I have to address the debate. I streamed it from the NYT. I wanted to have an actual debate party, maybe with drinking involved (not on my part, as I don’t imbibe), but all my friends who would be eagerly watching are either located elsewhere or coupled. I did try to do it by phone, but the acoustics set up a feedback, so we disconnected. I’m sure we’ll go over the debate this weekend, though. Anyway. here goes:
The bar was set much differently for each candidate from the start. Trump would be applauded if he just didn’t implode, melt down, show his abysmal ignorance of any real political information, or walk off the stage in a huff. For Clinton, though, the expectations were different. She was supposed to somehow transform herself into someone that you’d want to make your BFF, feel warm and fuzzy about, show her compassionate side, etc. The moderator had to rein both political animals in, when they got rowdy.
Trump started off the debate in a somewhat subdued manner-for Trump. That is to say, he was only speaking in a normal tone, though he was still almost loud as he spoke about trade. He employed his usual tactics of deflection often and rarely seemed to answer the question he had been asked, something that Clinton called him on. He interrupted Clinton, spoke over her, and shook his head. Later in the debate he reverted to classic Trump, blustery and full of self-praise for his own temperament, criticizing Clinton’s stamina and saying how good his relations with the African Americans were. He exited on weirdly back-handed threat of what he could have said about Clinton and her family-but didn’t. Factually, he espoused about what you’d expect: the birther lie ( that Hillary was responsible for the whole birther campaign); that he opposed the war in Iraq before it began; that NATO never opposed terrorism until Trump brought to their attention; Ford is leaving the US; Clinton is responsible for ISIS; there are more. Listening to him last night, most of what I heard was MONEY MONEY MONEY….with a little Law-N-Order thrown in for good measure. But running a country is about so much more that dollars. It’s about government and politics and people and history, not to mention OTHER COUNTRIES. Trump failed to convince me that he has anything near the ability necessary to lead the US last night.
Clinton. For the most part, she kept her cool. She was restrained, factual, and actually answered the questions she was asked. But, unlike Trump, Clinton has experience at debates and knows what she is about. The contrast between the two was glaring. Trump said once during the debate that it was “all sound-bites” in reference to Clinton’s replies, but in truth, that is all that TRUMP provided, as he gave little of substance and much of what sounded good. He told the audience they could go to Hillary’s website and read her positions-have you ever been to TRUMP’S site? No positions, just videos-with sound-bites! He tried to attack her on stamina; she came back with a stinging reminder of her schedule as Secretary of State and followed it up with an attack on his remarks on women. She started out mild but in the end did what the moderator should have been doing-calling him out. She showed herself to be fierce and not to trifled with-good job!
Will the debate change anything, though? Trump was clearly playing to his core constituency-white uneducated male (with some female) voters whom he hopes will sweep him into the White house. This group is what I term “true believers” and sometimes I think that they are so mesmerized by Trump that they just don’t care what he does. Confront them with words from his own mouth confirming that he has lied again and again-doesn’t matter; show lawsuits, bankruptcies, debt -doesn’t matter; he professes admiration for the leader of Russia, a ruthless dictator-doesn’t matter. What does matter is that he exudes strength, promises to make the country great (again), and seems to be an outsider in a political system that many view with suspicion. Clinton, by offering us a politically savvy opponent who had actual facts at her command, had to reach the voters who were wondering, “why her?” If watching this debate didn’t clarify THAT issue, then I shake my head. I’ve got more to say on the debate and the vision of America presented by each of the candidates, but that will be an issue for another time.