2016 Presidential Debate No. 1

Here it is. At last. It’s the political debate you’ve been waiting for. Or, at least, its the Presidential debate you’re going to get.

cintontrump

Ladies and gentlemen, one of these people will be the next President of the United States. For all intents and purposes, there is no third option, so for efficiency’s sake, please move past “bargaining” and “despair” and go directly to “acceptance.”

Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, with only Lester Holt in between them. Hempstead, New York. 9:00 p.m. Eastern (6:00 p.m. Pacific). Six fifteen minute segments on various topics within the broader categories of “America’s Direction,” “Achieving Prosperity,” and “Securing America.”

In the lead-up tot he debate this afternoon, I suggest consideration of a few facts. How many voters have already irrevocably made up their minds?1 Are the numbers that remain in the “persuadable” column sufficient to sway the election? What does each candidate need to do to reach those still-persuadable voters out there? How much effect will the debate have on the respective campaigns’ GOTV effort as well as the reach-for-the-middle effort?

During the debate, of course, live reactions are fun and useful, and afterwards, the postmortem is when things get most interesting. I’d trust the assessments of our commentariat more than I would those of the talking heads and spinmasters on the networks.

Best of all, you can watch it live, right here, at your favorite website, thanks to some magic coding from our friends at WordPress:

http://www.uspresidentialelectionnews.com/2016/09/live-stream-watch-first-clinton-trump-presidential-debate-tonight/

And if that doesn’t work, then try here:

The First Presidential Debate: Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump (Full Debate) | NBC News

But don’t look for me to jump in to that discussion, at least not early on. I found that while I was preparing to go to court this morning, my cats vomited and shat all over my floor, only half an hour before I had to make my morning appearance in court, apparently in protest to the dog urinating on the floor in front of their beds. I had no choice but to abandon this smelly mess while I made my way to the courthouse and at this point I shudder to think of what my house smells like right now. Worse, neither my wife nor I will likely make it home until about the start of the debate time. So I shall be cleaning up these odiferous biological sequelae to feline and canine digestive processes rather than listening to either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump speaking live… and counting myself likely getting the better end of that trade-off.

Consider this an election-focused open thread, as if that weren’t already basically every thread these days.

 

Image sources: altered from images sourced at Wikimedia commons (Clinton) and (Trump).

  1. I’m within that number, myself; Clinton is an order of magnitude less bad than Trump, to my estimation, and I strongly doubt either of them can say or do anything to change that opinion. []

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301 thoughts on “2016 Presidential Debate No. 1

  1. Clinton could probably just stand there and smirk for the whole thing, saying nothing but “President Donald Trump? Seriously, President Donald Trump?” every couple of minutes.

    It would be hailed as a “masterful performance”, “utterly destroyed Donald Trump”, “what happens when small hands go up against a big brain”.

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  2. The liberal blogosphere has been giving Hillary Clinton a lot of unsolicited advice in how to defeat Donald Trump in the debate. Much of this advice is mutual contradictory but I’m kind of interested if Clinton’s staff are incorporating any of the suggestions.

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  3. The endorphins we get from the toxoplasmosis manipulating our brains are their own reward.

    There are a bunch of weird dynamics going on with the debate tonight:

    The Mark Cuban thing.
    The Gennifer Flowers thing.
    The Trump not preparing for the debate (?!?!?!?) thing.

    There’s SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY here.
    There is a very real possibility that Trump just up’n walks out halfway through the debate.
    There is a very real possibility that Clinton coughs for more than a couple of seconds.
    There are so very many very real possibilities that this debate feels absolutely pregnant and we have no idea what’s going to happen just thirteen or fourteen things that are very real possibilities that they could.

    I’m on tenterhooks.

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    • Hillary needs to confidently and clearly drink water multiple times. Any less then three unequivocal and completely honest drinks, not sips mind you, will raise massive questions. I expect CNN to have a panel of hydration experts to discuss how much she drinks and a constant scroll tracking her consumption. But she better not gulp, that isn’t lady like.

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    • It still blows my mind that I live in a country with enough stupid people that bragging about NOT BEING INTERESTED IN PREPARING FOR A DEBATE is a viable campaigning tactic.

      I mean, seriously, this is the guy at least 40% of voters want in the white house? Say what you want about Mitt Romney (and I did), there was never any question he’d do the work.

