Eleven Ethics Observations On The Fox GOP Presidential Debate In South Carolina

The moderators...

The moderators…

1. Last night’s Fox News debate was the most ethical,  and generally the best of them all so far, in either party.

2. Rand Paul’s boycott of the so-called “undercard” debate reveals his arrogant nature. Chris Christie was demoted for one round, didn’t complain, participated, did well, and came back to the main event. Rand thinks he’s more qualified to be President  than Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Well, then, show us. Paul, in one complaint, proudly pointed to the fact that he’s the only GOP candidate who wants to legalize drugs and return the U.S. to isolationism as the world burns.  Yes, and this is why you’re not on the main stage, Senator. This is called “answering your own question.”

3. A group of Paul supporters started chanting his name at one point, causing Neil Cavuto to pause and look bemused. Oddly, Donald Trump did not command that their coats be confiscated.

4. Early on, both Bush and Marco Rubio pointed out—since the news media is still trying to soft-peddle it—that Hillary Clinton’s legal problems are serious, and that her lies about her e-mail and Benghazi should disqualify her for national leadership. Good.

5. Cavuto a asked Ohio Gov. John Kasich about how he would manage a financial crisis this way,

“Investors have already lost $1.6 trillion in market value. That makes it the worst start to a new year ever. Many worry things will get even worse, banks and financial stocks are particularly vulnerable. If this escalates like it did back when Barack Obama first assumed the presidency, what actions would you take, if the same thing happens all over again just as in this example you are taking over the presidency?”

To left wing bloggers, this meant that Cavuto was dishonestly blaming the 2008 meltdown on Obama. This is classic confirmation bias at its worst. It is a fact that the stock market was in free fall when Obama took office. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers, quoted by Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, who makes me want to change my name to Hickenlooper, retorted that the stock market has more than doubled since since President Obama came into office. Oh, for the luvva…

A. Yes, it’s been able to double because it had fallen so low at the beginning of his administration. This is like Obama’s “we cut the deficit” deceit.

B. Bush’s economy was chugging along just wonderfully when the bottom fell out, too.

C. Cavuto’s question was clear as a bell. But if you are determined to make Fox News Faux News, you intentionally misunderstand it.

6. Ann Althouse writes:

From Stephen Stromberg, it’s “The dismal, dark, traitor-filled world Republican candidates inhabit.” Stromberg cherry picked — cherries for anti-GOP-ers — the most negative statements. Things like:

“Our military is a disaster. Our healthcare is a horror show…. We have no borders. Our vets are being treated horribly. Illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people.” [Trump]

Is that dismal? It’s a foundation for saying we need change. Somehow when Obama ran in 2008, the call for change was deemed optimistic by the Strombergs of the press.

It is far more responsible, respectful, trustworthy and honest for leaders to be straight with the public about the state of the nation and the world rather than to keep issuing warped but exultant  descriptions designed to keep the peasants in line. Obama’s “alternative universe” as Bush called his State of the Union message was per se nonsense. The state of the union is not strong: Obama will leave the nation in an existential mess. Seriously, do my Facebook friends who cheered this pablum think that a socialist who wants to turn the U.S. into Switzerland and a boorish totalitarian clod like Trump would be soaring in popularity if Obama’s promises of rainbows and flying ponies had been achieved? The new strategy of Obama’s media lackeys is to insist that denial is reality, and that the GOP is “fear-mongering” to insist that too many people aren’t working, that free speech is under assault, that the economy is tenuous, that the national debt is unsustainable, that we can’t afford our social programs, that U.S. education is crashing, that our allies don’t trust us, that giving Iran billions on the hope that they won’t use nukes to do what they say they want to do is nigh well suicidal, that terrorism is not under control, that history teaches that encouraging illegal immigration is a road to catastrophe and that our culture is now moving away from a sense of one nation and culture toward hostile tribalism.

I have long thought that Gerald Ford deserves a higher ranking as President simply because he was the only one with the courage and honesty to say, in his State of the Union Address in 1975;

“I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good: Millions of Americans are out of work….Prices are too high, and sales are too slow. This year’s Federal deficit will be about $30 billion; next year’s probably $45 billion. The national debt will rise to over $500 billion. Our plant capacity and productivity are not increasing fast enough.We depend on others for essential energy. Some people question their Government’s ability to make hard decisions and stick with them; they expect Washington politics as usual.”

7. Donald Trump efficiently and correctly slapped down Cruz for his “New York values” cheap shot, using the big club of 9-11 mercilessly. Cruz was pandering for Iowans and the religious right, using the well–worn Gomorrah stereotype. As it happens the stereotype fits Trump to a T, but that doesn’t excuse Cruz.

8. Somebody tell me why Ted Cruz’s financial filing omission was raised by the moderators, but this, which is far more troubling, wasn’t.

9. Maria Bartiromo asked Ben Carson whether “Bill Clinton’s indiscretions” are “a legitimate issue” and whether “Hillary Clinton is an enabler of sexual misconduct.” Carson, as usual, was infuriatingly oblique, but never mind: what Bill Clinton did were not “indiscretions,” and curses on the assembled that nobody had the wit to say so. Would she call Bill Cosby’s sexual assaults “indiscretions”? Perjury? Obstructing justice? With just such subtle uses of mitigating and misleading rhetoric is history distorted and values eroded.

10. Ted Cruz made a trenchant point that I hope the GOP continues to hammer, capping his list of things that need to end with Hillary Clinton “apologizing for saying ‘all lives matter.'” It was my second favorite line of the night, first place going to Ben Carson, who rose in my estimation considerably by satirizing Fox’s dumb rule that a debater is entitled to a response if he is “mentioned” by arguing, “I was mentioned too — he said ‘everybody’!” And it worked!

11. Trump, as usual, crossed the lines of civility by calling Jeb Bush “weak,” with no context or explanation. It was a pure ad hominem attack, and unfair. Bush was not a weak governor. He’s rhetorically weak, and he doesn’t project personal strength, but there is more evidence of his strength as a political leader than of Trump’s, who has none. He just talks tough.


2 thoughts on “Eleven Ethics Observations On The Fox GOP Presidential Debate In South Carolina

  1. I think Paul has more of a point than you’re giving him. Depending on the poll used, he hovers anywhere from fourth to seventh, showing not only how ineffective polls are generally, but how close the race is once you get past the top three. Maybe there’s a point in saying that we need to get more focused, and give more time to candidates, especially the top three… But I don’t know how you can include Bush or Kasich but not Paul or Fiorina and call it anything but arbitrary.

  2. Agreed about Rubio’s not having any problem following the brother in law story. How does that just evaporate into thin air? There’s been no follow up at all. Did his campaign even issue a response?

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