Another debate readout...
The ‘Everything is Bad’ partyThe debate made it official: For the GOP, Morning in America is now Darkness at Noon.
By Michael Grunwald, Politico.com
America’s potential, said Carly Fiorina, is being “crushed.” America’s military, said Marco Rubio, is being “eviscerated.” Working people, said Mike Huckabee, are “taking a gut punch.” The idea of America, said Bobby Jindal, is “slipping away.”
Donald Trump, as usual, went even further: “We don’t have a country.”
Last night’s Republican debate in the Reagan Library was not about Morning in America. It was more like Darkness at Noon. Jeb Bush did call for the party to embrace a Reaganesque sense of optimism, which he contrasted with “the Donald Trump approach of ‘Everything is bad, everything is coming to an end.” But with occasional exceptions, usually involving the softer-edged John Kasich, the Trump approach dominated. For five hours, the candidates stood in front of Reagan’s plane and described America as a declining nation in a dystopic world, as they pledged, to borrow a phrase, to Make America Great Again.
The big question of 2016 could well be whether Americans agree with the Republican portrait of Obama-era malaise. It was taken for granted last night that the national debt is out of control, the economy is deteriorating, the government is corrupt, and the world, as Lindsey Graham put it, is “on fire.” Rubio complained that “our left-wing government is undermining all the institutions that support the family.” Ted Cruz declared that the Iran nuclear deal would turn the Obama administration into the world’s largest financier of Islamic terror. Chris Christie said the middle class “is getting plowed over by Barack Obama.” The one thing the Republicans didn’t seem too concerned about was climate change, which they agreed was not a problem worthy of solutions that might increase utility bills at a time when average Americans, as Rick Santorum put it, “are losing ground.”
Obama provided an alternative view yesterday before the debate, making the case before the Business Roundtable that “America’s great right now.” He later tweeted some supporting evidence that wasn’t mentioned last night on CNN: U.S. businesses have added 13 million jobs over 66 straight months of employment growth, with the jobless rate dropping from 10% to 5%. The budget deficit has fallen from nearly 10% of GDP to less than 3% under Obama, while the uninsured rate has fallen from 15.4% to 9.2% under Obamacare. The U.S. auto industry, on the brink of extinction before Obama’s bailout, is on pace for its best year since 2001.