But their intended victims were not 16th Century Spanish peasants. They were (with one possible exception) intelligent, knowledgeable, and thinking republicans. And they fought back.
When one of the moderators pursued Jeb Bush on the nonsense question of what he would do about fantasy football "gambling" if he were elected President, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie interjected, "Are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football? Wait a second. We have 19 trillion dollars in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Quaeda attacking us. And we're talking about fantasy football? Can we stop? Seriously? How about this? How about we get the government to do what they're supposed to be doing: secure our borders, protect our people, and support the American values and American families? Enough on fantasy football. Let people play. Who cares?"
Marco Rubio got in a zinger when, following a Trump comment on super PACs, he ad libed, "The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC – the mainstream media." Senator Rubio went on to cite as evidence supporting his remark the media's censorship of the Congressional investigation into Hitlery Clinton's complicity in the Benghazi tragedy.
Even the audience saw through the media travesty and got in the act. When moderator Carl Quintanilla persisted in trying to accuse Ben Carson of a business relationship he had already denied twice, Quintanilla was loudly booed and jeered by the audience.
But the star of the night was Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who responded to a gotcha question from Carl Quintanilla by scolding the CNBC inquisitors with: "Let me say something at the outset. The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media. This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions – Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues?"
After pausing for applause from the audience, Senator Cruz continued: "And Carl, I'm not finished yet. The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every thought and question from the media was, which of you is more handsome and why?"
"You have 30 seconds left to answer should you choose to do so," Quintanilla interrupted.
"Let me be clear," Cruz continued. "The men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense, than every participant in the Democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. Nobody believes that the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary. The questions being asked shouldn't be trying to get people to tear into each other, it should be what are your substantive solutions to people at home?"
At this point, Quintanilla cut him off with, "I asked you about the debt limit and got no answer."
When the Senator tried to answer the original question, he was rebuffed by John Harwood, who said dismissively, "You used your time on something else."
For my money, Senator Cruz used his allotted time far more productively in laying bare the ugly truth of the bias of the Marxist-Socialist Media than he could have in responding to Mr. Quintanilla's insult thinly veiled as a question.