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      • They’re trying to lower expectations to the point where “Didn’t defecate himself on stage” is considered a “win”.

        “He didn’t even prepare! He has, in fact, been drinking heavily to try to kill off as many brain cells as possible. He’s been memorizing false facts to further confuse himself, and has had gene therapy to give himself Tourettes! Frankly, the sheer willpower and ability of this man will be showcased by going 90 minutes without biting the head of a live bat! VERY Presidential! Obama would have eaten several bats if he’d undergone that debate regime, although he’d probably have thrown up the bats. Very weak stomach.”

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        • One thing that I think might happen:

          They both do fairly well. Clinton talks about policy, Trump makes grand sweeping statements, they both criticize each other with shots that are not below the belt but legit criticisms and they both walk away in a position where their spin team isn’t preparing a Kevorkian Cocktail for themselves in the green room.

          So then what?

          I think that that would be, effectively, a win for Hillary insofar as it doesn’t change the status quo.

          Right?

          Because maintaining the status quo is good for Hillary, right?

          So the thing to watch out for is anything worse than the scenario I described. If it’s worse than that, for Hillary, we’re going to have a bad time.

          If it’s worse than that for Trump, his Trumpmentum is stopped in its tracks.

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        • Oh I get that, but usually it’s about how the candidate “isn’t a natural debator” or “is having trouble condensing their firm detailed grasp of America’s needs into a soundbite.”

          As far as I know “couldn’t be bothered to prep” is a new and deeply troubling step. Prepping is kind of the President’s job.

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          • Let’s be honest here — Trump’s most ardent core of supporters think debate prep is for wusses. Real men wing it.

            And I’m sure he’s prepping as he best he can, but lying and claiming he isn’t both lowers expectations, plays to his base, and when he comes across as semi-functioning, show’s he totally comfortable and commanding winging it!

            Where’s the down side here again?

            I mean sure, Clinton could soldier through an 11 hour witchhunt on a topic so clearly a waste of time as to make actual saint’s eyeroll, without batting an eyelash or missing an answer, but she’s one of those geeks that did debate in High School.

            Not like Trump, who was out getting laid, amiright?

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      • It still blows my mind that I live in a country with enough stupid people that bragging about NOT BEING INTERESTED IN PREPARING FOR A DEBATE is a viable campaigning tactic.

        But you do.

        Now what?

        This is a serious question.

        If you don’t have an answer for it, you could well have to prepare yourself for a situation where you have to deal with the fact that you live in a country with enough stupid people to result in a President Trump.

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      • “I live in a country with enough stupid people that bragging about NOT BEING INTERESTED IN PREPARING FOR A DEBATE is a viable campaigning tactic.”

        Welp. What preparation would you have suggested for hijacked airplanes hitting the World Trade Center and knocking down a bunch of buildings?

        Because I don’t recall people giving George W. Bush any slack for not having had time to prepare when he heard the news.

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        • Oh, I don’t know, how about listen to security briefings with titles like “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US” and not decided that some cave-dweller wasn’t a real risk to America.

          So the prep he could have done was to continue focusing on the issue, as Clinton had done and as Clarke was imploring the Bush administration to do. Instead, he did this:

          The former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Hugh Shelton, said the Bush administration pushed terrorism “farther to the back burner”. And in a sympathetic portrait of the young administration, Bush at War, the president himself told the author, Bob Woodward, that he “didn’t feel that sense of urgency” about going after Osama bin Laden.

          Fortunately, though, Rice was “rethinking” the Clinton policies until it was too late.

          Could a third-term of Clinton have stopped 9/11? We’ll never know. But his administration was doing the prep and planning (which, perhaps, was too little too late). Bush simply stopped. Do you think Trump would even know that there was prep TO stop? I’m not confident.

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  4. I think most voters have made up their minds. The WSJ had an article about how up to a third of voters said the debates would influence their votes but Kevin Drum is not buying it either. His view is that this is humans trying to make themselves more important than they really are (“If you could remember Woodstock than you weren’t there..”)

