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Aug 10, 201509:57 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Carly can really Bring (a can of) It!

(page 1 of 2)

The Franklin Pangborn Memorial Theater at The Stately Manor is popping corn for a screening of The Best of Enemies, a documentary in theatrical release recounting the groundbreaking verbal jousting between William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal on ABC-TV during the political nominating conventions of that annus horribilis 1968.

Buckley would fill college campus theaters, most often with John Kenneth Galbraith as his debate foil. This was before the nihilist Jon Stewart substituted snark for intelligent debate about real issues. The Comedy Central era is over. A cable TV record 24 million Americans tuned in last Thursday night for the first Republican presidential debate, proving an audience remains for great debate as theater — an American tradition since at least Lincoln-Douglas.

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, the foremost journalist in the land, opened the prime time debate by noting that the 10 gentlemen on the stage — among whom were two Hispanics and one black — were lucky that Carly Fiorina wasn’t on stage with them. She will be next time.

“She just opened a can, if you know what I mean.” I believe Ms. Kelly was referring to a can of Whoop Ass. As I had predicted before the debate, Carly can Bring It!

In the early debate, Fiorina nailed the political equivalent of a quadruple Salchow, then followed it up with a classic takedown of the insufferable Chris Matthews on MSNBC. It was akin to Sarah Palin field dressing a moose in a cocktail dress. (Text and video.)

As for the main event, Scott Walker didn’t “pop,” but he more than held his own. The Wall Street Journal was less impressed.

One prominent candidate who didn’t do so well was Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Governor who was introducing himself to many voters for the first time. With the exception of an answer on Russia, he seemed small on stage and some of his answers were so clipped he failed to take advantage of his time. One of Mr. Walker’s challenges is looking like he can make the leap from the statehouse to the White House, and this debate did not help him with that sale.

The Journal’s own statistics contradict its editorial jibe for not taking advantage of his time. The Journal (as only it can do) counted the words spoken during the prime time debate. No surprise that Donald Trump lapped the field with 2,322 words, according to the transcript. The surprise was that Scott Walker came in third at 1,514 words, slightly behind Marco Rubio’s 1,527. They were followed, in this order, by: Kasich, Bush, Cruz, Huckabee, Christie (there’s a surprise), Carson, and Paul. But it’s impressions that count.

I thought it was Cruz and Bush who didn’t really “register.” Walker had some great lines:

  • “You probe with bayonets. When you find mush, you push.” — Scott Walker on how to deal with Putin’s aggression. (Mush, by the way, is pronounced to rhyme with push.)
  • Another zinger: “… probably the Russian and Chinese government[s] know more about Hillary Clinton’s email server than do the members of the United States Congress.”

But he could have used some “fight and win” from his Waukesha announcement. Some more about Independence Day being July 4, not April 15.

The finest speech belonged to brain surgeon Ben Carson, who talked about moving beyond race. “When I take someone to the operating room, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn’t make them who they are … it’s time for us to move beyond that.”

While the good doctor was saying that, the camera caught Scott Walker standing next door, giving the only black presidential candidate (in either party) his full attention and nodding in agreement. Little moments like that count big. People remember images maybe more than words. Remember George Bush Sr. checking his wristwatch during a debate with Bill Clinton? This “optic” pushed the needle into positive territory.

(Continued)

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Comments, page 1 of 3 1 2 3 Next »
Aug 10, 2015 10:33 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dave:

I don't know if you or Huckabee were in the military, but you both need a little more experience. The purpose of the military is not to "kill people and break things", but to keep others from killing us and breaking our things. They taught us that early in basic training. That aggressive and poorly thought out attitude got us 'Nam, Iraq, etc., and look how well those excursions worked out.

Aug 10, 2015 10:35 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

What a statement, "nihilist Jon Stewart substituted snark for intelligent debate about real issues", coming from the king of snark and poorly researched debate.

Aug 10, 2015 10:38 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I don’t know that people were really tuning in for “great debate as theater,” as Blaska postulates. I, for one, was tuning in for “great debate as train wreck,” and I was not disappointed.

