Discover more from Jeff Noble - "Notes from the Trail"
On the Republican debates and Carlson's Trump interview
From this point forward, things will probably be more shrill. Expect voices on the right and left of the political spectrum to lob invectives and attempted slam dunks on each other.
It will be another bruising political free-for all.
On the Right
On the right, you have a cascade of Republican hopefuls. I’ll make brief comments about each. Enter Stage Right:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
I loved the way DeSantis handled the COVID scam in Florida. His decisions have been proved right over time. However, it’s not like he was a genius. He simply stuck to Science Pre-2020 to guide him. I have appreciate his bold stand on many social issues. I think his campaign, however, has stumbled (beginning with a botched rollout on Twitter), and I’m not sure he’s equipped to stand against the national tidal wive of vulgarism that emanates from the Left. However, as a governor he has most definitely demonstrated leadership. His weakest debate moment? When asked if he’d support the Republican nominee even if it was Trump, he was late with the handraise, even looking around him to see what other candidates were doing before he signaled chagrined support. That was a bad look, and it does not bode well for how he’d lead on a national stage.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum
I’ll confess to knowing nothing about Burgum other than his debate performance.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
His only reason for running is because he hates Trump. He spews and sputters about him. He left office in 2018 as the least favorite governor in NJ history. “After several scandals, including the criminal convictions of two of his top aides, and a failed 2016 presidential bid, Christie has just a 14% approval rating and is widely disliked in his own state and party.”
Former U.N. Ambassador/Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
She served in Trump’s administration. She sticks to talking points and zingers, and she offers few ideas.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
As an Arkansas native, I honestly have no respect for Hutchinson. He’s weak, ineffective and couldn't lead his way out of a wet paper bag. I have no idea how or why he thinks he has a viable chance of running.
Former Vice President Mike Penceand has produced endless commentary and speculation. However, when the Senate reconvened, it was plain and clear that the will to contest the election had been broken. Pence had an opportunity to encourage more confidence in the process with a bold and profound decision to review the vote in disputed states for a limited amount of time. He refused to do so. I felt then and still felt like he wilted under the full-court press of the media framing the J6 event as a horrific riot comparable to the BLM summer riots of 2020.
This is perhaps an unpopular take on Pence, but I think the man is a poser. I appreciate his verbal Christian commitments. However, I have not seen him exercise leadership. I still think that January 6, 2021 was a historical moment for our country, remarkable in its demonstration of the inner workings of democracy and diplomacy. Senators had gathered to recognize and receive the Electoral College, with the results from the 2020 election.
Many had observed alarming discrepancies and voting irregularities - from mail-in voting, to claims of machine hacking, to drop-box tampering, to the prevention of Republican observers in many places being present, to the infamous water main break which paused the count in Georgia.
Senators were on the floor debating. Senator Ted Cruz made a passionate and eloquent case for the importance of a trustworthy election. He and others made a strong Constitutional case for then Vice President Pence to send the disputed states electoral votes back to the states for a two-week review. Such a pause and review would have produced more confidence in the process.
However, this recommendation, along with others, was abruptly stopped when the Capitol “incursion” began. The whole event from January 6 is still suspicious
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy
This guy… I am so curious and impressed. And yet, I’m so wary and cautious. The last time an unknown burst on the scene and wowed everyone with his rhetoric and ideas was when Obama descended from the heavens as the secular Messiah.
However, Ramaswamy keeps impressing me by his bold truth-telling and exposure of lying narratives that have been propagated (think propaganda) by the MSM and Establishment.
I’ll keep watching him. I am concerned about his past ties to Big Pharma, and his statements/positions prior to 2020 are almost diametrically opposite on many issues than they are today. When I find myself nodding and thinking, “Yeah! Exactly” to things he says now, I am still on guard, because it almost comes off as him knowing exactly what to say to appeal to conservatives.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
I’ve been impressed with Senator Scott. He has some real ideas. Like Ramaswamy, I’m not sure he’s able or ready to be in the “hot seat.”
