Mark Steyn also notices how Fox Business News and the Wall Street Journal were in no hurry to compare or contrast Marco Rubio with Donald Trump on the issue of immigration enforcement, borders, deportation and Rubio’s gang-of-eight affiliations.
Well, I thought the most interesting moment came when Donald Trump brought up Eisenhower:
Let me just tell you that Dwight Eisenhower—a good president, great president, people liked him. ‘I Like Ike’, right? The expression ‘I Like Ike’? – moved a million and a half illegal immigrants out of this country, moved them just beyond the border: They came back. Moved them again, beyond the border: They came back. Then moved them way south. They never came back.
To the establishments of both parties and the media, Trump is beyond the pale. Yet he keeps, confidently, moving beyonder. And, as he does so, he’s moving the pale. NBC News.
At this point in the evening, the candidates were arguing not whether it was disgraceful but whether it was do-able. Trump’s response is that not only is it do-able but it’s already been done – by a two-term Republican president. Eisenhower, by the way, was the last non-politician to be drafted as presidential nominee (and “I Like Ike” came from Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam). His sudden reappearance in the GOP pantheon is a fine example of the difference Trump’s made to this primary season: without his presence in the race, no-one would be talking about the practicalities of mass deportation of illegal aliens.
Whether that’s a good thing is a matter of opinion. But, considering that the erasing of America’s borders is the signature issue that propelled Trump to the top of the polls and has kept him there for six months, there’s been a curious reluctance on the part of all four debate-hosting networks to get into the subject.
Wouldn’t it be appropriate, in the present atmosphere, to question Marco Rubio on the Gang of Eight business and get a bit of a ding-dong going between him and Trump? Apparently not.
So two minutes of Wetback Revisited is apparently the closest we’ll get. It arose in the context of John Kasich and Jeb Bush’s objections to Trump’s views on the armies of the undocumented. Kasich actually said, “Think about the families. Think about the children.” Then he scoffed, “Come on, folks. We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It is not an adult argument.”
Bush, on the other hand, thought that even talking about this stuff was a mistake that would work only to Hillary’s benefit: “They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this.”
How pitiful a candidate is Jeb? This pitiful: He’s not even competitive in the bleeding-heart compassionate establishment squish sub-section of the primary. Kasich offered sentimentalist pabulum – “Think about the children” – and elite condescension: Trump’s position isn’t “adult”. But Jeb basically previewed his general-election fetal position: We can’t talk about this because we have to play this game on the Democrats’ terms.
So I’m less persuaded than other pundits that Jeb has staunched the bleeding. He’s at four per cent in the most recent Fox and Quinnipiac polls, so there’s a limit to how much more he can bleed anyway. But did he reverse his fortunes? No.
He and Ben Carson both began the debate with something to prove – Bush that he isn’t just a legacy pick who’s not up to it, Carson that he wasn’t damaged by the sudden forensic attention to his autobiography. I confess I don’t quite get the good doctor’s appeal, but a mild-mannered man insisting that he attacked his mother with his hammer is certainly a novel kind of candidacy and there seems to be a market for it. He shored up his support far better than Jeb did his. (read more)