From Fox News’ amateur hour broadcast — what the hell was that prior to the start of the actual debate, when the candidates were all brought on stage and then forced to stand awkwardly while Fox’s moderators talked about them like they weren’t there? — to Trump doing exactly what he was expected to do, which was be obnoxious, this thing was unintentional comedy gold. And as of last night, Trump actually gained a few percentage points in the polls to take an even bigger lead early in the race! Oh, Republicans.

One point I’ll agree with Blaska on: Kasich looked clear cut above the rest in this debate. That he’s barely moved in the polls shows what we’re dealing with from Republican voters. The most sensible voice among the lot of them is drowned out because he doesn’t appeal to the base enough. Forget the fact that he’d probably stand a much better chance in a general election of wooing swing, independent voters. Got to pander to those yokels in Iowa first and foremost!

One point I can’t agree on: Megyn Kelly is the foremost journalist in the land. (?!) Sweet Jeebus, Blaska, what a strange little fantasy world you live in.

Aug 10, 2015 11:56 am
 Posted by  AnonyBob

Dave, what's with the lovefest for Fiorina? Is it that the GOP thinks she's their answer to the party's well earned taint of sexism and misogyny - because, you know, she's a woman - that won't let Hilary have THAT high ground? Is it her supposed leadership experience in business? You know, when as CEO of HP she laid off thousands of employees and ran the company into the ground to the point where the board willingly paid her millions of dollars to fire her? Is it her experience in public office? (Which is: none.) Maybe all her campaign experience? She's never won (didn't she have the famously goofy ad featuring sheep with glowing red eyes?). Hey, wasn't she out stumping for McCain when she too honestly answered the question of whether McCain could be a CEO by saying "No." She immediately disappeared from campaign-land. Finally (and I'll admit this is petty), too much plastic surgery.
Why does the GOP think business leaders will make good political leaders? They don't. Government is not a business and should not be run like one. Unless you like dictatorships, which many confused tea partiers would be fine with. Witness how ineffective our own Ron Johnson has been. I cringe every time I see his office announce "staff hours." He doesn't have the balls or the interest to talk with his constituents himself.
There was also no good reason for Carson to be on that stage. He was a great surgeon. Fine. What's that got to do with anything, besides give him a surgeon-sized ego?
And speaking of confused tea partiers, there is only one word: Trump.

Aug 10, 2015 03:42 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I didn't ace the SATs, but I know that the Fox GOP "debate" was to Lincoln-Douglas what a Big Mac is to a Tornado Club filet mignon.

Ten guys trying to get attention is not a debate. Not even close. It was theater of the absurd. Those watching were not made smarter, or even made to think much at all.

As for Kelly, she asked some pointed questions with a mean look on her face, but if that makes her a journalist, then Jon Stewart is Mark bleeping Twain.

Aug 10, 2015 03:47 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

You are dead on, David! Donald Trum IS "thin-skinned, boorish, inarticulate, inexperienced, self-entitled, peevish, narcissistic, and just not very intelligent." And conservative Republicans LOVE him! He's still leading the polls! There isn't a better icon for the state of 2015 conservatism: Angry, white, wealthy wanting to be wealthier.

Aug 10, 2015 05:15 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

why do the anony-razzi even bother commenting here? "Angry, white, wealthy wanting to be wealthier"
White, angry=Sanders - check
White, wealthy, wanting to be wealthier - Hilary - check

2 Latinos, 1 Woman, and a black guy in the GOP field I guess just means zero when it doesn't meet the uber-white Progressive agenda

AnonyJohnDoe

Aug 10, 2015 11:30 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dave, thank you for allowing me to share an opinion.

Scott Walker's "bayonet probing" tells us a lot about the man. What would Walker do when Putin slaps him silly for the sharp poke in the Russian sphere of influence? Mr. Walker fails to realize he lives in a nuclear world. We all know what happened to the last fascist who started a war on Russian soil.

19th century politicians took great sport in pulling the lion's tail. They were small men with small minds like Scott Walker. Big men with big ideas decided to walk softly and carry a big stick. The rule applies today.

Aug 11, 2015 08:05 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

"Angry, white, wealthy wanting to be wealthier" as spoken by a liberal who just wants to spend that guy's money.

Aug 11, 2015 08:12 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

"Angry, white, wealthy " could also describe Hillary. Good choice, dems

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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