During last week’s CNBC Republican debate, the candidates had to deal with a monster far more imposing than Donald Trump’s ego: the media, which sent forth its financial goons in the form of moderators to carry the day. The result, however, was far from what must have been intended by leftist design, as candidates pushed back against the biased questions in brilliant fashion.
With all of its left-leaning hacks, incompetent journalists, and flippant personas, the biased scourge that is the media managed to unite the candidates in a way that no other issue could. The debate’s moderators, Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and slanderous liar John Harwood, embodied this slant, treating candidates with disdain while asking questions that could have appeared in a debate between candidates for student-body president. Ted Cruz was brilliant for recognizing his special, Newt Gingrich-esque opportunity to push back.
More disappointing than the moderators’ childish behavior was the debate’s lack of substance, excluding a handful of salient moments from a few participants. CNBC’s expertise is supposed to be markets and money, and although the expectation going in was that we would learn more about the candidates’ economic policies, the result was nothing of the sort. To have expected policy amidst silly chaos was a fruitless endeavor.
Unfortunately, that’s just the thing that many miss about the travails of the Republican Party, even if it wasn’t the candidates’ fault that they were unable to discuss serious issues. Conservatives struggle culturally precisely because they rarely take advantage of public platforms as well as the Left; toiling for humor, allowing their movement to be characterized by uninformed bimbos like Kim Davis and Si Robertson, conservatives are often trapped because they fail to be smart in the public arena.
Accordingly, Republicans who are rhetorically savvy–those who sidestep lazy stereotypes while being logical, factual, and articulate–are candidates to prize. Not only do they tend to win people over to conservative viewpoints, but they also, as did William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald Reagan, change the course of the political movements in which they operate.
People often, even sometimes for legitimate reasons, discount the importance of a candidate’s speaking abilities during a campaign. They associate eloquence with deception, and are unimpressed when a candidate rallies new supporters because of his or her ability to be articulate and rhetorically effective. This wrongly assumes that for a candidate to be eloquent, he or she must be like some televangelists who, with a curt smile, have gullible grannies flipping out their pocketbooks.
Eloquence is not the same as smarminess, and it entails much more than using cushy words while smiling at a camera . Eloquence involves enumerating policy proposals with intelligent language, a sense of fire, and a humorous line to deploy when needed.
The CNBC debate could have been, were it not for the moderators, an opportunity for the candidates to be truly eloquent. Instead, it became a whipping post for the media and a PR triumph for both the RNC and the Republican candidates. The audience needed to be exposed to conservative eloquence because Americans needed to hear more about Ted Cruz’s tax policy, Chris Christie’s proposals for means-testing Social Security, and Marco Rubio’s plans to strategize future American involvement in Iraq and Syria. Americans can–and should–expect better from Republican debates.