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Donald Trump after the Republican presidential debate.  Credit: New York Times
Donald Trump after the Republican presidential debate. Credit: New York Times

A young friend, who might be described as a journalist of the very independent Right (consisting largely of himself) just emailed to complain about how thoroughly boring he found the GOP talk fest in Cleveland last Thursday. I wrote back explaining that because of his callow youth (he is only 22) he doesn’t know what a boring presidential debate sounds like. He should have been alive and sentient in 1976, to hear the “exchange of views” (that’s what it was called then) between the tongue-tied presidential incumbent Jerry Ford and the Peanut Farmer with the quasi-Southern twang Jimmy Carter. That televised gas session gave boredom a new meaning! The two contenders droned on about nothing for what seemed several hours, and it was hard to figure out what they were supposed to be disagreeing about. The only surprising statement that night came when Ford maintained that (then Soviet-occupied) Poland was “independent.” I don’t recall having heard that unsettling remark because by then I and most of those who had foregathered in a friend’s den to watch this ordeal, had fallen mercifully asleep.

In contrast to that verbal torture, the debate (if that’s what it was supposed to be) last Thursday among the ten highest polling Republican presidential candidates was first-rate drama. Most of the candidates seem to have been carefully scripted and unlike their counterparts in the past, spoke grammatically and avoided dangling participles. None of them said anything to upset their donors; and one suspects that Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers and the other fat-cat benefactors of those verbalizing on stage got their money’s worth. In the earlier sideshow for the less popular candidates, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carli Fiorina gave the most polished performance, mostly by beating up on the absent Hillary, and by talking about (what else?) Obama’s economic record and the apparently lethal deal with Iran. In the main show whom one thought did best depended on the predisposed ear of the listener.

When I heard Ohio governor John Kasich doing an imitation of Joe Biden on gay relations, I thought this guy in his effort to reach to the Left had done himself in with Republican voters. Perhaps he has but the Fox-Five, who come on before the Fox evening news, were slobbering all over the place about how John has grown on the gay question. The resident “non-conservative” Juan Williams even averred that Kasich’s mature statement on a sensitive issue was the most admirable thing he had ever heard from the mouth of a Republican. Of course there ain’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that Williams and those with his views would vote for the GOP candidates who are frantically courting their favor.

Cutting to the chase, however, what made the Thursday night spectacle worth watching, in between talking to a relative over the phone, was how the Fox-news team worked to drive Donald Trump out of the race. Ever since the debate the entire Murdoch media apparatus has been claiming that it’s sheer madness to believe that Megyn Kelly and the other question-askers, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, were out to get the Donald. The ever objective Jonah Goldberg was dragged on to the Fox-Allstars to let us know how truly “baffled” he is that the Donald could even imagine that he was being set up. If the debate began with the demand for a pledge that none of the candidates would ever think of running as a third party candidate and would automatically support whomever the party nominated for president, that demand was clearly aimed at Trump. And one would have had to be an idiot or like Goldberg, a paid tool of the Murdoch media, not to recognize what had been planned. The Republican establishment and their media friends have been viciously attacking Trump for weeks, and even I was shocked to see Trump referred to as an “asshole” in the New York Post on Friday, in what was supposed to be an epithet used by Jeb Bush to describe him. Apparently Jeb never reached for this obscenity, but the Post went on to explain why its editors considered the description apt in the case of the loud-mouthed xenophobic Trump.

To ease the bafflement of Goldberg and the other usual suspects, who were transported by the sterling objectivity of their coworkers and who can’t imagine why anyone in his, her or its right mind would question their impartiality, allow me to offer these alternative opening questions or remarks. Why couldn’t the Fox mavens have asked for starters if any of the panelists believes that the wages of the American working class are being helped by importing ever larger numbers of minimally skilled immigrants from the Third World? What about starting off the show by asking whether panelists who are being funded by Sheldon Adelson believe this has no effect whatsoever in how they understand Middle Eastern politics. I mention these examples in order to suggest that some questions are obviously aimed at putting certain participants in disadvantageous positions before the discussion even begins.


Lest the viewer believes this to have been an accident, one could also cite all the nasty comments and leaning questions that came from Megyn Kelly and her pals that were clearly intended to embarrass Trump or cause him to lose his temper. Bringing up, as Megyn did, that the Donald described Rosie O’Donnell as a “pig” and then calling his comment an affront against all women was more than throwing out a “difficult question.” It was intended to destroy Trump as a credible candidate, just as the powder puff questions that were directed at Jeb and Rubio were meant to strengthen their candidacy. The justification that one heard from the Murdoch faithful, that Trump got the tough questions because he’s the front-runner would insult the intelligence of a differently abled sea scallop. Jeb, who is the second-place candidate, did not get the same treatment as Trump. He was showered with benign questions, courtesy of FOX. Needless to say, those asking the questions were also doing the bidding of their boss, Rupert Murdoch, who has described Trump as a public embarrassment or worse.

