For the good of the country, I propose trading one Democrat to the Republicans, and one Republican to the Democrats for the purpose of presidential debates. Ted Cruz should be at the Democratic debate, and Jim Webb (I know he isn’t running as a Democrat anymore, but work with me here) should be at the Republican debate.
The Democratic debate (and the Democratic campaign in general) has had the tendency of pushing the Democratic candidates toward the modal liberal position on every issue. The Democratic candidates have tended to shed their moderate positions (Clinton on trade, Sanders on guns) whenever they come under pressure from the left.
That makes the debate pretty boring as you get these people from diverse backgrounds all trying to become to become a checklist for whatever “liberal” means at the moment. But if they are all going to be reliably liberal, then they should face their mirror image.
Of all the Republican presidential candidates, Cruz would be the one who would most strongly oppose them on any issue of public controversy. They want gun control and overturning Citizens United. Cruz would come back at the Democrats as the anti-Bill of Rights party that wants to seize people’s guns and ban books critical of Democratic candidates. Let’s have at it.
Cruz would also benefit from the kind of audience that attended the last Democratic debate. The audience cheered every expression of ideological liberalism, and Democratic partisanship, but didn’t want to hear about any attacks on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The atmosphere seemed to intimidate Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee into softening their criticisms of Clinton.
Cruz, of all the Republican presidential candidates would most relish provoking that audience. He would be the one to point out that the Dickensian hell the Democrats are describing has had Obama as President for the last seven years, and he would use the groans and boos of the audience as evidence for his assertions that the Democrats are the party of closed minds and hostility to liberty. By the end of the night, he would have gotten the audience to boo God, police officers, James Madison, nuns, and newborn babies. It would be glorious – and that is why it will never happen.
Jim Webb should debate with the Republicans because the Trump-Bush argument over 9/11 is one of the stupidest controversies I have ever seen. Trump started with a schoolyard taunt (because that is what he usually does), and Jeb Bush responded with a worthless and obtuse defense.
Bush (and the Republicans) did not lose popularity because the 9/11 attack happened during Bush’s first year in office. Bush lost popularity (among many reasons) because voters decided he made major foreign policy mistakes in the years after 9/11 – mistakes (if you think they were mistakes) that got lots of Americans killed, and destabilized the region.
Now, maybe you think that Bush got most of his decisions right and that the establishment candidates (Bush, Kasich, Rubio, Christie) have learned from whatever they acknowledge to be George W. Bush’s actual mistakes. That’s fine, but those candidates (and America) should see how their views hold up when they are critiqued by someone who can’t easily be dismissed as either an ideological fanatic, or a reality show buffoon.