The first debate for the Republican Party nomination for president of the United States came off last night and pretty much matched the hype, at least so far as the pompous, bombastic, assclown Donald Trump is concerned. Trump lived down to expectations by being insulting, egotistical, and thoroughly lacking in anything resembling the knowledge or temperament to be president. Therefore, I predict that his blockhead Republican supporters will continue to give him high marks.
The hallmark of Trump’s performance was his obvious evasion of the substance in most of the questions in favor of acting like jerk (although he was certainly not acting). And the answers he gave approached and surpassed the brain-dead ignorance of his BFF, and potential running mate, Sarah Palin. The one thing that Trump established during the debate was that he has zero comprehension of the complex issues involved in running the country that he obviously hates with a passion.
The Fox News moderators seemed to go out of their way to appear probing and confrontational. That is to their credit as it makes them look more like legitimate journalists who challenge their subjects. However, no one should mistake that pretense of legitimacy for actual legitimacy. Their performance for a couple of hours during a special event doesn’t erase a career of bias and lies. What it did get them was a fiercely childish rebuke from Trump who later tweeted that “Fox viewers give low marks to bimbo @MegynKelly,” and “@FoxNews trio, especially @megynkelly, was not very good or professional!” (Curious that he focused so intensely on the panel’s only woman). And for good measure, Trump went after Fox’s resident pollster saying that “@FrankLuntz is a low class slob.” Very presidential.
The Washington Post put together an interesting analysis of the time distribution between the candidates. And – surprise – The Donald came out way ahead of his rivals clocking 10:31. Rand Paul trailed the pack with only 5:00. Jeb Bush came in second with 8:47. And everyone else got less than seven minutes. So Trump managed to snag about 30% more airtime. Was that deliberate on the part of Fox News? If so, was it done in order to help Trump by giving him more time for America to get to know him, or hurt him by giving him more time for America to get to know him?
The debate featured mainly the routine blather of politicians giving freshly scrubbed versions of their stump speeches. So to avoid wallowing in the vacant talking points of the affair, I have isolated the only parts that really matter. What follows, for your entertainment pleasure, is every question asked of Donald Trump and his spittle-inflected answers (along with my commentary which will be brief because Trump’s assholiness really doesn’t need much embellishment). [If you are a masochist, here is the complete debate transcript]
Baier: Is there anyone on stage who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?
Trump: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.
Classic Palinesque word salad. After rambling incoherently, Trump agrees not to run as a thrid party candidate if he is the GOP nominee.
Kelly: You’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Trump: Only Rosie O’Donnell.
Oh, so that makes it OK?
Kelly: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell. Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?
Trump: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody. And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that. But you know what, we — we need strength, we need energy, we need quickness and we need brain in this country to turn it around. That, I can tell you right now.
So misogyny is still in vogue among Republicans. And Trump’s excuse that he doesn’t have time for political correctness is just his way of justifying hate speech. His time is so constrained that he’s forced to be vulgar. Imagine the consequences if that behavior came from the White House directed at members of congress or foreign leaders. Also notable was the laughter and support from the audience who apparently think it’s OK to call women pigs, etc.
Wallace: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border. Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.” You have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share. Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?
Trump: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it. This was not a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement. And I said, Mexico is sending. Except the reporters, because they’re a very dishonest lot, generally speaking, in the world of politics, they didn’t cover my statement the way I said it. The fact is, since then, many killings,murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in. And I said we need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly. And I don’t mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally. But we need, Jeb, to build a wall, we need to keep illegals out.
What utter bullspit. People have been talking about immigration for decades. And it has been a major political issue throughout the Obama administration without Trump’s help. Trump’s only contribution to the discourse was to smear immigrants as criminals and rapists and spread disinformation.
Wallace: Mr. Trump, I’ll give you 30 seconds — I’ll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.
Trump: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid. And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them. Why should they when the stupid leaders of the United States will do it for them? And that’s what is happening whether you like it or not.