What made the spectacle worth watching, however, was the way Trump responded. He didn’t hold back but also never really lost his temper, until he went on twitter after the debate. If I had been in his place, I might have flown off the handle on prime time. But Trump sounded like the host of his own TV show, “The Apprentice,” firing an incompetent would-be employee, for example, when he told the beautiful but thoroughly malicious Megyn Kelly that her comment had been grossly unfair.

I was exhilarated when in response to the “follow-up question” of Megyn, that he had written insulting things about women other than O’Donnell, Trump shrugged his shoulders in utter indifference and flatly denied he was sorry. Even more telling, he made fun of politicians who are constrained by “political correctness,” for which he confessed he had no time. Trump might have been even more effective if he had dealt with the Megyn’s assertion, after she had slimed him, that as a presidential candidate he wouldn’t be able to take on Hillary when she accused him of waging “war on women.” Trump should have mentioned that Hillary’s husband had said and done worse things to women. Besides, the supersensitive presidential candidates the GOP had been running in recent years had not cut into the feminist vote significantly, and so it might be time to give up on constituencies that aren’t going to vote for a Republican presidential candidate, even in the person of Mr. Mom. Trump should also have had an answer when the hit squad accused him of having changed his views. He should have noted that other panelists, even the ones Megyn was making nice to, had done the same thing: What about Rubio’s or Cruz’s evolving views about immigration (albeit in different directions) or the conversion of some of the other panelists to the practice of gay marriage? Certainly Trump was not the only one on stage last Thursday who had rearranged his political furniture.

Mind, you I am not saying that Trump would make an excellent president or that he has a serious chance of winning the nomination from one of our two institutionalized national parties. All I’m contending is that he and his paid assassins made the debate in Cleveland something more than a “sound and fury signifying nothing” spectacle. I like Trump even better for having slammed the weasel-like GOP operative (sorry “pollster”) Frank Luntz for the organization of a post-debate focus group on FOX. Trump was perfectly right to suspect that this minion of the GOP establishment, whom he dared to call a “low class slob” was not exactly a detached scientific observer. Luntz may well have cherry-picked the Trump-haters on the way to providing his supposedly balanced public response. The “reactions” of Luntz’s peanut gallery were rather different from the way over forty percent of the public reacted to Trump’s sometimes crude but refreshingly honest performance.

One final point: If the GOP establishment is afraid that Trump may upset their business by running as a third-party candidate, today’s decision by the organizers of the Red State conference in Atlanta to disinvite him as a speaker for having disparaged Megyn Kelly in a post-debate tweet may have been fateful. It may have pushed the Donald in the direction in which he already planned to go. Anyhow that decision is one more proof (do we need any more?) of who really runs our “conservative” party.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2016 Election, Donald Trump, Republican Party 
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  1. A spot on analysis. I will probably use some of the points you raise when discussing the “debate” in other places.

    I cannot stomach watching these embarassing spectacles. There is no suitable English word for describing their infantile, vulgar quality. The Russians have a word, nekulturny, which captures their nature pretty well. The last presidential debate in this country that would not repel an informed, thoughtful adult occurred between Nixon and Kennedy and that debate focused on issues that proved nugatory and was based on “facts” that proved to be lies.

    • Replies: @anowow
  2. Tom_R says:


    Thanks for the great article, Sir. I want to refer the reader to my comment about this I posted on another article about the Trump debate that I want to bring up here.

    I want to reiterate one thing, if I may, because it is a key point in this issue.

    Trump fell into the trap in his comments on Kelly. Because most of things said on TV are preapproved by management.

    A million dollar corporation broadcasting to millions will not turn over the microphone to an individual and let him/her say whatever he/she wants and run the corporation aground, get it prosecuted, fined by the FCC, or its reputation destroyed. So everything is preapproved by management and lawyers. So Kelly was just a mouthpiece for Murdoch.

    Maybe can organize a Presidential Debate with the above questions (listed on my other comment), to compensate for redstate banning Trump. If networks won’t broadcast it, can do it on its website and on youtube.

