haley for stating, perhaps unintentionally, the value of the entire evening on stage when responding to Vivek Ramaswamy, “…I honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

It all began behind the scenes, where the Fox network prepared questions to inquire of the candidates that ignored the headlines because those headlines might anger Trump and offend viewers on the Trump network posing as a news medium.

No moderator thought it worthwhile to ask the candidates if it was dangerous to the nation to have the ex-president threaten to have the retiring Joint Chief of Staff Chairman, Gen. Mark Milley, executed.

Nor did the faux news network find it meaningful to ask the candidates’ views on candidate Trump being found guilty this week, pre-trial, of manipulating his financial records to receive illegal advantages in his business transactions.

Neither did the Trump channel desire to ask candidates for the U.S. presidency if they agreed and approved of Trump’s intention to ban NBC News and MSNBC for their criticisms of Mr. Trump. Apparently, even protection of the First Amendment was not important enough to mention before Republican voters.

After setting the stage by the omission of the most concerning questions for the 2024 election, the moderators did their best, and abysmally failed, to conduct anything resembling a meaningful exchange between the seven preening candidates whose candidacies exist only by silently praying to be still standing should Trump be convicted, exposed and disgraced from again seeking office.

The most noteworthy comments included the following:

On abortion, Gov. Ron DeSantis said none of the six states successfully protecting abortion rights were about abortion at all.

On Fentanyl, the candidates universally agreed the first solution is to build the wall. You know the one they mean, the Trump Wall. The only problem is that almost all fentanyl comes through legal ports of entry to the United States carried by U.S. citizens, not at the southern border.

On economics, the dominant theme was “stop the spending,” with Mike Pence reminding folks that he once reduced spending by $100 billion as a member of the House. Sadly, Mr. Pence failed to recall that he created nearly $8 billion in additional national debt in the Trump administration.

On the Constitution, the 14th Amendment is wrong on citizenship, and birthright citizenship should end (most likely until all Immigrants agree to vote Republican).

On slavery, U.S. Tim Scott, an African American, noted that slavery was embedded in our laws, but slavery was not systemic in America. If embedded in law is not systemic, what would be?

On unions, Scott reaffirmed his stance on unions by refusing to retract his, “If they strike, fire them” message.

Finally, on being Black in America, DeSantis claimed that his new high school history curriculum claiming the “benefits of slavery” was a false criticism.

If Ronald Reagan thought it was Morning in America, this group made it feel like night had fallen.