If the final of five Republican debates Tuesday night in Las Vegas was viewed from the perspective of new film releases, Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” might be analogous. Although there were nine contenders in the top tier debate broadcast on CNN and moderated by Wolf Blitzer, in Tarantino’s film, it turns out to be actually nine and the Republican candidates can match their hatred when it comes to their dislike of climate change, Obamacare, affirmative action and Hillary Clinton.
Clinton was the 300-pound donkey on the stage, and each of the candidates—and this was true for those in the earlier debate—took turns pinning the blame on her for everything from the “failed” Obama administration, her email server problems and, of course, the Islamic State group.
After more than two and half hours, the best analogy would be boxing. If it were a championship bout, with Donald Trump as champ, then the only way he was going to be dethroned was by a knockout. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush jabbed away, challenging him on his banning of Muslims from the country and credentials to be a commander-in-chief. But to return to the film metaphor, the Force was not with Bush, though he got in some good punches, particularly his comment about how Trump would be a “chaos president” and that he won’t be able to “insult his way to the presidency.”
The verbal bout between Trump and Bush was the main event, but the combat between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marko Rubio was an intense undercard, with each of them scoring decisive blows. Rubio was less than effective on immigration while Cruz was taken to task by Rubio for his vote on surveillance.
What they would do about the terrorist crisis presented by Islamic State was the essential question, and Trump was just as vacuous as ever, citing that he would do everything in his power to defeat them if he became president.
The highlight of the evening for him and the Republican Party was his announcement, “I’m a Republican, and I’m going to be a Republican. I’m not going to be doing a third party.” That’s a good thing to say now as he leads in most of the polls.
Carly Fiorina was very good on excoriating the government and its ineptitude on technology—something she had more to say about than any of the other candidates. It was interesting to see The New York Times’ lead story with no mention of her. Little was said about Ohio Gov. John Kasich too, who placed his bona fides in the context that no president had won an election without taking Ohio. Nor was Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey given much play, though they were at times feisty and determined to speak.
Dr. Ben Carson was almost as babbling as Bush, repeating his concern for the issue of “political correctness.”
Overall, the contestants put forth very similar programs in dealing with Islamic State, the influx of Syrian refugees to the U.S. and the Obama administration. Clinton came out of their mouths as much as the word “safe and secure,” and Trump was typically bombastic in saying he would defeat Clinton.
“I will make America greater than ever before,” Trump announced in his closing remarks. It was the ho-hum mantra the public has heard again and again. And they will hear it many times more as the race nears the finish line.
Yes, and then there were nine—an annihilating nine with no love or sympathy for any of the specific issues of pertinence to Black Americans.