    I admit to being in a glum and despondent mood right now but my college nickname was Eeyore. I remember when North was making comments that Donald Trump could not be the nominee because the Democratic Party was not that lucky. But there seems to be a good chunk of the American population that likes his ethnonationalism. A good chunk whose persona seems to be a combination of Eric “Respect my Authoritah” Cartman and Heath Ledger’s Joker (I also wrote this on LGM.) I worry that we are at the start of a full-on reactionary backlash over new gains in civil rights for minorities. A lot of people simply just dislike BLM, they probably dislike the new pushes for LBGT rights, and they don’t really understand civil liberties. There understanding of America is not the Bill of Rights but mom, flag, and apple pie. It seems like there is a good chunk of the population that thinks the merest criticism of the United States and policy or law in the United States is tantamount to a hatred of the United States and it is back to “Get the hell out if you don’t like it.” I just saw a facebook trending story about Mike Ditka screaming get the hell out at Collin Kirpatrick about this issue.

    Now I think of the Washington Post article about Jim Cooley who managed to be threatening (as anyone with a semi-automatic rifle in public) and also pathetic (he had a massive heart attack, can’t work, and needs an electric scooter to get around.) I admit to having an image of a bunch of old guys on Segways slowly moving in formation with guns on their backs manages to be threatening (semi-automatic rifles) and risible (old guys on Segways because they can’t walk.)

    The mood at the more lefty LGM is all over the map. You have people in doom and gloom and you have people who are still very confident that HRC is going to win bigger than the polls predict. The optimists are getting a bit too close to “unskewing” for my tastes.

    538 is the polling site that has been the most Trump favorable. The Upshot and PEC are still strong on HRC but have lowered her chances to 69 percent which is still pretty high. Nate Silver came out with an essay today that said the polls are really volatile and the pollsters are probably going to be more wrong than they were in 2008 and 2012. He also said that 538 is the most optimistic for Trump but also the site that thinks HRC has the highest chance of a landslide.

    Trump’s unfavorables are still 10-15 points worse than HRC’s. Recent data shows most people see Trump for what he is but maybe a good chunk of Americans like Trump for what he is:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/09/voters-see-trump-as-a-racist-madman-he-may-win-anyway.html

    The upshot of both of these surveys, when taken together, is that Donald Trump has not been “normalized.” Most Americans see him as a racist would-be authoritarian who is highly likely to start a nuclear war. The trouble is, some voters apparently like that in a president.

    According to SurveyMonkey, Trump supporters, on average, believe there is a 48 percent chance that he will create a database for monitoring Muslims; a 33 percent chance that he’ll let the government default on its debt; 32 percent chance that he’ll use the Executive branch’s authority to persecute political opponents and establish internment camps for the undocumented; and a 22 percent chance that he’ll start a nuclear war.

    Due to a combination of party polarization, Hillary Clinton’s high unfavorable numbers, unusually popular third-party candidates — and an openness to extremism far more widespread in the electorate than most political observers had realized — it now seems possible that Trump could win the presidency this November, even as more than half the country sees him as a racist and likely tyrant.

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    • FTR I’m not hiding or anything, just absolutely crushed at work, putting in 55 hour weeks and thus have virtually no time to hang out. Which sucks.

      And yes the Dems were lucky. Can you imagine if Rubio or Walker were the nominee right now? Or Even Cruz?

      I remain convinced Jeb would be in the toilet though.

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      • That is probably a fair point. It would be an interesting thought experiment to see how toxic the Bush name still is though. I do suspect Kaisch could give HRC a run for her money. Not sure about Rubio (who seems to be a lightweight). Walker maybe. Cruz absolutely not.

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        • Just because everyone who met Cruz despised him doesn’t mean a lot. 99.9999% of the voters will never meet the man and he gets on well enough with the voters. I have no doubt the establishment would be falling into line behind Cruz a la Romney if not even more eagerly.

          Yeah Jeb put in the performance in the primary I hoped he’d put in.. I just wanted him to deliver it in the god(ess?) damned general!! Consarn it! Disappointed by a Bush, yet again.

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          • I don’t see Cruz being able to play the ethnonationalist card as well which is both a strength and weakness for Trump. He is also clearly too tied to old-school GOP talking points which are now in the dustbin of history.

            But this is all useless thought experimentation. Trump won the nomination, Cruz/Walker/Rubio/Bush II did not.

            Of course the worst grass is greener thought experimenters are the ones claiming Sanders would be clearing the floor with Trump. If a quarter to half the country freaks out about a quarterback knelling during the National Anthem, I don’t see how a self-described Jewish (but closer to atheist) socialist wins the election.

