Carly Fiorina boat-races the boys as Republicans square off again

This is what it looks like when you're about to drop the mic (metaphorically speaking, of course). AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill

This is what it looks like when you’re about to drop the mic (metaphorically speaking, of course). AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill

The second GOP debate is in the books, and it was rather different from the first one last month. For one thing, Carly Fiorina was in it. For another, Carly Fiorina won it.

I don’t even think it was that close. I would give Marco Rubio a solid second place, but that was mostly because he avoided messy fights with other candidates, spoke clearly and forcefully about topics from character and values to foreign policy, and got the most out of his limited airtime (just below average among the 11 candidates). Anyone looking for substance — as much as can be had in a debate featuring 11 candidates giving one-minute answers, even over the course of three hours — should have found him appealing.

But Fiorina had the answers that, in both style and substance, should be the most remembered ones of the night.

On Planned Parenthood, she was the one who brought the discussion back, in a way that was just short of graphic, to human life rather than merely the question of funding:

On defense, she gave a very detailed outline of what she thinks we need to do (albeit without a plan to pay for it — but hey, you only get a minute at a time in these things). And on the war against drugs, she shared (not for the first time) her very personal connection to the issue of drug addiction, which claimed the life of her daughter. Those were three of the finest moments of the evening.

I’ve made it more than 200 words without mentioning Donald Trump, and I think that’s indicative of the debate he had. He did his thing. I have to think it’s wearing thin. The Reagan presidential library didn’t seem to be filled with a lot of his natural allies; the audience didn’t hoot and holler for his put-downs, which seemed to get pettier and pettier as the night went on, and was even grumbling about them by the end. Trump seemed to react to that. After a few feisty opening exchanges, he was more subdued during most of the rest of the debate. During a few fairly substantive exchanges, particularly on foreign policy, he practically disappeared. That’s saying a lot for someone who still got more speaking time — by a margin of three minutes — over the next candidate. Most often, Trump was simply the subject or object of questions that sought one candidate’s response to something another had said in recent weeks. (Dear CNN: That got old.)

The candidate with the second-most time, almost 2.5 more minutes than Fiorina, was Jeb Bush. What about his performance?

I don’t play golf anymore, but I used to. I would go to the driving range and get a bucket of balls, 50, 100 of them at a time. I would spray them all over the range, some better than others. Then, just as I had two or three balls left in the bucket and was thinking I should just give up golf, I would nail one of the cleanest, purest, longest shots I could have hoped for … and I would think to myself, hey, maybe I can do this after all.

I thought of that after watching Jeb last night. (And again: I eventually gave up golf.)

Amazingly, Jeb once again flubbed a question about his presidential father and brother. Asked whether his naming advisers who had worked for 41 and 43 undercut his promise to be his own man, he said something about how of course they were his advisers, any Republican would have them as advisers because they’d been advisers to the last two Republican presidents, who happened also to be Bushes. Do you really think Trump would hire the same folks as advisers? Would Rand Paul? Do you think the sort of Republican voters fed up with the status quo who have pushed Trump and Ben Carson to the top of the polls think his was the right answer?

Later, Bush volunteered as the candidate to whom Rand Paul alluded as having smoked pot earlier in life — and joked that his mother would be mad at him for admitting as much to 25 million viewers. It was the kind of humanizing spontaneity that Hillary Clinton will unveil in Campaign Rollout 4.0. He had a few other good moments — oddly, one of them was a defense of his brother: “he kept us safe” — but I wonder if they aren’t the fooling-yourself kinds of moments I used to have on the driving range.

I mentioned Ben Carson earlier; I may not have to do that again. Carson comes across as the kind of person who’d be an ideal president … in a world where everyone was normal and reasonable. His earnest demeanor did not do him as many favors last night, in my view, as it did in the first debate. People looking for a non-politician will surely be more drawn to Fiorina. She came across as far more plausible in the role of commander-in-chief.

