Yesterday, I blogged that the Republican debate was “riveting” because each question “attacked the candidates at their most vulnerable point.” Since then, however, I have been persuaded by conservative talk-show guy, Mark Levin, that I was wrong.
Levin has described the event as a National Inquirer debate because of its focus on embarrassing issues instead of on substantive policy. His prime example of this conduct was the second question of the debate, by which Megyn Kelly suggested that poll-leading candidate Trump was a misogynist who was waging a war on women. During a 30-minute expose on his show, Levin showed how the question was unfair and inappropriate. How could Trump possibly explain in 60 seconds the context of each one of the charges? Levin did take the time to defend/explain the charges relating to Rosie O’Donnell and the “on your knees” comment taken from an Apprentice show. Levin pointed out that Kelly had been a practicing lawyer, and I wonder if this was her version of the famous legal question – “Yes or no, have you quit beating your wife?”
Aside from Trump and Kelly, the story of the Republican debate seems to be Carly Fiorina vaulting to the top tier. I’ve never liked Fiorina and she is often described as colder and more calculating than Hillary Clinton, but I decided to watch a tape of the Happy Hour debate to see what all the fuss was about. After watching, my position remains unchanged. During my working career, I’ve encountered several people like her who give great briefings by sounding like they know everything, but over time they invariably fail miserably because they don’t know as much as they think and they don’t know how to work with others.
But aside from this substantive weakness, there is another reason why Fiorina did so well last Thursday – i.e., she participated in the Happy Hour debate, where the questioners allowed the candidates to address substantive issues, and this is her forte. Imagine if, instead of substantive questions, she had been asked only embarrassing questions, such as:
- You’ve been married twice, but never had any children. Why?
- Your claim to fame is being the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, but you were fired after six years, with the company losing 50% of its value. Including your golden parachute, how much were you paid by H-P to lose 50% of its value and how does that compare to the pay of an average employee during that time?
- Your only political race was a landslide loss to Senator Boxer in California. What was your thinking in that such an electoral failure should lead to running for president?
I suggest that Carly Fiorina would not have vaulted to the top tier if those were her questions.