In the late 1980s, David Franke collaborated with Dick on The Financial Armadillo. Dick and I got to know Dave quite well as he was also managing editor of Richard C. Young’s Intelligence Report for a number of years. Recently in The American Conservative, Dave opined on the CNN Town Hall, hosted by Anderson Cooper, before the S.C. primary. Perhaps if there had been more Town Hall presentations, where candidates were allowed time to answer questions from the audience, the GOP (and voters) would be in much better shape.
For the first time, we got to see the GOP candidates, as a whole, not delivering sound bites and talking points in a screaming match, but spending the time to explain their positions in some detail to the audience. They actually came across as more serious and human, less as marionettes being yanked by unseen forces behind the curtain. If you need proof that the Republican Party is a Stupid Party, look at how its presidential debates have harmed the GOP brand.
Dave offers his thoughtful opinion on the GOP candidates’ performances. And in what Dave explains as a surprise to him, he has new-found respect for two candidates whom he had dismissed beforehand.
Dr. Ben Carson actually came across as a discerning and sensible candidate. It turns out he was not really asleep in the preceding debates, he was just cowed by the debate format. He is obviously disciplined given his abilities as a surgeon, he just is not socially aggressive in the least. If America ever decides that a candidate’s inner character is more important than his political experience, it will consider Dr. Carson.
John Kasich previously came across to me as too namby-pamby in his demeanor, sort of a Mr. Rogers (who I never could stand even though my young daughter and her friends loved him) in a political neighborhood. Not my taste. But in this expanded format he came across as a thoughtful and compassionate person who somehow happens to be a politician. I liked him. We could do a lot worse. But he, too, has no chance of being nominated.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both came across as convincing possible suspects in a police lineup. Shoot their commercials in black and white—this is film noir for the 21st century. Both are slick debaters and political operatives, too slick for their own good. Marco is the nice guy with the infectious smile, Ted is the heavy, but you don’t trust either one. They both could have committed the crime, and both probably did, but they’re so damn good at throwing suspicion to someone else.
Jeb Bush. He’s probably likeable enough in a person-to-person setting, he’s thoughtful, he appeals to the policy wonk in me, but I end up feeling embarrassed for him in a contentious political setting. He remained awkward in the more relaxed town hall format. And I keep wondering: How did he ever become governor of Florida?
Donald Trump. He tried his best to be couth, likeable, somebody you might actually buy a used car from, but it just didn’t work. … He deals in bluster and hyperbole, and even in a more leisurely town hall setting he comes across saying nothing of substance. I know, intellectuals don’t make good politicians, but couldn’t he at least have some semblance of coherent thought? Instead all we get is a litany of emotional outbursts and meaningless generalities. He was the only candidate who couldn’t give substantial answers to questions from the audience.
Dave notes a final irony: “… the Democratic Party is now represented by two old white people, two boring old white people, while the Republicans are offering a black man, two Latinos, and an Anglo who thinks he’s Latino. Only in America.”