If (as we’re told) Fox News was aiming to derail Trump, they sure weren’t clever like a fox. The “debate” could hardly have been better contrived to boost him. When he afterwards complained of his treatment by Fox, did I detect a wink?
Previously I’d labeled meaningless Trump’s 20-25% poll standings. Hardly broad support, mostly mere name recognition, and anyway a certain percentage in polls will always endorse craziness.* It seemed a given that Trump would never win the nomination (and David Brooks still thinks he’s not truly a candidate). But now I’m not so sure.
I would have asked questions like, How will you deal with the looming explosion of Social Security and Medicare costs? A rising China and a stroppy Russia? ISIS and the Mid East? Millions of undocumented residents? Our dysfunctional tax system? Foreign economic competition? A growing divide between the more and less educated? But while some of these issues were touched upon, most questions were more like When did you stop beating your wife?
Starting with the very first, which was tailored to spotlight Trump and his bombastic pugnacity — actually attractive to many voters. Likewise for the other seemingly taunting questions lobbed at him. That kind of mud-wrestling is his forte. Better to have probed wonky policy nuances (at least revealing his ignorance).
And it was not your imagination that Trump got more airtime than anyone. I checked. He did, by a lot; more than double what some other candidates got. Great going, Fox.
But one suspects the true aim was not fairness, nor to dent Trump, nor to inform. It was to entertain. Fox did gain a huge audience. The Romans threw Christians to lions; Fox threw pols to Trump.
Anyhow, the debate simply served to make Trump seem a larger, more powerful personality than all the other (comparatively) anodyne, pale, typical politicians, sucking away all their air. I’m reminded of Osama bin Laden’s dictum: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.”
Never mind what happens when you try to ride that bucking bronco.
*Also, many Trump backers are quintessential non-voting types.