As Trump's speech on Monday to AIPAC showed, the debates added nothing to the discussion of public policy. Let me explain.
Republicans endured 12 of these fecal fests, and yet many (if not most) people were surprised Monday to learn that Trump is the most ardent supporter of Israel among the five remaining presidential candidates in both parties. He topped Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish by birth and actually lived in a commune in Israel in the 1960s.
Had the debates worked, his views on Israel would have been widely known. Did you know he used his private jet to fly Rudy Giuliani to Israel so the mayor could attend a post-9/11 anti-terrorism event? Until last night, I did not.
The He-Man Trump Haters Club at the National Review was among those surprised that Trump is a staunch defender of Israel:
But the walkout never materialized, at least not on the scale its organizers had hoped. Reporters could see a few empty seats here and there as Trump began his speech, but nothing remotely resembling a mass exodus. For the first time this cycle, Trump delivered a scripted speech with at least some foreign-policy specifics. Some of his off-script deviations got him into trouble: He said a peace deal was “something that we impose on Israel and Palestine,” a statement that both questioned Israel’s sovereignty and elevated the Palestinian territories to nation status. But most of his improvisations elicited laughter from the audience. He received raucous applause and several standing ovations from a crowd that had cheered Clinton less than eight hours before. He even outshone Ted Cruz, his chief rival for the Republican nomination, whose own speech received a rather tepid response. It was, in short, a pretty good night at AIPAC for Donald Trump.A good night for Trump and a lousy night for the debates because if John Harwood and company did their job, the views on Israel by Trump would have been widely disseminated. Instead Harwood asked The Donald if he was running a comic book presidential campaign.
Who is the punchline now, CNBC?
But hey, Harwood looks like a suave sophisticated man, so he must be intelligent, right?
I find it hilarious that the editors and writers at a self-important magazine that staunchly stands against Trump knew nothing about Trump's stance on Israel. Heck, people at AIPAC did not know. You had activists prepared to walk out in protest, but they stayed and applauded because he finally had a national stage to explain his position. If the subject of Israel came up in 30 hours of televised "debates," no one seemed to remember. But by golly, we do know his position on Rosie O'Donnell (he is against) thanks to that trailblazing by Megyn Kelly.
People brush Trump off as only a celebrity. And yet all we get nowadays is celebrity journalism. Even as The Donald laid out his policy on Israel (I posted the full text last night), news reports centered on his use of a teleprompter for the first time. Somehow the press decided this was "presidential."
The debates were useless. They were RNC kickbacks to networks. Drawing 12 million to 24 million viewers each, these affairs gifted the networks with a viewership that the networks pay billions to the NFL to show. Until the party and the networks are serious about them, forget presidential primary debates.