On Thursday, rumor had it that instructions had gone out from the RNC or other establishment inner circles to take Trump out during Thursday night's debate. Those of us who heard the rumor figured one or more of the candidates would be charged with the task.

Who knew it would turn out to be the Fox News team of moderators - or at least two of the three. As it turned out, not one candidate stepped up to take down Trump in any sustained way. It was left up to the two moderators, Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly. Bret Baier appeared to remain above the fray.

Personally, I haven't liked Wallace for years. He's been on the establishment team for a while now. But Kelly was a major disappointment. I thought she was better and fairer than this. But she, too, has shown herself to be just another establishment toady.

From the very beginning of the debate, I recall talking out loud to the TV, saying that this was going to be a night of gotcha questions. And that's what it turned out to be. Whoever the establishment wanted targeted would be taken out, and tonight, it was Trump. Next time, it may be someone else.

But the other candidates either didn't get the memo or simply chose not to play the game. They seemed content to just let it play out. Her motivation seemed apparent when Kelly asked Trump to explain his one-man war on women. When he tried to make a joke of it, she turned cold as ice. She acted like a rhymes-with-witch. At that point, it appeared to be a perfect opportunity for one of the other big tent candidates to join in the fray. But none did.

Kelly, on the other hand, appeared to take the confrontation personally, as if she had something riding on the exchange. Who knew, she probably did.

Then, Wallace went on the attack over Trump's illegal alien comments. But, again, the moderators received no help from Trump's fellow candidates. Quite the opposite.

Politico, the establishment's new best friend, reported that when it came time for candidates to jump on Trump, Wallace got a shock. Even establishment guy John Kasich said: "Donald Trump is hitting a nerve in this country. People are frustrated, fed up. People who want to just tune [Trump] out are making a mistake." I'm quite sure Wallace was taken aback by that out of character comment by fellow establishment maven John Kasich.

Now some may say that I'm being a bit unfair regarding Fox, but just look at the reaction from the left wing media, who normally believe Fox News was spawned by the devil. When liberals laud over Fox, you know there's a problem.

CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and leftist pundits all congratulated Fox News. That's a problem for conservatives, which Fox News, or at least these two, have proven they certainly are not. The once safe haven for conservatives appears to be lurching toward the center, if not toward the left.

So, all that aside, how did the candidates do? Since I did not view the undercard, I will just speak to the main event.

For some on the stage, it doesn't matter what they do or what they say. They are and appear always will be big government establishment guys. Those guys are Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Mike Huckabee. It's too bad about Huckabee, for he says a lot of the right things, but deep down, we all know he's a big government progressive, so that automatically discounts him.

Trump came off as cranky and combative, but also had good reason, as he was under constant attack from Wallace and Kelly. Scott Walker did a good job, held his own, and did no harm, but he didn't really stand out. Rand Paul's heated exchange with Krispy Kreme did him quite well, and, for those who didn't already know, exposed Christie as just another big government, Obama-hugging, NSA-loving guy.

Rubio was quite poised and stood out for his statesmanship. He did quite well. He should be able to build on this performance.

Cruz had very little exposure during the debate, yet still scored a strong second place in the Drudge poll. He was frozen out for a solid 44 minutes, with no chance to speak, so why is he considered to be one of the winners? For the same reason Ben Carson scored so well. It all came down to the closing statements.

Carson's Washington half-a-brain joke was a huge hit, and it came at the very end of the debate, so everyone remembered it and is repeating it still. Same for Cruz. He laid out, in no uncertain terms, what he would do in the opening days of his administration, and people will remember it. Voters don't remember how you start, but they do remember how you finish. With such a limited amount of time per candidate, that's the key to success in these debates - leave them with something memorable.

Overall, I thought the debate was pretty good - but after only one, I'm already tired of the left-leaning/establishment control of these debates, and I have a sneaking suspicion it will only get worse.

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