It turns out that instead of a snoozefest, the third debate was fascinating. And it was all thanks to the incredibly clear anti-GOP bias of CNBC.

What am I talking about? Group dynamics, that’s what.

I’ve studied groups and I’ve run groups. Groups don’t happen just because you get a bunch of people together in a room, even if they’re sitting in a circle, holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” There comes a time in the life of a collection of people when they become a group, even if only temporarily—even a group of people that’s pitted against each other in competition, like the candidates last night. If you give them a common enemy against which to unite, they sometimes become a group, and that’s what happened Wednesday evening.

It took a little time. Even though the candidates knew they were in enemy territory with these moderators, I think even they were surprised at the extent of the bias and the sharpness of the “gotcha” questions. So it took a while to know how to react.

Trump had already called one question “not nicely asked,” but Cruz was most definitely the leader, the first to go on a lengthy offensive against the moderators. And what an attack it was! Take a look:

That was the turning point. After that, the rest of the candidates caught on, one by one—except for Kasich, Paul, and Bush—and let the moderators and the MSM have it. They also refused after a while to bash each other, and explicitly called the moderators out on that goal, too. Rubio was particularly strong, but several of the others were impressive as well, once the “unite against the common enemy” idea took hold.

“You changed the entire trajectory of the debate” Sean Hannity rightly said to Cruz, whose leadership was, to me, one of the most striking things about his performance. And Trump noted the group bonding thing: “There was a certain camaraderie up there tonight” he told Hannity.

It may not last. But he’s correct—it was there. And it was probably the last thing the CNBC hosts intended.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.