I suppose you can't completely blame the Republican presidential candidates for expecting nothing but whiffle ball questions at last week's Presidential debate. After all, its media partner was CNBC, which works overtime to support GOP fantasies about economic policy. My least-favorite CNBC anchor, Lawrence Kudlow, a supply-side devotee, was on just before the debate began, touting Donald Trump's proposed cut in the Federal corporate tax rate to 15%. "It'll pay for itself! It'll pay for itself!" screamed Kudrow to his colleagues. Sure, Larry. Just like the war in Iraq did.
But back to the debate: As it turns out, there were not as many whiffle balls as some of the candidates would have liked. Surprisingly, several of the CNBC correspondents acting as moderators seemed determine to answer questions that were designed to elicit concrete answers on issues and perhaps, in the process, give the audience some feel for how the candidates could think under pressure. And, as it turns out, several of the candidates were slightly ticked off by that expectation, turning around and attacking not just the moderators, but the media as a whole for stressing them out too much on camera.
None of the candidates was more vociferous in spearing the messenger than Ted Cruz, who remained on the warpath even after the end of the debate. He proposed that a future debate be moderated by "real conservatives," such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, as opposed to "attack journalists." Along with several of the other candidates, Cruz plans to discuss ways by which future debates can be improved, i.e., made less antagonistic to conservative views.
It's impossible to imagine a moment in which it could be clearer that Republicans have no ability to cope with reality other than to wish that it would go away. What would one of these candidates do if they were actually in the White House and faced with a real crisis? Ask their favorite talk-show host to make it go away? Blame the media for telling the American people about it? Claim that it wasn't a fair test of "true" conservatism, and ask God to send us another crisis? You've got to wonder what Vladimir Putin, the GOP's favorite international "leader," is thinking as he watches the clowns getting out of the debate car one floppy foot at a time. He's got to be looking forward to the day he gets to humiliate one of them.
We have been told, time and again, that the current Republican presidential field is the candidate equivalent of the '27 Yankees. From the looks of things, they don't even seem to be up to the task of equalling the '62 Mets. Or the '15 Mets, for that matter, judging from the way they've been playing in the World Series so far. Come to think of it, any comparisons involving these candidates and any baseball teams is probably an insult to the teams.
The cowardice of these would-be pretenders for the world's most powerful and essential job is an insult to every American who has worked to make the greatest country in the world even better--and, worse yet, an insult to every American who has either given or risked his or her life in the same cause. None of those people asked for easier challenges. None of them blamed others for their personal losses. And, above all, none of them ever refused to look reality in the face, regardless of how terrible that reality may have been.
All of them need to take Harry Truman's advice--the one involving the heat and the kitchen. Better yet, all of them need to get the hell out of the way and let a real leader step forward, one who doesn't complain about how tough life can be for a President.
And, if that person is not a Republican, I'm just fine with that. The rest of us should be as well, too.