George Graham

This Was a Debate?



I watched both Republican primary debates and I wonder whether I speak English. I always thought a debate involved a conflict of ideas. You know, one side says the moon is made of green cheese; the other says it’s made of cheddar. And they trot out a bunch of facts and supposedly logical assumptions to persuade listeners they’re right.

If that kind of exchange occurred at either of the two debates on Fox News, I guess I wasn’t listening when it did.

Especially at the 9 p.m. debate, what I watched was a kind of revue – like the Rockettes or some Las Vegas girlie show (lower photo). I expected Joel Grey to be slithering out on stage at any minute singing “Come to the Cabaret.” Or perhaps Donald Trump doing a Joel Grey impersonation.

I heard nothing new in either debate.

And, after two hours watching alone in my room (Sandra was fast asleep within minutes), I was left with a nagging suspicion that the main event (top photo) was scripted. “Hard hitting” press person Megyn Kelly pulled no punches and the “debaters” all had plausible answers for her “hard hitting” questions without seeming to pause for breath.

Even Trump.

Kelly let him have it with both barrels:

You’ve called women you don’t like, ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ slobs, and disgusting animals.


You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?

And someone introduced as Brett Baier opened the proceedings by putting Trump on the spot. Raise your hand, he told the debaters, if you can’t promise not to run as a third-party candidate. (Of course he knew Trump was the only one who would raise his hand. Trump’s threatened third-party run had been all over the news for days.)

So was Trump stuck for a response?

Of course not. He pulled plausible replies out of the hat as if he had been rehearsing all afternoon. And his responses were in character. He reminded me of one of those “villains” in professional wrestling who make millions by getting themselves booed.

To Kelly he replied that the times are too perilous for him to bother with “political correctness.”  He even  hinted that he wouldn’t mind calling her a thing or two if she kept on badgering him (was that in character or what?).

And facing the Brett press person, the Donald adamantly refused to back down after raising his hand to threaten a third-party run at the presidency.

Trump wasn’t the only candidate to face hard-hitting questions. Every one of them faced “challenging” – even hostile – queries. Even Ben Carson, who hardly got noticed the rest of the time. Kelly reminded him that:

You’ve suggested that the Baltic States are not a part of NATO, just months ago you were unfamiliar with the major political parties and government in Israel, and domestically, you thought Alan Greenspan had been treasury secretary instead of federal reserve chair.

Of course the nerosurgeon had a quick and easy reply. He said he didn’t sweat such small stuff because:

the thing that is probably most important is having a brain, and to be able to figure things out and learn things very rapidly.

And as a neurosurgeon, he knows a brain when he sees one (as he emphasized in his closing comments).

Yes, folks, what we have is a group of impressively qualified candidates who can answer tough questions with aplomb. All with impressive resumes (which they took the trouble to share). All with impressive personalities – from don’t-give-a-damn Donald Trump to love-is-all-you-need John Kasich. And these are all – to a man – Bible loving, God fearing men of faith who love their families, their guns, unborn infants (from the moment of conception) and us the voters – all of us even Independents and Democrats (excluding, of course, such bad actors as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama  and their ilk).

No there was no debate. What we got was a show that pulled in huge ratings for Fox and provided the Republican candidates with the kind of exposure they couldn’t have bought with all the millions their deep-pocket backers could provide.

It was a coup, plain and simple. Once again we the people have been played for suckers.

Click for a blow-by-blow of the main event.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for