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  5. My theory on Nate Silver/538 (which might be me fooling myself) is that Silver/538 got caught with their pants down on Trump being the nominee and are now over-correcting. I remember Harry Enten doing an interview (I think with Trumpcast or NPR) where he basically admitted that 538 did not believe Trump could win and they got caught with their pants down.

    The Upshots state-by-state analysis is interesting:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/upshot/presidential-polls-forecast.html

    The Upshot and PW have Clinton’s chances of winning Florida at 57 percent and 59 percent respectively and this is pretty good! I like it! 538 and Daily Kos have Florida being equally strong probabilities for GOP wins. Princeton, Sabato, Cook, and Roth have it as a toss-up. So should I be an optimist or a pessimist?

    For every swing state, there are polls with contradictory results. Almost everyone thinks North Carolina is going Republican but Princeton/Sam Wang has NC at 59 percent Democratic and three pollsters have it as a toss-up.

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    • … and yet you keep listening to the pollster who keeps on polling Ebola’s popularity…

      I’m betting on Deutschbank, short (and short-term, which is the clincher) — which is like trying to catch a knife that the powers that be are juggling desperately. But if they couldn’t even get brexit right, despite rampant cheating…

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    • The funny thing about the nominee race was that 538’s algorithms and polls and methodology was right. But Nate and Co, when they were analyzing it, were like “yes yes Trump shows ahead but we all know he’d going to immolate so when that does etc etc…” only the expected immolation never showed up.

      I think 538 is probably the most accurate. That’s reason for bleakness in how much HRC’s lead has shrunk though also reason for grim hope in that her lead has not vanished and she has a massive GOTV apparatus whereas Trump has a drunken Jersey parolee with some names on a napkin.

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      • Sam Wang pointed out that 538 is part of the ESPN empire and they have an incentive to get as many cliques as possible. I’ve seen them do some very dramatic swings in the matter of minutes.

        Sam Wang and the Upshot seem less resistant to those kind of microtrends leading to big results.

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          • I suppose what is happening is that overall demographic trends are in the favor of the Democratic Party but they are happening at a slower rate than changes than changes that favor the Republican Party.

            Iowa went red because it is getting older, whiter, and more Evangelical as a state than the nation overall. But I think it will be a while before these demographic trends start to help the Democratic Party. The GOP still has a problem that their core supporters are literally dying but this can happen over the course of decades.

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            • I’m still quite optimistic. But (and you knew there would be a but) I am also convinced that the next time the Democrats lose, unless it’s bloody obvious Wang will be optimistic going into mid-November.

              That the other compilers are giving us good news is encouraging.

              Hillary pulling out of Ohio and that we’re even talking about some of these states (like Colorado) less so.

              Which I believe still leads us in a place that HRC is a few steps ahead, just not where we want her to be. If the polls read this way in 2-3 weeks, I’ll start getting concerned.

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    • I think a few people are misunderestimating (I’m going to make that a real word.) the structural disadvantage that Republicans have in the electoral college.

      Basically, the polls now say ‘Trump might win some swing states’, when it was previously looking like he wouldn’t.

      The problem is, to win, Trump (Hell, Republicans in general) essentially needs to win *all* swing states. Yes, the disadvantage really is that large.

      A lot of people somehow seem to have to think presidential elections work by the candidates starting out tied and whoever gets the most swing states win. IIRC, that wasn’t even true in 2000, and has gotten less and less true since then,

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        • ….I don’t know how to respond to that, it’s so far outside of what I understand the current situation to be.

          That’s not even *currently* true. If we were to assuming that the current polls were the vote, Trump is currently only a few points behind Clinton…and loses the EC by a massive 231 to 307! Or worse!

          I’m not even sure how the popular vote is *relevant* to this at all.

          The only way anyone can pretend there’s the slightest risk of Trump winning is by claiming New Hampshire, Virginia, and Pennsylvania are competitive, when in fact none of them actually are.

          The closest thing to actually competitive that would push him over is Colorado…which is polling at 75% Dem.

          And he *additionally* win in all of Florida and Ohio and Iowa and North Carolina and Nevada….you know, the actual swing states.

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          • The Electoral College typically acts as an amplifier. It turns small margins into large ones. Historically, it very rarely changes an outcome. Instead, what happens is that as the national vote improves, states start flipping. Often all at once.

