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Commentary: Hillary’s recent best debate

Appearing on the Fox Business channel on recently, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee got it right: Hillary Clinton was the hands-down winner of the March 3 night gong show among the four remaining Republican candidates.

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Appearing on the Fox Business channel on recently, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee got it right: Hillary Clinton was the hands-down winner of the March 3 night gong show among the four remaining Republican candidates.

I watched with my longtime Hispanic friend/family member Rosie - my children’s “second mother” - and her granddaughter, the first generation born here. Rosie, I should add, is an American citizen. She votes, as do all her children, including her two sons, who served in the Gulf War. And in the past, they have voted Republican, as many upwardly mobile people would be tempted to do. Except.

How do you explain to a child watching her first presidential debate or to a grandmother who takes voting seriously that this clown show is just a piece of the symphony that is the music of freedom? I can write it, but I don’t believe it.

I’ve been to more debates than I can count or remember. My stomach still churns at the notion of the tiny, cheap plane we flew, back and forth in one day, from the tip of Vermont to the tip of Texas. Bob Farmer, our finance chief, got off in Little Rock, Arkansas, to go woo Bill Clinton (and avoid nine more hours on a four-seater), and I spent the rest of the time wishing I’d joined him. We got to the debate, and, well: It was disorganized, not televised and not worth the trip. Somebody didn’t show. It was all a colossal and scary waste. And it was my birthday. So, I know bad debates.

But not one of the disorganized, silly, backstabbing, childish political debates I attended was nearly as terrible as the Republican debate I was watching Thursday night.

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“Why is he shouting?” the little girl asked. Because shouting is not something you’re supposed to do, nor are you supposed to interrupt, nor are you supposed to spend all your time screaming at each other.

John Kasich, my old pal from Fox News, was the only one doing what you are supposed to do in debates. He articulated positions, accomplishments, what he’d learned on the road and what he’d do as president. Every time he did that, it almost seemed odd, as if he were at a different event.

I encouraged my little audience to listen carefully. “I know him,” I said proudly, before lowering myself in my seat to watch the next round of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz trying to beat up on Donald Trump and Trump both proving and ignoring everything they said.

“Is he the one?” Rosie asked me, wanting to know if that loudmouth who kept bragging about how “big” he was was the front-runner for the Republican nomination. I didn’t want to say, in front of her grandchild, that yes, that’s the loudmouth who wants to build a wall between here and Mexico, who thinks Mexicans are criminals and rapists and who would ban all Muslims. Trump is indeed in the lead for the Republican nomination.

But I don’t care what the polls say about how Trump would fare in the fall. The onslaught of bad tape and hard numbers and hard questions is coming just as sure as that Trump University class-action lawsuit is gaining members. It might be too late to stop this march, which has been set in motion by a minority of a minority of a minority of the population. But while winning the biggest share of a small slice of the electorate gives Trump victories now, it does not give him a revolution. Yes, Trump is the front-runner for the nomination, but of all the men standing on the stage last night, he is the least electable in the general election. That’s bad for the Republicans.

But is it good for the Democrats? It is.

Susan Estrich can be reached at sestrich@wctrib.com .

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