Note that Trump still never answered the question regarding his alleged evidence of Mexico sending criminals to the U.S., whether you like it or not.
Baier: Mr. Trump, ObamaCare is one of the things you call a disaster.
Trump: A complete disaster, yes.
Baier: Saying it needs to be repealed and replaced. Now, 15 years ago, you called yourself a liberal on health care. You were for a single-payer system, a Canadian-style system. Why were you for that then and why aren’t you for it now?
Trump: As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age, which is the age you’re talking about here. What I’d like to see is a private system without the artificial lines around every state. I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees. And if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have like one bidder. Nobody can bid. You know why? Because the insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians, of course, with the exception of the politicians on this stage. But they have total control of the politicians. They’re making a fortune. Get rid of the artificial lines and you will have yourself great plans. And then we have to take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves. And I will do that through a different system.
Once again, Trump completely evades the question as to how his position on single-payer changed, or even if it did. He just rambled on with false complaints about providing insurance for his employees. Permitting the sale of insurance policies across state lines is not a health care plan. And his promise to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves is as a hollow imaginary as those of the rest of the GOP who have been making the same promise for six years without ever coming up with a plan.
Baier: Mr. Trump, it’s not just your past support for single- payer health care. You’ve also supported a host of other liberal policies. Use — you’ve also donated to several Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton included, Nancy Pelosi. You explained away those donations saying you did that to get business-related favors. And you said recently, quote, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”
Trump: You’d better believe it.
Baier: So what specifically did they do?
Trump: If I ask them, if I need them, you know, most of the people on this stage I’ve given to, just so you understand, a lot of money.
I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.
Baier: What did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?
Trump: Well, I’ll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good. I didn’t know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. It was.
Well, that explains it. Trump gave Hillary Clinton millions of dollars to get her to attend his wedding. That seems like a bad deal. Seems like he could have gotten her to go for a lot less. Was he that desperate for guests that he had to give them extravagant bribes? The fact that he really thinks she went because of his donations is proof of his idiocy. And the fact that he thinks everyone else will believe that his donations were intended only to get wedding guests is even more idiotic.
Wallace: Mr. Trump, you talk a lot about how you are the person on this stage to grow the economy, I want to ask you about your business records. From corporations, Trump corporations, casinos and hotels, have declared bankruptcy four times over the last quarter-century. In 2011, you told Forbes Magazine this: “I’ve used the laws of the country to my advantage.” But at the same time, financial experts involved in those bankruptcies say that lenders to your companies lost billions of dollars. Question sir, with that record, why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?
Trump: Because I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetera. I have never gone bankrupt, by the way. I have never.
Excuse me, what am I saying? Out of hundreds of deals that I’ve done, hundreds, on four occasions I’ve taken advantage of the laws of this country, like other people. I’m not going to name their names because I’m not going to embarrass, but virtually every person that you read about on the front page of the business sections, they’ve used the law. The difference is, when somebody else uses those laws, nobody writes about it. When I use it, they say, “Trump, Trump, Trump.” The fact is, I built a net worth of more than $10 billion. I have a great, great company. I employ thousands of people. And I’m very proud of the job I did. Again Chris, hundreds and hundreds of deals. Four times, I’ve taken advantage of the laws. And frankly, so has everybody else in my position.
Wallace: Well sir, let’s just talk about the latest example which is Trump Entertainment Resorts, which went bankrupt in 2009. In that case alone, lenders to your company lost over $1 billion and more than 1,100 people were laid off. Is that the way that you’d run the country?
Trump: Let me just tell you about the lenders. First of all, these lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers. These are not the nice, sweet little people that you think, OK? You know, I mean you’re living in a world of the make-believe, Chris, you want to know the truth. And I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City, which by the way, Caesars just went bankrupt. Every company, Chris can tell you, every company virtually in Atlantic City went bankrupt. Every company. And let me just tell you. I had the good sense, and I’ve gotten a lot of credit in the financial pages, seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it. I want to tell you that. Very, very proud of it. And by the way, this country right now owes $19 trillion. And they need somebody like me to straighten out that mess.
