What The Debate Really
Meant

By

Leonard Zwelling

         The Tuesday Night Fight from Vegas was actually surprisingly
informative.

         We learned that Dr. Paul wouldn’t shoot down a Russian plane
in an American-declared no-fly zone, but Governor Christie would. We learned
that Carly Fiorina is a scold and wants the boys she has to deal with to stop
fighting. We learned no matter how hard he tries, Jeb Bush looks like a deer in
the headlights, Ben Carson looks like a deer who cannot see the headlights, and
Ted Cruz would be happy to run them both over. Governor Kasich still makes
sense, but cannot seem to get anyone to listen and Senator Rubio makes the most
sense and looks to me like the Republican answer to the 1960’s era Jack Kennedy but
has not found the key to fend off The Donald or the Cruz Missile. We also
learned that Senator Lindsey Graham may be the only adult in the race and
really cannot get anyone to listen except Senator McCain and he only gets one
vote and that one is in Arizona not New Hampshire.

         We probably mostly learned, that the Republicans want to
scare the hell out of ISIS to bring the jihadists to heel and might even bomb
large civilian populations to get the job done. I am not sure why dropping carpets on ISIS is a good strategy, but hey, I am willing to be shown.

          Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton will likely
take a somewhat less bloodthirsty approach during the Democratic debate on
Saturday. Why the Democrats are having this debate escapes me, but I assume it
is batting practice for Hillary.

         What I hope was not lost on anyone was the stark contrast
between mainstream Republican thinking and mainstream Democratic thinking on
the subject of ISIS and the jihadi threat to America.

         For the most part, with Dr. Paul being the exception, there
is little the GOP would not use in terms of bombs, surveillance, internet
disruption and “boots on the ground” to defeat ISIS. OK, we can digest that and
decide if that’s what we want.

         For the most part, Mrs. Clinton seems slightly more
bellicose than President Obama, but nowhere near as warlike as the GOP
contenders. America, make your choice because you really have one.

         We need clarity on only two more issues—the economy and
climate change. Both of these have paled of late given the violence in Paris,
San Bernardino and elsewhere.

         It is fair to say that Mrs. Clinton is walking a very fine
line with regard to reining in Wall Street excess without over-taxing Main
Street America. We shall see if she can articulate what that means in terms of
real dollars to real Americans. She’s for ObamaCare which may well be imploding
due to economic forces and that whole program may need a clean up before 2020.
I disagree with her stance on the Keystone-XL pipeline, but if the price of oil
sinks any lower, that may not be worth building anyway.

The
GOP is, of course, against ObamaCare with no good ideas to supplant it and most
of the GOP think free markets would fix everything. They might if we ever had
truly free markets which is wholly unlikely with the crooks on Wall Street
willing to do anything to make a buck. There probably is some logic to a
full-scale examination of the tax code so that it might be simplified, made
more fair and encourage American businesses to bring their overseas earnings
back to create more American jobs. Just a thought.

         As for climate change, you have to be an idiot to believe it
is not taking place and that mankind isn’t having some impact in a negative
fashion. Even if that’s wrong, being better stewards of our natural resources
can only help the world so why not do the things that would clean the air, halt
the poisoning of the sea, and keep the polar bears out of Central Park.

         Believe it or not, though you may already be exhausted, the
2016 race is just warming up. Tuesday’s debate made clear that some of these
guys ought to walk away with their dignity. What if the three GOP factions: the
mainstreamers (Bush, Rubio, Kasich, Christie), the righties (Cruz, Paul) and
the outsiders (Trump, Carson and Fiorina) each got into groups and nominated
one of their group to go forward? Let’s say it was Rubio, Cruz and Trump. Then
we could make some progress and lower the level of the cacophony.
Unfortunately, with the PAC’s accumulating money and The Donald not needing
any, that isn’t going to happen. Hell, even college football gets down to four
teams eventually.

         My guess is that by March 15, we will be down to three or
four on the GOP side and Mrs. Clinton will have sewn up the Democratic
nomination.  That’s just right. Christmas
is over. The snow is melting. Warmth returns and some semblance of order might
take hold. Might. Events have had a way of disrupting normalcy a great deal of
late.

Leonard Zwelling