Why you should care
Probably because of the showmanship and not the substance.
Say what you want about the Republican presidential slate, but my, oh, my can the candidates throw a debate! In the hands of Trump, Carson, Cruz et al. what began like a bad job interview quickly (d)evolved into a titillating shouting match. The candidates fought with one another, of course, but also with their moderators and even a big group that was well outside the University of Colorado auditorium: the Dems. The Republicans definitely win for drama. There were sarcastic looks, periods of extended overtalk, even a scolding — and also offers of tequila, pot brownies and warm kisses. Ted Cruz for Designated Driver!
And of policy … well, there was more accord than discord on entitlements, jobs and growth. And there were plenty of calls to simplify the tax code — Carly Fiorina proposed slimming it down to an improbable three pages — and there was some talk about flat taxes too. Most experts agree on two things: First, a so-called neutral tax policy would likely be fairer than the one we have now, with all its complications and loopholes and lack of transparency. Second, it would require “the slaughter of a thousand sacred cows,” as Steve Butler wrote in OZY earlier this year in a piece arguing that we should just dump the income tax. One of those sacred cows, the mortgage-interest deduction, is massive, and dumping it, as Ben Carson seems to call for, is hard to imagine. Read more here.
On the morning of the debate, an editorial in the Florida Sun Sentinel lambasted Sen. Marco Rubio for missing a whole lotta votes in the Senate and argued he should resign. Bad timing for the boyish candidate, and when fellow Floridian, former Gov. Jeb Bush, took him to task for his absenteeism, we couldn’t help thinking of a dad scolding his son. Was the argument good for either of them? Earlier this year, Emily Cadei looked at the home-field ratings of various presidential contenders, and while she found Rubio in good form back in Florida, it seemed that some candidates — like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — might not be able to go home again. Read the story here.
The debate began with the saddest softball question we’ve ever heard, and oh, how we hate it: What’re your greatest weaknesses? It takes a Rumpelstiltskin to turn that sh*t into gold, and Carly Fiorina proved to be up for it. “Well, gee, after the last debate I was told that I didn’t smile enough … ” she said, slamming the Donald for his unchivalrous remarks along the way. But here’s a question: Is the phenomenon known as RBF a genetic thing? Robin Ngai, writing in OZY in September, found that it may well be. Read the story here.