1 Nov '15     home | previous

Republican Candidates and Gotcha Questions

During last week's Republican debate on CNBC, Senator Ted Cruz led an attack on the press, seconded by Senator Marco Rubio, who said: "Democrats have the ultimate super PAC. It's called the mainstream media." A self-described liberal Republican, William Saletan, has an article in Slate titled "Reality Sucks". He writes of Cruz accusing the journalist moderator John Harwood of calling candidate Trump a "comic book villain." Saletan writes that checking the debate transcript we find no one calling Trump a villain. Harwood asked Trump to defend himself regarding what has looked like "a comic-book version of a presidential campaign" – a nasty question, as pointed out by Trump, but a question that involves comments about Trump's campaign from various mainstream Republicans. Saletan continues:

Second, nobody asked Carson whether he could do math. CNBC's Becky Quick asked Carson how he would close the $1 trillion gap between current federal spending and the revenue projected from Carson's 15 percent flat tax. Third, nobody asked Kasich to insult his colleagues. Kasich volunteered that Trump's and Carson's promises were impractical and incoherent. All of these questions were substantive. In fact, Cruz's speech was a diversion from the query that had been posed to him – namely, why did he oppose this week's agreement to raise the debt limit?

Saletan writes of Rubio's calling Hillary Clinton a liar (which was criticized on today's Washington Post Fact check) and his suggestion that the Democratic presidential candidates were asked easy questions during their debate on CNN. Saletan claims that,

CNBC panelists were no harsher to the Republicans on Wednesday than CNN's Anderson Cooper was to Clinton and other Democrats in their debate two weeks ago. What was different this time was the reaction. Presented with facts and figures that didn't fit their story, the leading Republican candidates accused the moderators of malice and deceit.

Saletan writes that "Reporters sometimes screw up. But they have a troublesome habit of checking things."

Ted Cruz began his presidential campaign proclaiming his passion for "truth." But today was have liberals who complain that attacking the press is for some Republicans more of a stick they pick up to advance themselves than it is an interest in truth. Some people, of course, love truth and want to be truthful but are not very good at it.

Like everybody else, Republicans want to defend themselves. Today's news tells of the Republican candidates agreeing to take a larger role in negotiating the parameters of the upcoming presidential debates and largely cut the Republican National Committee out of the process. The suggestion is that future debates among the Republican candidates will be more of a love fest. But will it help their cause?

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.