Just this week I heard some disturbing stories out of the Scott Walker campaign that made me wonder if he’s close to being a surprisingly early dropout from the race. A lot of Walker watchers were eager to see if he could assert himself last night and regain the spark he had for several months. I’m sorry, but I just didn’t see it. He got the least amount of speaking time of anyone on stage, a full 10 minutes less than Trump got, and what he did say wasn’t terribly memorable. It is hard to see how he picks himself back up at this point. I hope I’m wrong about that, because I liked him on paper.

I read a lot of people suggesting Chris Christie helped himself with some strong answers on budgeting, the wisdom and limits of working across the aisle, defense and law enforcement. But we’ve heard a lot of that from him before. Maybe he was able to break through to a broader audience last night. We’ll see.

Ted Cruz held his own; although he was a champion debater in college, it’s clear the presidential debate format doesn’t lend itself to his oratorical skills quite as well. But he will be a factor in this race for a while longer as the most outsider-y actual politician in the race. John Kasich didn’t come across quite as well as he had before a home audience in Ohio last time. He relied heavily on biography as usual and remains positioned to pick up the establishment mantle if Bush really falters, but as of today I’m not sure his ceiling is much higher than that. Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee have already hit also-ran status in my book.

The next debate, and the campaign in general, would benefit from a winnowing of the field during the weeks to come.

Reader Comments 0

132 comments
skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Typical of a right wing blog that of all the critical issues facing Congress and the country, everyone here is debating about abortions and  Planned Parenthood and not about the GOP frontrunner getting his rear kicked last night by Carly for his mysogyny which is a common GOP trait. 


So LBB as ususal defends the indefensible and buys Jeb's BS that W kept US safe. Typical con nonsense. Iraq war led to AL Queda and ISIL in Iraq and Syria when there was none there before W marched in. LBB incapable of reading the multitude of warnings Rice and W got with specifics of an attack by Al Queda in NYC, Israel even had the names of the 18 hijackers. 


Plane in background was used to help GOP darling Richard Nixon flee Washington in 1973 after being forced to resign and is housed in museum of president who illegaly sold arms to Iran and WMd to Sadaam. 


What a backdop!!

M H Smith
M H Smith

Trump, Bush, Rubio and Kasich are on my final four list, Kyle.

M H Smith
M H Smith

@TheDoobieMan 

Suggested reading for all on the right or left is this from Fortune on Carly's disastrous CEO  performance:

.

.

Carly as the boss: The disappointing truth

 http://fortune.com/2015/08/14/carly-fiorina-president-2/

 .

 .

Footnotes:

Not only is Carly a jobs killer she was well her way  to killing HP before being FIRED. 

She did not play well with others.

Lost shareholders a great deal of money ... shareholder wealth at HP was sliced 52% under her reign against the S&P, which was down only 15% in that bearish period. 

Upon leaving her last gig at Taiwan Semiconductor’s board, the firm disclosed she only attended 17% of the board meetings. 

And though she has often been erroneously referred to as the first woman to lead a fortune 500 firm, that title actually belongs to The Washington Post Company’s Katharine Graham.



 

Dusty2
Dusty2

Carly is a  fine representative of a strong smart woman..  I do not believe she is ready to become the president of the USA. I  like someone experienced in governing.  The same goes for Dr. Carson, a fine doctor and citizen.


Women make fine leaders when they are prepared.  UK had Margaret Thatcher and India and Israel have also had successful  women leaders.  Women in the USA will have their day when one is ready.     

Caius
Caius

I was hoping to get through the comments without reading complaints about the questions asked.  The questions do not matter, only the answers matter. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley would have wiped out the entire stage of pretenders last night.  Haley is the best Republican politician I have seen in decades.


STColeman
STColeman

Very entertaining, I must admit. Though the re-writing of history (i.e., "Bush kept us safe" ... "Obama created ISIS") was classic neo-con gibberish. 


And riddle me this: If neo-cons are so hell-bent on defunding PP -- an organization that provides women's health care for hundreds of thousands of women across the country, many of whom live in rural communities miles away from private doctors and hospitals -- because of the acts of a few rogue administrators, where is the massive push to defund local law enforcement organizations? After all, a few rogue officers have committed heinous crimes against American citizens over the past couple of years. Why the double standard?? 


