I hope that if you read my blog tonight, you enjoyed the Marshallesque debate blog. I’ve avoided these things all season because frankly, there’s just so much a healthy person can take of politics for whom politics are not a second nature. No offense to those who enjoy it. It’s just not my bag. Anymore.

But Antonin Scalia’s passing just made the debate too important not to take a first-person temperature test of the fever swamp. Just how bad is bad, these days?

I think that South Carolina’s decisiveness as a primary state meant that everybody was at their wonkiest best tonight. No matter how fired up the debate got, it was based on facts. Whether those facts were relevant – as in the case of Rubio’s attack on Cruz’s amendments, where it was not – probably doesn’t much matter. They’re arguing over issues of substance.

Trump is definitely tracking to the center, as well as towards the sane. His criticisms of the Bush Administration were considered and accurate. Much of the reporting tonight will be about his attack on the Bush Administration. But in reality, he gave cover for everyone to make harsh criticisms of the Bush Admin. Even Jeb.

What made the whole debate worth watching was how hard the second tier of the race bent towards the sane donor class. It’s part of what makes Trump’s simultaneous scornful joking about the donor class and obvious bowing towards the donor class so interesting. Whether he’s trying to assuage their fears or elicit their money remains to be seen, but any business man would be a fool not to accept willful support and financial donation.

Trump’s political career, such as it is, relies on being independent from the establishment and by extension, the donors. But if he’s going to appeal to the great swath of Middle America, he may need more money than is reasonable for one man to lay out.