The three celebrity outsiders continued to wrap the thinnest evidence of their ability to do the job in the gaudiest self-assurance. Donald Trump’s is that of an annoyed gambler bluffing through a string of weak hands; Ben Carson’s is the quiet mania of a motivational guru; Carly Fiorina hammers her lines like a pitchwoman trying to cow a potential client with sheer force of will. Of the three, Fiorina is the only one who’s able to answer questions coherently on a national stage. This doesn’t mean that she’ll survive to the final round—the two men, out of their depth in debates, continue to lead in the polls—but the chances are that only one of them will.
This leaves Rubio and Cruz, who seem likely to be among the last ones standing late next spring: first-term Cuban-American senators, both forty-four years old, career politicians, fluent in the glib art of anti-political speech. Rubio offers a scripted hopefulness, while Cruz, who’s reminiscent, physically and rhetorically, of Joe McCarthy, comes off as both more intelligent and more sinister. What distinguishes them from the others in the field is their ability to articulate views that sound substantive enough to command respect but extreme enough to compete with the fantastical dogmas of the outsiders.
George Packer, “Still Standing”, The New Yorker (23 November 2015), 35-36.