    • Replies: @John Q. Parvenu
  3. Despite the absolutely ferocious campaign in the media to discredit and dismiss him (these spokesmen are even embraced as commentators on BBC news) an absolutely remarkable number of Republican voters is ignoring this and paying serious attention to Donald. It is suddenly becoming slightly fashionable in America to say “I don’t believe what the newspapers and TV are telling us!”

    Imagine if this caught on what might happen – it’s not just the Republican establishment that should be worried.

    • Replies: @Hugo
  4. @Tom_R

    “So Kelly was just a mouthpiece for Murdoch.”

    And Murdoch is a mouthpiece for the government.



    • Disagree: Wizard of Oz
  5. And Murdoch is a mouthpiece for the government.

    Which government? Australia’s? Scotland’s?

    He doesn’t seem very American. His passport is there to let him own stations, nothing else.

  6. Neoconned [AKA "truth is treason"] says:

    Great line about Hillary’s husband doing and saying a lot worse things to women! I hope Trump steals it and/or it becomes an internet meme.

  7. Hugo says:

    The majority of us under 40 don’t believe what the newspapers and TV are telling us. For us the MSM is not dying. It’s dead amongst that demographic. Scepticism is at all time high. Anger is growing. You want to know who is today’s radical? The young, straight, white male who just wants to raise his kids in a traditional way.

    • Replies: @AUGUSTUS FINKIN
  8. Maj. Kong says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    The shadow government

    The Deep state

  9. Aurelius says:

    Now Paul, to be fair, Jebito was at a disadvantage since the debate was not held in his native tongue. He would have done much better in spanish.

    Trump has spoken out about the economic thrashing we are taking through the hospices of NAFTA and other “free trade” agreements. This makes the GOP very nervous since their top donors are corporatists with vested interests in readily available cheap labor. Also note that the top big wigs at FOX are in favor of amnesty.

    Trump must go.

  10. @Reg Cæsar

    Indeed. It is germane to ask not just what government but why anyone thinks Murdoch and his media are mouthpieces for government. He will take what he can get by influencing government – and that has been a lot – but he is genuinely anti-big government and not disposed to trust governments to be competent or even, I guess, honest, if he can’t force them to be. That means he’s quite sensible apart from anything else you might say about him!

  11. Great column, as is typical from Mr. Paul Gottfried. It was so obvious, from what I’ve read, that Luntz’s so-called focus group after the debate was a purely staged and pre-planned exercise in promoting to viewers what was the proper and correct opinions to have about Donald Trump. Can’t ever have people thinking for themselves, you know. Fox News = naked groupthink.

    • Replies: @Johann
  12. @Reg Cæsar

    Which government? Australia’s? Scotland’s?

    Murdoch is a mouthpiece for our real government: the Anglo-Zionist Empire, which includes a fair number of nominal countries, including its present headquarters the US.

  13. I am flabbergasted by the characterization of Murdoch as “antistatist.” This description is true in only one respect. Murdoch would like to be able to control his media monopoly, which now includes most of the establishment “conservative” press beside FOX, without having the government come after him. But in other respects, he is very pro-government, particularly when it comes to waging wars and tightening government surveillance. On social issues, he is a very conventional liberal and has promoted Hillary as a presidential candidate in the past. He also expressed willingness last spring to ditch the GOP in the presidential race if the party candidate turned out to be Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. Presumably he’d be very happy supporting Jeb or Rubio, whom his friend Sheldon Adelson has already paid for.

    • Replies: @neutral
    , @Reg Cæsar
  14. WGG [AKA "World\'s Greatest Grandson"] says:

    As I’ve said before regarding Hillary’s weak point with Bill, it has to do with the credibility of rape accusations. Simply stating her husband is a cad or “worse” toward women than Donald Trump says nothing about Hillary herself.

    She needs to be asked what she thinks about the UVA rape hoax: should women who accuse of rape automatically be given the benefit of the doubt? If she says no, she is sunk with the SJW left. If she says yes, then the follow up question is why she chose to stay married to a rapist?

  15. neutral says:
    @paul gottfried

    He also openly supported the like of Tony Blair, a man that not only supported the Iraq war, but was a big fan of government expansion.

  16. Flower says:

    Is last week’s debate actually over? Are you sure? I thought about reminiscing about Megan Kelly’s immediate capitulation to the absurdity of feminism by immediately (truely, I don’t think she even took the time to put her make-up on) sabre rattling her petticoat, and then trying to hide behind it when she didn’t get the reaction she thought she was going to get. The part where DT blatantly and apologetically declared that every other politician on that stage was for sale, and proudly for sale at that! And nobody said “no”, in fact, one even agreed he was ready to take money. From anybody. Then DT further declared the system as “broken”, and again, nobody disagrees.