Answer: Because this isn't about the "character" of our nation, as Fiorina put it. This is about a radical right-wing agenda that seeks to chip away at abortion rights at every turn. The most hypocritical people on the planet -- radical right-wing neo cons -- strike again! 

MoFaux
MoFaux

Dear abortion foes,

Would you refrain from accepting a cure or treatment to a medical condition you or your child were afflicted with if you found out it came from stem cells or harvested organs from an aborted fetus?  I didn't think so.  Let me guess, you have a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to your health.

NorthAtlanta
NorthAtlanta

@MoFaux

How would you feel it you got an organ transplant only to find out that the organ was stolen from someone or taken without permission?  That appears to be more or less what's happening in some, possibly many of these instances with PP.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@MoFaux

If we could develop a cure your child is afflicted with by killing one two-year-old, would you refrain from accepting it?

Bruno2
Bruno2

@MoFaux As soon as such a "cure" is found, let us know.  Thus far, the stem cells harvested from aborted fetuses are the least useful for medical purposes.  But, don't let that fact stand in the way of your non-existent ethics.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Good to see the GOP's War on Women continues unabated.


Defunding PP would not stop abortions in this country. Abortion is a very small part of what they do


It would however deny poor women access to mammograms and countless other procedures they depend on. 


I wonder sometimes if that isn't the real goal. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar That's why (ex) Sen. Mark Udall lost a race on Colorado running almost exclusively on the "war on women" narrative, I guess?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar Let's just totally ignore the polling about abortion shows women are split pretty much 50/50 on the issue, that Carly Fiorina is (obviously) a woman, that the "war on women" narrative was a complete flop last year, etc.

Mewslim
Mewslim

Desperate antics of the left.  "The video was altered".  

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Now, it is important to remember that those phony videos were accepted as being genuine by everyone on the stage in both debates. They all stated their belief that Planned Parenthood is shopping baby parts for profit, which a number of state investigations, and almost every bit of common sense, have determined is not true. At this point, the CMP could create a video of PP doctors eating a baby's liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti, and these people would swear to its authenticity. But Carly Fiorina would be the only one claiming to have a copy of the menu for that particular evening.


http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a38015/cnn-debate-reagan-fantasy/


There are too many real issues facing the country to continue wasting time on these phony videos. 

RonMexico
RonMexico

@Hedley_Lammar But then Kyle wouldn't have any material to pull from. Without the latest made-up Conservative Scandal du Jour from frauds and felons like James O'Keefe and his buddy David Daleiden (maker of the fraudulent PP video), all he's left with is a tired defense of trickle-down economics or another weak attack on Obamacare, which is working even better than expected (but of course you'd never know it from reading this blog). 

Classof98
Classof98

Except for his stupid insistence on enforcing federal marijuana laws, I thought Chris Christie easily won the debate.

What has Fiorina ever accomplished that makes her qualified to be POTUS?

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Classof98 The only thing Christie won last night was number of calories consumed.  For the sake of his party and his country, Christie needs to drop out stat (together with Paul, Huckabee, Cruz and Walker).

Secretary to CEO is pretty impressive.

@eidsonb
@eidsonb

@Classof98 And Barry acomplished what before being POTUS?  voted Present a Gabillion Times.  

Bruno2
Bruno2

Kyle-- A good, fair synopsis of the debate last night.

I'm not a political junkie, so last night was my first extended introduction to a few of the candidates.  Fiorina impressed, though she did seem to wear a mask of anger much of the night, which is what partially undid McCain in 2008.  I appreciated her candor in putting a spotlight on the disrespectful way that fetuses are treated.  Too many abortion supporters want to characterize it as some type of "medical procedure" in an attempt to sanitize something which is shameful and disturbing.  (For the record, I support legal abortions with many restrictions).