            To take FiveThirtyEight’s current forecast* as an example, their “Poll Plus” model has him down by 1.2% nationally. From an Electoral College standpoint, he only needs one more state to win, Colorado, which he is down by 1.4%. If he had a national swing of three points, he’d take the popular vote by 1.8%, Colorado by 1.4%… and he would take New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Putting him well over 300 electoral votes despite winning by less than 2%.

            Not all swings are uniform, but it’s hard to win states here without winning them over there. That’s why the tipping state margin typically hews pretty close to the national popular vote. There’s rarely a difference of more than a point or two. And between 2008 and 2012, uniform swing had better predictive value than actual polling.

            So anyway, point being, you may look at the states and see that Trump has only a 40% chance of winning one state, a 35% chance of winning another state, and a 30% chance of winning a third and think “What are the odds?” and you might calculate them at 4%. But if he wins that last state, he probably wins the first two.

            Anyway, if you don’t believe me, maybe Josh Marshall who just says it bluntly:

            * My point of using 538 isn’t “It’s close!” but rather to show the relationship between the electoral college, the tipping states, and the cluster of states that can flip all at once. For both Clinton and Trump, a 2% victory can look pretty significant in terms of the Electoral College.

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    • Yeah, that was a bit amazing of a comment. So much so, I trolled the local town Facebook group (The one that is an endless list of people posting conservative memes.) with:

      So, *should* the police search anyone acting suspiciously to see if they’re carrying a gun, and, if so, make the person produce evidence they own it legally?

      Which…worked exactly like I was intending it to work. A lot of them, unaware it was Trumps proposal, reflexively blamed liberals.

      And then, when the discussion finally got on track, some people wandered off into ‘Well, it’s okay in high crime areas…’ and I had to point out that, as the police are *local*, ‘high crime areas’ would mean the highest *local* areas in any particular police area…for example, our town center. (Which is really only the ‘highest crime’ level because, duh, that’s where the money and population is.) Should *our* police be doing stop-and-frisk in *our* town center?

      Others were like ‘Well, the courts found it unconstitutional, so it doesn’t matter what Trump said’, which is a hell of a response politically(!), but I pointed out that actually the courts found the *current implementation* was *racially biased* and unconstitutional for *that* reason…the courts theoretically have no problem with the police stopping and frisking people *nonprejudicially*.

      And surely Trump was proposing some sort of *non-racist* stop-and-frisk, as some sort of nation-wide proposal, instead of it mysteriously being limited to only minority neighborhoods in inner cities. Which, to get back to my previous point, would be need to done even in majority white areas like our county, so it actually *could* pass legal muster.

      This sorta left them sputtering incoherently. What is the comeback there? ‘No, Trump’s proposal will be just as racist at the one in the New York, so not constitutional!’ ‘No, the police are inherently racist so the courts will always strike it down?’

      (Before anyone gets pissy at me trolling somewhere, this is a group that, right now, has a picture of Michelle Obama leaning next to George W. Bush (From some photoshoot the Obamas and Bushes just did.), and a quarter the comments on that post are how she’s a man in a dress, and another quarter are vaguely racist. I do not feel guilty in the slightest.)

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  6. My largely uninformed hunch…

    Trump’s range of outcomes has a floor of, “HOLY CRAP THAT WAS LITERALLY A DUMPSTER FULL OF DIRTY DIAPERS CATCHING FIRE!” and a ceiling of, “He looked like he belonged, he seemed Presidential, he was more likable than Clinton.”

    I think Hilary’s range of outcomes has a floor of, “Good god… she is excruciating to listen to, totally unlikable, why couldn’t she get a single bout of applause while he was racking them up,” to a ceiling of, “Wow… just wow… These people are vying for the same position? This isn’t even a competition.”

    I look at that and I see Clinton with the higher ceiling and Trump with the lower floor.

    “How many voters have already irrevocably made up their minds?1 Are the numbers that remain in the “persuadable” column sufficient to sway the election? What does each candidate need to do to reach those still-persuadable voters out there? How much effect will the debate have on the respective campaigns’ GOTV effort as well as the reach-for-the-middle effort?”

    Taking these questions en masse, I think there is a group of people who haven’t so much as not made up their minds about TrumpVClinton but are deciding VoteVStayinghome.