    But, with the luxury of retrospection, the high point from the debate came a couple of days later, when small, cowardly, Rand Paul whined at DT because DT “didn’t discuss the issues”. Sorry Rand, but the final vestige of your credibility just went down the latrine. Last time, Rand Paul, you were going to be the new “Great White Hope”, standing firm and resolute like your father, in the face of tyrannical onslaught. But Rand has since proven to be just another cookie-cut, cheap-assed politician. And from Tennessee, no less. Davy Crockett is spinning.

    And that’s when it kind of cleared for me. DT doesn’t have to discuss the “issues”, he IS the issue. Our political class has so reduced itself that is becoming hard to refer to these people as human, and yet we don’t know what to do. Amerika goes blubbering and sobbing to our politicians because we are being sold down the toilet, and the forever answer from them is always: “Elect us and we will solve everything.” But they never do. Not even a dent. The politicians aren’t even trying anymore. We are as we are because of the inevitable and obvious results of a monopoly.

    Ask yourself, do they have these debates every fing time? Yes they do. Did they discuss “the issues” last time? Yes they did. Has anything improved? No, it hasn’t. Has it deteriorated? Yes it has, and in spades. So what fing good is discussing the “issues”, particularly at this point in the race? Besides, all DT has to do (and has done with phenomenal success) is simply ask, “Do you want to elect another one of these guys? I’m better than all these guys, and I can prove it. All I have to do is wave some money at them and I can get them to do anything. That’s why the system is broken.” But, somehow in the Amerikan mind, this gets translated into, “Donald loves himself.” What, sadly, very few Americans caught on to was that DT was telling you that, elected or not, he could run the country from his own office by simply flashing some cash. And nobody disagreed. Nobody cares.

    • Replies: @Hugo
  17. Biff says:

    Clearly the GOP establishment wants Trump gone(permanently – as in not running for political office), but they are having a hard time trying to figure out how to get that done(not easy being sleazy). I always thought Presidential politics was boring as hell as the candidates are speaking for their owners mixed with some lip skittle for the voters(crap coming out of both sides of their mouths), but Trump has changed the game.

    He has managed to make other candidates look like the dumb-down tools that they are.

  18. GW says:

    Really excellent analysis. I’d add that Trump’s brain trust needs to provide him some solid answers when he encounters the fair question regarding his position–but his instinct to reject the presuppositions of the nonsense inquisitions is what’s driving his popularity.

    If he needs help on driving home the point on illegal immigration or trade, he needs to read a few Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan columns for information. Instead of merely pointing out that the Mexican government is more cunning than our own, he needs to refer to certain policies and statements from Mexican politicians to highlight this. Turn his base against a foreign adversary, and in doing so completely sidestep the political attacks of his opponents. If I were advising him, I’d say he can’t be too much of an expert on his three big pet issues–illegal immigration, trade, and political correctness. Know all there is to know and impress us with that Wharton education. There is also another avenue he could pick up to endear him to blue collar whites–law and order–in response to the black lies matter movement. He could also implicate the liberal media as being responsible for driving up anger unnecessarily and contributing to the social unrest in major American cities.

  19. @Reg Cæsar

    Which government? Australia’s? Scotland’s?

    The One World Government.

  20. “Mind, you I am not saying that Trump would make an excellent president or that he has a serious chance of winning the nomination from one of our two institutionalized national parties.”

    I don’t know how many time I’ve read something similar to the above regarding Trump. Basically boiling down to, Trump will have his fun but he’ll never win. You know the advice about the word never. People are sick of politicians. Any politicians. Beyond his brashness and non-PC appeal it comes down to the simple fact that he’s not an owned politician. And the more that those the voters hate: the politicians, the pressitutes and the oligarchs hate him the more the voters will love him. The enemy of my enemy must be my friend.

    I hope he has a stellar security team. The enemies he’s making could wind him up like both Kennedys.

  21. @Hugo

    “The majority of us under 40 don’t believe what the newspapers and TV are telling us.”

    I’d agree that’s true for a majority of under 40s who can write (and read) as you can, Hugo – but you are in a pretty small minority.

    • Replies: @Hugo
  22. annamaria says:
    @Leftist conservative

    There should be no surprise. Sorry to attach this to a woman, but Magyn is paid for presstituting. The obvious self-enforced stupidity (mixed with viciousness) makes her ugly. But the pay is good.

