Eight Republicans vying to be the GOP candidate for president debated on Fox News for two hours on Wednesday, August 23 in Milwaukee.

I’m not objective. I will support the Democrat, presumably Joe Biden. Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post crowed, “eight top [sic] GOP candidates had a spirited, intelligent back-and-forth on the issues” at the debate. That statement is inconsistent
with the rowdy free-for-all I saw that featured a wholesale revolt against the moderators and a total disregard for the new time’s-up bell selected by Fox to not arouse viewers’ dogs as previous bells have.

Nobody knows if Trump’s lead in the polls of more than all eight debaters combined will hold. It’s perhaps a poor choice of words to say that the jury’s still out on that.

It’s months before the first primary votes or caucus preferences will be known.

My conclusion is that none of the eight can best Trump if he’s still running when the action starts in early 2024. Herewith some of my observations.

RAMASWAMY. This 38-year-old businessman with no political experience is a heavy-duty talker, a type known to journalists. You only have to ask one question and we’re off to the races. He rattles on with lots of fun phrases, laugh lines and know-nothing insouciance. I visualize him in the Oval Office not really knowing much about the levers of government, things like what the Department of Agriculture does.

He reminds me of an exchange at Yale Law School between a mellifluous, tweedy Yalie and the great Prof. Fritz Kessler. Asked the holding in the case under discussion, the student intoned, “I’m sorry Prof. Kessler, I haven’t read the case.” Kessler responded, “Very good. From you we get the fresh approach!”

Knowledge is a strange thing. You don’t even know that you haven’t go it.

HALEY. Governor Haley was pretty good. She showed her experience in foreign affairs, affirmed the necessity of support for Ukraine and described the political problems presented by seeking federal abortion legislation (60 Senate votes!).

DeSANTIS. This guy is a hopeless failure on the stump. First, he is unaware that microphones carry conversational tones through electronic amplification. He yells, an unfortunate affect for someone attempting to overcome an inability to relate to people. He is practiced at evading answers to the questions posed by the moderators. A real turn-off.

CHRISTIE. Pitching to the anti-Trump people in the GOP, all seven of them nationwide, is an unforgiving task and he got the boos from the Milwaukee crowd to prove it. But he has a quality a lot of politicians lack: a sense of humor. His response to the stupid “UFO question” posed by the moderators was spot on. “I get the UFO question just because I’m from New Jersey?” Yes, he said the government should disclose what it knows about UFO’s.

PENCE. We got the rip-roaring Mike, not the throw pillow he was as Veep to Trump. Mother must have inspired him to get out there a little to slam Trump, condemn abortion, invoke the Constitution as though it was something that showed up for the first time on January 6, and to disregard all stop-talking bells. He surprised me because he sounded, as my sergeant in basic training used to say, “like he got a pair!!”

HUTCHINSON. Moderate, articulate, to the point, a model of what a serious politician should sound like. Not a chance.

BURGUM: He was there? I didn’t notice. He’s from a small town where he started a big business. So what?

SCOTT: The nice guy in the room, he seemed rather extreme to me. Almost every answer was preceded by invoking his poverty and his single mom. But that did not stop him from pushing policies injurious to the poor.

I got the impression that all eight are unaware of the lethal effect that anti-abortion policy will have on Republicans in 2024. Independents, urban women and people who don’t vote often will come out in droves to support choice. That’s why the Democrats should put a choice provision on the ballot in every state where possible. The result will be the turnout to fuel a Democratic victory.