It was a night to remember in Iowa, probably one of the very few that have ever existed in this state of toothless Staind fans. With a Trump-sized hole in the stage, it was up to the remaining candidates to jump through it.
Let’s see how they did:
|Confidence||Charisma||Not Flinching||Aggression||Fight Or Flight?||Substance||FINAL GRADE|
Finally, we got to see the cool, self-assured, and aggressive Jeb Bush who’s been absent from previous debates. No doubt Jeb was finally able to relax due to the absence of his main rival Donald Trump, who has spent his fair share of time bullying the former Governor in the past. Jeb, feeling secure in the knowledge that he wouldn’t have to defend his wife or get punched, came out swinging, cautiously yet confidently whispering a zinger about the Donald’s absence (“heh, it sure seems quieter in here”). No doubt Jeb had plenty of preparation for that one. When Jeb looked left and right to make absolutely certain Trump wasn’t hiding in the wings to hear him, it was an old maneuver this veteran reporter recognized from the Bush clan’s family gatherings in Kennebunkport, whenever Neil or George W. wanted to tell an off-color ethnic joke outside of the help’s earshot.
|False Confidence||Cowardice||Desperation||Father Issues||Treason||Height||FINAL GRADE|
Senator Oedipus started the night pathetically begging his father Ron Paul to endorse him. Watching this craven exchange with Ted Cruz (by contrast, the superior son), it finally clicked for me: Rand Paul’s quixotic Presidential campaign is entirely motivated by his deep-seated father issues. Like the diminutive, forgotten middle son who acts out to get his parents’ attention, Rand’s treasonous attacks on the NSA were nothing more than a desperate cry of “pay attention to me, daddy!” Don’t bring your baggage on stage, Rand. You will never earn my father’s love.
|Heh. Nice Ad Hominem||Nice Scottish Sailor Fallacy||Oh. Classic Governor’s Daughter Fallacy||Ah, I See You’ve Conceded My Point With An Ipso Condo||Our Old Friend, No Such Snowman. Such A Classic Fallacy||My Word, You’re Resorting To Appeal To Motherhood?||FINAL GRADE|
With rival Donald Trump gone, Cruz got down to business. Unfortunately for us, that meant calling out every logical fallacy that has ever existed. The famously-unlikable puppet-voiced Senator began the night with a joke, then immediately criticized Donald Trump’s ad hominems. He went on to criticize the moderators for Ipso Proctor Ergo Propter Hoc. As the Texan rattled off terms he learned from Wikipedia, the nation groaned. This was Cruz’s big shot to prove that he is a human being who deserves dignity. Instead, voters saw a blithering snake oil salesman whose neck looks like undercooked dough overflowing on a Bulgarian pizza.
|Bless You, God Bless You Ma’am||Get You On The Way Out When You Get Change?||Well, You Can Get Me That With Your Card||I’ve Sober Now For 3 Whole Months||There’s No Law Against Me Standing Here||That Guy Never Liked Me, He Never Gave Me A Fair Shake||FINAL GRADE|
Kasich was at home in Iowa. In a state populated by people who call in sick to work because their benzo and opiate withdrawals are too bad, a land where people get DUIs and talk about how success is exactly like failure, the governor was at home. Kasich’s outbursts and meandering diatribes hit home. Reliable antagonist Chris Christie was too afraid to attack him, knowing that the corn fed cretins of Iowa wouldn’t respond well to a large man screaming at a plucky transient. Quizzically, Kasich spent one of his outbursts advocating for the nation of Turkey. This was unexpected, but Kasich once told me that a man who rides the rails must be unpredictable. Congratulations to the winner of the debate and the proud owner of a hot shower and square meal, Governor John Kasich.
|Swedish Politics Acumen||I Too Worship Your “God”||Immigration Consistency||Ethnic Consistency||One-Drop Rule||Substance||FINAL GRADE|
Rubio was the main victim of the freewheeling, Trumpless Jeb Bush. Bush accused his fellow Floridian of flip-flopping on immigration, an unexpected attack that knocked Rubio off his game. Instead of going after Bush’s foreign-born wife — a tactic that’s been effective at parrying Jeb’s attacks — Rubio went into panic mode, desperately proclaiming that he’s so anti-immigration that he’s not even Hispanic. Rubio boldly promised to release his 23andMe DNA report, which he claimed would prove that he’s of Caucasian Basque ancestry. After his notable flip-flops on religion (from Catholic to Mormon to Complex Marriage Adamism to Catholic again), I imagine Marco’s flip-flop on his racial heritage will be a big headache for his campaign in the long run.
|THAT’S YOUR OPINION, OK||WELL I WAS THERE ON 9/11||WERE YOU THERE||I TASTED DA DUST||DONOVAN MCNABB, OVERRATED, ALWAYS BEEN SAYING DAT||I SAW DA TOWERS FALL||FINAL GRADE|
As the the wheels of time turn and the nation remembers less and less about 9/11, Chris Christie’s star fades. That’s rough for the boisterous chief executive of the Garden State, whose very campaign hinges on his large, sausage-like fingers furiously mashing his phone to call his wife immediately after immediately after 9/11. “I tought I was gonn be a single parent” mumbled the governor, who banked on the fact that voters may see him unfit to raise a child. Christie had to fall back on his marble-mouthed pronouncements about prosecuting people who retweeted al-Qaeda accounts and his strong condemnations of “lazy quarterbacks,” but it just wasn’t enough.
|Blessed Are Ephesians||Woe Onto The Wife Of Man Who Misuses The Sow||Christ The King Returned And Brought Glory Upon The Cattle||Accursed Are Glasoblytes||Praise Elohim For This Gift Of Foreskin||Rejoice In The Lord’s Loins Forever And Ever!||FINAL GRADE|
Ben Carson’s rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story continues to awe voters. After cratering an unexpected lead, Carson was beset on all sides by doubters, doubters in his honesty, competence, awareness of his surrounding, and eyesight. Dr. Hands refused to give up, however. In the past 2 weeks, Carson has said yes, I am confused. Yes, I am blind. No, I don’t know where I am. Tonight, he wowed voters again with his mumbling happiness at being mentioned. Later, when a YouTube star asked a question about immigration, the unseeing physician made jaws dropped as he took the opportunity to talk about how he’d like to declare war on ISIS, while conceding that they are a legitimate caliphate. Carson is a true Gemini, both confused and wise, incoherent and concise, happy but murderous. He gave people a show tonight.
|Harassment of Respected Reporters||Triggering||PTSD Caused To Me Personally||My Hospital Bills||Respect For Others||Manners||FINAL GRADE|
You can’t win if you don’t play, Donald. Your pettiness robbed the audience of the “yuge” viral LOLs we’ve come to expect from these debates. I have to say, maybe it was a blessing in disguise. It would be a loss equivalent to the Library of Alexandria if Fox News angel Megyn Kelly was ripped apart by a crowd amped up by Trump, just as he did to me. Get stuffed, Donald.
Carl “The Dig” Diggler has covered national politics for 30 years, and is the author of “Think-ocracy: The Rise Of The Brainy Congressman”. Got a question for the Dig? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet to @carl_diggler.