It's Not The Issues, It's The Show

After digesting the “Hillary and the Four Stooges” show Wednesday night, it has become more clear that debates are simply a vehicle for theater. Low-information voters learned that they deserve free college and that Hillary’s e-mails are just another Republican attack story (thanks again, [mc_name name=’Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001165′ ]!). I think conservatives saw how Hillary can and will continue to be propped up by her Democrat opponents as well as a compliant media. For the next twelve months, the Hillary Show will continue to pump emotion and identity politics and the Republicans-are-divisive narrative throughout every news and pseudo-news show. Come next September and October when she debates the Republican nominee, we will be playing from our own 10-yard line.

It’s not about issues. Even mid-information voters are susceptible to emotional, non-verbal appeal. Think of the 2012 VP debate when [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] was able to out-issue Joe Biden on every point. We were mostly disgusted with Biden’s eye-rolls and head-shaking, but to Democrats, Joe Biden skunked lil’ guy Ryan. Ryan may have won the “debate,” but Biden won the “show,” and that must be a prime factor in considering a nominee.

So who can best beat Hillary in the “show?” I think we can quickly knock out Jeb. He’s genial, polite, empathetic, and wiling to compromise. In other words, a wimp. Put them on the same stage, Hillary can easily come across as Commander-in-Chief. (Again, it’s not about the issues and her actual ability to do the job. Obama won two times over people who are much better qualified to do the job. Obama won the show!) We can also knock out Ben Carson. Carson has proven that he can hit home runs with his comments and ideas, and he is extremely poised and likable. He has also proven that he can serve up fresh red meat to the liberal press and social media. No Muslim as President? Homosexuality learned in jails? Imagine if he said those things in October 2016 as the GOP nominee. Oy vey!

[mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] would win hands down over Hillary in a “debate.” No doubt! Conservatives would be dancing in the streets afterwards. But can he win the “show?” I wish I could say yes. He’s taken down witnesses in Senate hearings, he’s argued before the Supreme Court, and Alan Dershowitz respects him immensely. But can he beat Hillary on Hillary’s turf with a Hillary media and a Hillary crowd? I wish I could say yes, but I’m just not there.

Cutting to the chase, I think three candidates could start at their own 10-yard line during the debates and drive to win the show: Trump, Fiorina, and Rubio. Trump declines to acknowledge Hillary rules or Hillary turf and he has proven that he can force people to bend to Trump rules and to play on Trump turf. Fiorina is calm and collected, even when she’s being fierce in attacking a person. She can knock the veneer off of Hillary and expose her as shallow and vindictive. Rubio may not be able to attack Hillary as the other two can, but he can appeal to low-information voters with his own emotional narrative and his own strength of character.

So now, as a conservative, which of these three would you rather see as President and as a person who is most solid on the issues. Certainly not the Donald. Even as a person who thinks Donald Trump would beat Hillary in the general, I understand entirely that he is a high-risk/high-reward candidate. Rubio, to his detriment and we told him so at the time, was part of the Gang of 8 and that has made him suspect. (“Any other issues we can work on together, Leader Schumer?”)

That leaves Carly Fiorina. I know she was the moderate as she won the California 2010 Senate nomination, and maybe her stances at that time will be revealed as weaknesses over the coming months. But certainly throughout her presidential campaign, she has presented as a fairly staunch conservative. She has yet to swing and miss during any of the debates, and has micro-surged after each one. Fiorina has also shown some moxie by buying the domains of sethmeyers.org and chucktodd.org when the media were ribbing her on her own website naming issues. She seems to understand the “show” part of any media coverage.

So I am still excited about the breadth of candidates on the GOP side and would be eager and excited to vote for any of my top five. But after talking with friends about the inevitability of Hillary and the media bias against Republicans, I think there’s a strong case to be made for Carly Fiorina as the GOP’s winning nominee.