Trump’s masterful move to shun the Fox’s broadcast of Thursday’s Republican debate grabbed headlines and sound bites.What are we political communicators to make of this? Trump is a tyrant and a showman, using his exceptional publicity skills to dominate the spotlight. This delights bad boys and girls everywhere. But was that his real goal? Or was he stupid like a fox (the animal, not the network) in giving the chattering classes a focus other than his bullying sound bites?

Watching the Trump-less debate, we finally saw more substance than name calling. Then it became clear that Trump’s diva tantrum was NOT about grabbing the spotlight, but avoiding the substantive grilling Cruz, Rubio and others had prepared on his fuzzy governing details.

We progressives may not agree with the conservative agenda. But the men left on the stage have serious governing proposals to implement that agenda.

Without Trump, the debate allowed a closer view of real politicians’ proposals for fighting Islamic extremism, undermining LGBT rights and women’s access to healthcare, and ensuring Americans never lose the right to assault weapons, no matter how many school children are mowed down. The top issue, however, was immigration. None of the policies are a surprise, but Thursday night they were no longer upstaged by Trump’s catcalling.And it was scary. Bomb ISIS back to the Stone Age? Trim American civil liberties? Restrict, isolate, terrorize immigrants? Re-hash the Clinton scandals? This was all on full display, complete with policy details.

If we want to wring our hands and weep over the tantrums and ego of the giant baby Donald Trump, we are missing the point. Trump is normalizing horrifying conversation, yes. But his competitors are hashing out the details of how to implement the horrors.

Let’s wish Trump many more private events featuring veterans, baby cheerleader and even Sarah Palin, so we can get a closer look at what the real cooks in the kitchens propose.