Well lookee here. It took Fox News and Megyn Kelly to stand up to the bully Donald Trump in the end. Someone finally punched back.

Finally someone didn’t slink away when the bombastic billboard threatened to take his football and go home and not do the final Iowa debate (cue the confetti and vuvuzelas as the other candidates contemplate a debate without Donald.)

Instead of cowering, Fox said to Donald “don't let the door hit you on the behind.”

God knows I have been critical enough of the network in the past, but on this occasion Fox chair Roger Ailes and Co. rightfully told Trump to stuff himself. His indignation that not everyone bent the knee to his demand that Fox anchor Megyn Kelly be removed as a debate moderator was hilarious to watch. His press operation sent out a release withdrawing from the debate so full of typos it looked like a six-year-old had written it. This man wants to be president?

It can’t have been easy for Fox. Like the talking seal, Trump provides a rare night’s entertainment and huge ratings. Other networks have played down his tricks such as threatening journalists, warning about using nuclear arms, slandering everyone who tries to stand up to him, making ridiculous promises he can't keep such as deporting the equivalent of the population of New York City and stopping Muslims (Hello/Goodbye President of Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan) from coming into the country.

Trump can be genuinely witty and devil may care, and he scares the starch out of the stiff shirts who run the GOP.

He’s also for real in this mad political year. All the think tanks and tasseled loafer brigades suddenly realise how irrelevant their right wing schemes are as Trumpites flock to him on issues such as expanding social security and making health care universal. Their heads are exploding. Big government stalks their nightmares.

But Trump’s bad far outweighs the good. Luckily, now the Manhattan mudslinger has finally found an opponent who can take a punch and Roger Ailes and Megyn Kelly will not fall down easily.

The Donald did deign to appear on the O’Reilly Factor last night, where he loudly reaffirmed his refusal to participate in tonight’s debate.

Trump is looking more and more out of control. The paladins of the GOP are still talking about reining him in, but you might as well try to stop the wind.

During the first debate, Megyn Kelly asked him an important question about his attitude to women and his dreadful language when describing some of them.

Clearly taken aback and vulnerable on the topic, he slammed the messenger instead. He has continued to do so for weeks.

There is clearly something about Kelly that irks Trump. Maybe its her Irish love of a good donnybrook by asking the toughest question of all.

Kelly is hard to figure. Her show will go week after week with biased guests all singing from the same think tank notebook then BOOM, she slams Trump or, earlier this week, had Michael Moore, the Godzilla foe of the GOP, on to explain his left-of-Bernie Sanders philosophy.

They got on so well that Moore looked like he was asking for a date at the end, telling Kelly they were both Irish and had much in common.

Meanwhile, the master of the marvelous whose presidential library will consist only of thousands of paperback copies of the “Art of the Deal” was left to defend his craven behavior, scared off by a mere female of all things.

It was a night to savor and, perhaps, the end of something big. The New Yorker magazine cover said it all this week with a gaggle of former presidents – Washington, Jefferson, FDR, Kennedy etc – gathered around a TV screen watching slack-jawed as Trump made one of his monomaniacal speeches. We could almost hear Washington murmur, “Was it for this we endured Valley Forge?”

Let’s hope it wasn’t.

 

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