  23. @paul gottfried

    Murdoch would like to be able to control his media monopoly, which now includes most of the establishment “conservative” press beside FOX, without having the government come after him.

    As the late Robert Conquest, RIP, put it, people are most conservative about the things they know best. And own, I might add.

    But in other respects, he is very pro-government, particularly when it comes to waging wars and tightening government surveillance.

    His newspapers boosted and cheered the severe tightening of gun laws in Australia after some deranged vet shot up a historic fort in Tasmania. I don’t know how deeply Murdoch the man was involved in that crusade, but that’s when I wrote him off as any kind of conservative.

  24. anowow says:
    @Jus' Sayin'...

    Nyet, drug, nyet. Vosmozhno perevodit nekulturny.

    English does have words to translate nekulturny- crude, brash, coarse, crass, tasteless, uncouth. Indeed, nekulturny was a Russianism of foreign origin, i.e. uncultured.

    If anything, English adjectives allow for nuance that Russian doesn’t, just based on words, that is. I’m not talking about colloquialisms, slang or idioms, although even here, I’d bet on English.

  25. Neoconned [AKA "truth is treason"] says:

    The same Megyn Kelly who is supposedly offended by the sexism of Trump apparently had a graphic interview with Howard Stern in 2010! Howard Stern!?!?!?

    Also, Frank Luntz did some very misleading and dubious polling for Bloomberg’s gun banning efforts after Newtown. The dubious results were used over and over for gun prohibition. I believe it was the now disbanded – thanks to multiple felony convictions from its members – Mayors Against Illegal Guns group.

    • Replies: @Realist
  26. Hugo says:

    With all due respect, I think you’re selling gen Y’ers and Millenials short. Yes, many are Pajama boy conformists but, there are even more who are quietly seething with rage and are itching for a confrontation. You can observe them on reddit, 4chan and they were instrumental in the cuckservative shaming.

  27. Hugo says:

    What a great post. And how did Ron Paul who is a giant of a man raise such a cuckservative son?

    • Replies: @Neoconned
  28. Realist says:

    “The same Megyn Kelly who is supposedly offended by the sexism of Trump apparently had a graphic interview with Howard Stern in 2010! Howard Stern!?!?!?”

    Excellent point. All of the women wear tight dresses, many make sexual statements and use sexual double entendres. I wonder how this is received by the fundies who supposedly are so fond of Fox News.

  29. Neoconned [AKA "Truth is treason"] says:

    Rand listened to Foxnews “experts” and tried not to make the same enemies and “mistakes” his father did. Of course, pissing off the Hannity’s and Mark Levin’s of the world by speaking the truth is why Ron Paul was so popular, something that Karl Rove types will never grasp.

    Ron had millions of supporters, especially among the young, and was the only candidate besides Romney in 2012 to be in the 20s in New Hampshire and Iowa. Rand is going to be lucky to get 5 percent in each state at this point since most of the Paul supporters from 2012 are supporting Trump this time around.

    Ron Paul is amazing and a hero of mine, but the hardcore libertarians were correct from day one when they noticed Rand flip flopping on the Civil Rights Act and businesses being able to discriminate, Lincoln the tyrant, supporting Israel, abolishing the Fed, praising amnesty efforts after once proposing to end birthright citizenship, etc.

    Look what all of that kissing up to foxnews and talk radio neo-cons, along with watering down his message got Rand! The GOP crooks had to use voter fraud to keep Paul from winning Iowa in the caucus, and Rand will probably end up finishing 6th or 7th.

    Who knows? Maybe the political consultants knew this would happen and that was the whole point all along.

  30. Johann says:
    @Jasper Been

    Mr. Gottfried has often stated that there is no difference between the democrat and the republican, the conservative and the liberal, etc. He is absolutely right; the republican usually takes a bit longer to get on the so called right side of history but he gets there eventually. The government party is all there really is; the American Empire has its emperor and its impotent Senate and its dissolute and corrupt court. Two thousand years ago the ambitious Pontius Pilate who came from a well connected family and was a rising star in the Imperial command structure was appointed to be governor of Judea; he had the best living quarters, a palace, the best food and drink, the most secure personal body guard and the discretion to dictate the law according to his whim. The rich ruled and the rest obeyed; sometimes he would throw some crumbs from his table to the masses, some would get a few more crumbs than others. Things have not changed much in two thousand years.

  31. Svigor says:

    Trump can absolutely win.

    This is the country that elected Hussein, a complete nobody, to two terms. Repeat that to yourselves until it really sinks in.

    Hillary is about as appealing or McCain or Romney.

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