So last night was the Great Debate. Ten minutes before, FOX News cringed us with "amateur hour", the anchors apparently never having had to kill airtime in their life before. But once the bell rang at 9, things moved smoothly. (I missed the 5pm undercard one -- sadly, since one of my new favorite candidates (Carly) did so well according to reviews.)
Trumpmania is fascinating in part because I think it's human psychology in action. Maybe part of it is simply that when people tentatively attach themselves to a person or idea and that person or idea is attacked they end up doubling-down, attaching to themselves to that person or idea with much more intensely. Sort of like how abolitionists may've made Southerners more pro-slavery than they might've been had they been allowed to come to the conclusion slavery was wrong more naturally (no doubt that might've taken forever however, given that giving up wealth/privilege is a universal human moral-warp).
The thing about Trump is that people who liked his anti-illegal immigration stance but maybe didn't know quite know the extent of his sordid position-swapping and buffoonery doubled down in allegiance when he was almost immediately attacked by "the establishment".
I think most of the candidates in the 9pm debate did pretty good. I've ruled out one of my early favs, Gov. Walker. I just don't think he comes across well enough. Christie's hair was distracting - I'd like to reward him for his bravery on entitlements but just can't get enthused. Huckabee had some admittedly killer lines. I can't quite get past Cruz's snake oil televangelist style. Rubio stronger than expected and showed gravitas. Jeb did decent job, given the obstacle of holding unpopular positions. Kasich did better than I expected, although I did cringe at his defense of traditional marriage as a case of him being old-fashioned, as if there's no intellecutal case for it. Trump not bad given the obstacle of what he had to defend (himself). Ben Carson did well. Somebody said, "Rand Paul was a suicide bomber taking out Trump, Christie and himself."