Yes, I watched the entire event with the ten leading candidates, and the other major force on the screen, the "media" in the form of CNBC who were accused of tormenting the candidates. If the directors had a squelch button for each candidates microphone, they didn't use it, so there were times when several candidates were speaking over each other with the moderator trying to gain control. On several occasions, such as the accusation that Ben Carlson was associated with a shady supplement company, he simply denied it in spite of his appearance on the home page of their website. CNBC simply had not seriously investigated his relationship, so his denial not only stood, but supported the accusation that the mainstream media was antagonistic to the brand of conservatism that this group represents
Unlike last election's debate, there were no questions asked to every candidate except the opening one, that most ignored in favor of an opening statement. This leaves holes in the ability to compare and generalize. One issue was addressed by most of the candidates, which is whether they support the pending budget - national debt increase bill that has passed the house and will be in the Senate imminently. Rand Paul, did state that he will be launching a filibuster, "tomorrow, on the Senate floor." No one opposed his actions.
Now a step back, on why this position is popular not only among Republicans, but a large number of voters. I remember last time we had this showdown, and I posed this question to a highly educated man I play tennis with. "Do you know the difference between passing the national debt increase and passing appropriations that increase the national debt?" He, thought for a second, and then said, "No, what is the difference." I would suggest that a majority of Americans would answer as he did. Why not try it out yourself on some people.
Because of this, Republicans can support vast wasteful programs of military procurement, development of bombers such as the B2, that cost over 40 billion dollars, and was cancelled early with only 20 plane built, that's two billion each. And of course supporting the Iraq war where the long term dollar costs alone, which includes the New GI Bill, deferred medical costs and pensions will be in the multi-trillion dollar range, this astronomical cost rarely realized as each appropriation is separate, with some being "off budget." The public does not realize that each one of these appropriations increase the national debt, an intentional obfuscation created by the biannual extravaganza of every Republican grandstanding against the legislation to pay the bills for what they, as a party, have individually authorized.
That's it, the solution to not only the national debt of this country, the medicare long term costs, but sickness and disease itself. Governor Huckabee offered this solution, "War on Disease" which is orders of magnitude even more absurd than our Wars on drugs, poverty and crime. None of the nine Republicans on the dais said the obvious, that this "war" has been going on for centuries in thousands of research labs around the world, something he must not have noticed. Neither of the two medical doctors, Rand Paul and Ben Carlson, who are benefiting from the prestige of this profession, spoke of the absurdity of Huckabee's comment.
At the very least those who oppose this mentality must condemn it even when -- especially when -- it surfaces in their own ideologies. If progressives choose to ignore reality for what plays well to a clueless electorate, then any victory will be a Pyrrhic one. Winning an election, in the long run, is less important than fighting for the principle of expanding the ability and desire of the public to reject nonsense. If this is lost, and our democracy is approaching this sad state, which side holds the reins of political power for a given term will become a footnote in the course of history.