Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz came out swinging in Thursday night’s GOP debate, and for a change they were taking on Donald Trump (well, most of the time – Cruz got in some dings on Rubio, too). This kind of reaction from these two has been lacking a bit previously, but it seems they finally listened to the advisers and pundits that they needed to take Trump on and NOW if they were going to halt Trump’s momentum.
Trump, for his part, acted like Trump. He interrupted incessantly, talked over everyone, called people names like, “Liar,” “Basket case,” “Choker,” and more. He didn’t save all his vitriol for his opponents, though. He also targeted moderator Hugh Hewitt making derogatory and disparaging comments about Hewitt. No wonder the moderators did such a poor job last night reining Trump in – they were afraid he’d turn his venomous tongue on them as well. So they let him go, while trying to rein in others.
If the moderators HAD been doing their jobs, perhaps they would have called Trump on his claim that he couldn’t release his tax returns while he was being audited. Now, I am no attorney, but William Jacobson is. He wrote this in the Legal Insurrection:
The biggest take away from the CNN Republican Debate is that contrary to prior promises, Donald Trump says he will not release his income tax returns because he is being audited.
There is no law, that I’m aware of, prohibiting such release. It sounded like a massive dodge, since IRS audits can go on for years. Trump even said his last 4-5 years of returns are being audited. […] (Click here to read the rest.)
Or maybe they could have focused more on Trump’s use of illegal aliens to build Trump Tower. Or heck,t hey could have even asked him to stop calling the other candidates names. SOMETHING. But no. They let him go. But this time, Rubio and Cruz weren’t taking his attacks lying down.
And it is about damn time, too. Mollie Hemingway from The Federalist sums it up:
1. Rubio, Cruz Show Up and Fight
For some inexplicable reason, previous debates had candidates going quite easy on Trump. Only Cruz and Jeb Bush had tried to land punches, with varying success. But last night, Rubio and Cruz both went after Trump. And they did so relentlessly. They hit him hard on policy, asking him to be specific about how he would Make America Great Again. Given a chance by moderator Dana Bash to explain his health care policy, he declined. After he said he’d done more for Israel than anyone else, Cruz asked him to name one specific thing he’d done. He was unable.
Even more effective, Rubio and Cruz teased him as a lightweight without a command of the facts, interrupted him, and teased him some more. At one point Cruz told him to “relax.” Every time Trump denied saying something he’d previously said or denied doing something he’d done, Rubio calmly encouraged viewers to Google for more information. Here’s a good look at one of these exchanges.
2. Trump Flailed
For a long time it seemed as if Trump were immune to criticism even when he received it. But during this debate, he struggled. He responded to questions with his trademark juvenility and insults. When people cheered Rubio and Cruz, he accused the audience of being packed with lobbyists. He was petulant, lashing out with even less substance and nuance than usual. And unlike previous debates, he neither landed punches nor succeeded in being funny. […] (Click here to read the rest.)
There is much more to Hemingway’s piece, and I recommend reading it all.
The Federalist also has an excellent piece, “Trump Tells Us How He’ll Hurt America.” Like all of Obama’s bankruptcies, or how low he ranks with his corporate peers (5%), or the impact of having someone with a temper whose finger is on the red button, or how his name-calling will SO unify people, and on and on. Great piece.
In any event, I am glad that the other two frontrunners finally started standing up for themselves, and standing against the many lies of Donald Trump.
But they aren’t the only ones taking off the gloves this week, nosirree. The House Intelligence Committee has taken off the gloves in its response to the Pentagon on the ISIS intelligence shenanigans. From CNN:
The Republican-led House intelligence committee wants the Pentagon to provide what it believes are illegally deleted intelligence files pertaining to the U.S. military campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California blasted the Pentagon, citing the allegations that classified intelligence files and emails about the war on ISIS were deleted.
“We have been made aware that both files and emails have been deleted by personnel at CENTCOM, and we expect that the Department of Defense will provide these and all other relevant documents to the committee,” Nunes said at a hearing Thursday on worldwide threats.
The U.S. Central Command based in Tampa, Florida, oversees the war against ISIS and all U.S. military operations in the Middle East.
Nunes’ assertions led to an extraordinary public acknowledgment from Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who was testifying before the committee, of the “unusually high” dissatisfaction inside the agency responsible for providing military intelligence on ISIS.
There is much more about this deplorable situation of deleting information that was critically important all to aid the President. No wonder there is so much dissatisfaction within the ranks:
But there is specific public evidence of dissatisfaction from DIA analysts at Central Command who are sent there by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Thursday’s testimony included the results of a survey given to intelligence analysts.
“Our committee was contacted and briefed by ODNI on the survey results which indicated that over 40% of the analysts at CENTCOM feel there are problems with analytic integrity and CENTCOM processes,” Nunes said during the hearing. “Is it appropriate that we wait 18 months or longer for the inspector general report before we even begin to rectify these problems?” […] (Click here to read the rest.)
Uh, yeah. The gloves are off now, and it is about damn time. This kind of thing is costing LIVES. The House Intelligence Committee must stick to its guns in holding CENTCOM accountable.
Senators Rubio and Cruz also must stick to their guns, for them, and for us.
That’s what I think. How about you? This is an Open Thread, so feel free to discuss any of the above or whatever else is on your minds today.