It’s more than a little bizarre to see a professional rhetorician at the New York Times affecting dialectic in attempting to criticize Donald Trump’s superior rhetoric that has dominated this election campaign to date:
What did Trump think of something mean that someone else on the stage had said about him? What did someone else think about something nasty that Trump had said about him or her?
Trump had insulted Jeb Bush’s wife: Discuss! Trump had insulted Carly Fiorina’s business career: Respond!
So it went, somewhat tediously and surreally, for many stretches of the debate on Wednesday night and especially for the first half-hour, during which Rand Paul took the precise measure of — and raised the correct question about — the egomaniacal front-runner.
“Do we want someone with that kind of character, that kind of careless language, to be negotiating with Putin?” Paul asked.
“I think really there’s a sophomoric quality that is entertaining about Mr. Trump, but I am worried,” he added, and I nodded so vigorously at the “worried” part that I’m going to need balm and a neck brace tomorrow.
Paul went on to single out Trump’s “visceral response to attack people on their appearance — short, tall, fat, ugly. My goodness, that happened in junior high. Are we not way above that?”
No, we aren’t. Or at least Trump isn’t. And “junior high” is too easy on him, too kind. Trump comes from, and belongs in, the sandbox, as he demonstrated the second that Paul paused and Trump fired back: “I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.”
How lovely. And how adult.
I look forward to Frank Bruni’s next columns: WE MUST DO X BECAUSE I AM GAY AND I AM SAD. Followed by WE MUST DO Y BECAUSE WOMEN ARE UNHAPPY and WE MUST DO Z FOR THE CHILDREN.
You know, communicating the way adults do.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump will review Bruni’s column, smile, and promptly announce that the New York Times has declared him the official frontrunner for the Republican nomination.