Watching the presidential debates is just good, clean fun for us, isn't it? By the time we finally get around to our primary in May, who knows who will be left standing? If past elections are any guide, the victors will already be known by the time we cast our ballots. So we can amuse ourselves by picking debate winners and losers without it really meaning anything. I think Megyn Kelly had a great opening when she said, "First, let's talk about the elephant that's not in the room." That got the absence of Donald Trump, which of course had become the debate story, so it could be dealt with and dispatched. And honestly, the Donaldlessness of the evening wasn't that big a deal from then on. Marco Rubio dealt with it better than did Ted Cruz, who tried to hard to make jokes and just came off as the mean guy again. The debate overall in fact seemed to enlarge Rubio and diminish Cruz, so I guess I agree with the focus group Fox convened that gave the debate to Rubio.
Everybody else on the stage were just, well, being themselves, candidates who all have their good points but whom the voters just aren't interested in. It's pretty clear now that Trump, Cruz and Rubio will be the medalists in Iowa, maybe in that order but maybe not. (Of course everybody has been wrong about everything this election cycle, so I don't make that prediction with any degree of confidence.)
If I hear a variation of "If Donald Trump can't handle Megyn Kelly, how's he going to deal with Putin" one more time, I swear I'll scream. Trump isn't afraid of Megyn Kelly and he isn't made at Fox News and he isn't pandering to veterans on whose behalf he had his debate-alternative rally last night. Say what you will about Trump, he always knows exactly what he's doing and he always has a reason for it. What's the No. 1 story about the debate in every newspaper and on every TV station and all across the Internet? Donald Trump, that's what. He continues to play the media like no one before him, and he doesn't have to spend a dime to keep his name in the news every single day. And the boycott just reinforces the image he's cultivated with his followers of being the tough guy who won't take any crap from anybody.I have mixed feelings about Trump's rally for veterans. I agree with some veterans groups that it was a shameless political stunt (as are the pledges of money to veterans from Cruz and Carly Fiorina if Trump will agree to debate them). But I don't know that I'd go as far as these groups do in saying they'll refuse the money. The cause is a good one, and money is money. Unless it comes from an illegal or otherwise dubious source, take it an run.
Apropos of that, this week I referenced news stories casting doubt on the efforts of the Wounded Warrior Project, which runs all those evocative ads on TV asking for, I think, pledges of $19 a month. The claim was that the charity spends too much money on things like trips and lavish dinners and not enough on veterans, about 60 percent of what it raises. Other charities dealing with veterans spend 90-some percent of what they raise on veterans. I should note that the Wounded Warrior Project is pushing back and demanding a retraction and apology. It says it can document that it has spent 80.6 percent of its funds on veterans. This will develop and we'll get a clearer picture, so we will see what we will see.
But take a lesson. Check out the agencies that ask for your money, and if it looks like too much goes for overhead, choose another charity.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS
So now I guess we have to talk about Italian Surrender Monkeys. Remember when Roman officials kowtowed to the Iranian president by covering up nude statues and serving an alcohol-free lunch? Well, the French refused to take red win off the menu, so the lunch between the French and Iranian presidents was scrapped.
The PC Nazis have gotten their hands on Barbie. A new version has been unveiled that has the "oddly attenuated hourglass figure" replaced with rounder, gentler curves. She's supposed to look more like a "real person," so naturally she has been dubbed Fat Barbie in Internet chat. I think they should come out with a balding, stoop-shouldered, pot-bellied Ken.
In case you missed it, Wednesday was the day Al gore said 10 years ago that the world would end because of climate change. I bet you haven't even packed yet.
You have to be tech-savvy in just about any profession these days: There is a high-tech homeless man in Detroit who accepts credit card donations on a cell phone.
Well, now that these two are on the case, I guess we can relax: Leonardo DeCaprio meets Pope Francis to talk about climate change.
Want to feel better about yourself? Move to Alaska or Hawaii. Because you're stuck here in Indiana, which is in the bottom five of states (along with Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia) when it comes to residents' sense of well-being. In possibly not unrelated news, the General Assembly has killed legislation that would have ended the Sunday package liquor ban and returned Happy Hours to Hoosier bars.
I don't know why this makes me sad, but it does: Waving goodbye to a piece of America — the lumberjack., as high-tech machinery has replaced chain saws.
Finally, let's hear it for Norton, the Swedish sled dog that won a gold medal despite taking a poop stop just before the finish line. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
WORD OF THE DAY
nadir (NEY-der), n. — the lowest point; the point of greatest despair or adversity, as in: "With the Trumpless fiasco in Iowa this week, we have surely seen the nadir of presidential candidate debates this election cycle."