The Republican debate formula
By Steve Banko
Editor’s Note: Back when I kicked off this blog I mentioned that I would occasionally include guest commentaries because they “add some spice” to the blog. This commentary is written by Steve Banko. Steve’s political experience goes back as far as mine, and includes service in City Hall, in state government and with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Steve is a highly decorated Vietnam War veteran who often gives speeches on service to the country.
While the commentators didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory Wednesday night, the questions they asked were largely ignored once Ted Cruz used his prepared diatribe to attack the commentators in particular and the media in general.
Anyone paying remote attention during the last twenty years will recognize the disintegration of serious news. Where once we looked to the news media to tell the truth, we now turn to our favor channel to hear the opinions we agree with.
But for all their feigned indignation at the tone and tenor of the last debate, the Republican clown car has now hit on the formula they can use indiscriminately throughout the rest of the campaign season: When you get a question you can’t handle, attack the questioner. When pressed, lie.
It’s that simple. The question that got Cruz worked up had to do with his opposition to the deal struck to keep the government operating for the next few months – a bipartisan deal that makes it immediately unacceptable to the Cruz faction of the party. It was a perfectly sane, sound and serious question but Cruz saw his opportunity to lash out at the media. (You could almost hear Sarah Palin’s whine in his comments.)
Donald Trump was asked a question about his demonization of Mark Zuckerberg. His response was to deny the claim. Becky Quick dropped the ball by not knowing where she had read of Trump’s criticism but she was right. It is on Trump’s website, plain as day.
The esteemed Dr. Carson was asked about his relationship with Mannatech, a drug supplement company that is under investigation for fraud for claiming their product could cure autism and some cancer. Despite his decade long involvement with the company, Carson stated on the debate stage he didn’t have a relationship with the company. Actually, he had a contractual relationship with the company. He earned tens of thousands of dollars per speech for hyping this magic elixir. In one speech he told Mannatech sales people he took the supplement when diagnosed with prostate cancer and within three weeks his symptoms “disappeared.” But that doesn’t constitute a relationship?
Marco Rubio lied when questioned about his tax plan and its deleterious effects on the middle class. We could go on and on.
So while the campaigns huddle to reconstruct a debate format they would be well-advised to leave the current format alone. They found their stooge and they found the way out of tough questioning. What more do they need?