Donald Trump has a terrible night in the Fox debate.
For me the lowest point in the annals of presidential debates (and it's a high bar) came last night when the Republican frontrunner, goaded by "little" Senator Marco Rubio's jabs over the last week about the size of Mr. Trump's hands, declared that his male equipment is in good order.
If Trump really did intend to be presidential last night, he was severely thwarted. Many of his answers were not answers at all in the traditional sense of the word "answers."
So why was I not surprised to go to Drudge this morning and find that Trump is the runaway winner on Drudge's online poll?
I was not surprised because in so many ways the Trump phenomenon is yet another manifestation of the cult of personality that we first saw rear its head in an unprecedented way on a national level in 2008 with the emergence of Barack Obama.
Supporters have affixed themselves to Trump with an unshakeable conviction that he can rescue us from all that ails the republic. He is the vessel for their anger, which at this point is directed more at the Republican leadership than at President Obama and the Democrats.
Jonathan Tobin of Commentary writes of the debate:
After 11 Republican presidential debates, you’d think we’d understand the dynamic of the race. Time and again, Donald Trump has been exposed in these forums as lacking substantial answers on policy questions as well as being called out for lying, flip-flopping and out-and-out fraud. Yet somehow none of it has mattered. His fans remain loyal to him no matter what he says or does. Indeed, as we learned months ago, the more outrageous he is, the more he insults and demeans anyone who dares to challenge him, and the more inconsistent his stands, the more his supporters seem to like it.
Yuval Levin writes:
So tonight Donald Trump changed his immigration position on the stage (and hey, all the other hotels were doing it), said he would order the military to commit war crimes and atrocities and was sure they would obey, and offered up “this is just a civil case” when asked whether it might be a problem for a candidate to be facing fraud litigation while he’s running. Just what is it going to take?
If the Democratic frontrunner is in the shadow of an FBI investigation of her email server scandal, the GOP frontrunner is running in the shadow of a lawsuit from more than five thousand plaintiffs who claim that they were defrauded by the now-defunct Trump University.
A court threw out Trump's countersuit against one of the plaintiffs (now, apparently withdrawn from the case) and frequired Trump to pay almost $800,000 for legal fees. Mr. Trump urged the audience to wait a few years and see how the Trump U suits is settled. Trump attempted to dismiss it as "a minor civil case."
I agree with Jonathan Last that Ted Cruz turned in an outstanding performance last night, and I also thought Rubio did an excellent job. Pollster Douglas Schoen thought Kasich had a good night and benefitted from not being in the Marco-Ted-Donald fray. Schoen concludes:
Will the polls change much from this debate? I would doubt it. But I also don't think that Americans will forget the evening in Detroit any time soon. And that may matter down the line.
For conservatives who would like to see President Obama's damage to the country undone, when that happens may be a matter of concern.