Former President Donald Trump
This would take another entire post or 17 to explain how I feel about Trump. Many point to his four indictments as saying he’s unworthy of being a candidate. Others point to his past atrocious behavior and conduct - especially concerning women. However, I simply don’t buy that Trump is guilty of anything more egregious than others on the Left or Right. Even his sexual abuse conviction is fraught with problems, and many have cast doubt on the accusations by E. Jean Carrol.
Trump is bombastic, rude, and he is furious. Trump also accomplished amazing policy victories during his term in office, kept America out of wars, led the nation to an economic prosperity, energy independence and at every turn promoted and cheerled for “America.” From the moment he won the party’s nomination, he became the target and victim of an onslaught of fake news, accusations, lies, misinformation and was hounded by the media and political establishment of both Right and Left.
One might say Trump never was able to focus on governance. And yet he did what he promised to do - appoint conservative SCOTUS judges and federal judges, work to secure our borders, promoted religious liberty, and more.
I believe Trump utterly failed in his response to COVID. You can blame his advisors and his seeming inability to hire good people, but he was the one ultimately that shut down the country and enable the fearmongering of media to paralyze us and the rest of the world over a virus long since proved to not be lethal to the healthy. He also fast-tracked (and bragged about it, like everything else he does) a vaccine that we now know was not as “safe and effective” as promised. It was not a silver bullet. It did not keep people from getting COVID, and it did not stop the spread.
(If you’re an unabashed Trump supporter, I encourage/dare you to follow Justin Hart on Twitter/X. He’s not wrong.)
On the Carlson interview
Trump elected not to participate in the debate. All polls have shown him with a vast, double-digit lead over the closest rival. Instead, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson used his Twitter platform to release a pre-recorded interview with Trump that coincided with the debate.
The decision to upstage and preempt the debate on social media was a profound moment - not just for Trump, but also for the evidence of the waning influence of mainstream media.
The Republican debate “attracted more than 11 million viewers on Fox News, according to ratings data from Nielsen. A Fox spokesperson said the total rose to 12.8 million when broadcasts on Fox Business Network and the company's streaming platforms are included… The first GOP primary debate in 2015 on Fox News drew 24 million viewers”
Compare that to the stunning impact of Carlson’s post of the Trump interview on Twitter. I was on and off Twitter that evening, just watching the numbers climb stunningly. By 9:00 p.m., the tweet itself had already had 247 million views.
By Thursday afternoon, CBS News reported, “Statistics on the post showed it had attracted more than 200 million views, but that figure is not comparable to Nielsen statistics, since it includes any instance in which a user encounters the video, even if they don't play it.”
Mashable claimed Thursday evening that the interview video itself “was actually played only 14.8 million times, for at least two seconds of the more than 46-minute interview…” I love their attempt to downplay the success of the interview - “actually only played 14.8 million times.” It was still more than the debate, and the number has since climbed (for both, I’m sure).
By Saturday, the Carlson interview had been reposted 193,000 times and liked 664,000 times, which in and of itself guarantees more influence for the former news host and president.
As far as the content of the interview… meh. Carlson floated softball questions to Trump, and Trump meandered through his litany of old complaints. There was nothing inspirational or compelling about it. Trump has laid out ambitious plans for a 2024 term,but there was nothing of that in the interview (which seemed a stunning omission). He seemed confident and content to trust the polls, and Carlson simply demonstrated the power of his new platform.
What was/is your take?
What is your take on the debates? On the Carlson-Trump interview? Which candidates are impressing you?
It's Chris Christie's last day in office — here's how he became the least popular governor in New Jersey history, by Eliza Relman (Business Insider: January 16, 2018)
January 6 Committee Destroyed Records, Videos; Trump’s Rights Violated, by Joel Pollack (Breitbart News: August 9, 2023)
Fact Check: Was Donald Trump Found Guilty of Rape? by Tom Norton (Newsweek: May 12, 2023)
See also: Tara Reade: What are the sex attack allegations against Joe Biden? (BBC: May 13, 2020)
Republican debate ratings show 12.8 million watched first GOP showdown of 2023, Fox says, by Kathryn Watson (CBS News: August 24, 2023)
14 promises Donald Trump has made in his campaign for a second term, by Abby Turner (CNN: July 8, 2023)