TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Jessica Mackler, President, American Bridge 21st Century
RE: Donald Trump Holds All The Cards At Tonight’s GOP Debate
DATE: December 15, 2015
Tonight’s audition for Sheldon Adelson’s millions CNN debate at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas will give Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and the rest of the GOP field two or so hours to argue over who among them is the biggest hawk and the least sympathetic toward refugees and immigrants. No easy task when you have a stage full of warmongering foreign policy novices looking to satisfy the GOP base’s cravings for xenophobic, fascist-tinged red meat.
Here’s what we’re looking at heading into the debate:
- It’s been a week since Donald Trump called for banning all Muslims from entering the U.S., but every candidate on stage insists they’ll still support the fascist demagogue should he receive his party’s nomination. The field’s most conservative candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, have been the most supportive, only daring to issue meek statements of disagreement while doubling and tripling down on their intentions to back a Trump candidacy.
- Yes, the debate’s national security focus gives the candidates an opportunity to flaunt their neoconservative foreign policy intentions, but it also means trouble: When it comes to foreign policy, no one on stage has any idea what they’re talking about. The candidates’ rhetoric and proposals betray an unpreparedness to serve as Commander in Chief — and their unrepentant Islamaphobia plays right into ISIS’ hands.
Ben Carson’s foreign policy ignorance is no secret. Ted Cruz, who Marco Rubio considers an “isolationist,” says he’ll “carpet-bomb [ISIS] into oblivion,” apparently ignorant of — or indifferent to — the fact that such “mass bombing would kill hundreds of innocent civilians and fuel radicalization”and could be considered a war crime. Marco Rubio might sit on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees, but his vague policies by necessity leave most to the imagination. He has no choice but to paint in broad strokes — it’s hard to be specific when you don’t show up for work and prioritize fundraisers over classified briefings. And then there’s Jeb Bush, who, like constitutional “expert” Ted Cruz, would institute religious tests on refugeesto screen out non-Christians.
- Marco Rubio, meanwhile, is going around comparing being a Nazi to being a Muslim and challenging the importance of terror watch lists, using way-off numbers to make his case. Rubio called the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris a “positive development” because he felt if would give the GOP a political advantage. A week later he was echoing Trump’s plan to shut down mosques and suggested taking it further by doing the same to certain cafes and diners. But even after all that, Rubio still voted against preventing persons on terrorist watch lists from buying guns. So much for Rubio being the diplomacy-savvy, tough-on-security candidate.
- With GOP megadonor and Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson watching, Marco Rubio very literally can’t afford to make a mistake as he continues to woo the big-money billionaire. But with Cruz, Rubio, and Trump each raring to attack each other, aggressive confrontations and take-downs are as inevitable as the impending foreign policy slip-ups.
- Ultimately, tonight’s only certainty is that Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and proposals will go unchallenged, because he’s running the show — and the Republican Party. To challenge Trump and revoke support for his candidacy is to enable him to mount a very viable third-party run and risk losing the sixty-eight percent of his supporters who say they’ll buck the establishment to vote for Trump.
Yes, the GOP field isn’t exactly fluent in issues of foreign policy and national security, but they’d rather risk a slip-up than get into the details of their economic proposals that hurt middle class Americans. Cruz, Rubio, and the rest aren’t looking to talk about their tax plans that give the top 1% of income-earners a disproportionate boost in after-tax income. And they don’t want to talk about their proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits by raising the retirement age and imposing means-testing. Having said all that: don’t rule out some flagrant anti-choice and anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric — and it’s a safe bet to assume we’ll get a healthy dose of climate change denial after the historic Paris accord last weekend.
Unfortunately for these nine GOP mistakes-waiting-to-happen, what happens in Vegas tonight won’t stay there. The insidious proposals and hateful rhetoric they’ll be hocking will be broadcast to millions of Americans across the country, further dooming any dwindling chance the Republican Party has at winning the presidency in 2016.
Published: Dec 15, 2015