Kudos to Jeb Bush for differentiating himself from the frontrunner. I don’t care if you disagree with or dislike Jeb: He was the only one on stage who confronted the poll leader directly and made a case for why he, not Trump, should be president. Bush’s performance as a debater, while still somewhat awkward, has undoubtedly improved. He clearly annoyed Trump, and I think scored some real hits. Maybe this debate will help him.
I’m skeptical, though. Trump remains the driving force of the 2016 election: He sets the agenda, he makes the headlines, he draws the crowds. It doesn’t matter if the media loves him because he makes Republicans look bad; his supporters love him, too, and he’s a force to be reckoned with. And he’ll continue to be the gas giant around which the smaller satellites orbit for some time. Picture Iowa 2016: Even if Cruz (or someone else) wins, what will be the headline? Trump’s reaction. Same with New Hampshire. And the GOP convention. The spotlight will continue to be focused on Trump until he leaves the race. When will that happen? It’s anyone’s guess. Indeed, it may not happen at all. No one is taking the possibility seriously that Donald Trump might not give up his place at the center of American politics for years to come.