And what was his response to the people he screwed out of a billion dollars? He never actually said, except to insult them as “killers.” And he is ignoring the hundreds of vendors and small businesses whose products and services he used but refused to pay for. Using bankruptcy laws is also not responsive to the question. It doesn’t explain how he would handle the nation’s deficit, unless he intends to put the country into bankruptcy and screw all Americans. To be fair, that has actually been the policy of the GOP for the past hundred or so years.
Kelly: Mr. Trump, in 1999, you said you were, quote, “very pro- choice.” Even supporting partial-birth abortion. You favored an assault weapons ban as well. In 2004, you said in most cases you identified as a Democrat. Even in this campaign, your critics say you often sound more like a Democrat than a Republican, calling several of your opponents on the stage things like clowns and puppets. When did you actually become a Republican?
Trump: I don’t think they like me very much. I’ll tell you what. I’ve evolved on many issues over the years. And you know who else has? Is Ronald Reagan evolved on many issues. And I am pro-life. And if you look at the question, I was in business. They asked me a question as to pro-life or choice. And I said if you let it run, that I hate the concept of abortion. I hate the concept of abortion. And then since then, I’ve very much evolved. And what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances. And I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.
As far as being a Republican is concerned, I come from a place, New York City, which is virtually, I mean, it is almost exclusively Democrat. And I have really started to see some of the negatives — as an example, and I have a lot of liking for this man, but the last number of months of his brother’s administration were a catastrophe. And unfortunately, those few months gave us President Obama. And you can’t be happy about that.
As usual, Trump failed to address the question. He never said when he became a Republican or when his views changed. He limited his response to abortion, but that leaves out the question’s full context that asked about his identifying as a Democrat on a variety of issues. He seemed to imply that he was a Democrat only because there were so many others in New York. So he will just adopt the party of those around him? For the record, Democrats don’t want him.
Baier: General Qassem Soleimani, he’s blamed for hundreds of U.S. troops death in Iraq, and Afghanistan. His trip to Russia appears to directly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions to confine him to Iran. So, Mr. Trump, if you were president, how would you respond to this?
Trump: I would be so different from what you have right now. Like, the polar opposite. We have a president who doesn’t have a clue. I would say he’s incompetent, but I don’t want to do that because that’s not nice. But if you look at the deals we make, whether it’s the nuclear deal with 24-hour periods—and by the way, before you get to the 24 hours, you have to go through a system. You look at Sgt. Bergdahl, we get Bergdahl, a traitor, and they get five of the big, great killers leaders that they want. We have people in Washington that don’t know what they’re doing. Now, with Iran, we’re making a deal, you would say, we want him. We want out our prisoners. We want all these things, and we don’t get anything. We’re giving them $150 billion dollars plus, they are going to be—I’ll tell you what, if Iran was a stock, you folks should go out and buy it right now because you’ll quadruple—this, what’s happening in Iran, is a disgrace, and it’s going to lead to destruction in large portions of the world.
Other than making a crude, ad hominem insult aimed at the President, Trump totally ignored the question asking what he would do about General Soleimani. He just rattled off his standard talking points that were wholly unrelated to the question. Clearly he doesn’t have a clue. I would say he’s incompetent, but I don’t want to do that because …. Oh hell, he’s incompetent.
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Closing Statement: Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t win anymore. We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan, with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country, in trade. We can’t beat Mexico, at the border or in trade. We can’t do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened. Our vets have to be taken care of. We have to end Obamacare, and we have to make our country great again, and I will do that.
That was close. He nearly didn’t work his trademarked slogan into the debate. However, he did express his oft-repeated view that America is a hell hole. No wonder the so-called patriots on the right love him so much. They share a deep and abiding disgust for the country.