Donald Trump
continues to dominate the conversation about the Republican presidential nominating contest after last night’s Fox News debates.

Those are a couple of hours I’ll never have back.

I thought Trump was dead after trashing John McCain. I was wrong. I think his bluster undoubtedly continued to please his admirers last night, but surely, I thought, the appeal is wearing off. And being unwilling to rule out a third-party candidacy didn’t sit well with last night’s crowd. He does have a wildly mixed record prone to New York-style liberalism. He never answers specific questions with specific answers. It’s all about firing the bad guys and kicking butt. Surely voters, come the time, want a little more substance than this. Of course, this is the Republican primary.

John Kasich was the substantive star of the prime time field (he’ll help even poor people with health insurance) and Jeb Bush didn’t do badly on some issues (immigration and education) where he departs from far-right dogma. The fact that I responded at all favorably to them is NOT a mark in their favor in the primary.

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Marco Rubio is a smooth operator, if shallow.

Mike Huckabee had to be steaming. His pals from Fox all but forgot he was there. His cracks got some attention. Asked about transgender military service, he said the military was supposed to kill people and break things. As if a change of birth gender makes someone incapable of this.

I yearn for examination of  the Huckster’s legal theory that the U.S. government — perhaps with force of troops — can invoke the 5th and 14th Amendment to defy U.S. Supreme Court precedent and protect life from conception on. Will he station National Guard at Baptist Medical Center’s ER to prevent dispensation of a morning-after pill to a rape victim?

Politifact called down as “half true” Huckabee’s assertion that Obamacare had “robbed” Medicare. Huckabee also trotted out his disastrous tax plan — end income tax with a “consumption tax,” meaning a punishing sales tax on poor people that would have to be near 30 percent to offset the lost revenue.

There was universal acclaim for Carly Fiorina’s informed performance at the JV debate that preceded the 10-candidate scrum. Warm she isn’t, but she could bump one of the 10 from the next lineup. Chris Christie, maybe (he’s loathsome, but several of his answers were strong)?

Something weird is going to happen in the 2016 election, I think.

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