By Newt Gingrich
Remember the exciting, unpredictable, entertaining quality of the 2015-2016 Republican presidential debates?
Who would candidate Donald Trump take down this week?
How would Trump dominate the media questioners yet again?
Whether you were for Trump, appalled by him, or just curious, each debate was worth watching.
Trump was so different – and so cheerfully direct and aggressive – that people began to see the debates as a sort of reality TV (which is what they should be). Our country is better when more people actually want to watch debates and participate in elections.
By contrast, Thursday’s boring, old-time politician tone was painful to sit through.
At one point, Senator Kamala Harris acknowledged the bizarre, boring nature of the debate. After 30 minutes of policy wonk jargon about incomprehensible details of health policy, Harris remarked, “this discussion has given the American people a headache.”
You could like or dislike Trump, but you can’t imagine a participant in a Trump-energized debate saying – as Mayor Pete Buttigieg did – that the presidential debates “are becoming unwatchable.”
The most revealing moment of the entire debate may have been Vice President Joe Biden’s comment that to help poor children learn more words, parents should “make sure you have the record player on at night.”
It may be tricky for the Democrats if they nominate someone in 2020 who is mentally in a world of record players. It will be quite difficult to try to be the party of the future when you have a candidate of the past.
Similarly, the more radical candidates – virtually everyone other than the two semi-moderates Biden and Senator Amy Klobuchar – seemed to be in a contest to alienate the most Americans.
Just in case the talk about Medicare for all, getting rid of private insurance, defunding charter schools, and the usual left-wing radicalism wasn’t enough, Beto O’Rourke set the classic example of driving away voters and alienating entire regions of the country.
When debate moderator David Muir questioned O’Rourke about his recent comments about firearm bans and confiscations, Muir asked bluntly: “Are you proposing taking away their guns?”
Apparently, O’Rourke wanted to make absolutely certain that the millions of law-abiding American households that own guns would understand that his candidacy was a mortal threat to their freedom and 2nd Amendment rights.
“Hell, yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke said.
Senator Elizabeth Warren also reminded millions of Americans about her elitist isolation from most people when she said, “I’ve actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company.”
Warren’s comment is quite revealing since the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 58 percent of the American people oppose a health care policy plan that would force them to give up the private insurance option. Only 37 percent favored getting rid of all private health insurance. The support continues to drop when so-called Medicare for All raises most Americans’ taxes (37 percent), threatens the current Medicare program (32 percent), and causes delays in treatment (26 percent).
Senator Warren of course represents the 37 percent. President Trump would (and will) be happy to defend the 58 percent.
Every time there is another boring, wonkish, disconnected Democratic debate like this, the 2020 Trump victory will become bigger and bigger.