As a nominal Christie supporter, I was hoping he would shine.  Many pundits are claiming that Christie "broke out" somewhat last night, but he came across as a little too bullyish for my tastes.  I agree with your opinion regarding Carson.  He is an intelligent, caring individual, qualities which make him a great doctor, but a poor politician.  Rubio made the most of his time, but I'll need to find out more about his specific positions before considering him for my vote.

"I’ve made it more than 200 words without mentioning Donald Trump"

I'm looking forward to the honeymoon with Trump to come to an end soon.  He knows how to tap into people's anger and frustration, but he has no credible plans.  A one-trick pony, so to speak.  His continued presence on the national stage harms the credibility of the Repubs, IMO.

"The next debate, and the campaign in general, would benefit from a winnowing of the field during the weeks to come."

The biggest loser last night, IMO, is CNN.  In particular, Jake Tapper proved himself unworthy of participating in any future debates with his constant "he said, she said" questions.  The candidates can only look as good as the questions allow.  I'm not sure what Tapper's motivation was, whether to make the Repubs look silly, or to try to make the debate more personal, but I feel as if he wasted the candidates' time.


FIGMO2
FIGMO2

WARNING: That segment of the clip, and others, are graphic and you may well find it very disturbing to watch.

One of the videos I had not seen.

Disturbing?

How about reaching for the wastebasket to purge DISTURBING?

TORTURE IN THE NAME OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS???

I say NO THANK YOU! I'M BETTER THAN THAT! I'M STRONGER THAN THAT! My CHARACTER remains INTACT.

God help us! 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@FIGMO2 I'm sorry you are so squeamish. 


Perhaps you should leave this stuff to the grownups. The shock value of showing you a medical procedure does not change a thing. 

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@FIGMO2


per digby:


 the tape has an unrelated and out of context flash of a scene like this which was edited in after the fact by the videographers. That’s what would normally be called “false” or more precisely “a hoax”.

Rickster_
Rickster_

Margaret Thatcher - Carly Fiorina. Carly Fiorina - Margaret Thatcher.


JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

I tried to watch the debate and I gave up.  It's a testament to the job Obama has done that the topics are so petty.  We aren't in an economic crisis like the last two cycles and we aren't in wars like the last three.  There's really nothing at all for them to debate but flavor of the week topics, so they end up attacking each other. 


It's was like watching a high school class President debate.  I'm not saying they are unqualified or anything. I'm just saying that there wasn't really all that much policy to talk about. It's all just selling personality.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@JFMcNamara I think the quality of the responses was in direct relationship to the quality of the questions asked.  The format, along with Tapper's inane questions, didn't allow for a lot of serious discussion IMO.

AceDawg
AceDawg

Fiorina was clearly the most eloquent and compelling speaker. Not to say I agree with all of her views, but she is nobody to mess with on stage. I could see her directly taking some of Trump's support after she wiped him clean. I also get the feeling that many other candidates were thinking that she is saying what they want to say but doing it so much better. Battling in the board room is probably a lot harder than dealing with cautious politicians and one buffoon on a public stage. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

“On Planned Parenthood, she was the one who brought the discussion back, in a way that was just short of graphic, to human life rather than merely the question of funding.”

Never mind that she lied about the video.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@MarkVV

The pro-life crowd sure is defensive.  And you sound a lot like your cratering hero, Hillary.

"You can't prove anything!"

You guys own the disgusting, dreadful baby parts harvesting issue.  Be proud.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV Please submit evidence that the video shot of the baby has been taken at Planned Parenthood, and that it documents what is talked about by the woman in question.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@LilBarryBailout @MarkVV I know, it is tough when people are asked to prove their allegations, rather than having them accepted on faith.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Eye wonder Way to change the subject. The claim of course was "she lied about the video." Which clearly isn't true.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV "Never mind that she lied about the video."

No, never mind that you've bought into someone else's spin/ignorance. What she was talking about can be seen at the 5:57 mark of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=371&v=FzMAycMMXp8

WARNING: That segment of the clip, and others, are graphic and you may well find it very disturbing to watch.

Mewslim
Mewslim

@MarkVV


Another 'myth' being pushed by the left.  Desperate murderers will say anything to make themselves feel better about being murderers.