Much has already been written about Thursday night’s GOP debate. The CNN-hosted spectacle featured Marco Rubio finally deciding to attack frontrunner Donald Trump, albeit seven months too late. The Florida Senator unloaded a folder of opposition research over Trump’s head, hitting him on his Trump University fraud lawsuit, use of foreign workers in Florida, utilizing illegal Polish workers on Trump Tower, his four bankruptcies and, ironically, his habit of repeating himself over and over. All in all, it would have been a devastatingly effective performance — if it had come months earlier.
While Rubio was hitting Trump from the right, Ted Cruz, the Iowa caucus winner who is jockeying for second-place with Rubio, tried to smack Donald from the left. His tactic was to generally filibuster his answers, rolling right through the bell — which no one even bothered acknowledging — and giving long-winded speeches about conservatism, Trump’s liberal leanings and insinuating the celebrity billionaire might be hiding something fraudulent. Basically, using McCarthyism.
Now, if this debate had an even halfway effective and assertive lead moderator, it is possible that Cruz, Rubio and Trump wouldn’t have been able to engage in the petulant shouting matches that encompassed about half of the broadcast. Sure, because we are dealing with man-children who are embracing anti-intellectualism and pandering to the lowest common denominator, we’d still have a disgraceful, embarrassing, terrifyingly stupid debate on our hands full of men telling us America will be destroyed unless they vote Republican…but, at least, they’d talk in turn.
Alas, the lead moderator on Thursday night was Jell-O mold with a beard Wolf Blitzer, and he turned in one of most ineffectual jobs in the history of political debates. Remember when people bitched about the CNBC debate last year because they felt the moderators editorialized too much? That was nothing compared to Wolf just getting assfucked live on air. And the person doing most of the violating was Cruz.
Early on, it was apparent that Cruz knew that Blitzer wasn’t going to stand up to him. After a moment when Trump and Marco went at it a bit, Cruz wanted to jump in. However, the CNN anchor had already decided to ask Ohio Governor — and thorn in the side of Marco Rubio — John Kasich a question. Well, Teddy Boy wasn’t having any of it, and engaged in a short stare off with Wolf, which Cruz predictably won.
@TedCruz : “Can I speak about Obamacare? I have a long history on it.” Wolf: “OK, go ahead.”
— Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) February 26, 2016
Once that happened, it was game on, and Cruz just did whatever the hell he wanted, with Wolf barely even offering an objection or trying to get him to acknowledge time limits. While the co-moderators (Maria Celeste, Dana Bash and Hugh Hewitt) also had their issues when engaging the candidates, they at least tried to keep their focus on the topic at hand. (Kudos to Celeste for pressing Trump on his lack of support among Latino voters nationwide.) Sure, Hewitt’s religious liberty questions were incredibly stupid and one-sided, but at least he tried to pry real answers out of the men on stage.
But not Wolf. Nope. It was clear from the word go that he was intimidated, which is inexcusable for a veteran news anchor and someone who has moderated a number of debates. But, CNN doesn’t give a shit. They’ll get a big rating for this debacle, pat themselves on the back for a job well done, and tell Wolf he was phenomenal. (They were already spinning it that way on air after the debate.) Meanwhile, the American public continues to lose as we stumble through this reality show known as the 2016 election.