1. Everything Trump said in the debate last night was foolish or evil. Rubio won again, but not really as a present-tense candidate. So he could be classy again. Kasich was mostly annoying and reminded us that he’s not going to morph into a fundamental alternative. Cruz was highly competent and polished, and every point he made against Trump and Trumpisms was on point. Still, Trump wasn’t rattled enough to be a choke artist or a meltdown guy. So by not losing in some hyper-obvious way, the effectual truth is he won.
2. There’s apparently a deal brokered among the non-Trump candidates. Everyone backs off Ohio but Kasich, same with Florida but Rubio. Cruz pretty much ceded everywhere else. That means, as far as I can figure, that Kasich is okay with being a one-state wonder. Rubio too. Probably that means all hands for Cruz in a week or so.
3. The deal scares me more than a bit. It may well backfire big-time. I thought Cruz knew that sort of thing can’t work. Trump can only be beaten by a better candidate. Namely Cruz, in his opinion. Or maybe Cruz is simply okay with everyone finally agreeing that stop-Trump and Cruz mean the same thing. Or Cruz has figured out that he can’t win if Trump is the winner who takes all in both Florida and Ohio; he’s not quite as confident as he sometimes seems of his inevitable victory. And he certainly has no chance in those two states. It goes without saying that I might have the details of this deal wrong. I believe, for the moment, everything I read on the internet.
4. Anyway NR now realizes that to stop Trump you have to be for someone. And so you have to talk Cruz the heck up and hope it works. I will have to do that in the mirror.
5. All in all, Trump looks more formidable today than he did yesterday. My mistaken guess was that he would take another big hit last night.
6. I still think he won’t get the nomination. But the way ahead on that front looks more messy and unpredictable than ever.
7. One thing is sure: Cruz better win those final contests (especially California, of course) by decisive margins. Otherwise any attempt to have a contested convention will be rife with “democratic legitimacy” issues.
8. The choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton would be between two hugely unpopular candidates. Both of whom, many or most think, have richly earned the distrust of the American people. Sure, they’ll be a third-party candidate, and he or she will come in third.
9. What the blank was Ben Carson (the only presidential candidate with whom I dined more than once) thinking? He couldn’t overcome his Cruzophobia, that’s for sure.