Haley and DeSantis – a So’s ya mutha! debate by Marjorie Arons Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons Barron’s own blog.

Former Ambassador Nikki Haley and Governor Ron DeSantis were like two playground kids pretending to be scorpions in a bottle in Wednesday night’s debate, jabbing at each other, oblivious to the big foot about to crush them both.

You lie. Nah, you lie. Back and forth they went, with slanted opposition research about each other’s policies, which failed to survive minimal fact-checking. He was a stridently unlikable Trump wannabe; she was a mush-mouthed chameleon. Haley outshone DeSantis discussing, without details, foreign policy and other issues of concern to a general election audience. DeSantis nasally bleated talking points designed to appeal to a GOP primary electorate. It was hard to picture either one as the Leader of the Free World.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump attracted nearly twice the number of viewers for his simultaneous forum on Fox News. That program was aptly described by Mediaite as “Fox News didn’t just lay out the red carpet for the 45th President on Wednesday night. They moderated the event on bended knee.” Enough said.

Two hours earlier, Chris Christie withdrew from the race saying, “I would rather lose by telling the truth than lie in order to win.” The only GOP candidate ( other than Asa Hutchinson) who had repeatedly denounced Trump’s lack of character, Christie gave what may have been the best speech of his life, perhaps a low bar. He acknowledged that there was no path to victory for him and said he never wanted his presence to be the reason for Trump’s success. Withholding any endorsement of Haley at this time, he was caught on an open mic dissing her, which may actually help her in Iowa.

In the end, this scramble to be runner-up probably won’t matter. Unless Haley somehow defeats DeSantis in Iowa and runs ahead of Trump in New Hampshire, we will likely see a Trump-Biden rerun. This, though polls consistently show a majority of voters dissatisfied with both Trump and Biden.

Both are too old, but Biden, more mentally acute than Trump, looks frail. And, notwithstanding voters knowing Trump better today than in 2016, notwithstanding Trump’s 91 indictments, and despite Biden’s impressive record of accomplishment, a majority view the current President at least as unfavorably as the former President.

The Economist soberly compares their records of accomplishment on a range of important issues, and Biden does as well as or better than Trump on all but two: immigration and inflation. But those are two of the issues most likely to dominate the election.

The recent, grim issue of The Atlantic Magazine covers what a second Trump administration would look like, based on his past performance and what he has openly declared he intends to do. Warning: you shouldn’t read it in one sitting. Time has run out for a younger credible Democrat capable of mounting a viable campaign and persuading Biden not to run. We are in deep trouble, and only hard work, much luck and more hard work can help us out of it.

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