    I think if things go poorly for Trump — if he hits that floor and ESPECIALLY if Clinton hits that ceiling — many of those people will say, “Ugh… this election sucks… but I just can’t let that doofus into the White House. I guess I’ll hold my nose and vote for Clinton.”

    I think if things go poorly for Trump, it will rally the committed Trump voters, discourage the committed Hilary voters, but not move the needle on that middle group so much. If you are considering staying home because you think both candidates suck and the debate ends with the trailing candidate proving to be equally sucky to the leading candidate, I don’t think that motivates you to not stay home.

    I feel like there is a way to squeeze this into ‘s “Three Types” but I can’t quite make it fit. I’d be curious to hear his perspective on my (largely uninformed) perspective.

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    • “If you are considering staying home because you think both candidates suck and the debate ends with the trailing candidate proving to be equally sucky to the leading candidate, I don’t think that motivates you to not stay home.”

      I agree. People seem to have this idea that “better than Trump” and “actually good” are of course the same thing, and they really are not.

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    • This seems about right to me.

      If I’d say anything, I’d say that Trump has a big ol’ squishy middle that he can swim in (“beats expectations!”) but Hillary has a far bigger problem when it comes to potential failure insofar as failure past a certain point is catastrophic.

      That is, imagine two coffee cups. One made of tin. One made of ceramic.

      The tin one can fall and suffer a small dent but still be usable. (That’s Trump.)
      The ceramic one can fall and, if it doesn’t break, it’s just as usable as it was before it fell. If, however, it fails? We’re talking a catastrophic failure. Get the broom.

      That said: if there are no failures, catastrophic or otherwise, it’s Hillary’s win.

      Which means that it’s Hillary’s debate to lose.

      As for the “Three Types”, I think that this is going to be the first time that a lot of people will be sitting down, seriously, to see what this Trump thing is all about. They know Hillary Clinton and they know she’s fit enough for the job. They’re familiar with her. Trump? They don’t know anything about Trump.

      So if Trump comes across as a grownup, capable of dealing with problems, can handle a little light jostling, that’ll help with these people.

      If he comes across as an arrogant bully? He’ll turn 80% of these people off entirely and it’s Clinton’s.

      You did a good job hammering out the ceilings and the floors. I like that.

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      • “That said: if there are no failures, catastrophic or otherwise, it’s Hillary’s win. Which means that it’s Hillary’s debate to lose.”

        Which, see my earlier post. Not only could she get away with zipping her lip and letting Trump be his own bad self, she should do exactly that.

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        • I’m curious… What does a good Trump performance look like? Pivot middle, act Presidential, leave the primary madness at home? Or does it look like FullTrump? I really don’t know. What do you think each of those (or something in the middle?) does to the three groups?

          CW says he takes the former tack. CW has proven useless this cycle. Now what?

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          • I suspect that Trump’s floor is so low that he can “win” the debate by simply not falling into any traps or doing the things that alienated people like his performances/antics after the DNC.

            Trump’s big issue is that this is just a one on one debate. I suspect his antics did well during the Republican primary debates because he was only on screen for so much of the time and lots of people needed to speak. The big question is whether he can sustain a 90 minute debate against one other person.

            I think a lot of people on the Democratic side are worried about the media being in the bag for the “She’s so painful and shrill” post debate spin/pundit talks.

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          • “What does a good Trump performance look like?”

            Well, from the looks of things here he’s expected to actually shit himself and then start drawing pictures with the shit, so if he can manage to not do that then he’s performing above baseline.

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            • BLITZER: And now we’re going live to the floor to get the mood inside the hall with CNN’s own Don Lemon. Don?

              LEMON: Wolf, I’m standing here in the press pit, and the consensus here is that Trump’s maverick, show-stopping use of his own feces was nothing short of Presidential.

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          • A good Trump performance: He comes across as affable but tough. He radiates “charismatic leadership” which is as close as we’re going to get to “Presidential” and manages to jab Clinton in such a way that is technically fair but inspires the moderator to yell “THAT’S NOT FAIR!” and make it look to the home viewing audience that it’s Trump vs. Hillary/Moderator and not merely Trump vs. Hillary. Also, Trump has at least one line that gets a belly laugh out of people. (To the point where the audience has a sustained laugh of 1-2 seconds and Trump has to stop talking.)

            He has to do three things:
            1) Get his people to say “HELL YEAH!!! THIS IS WHY I’M SUPPORTING MISTER TRUMP!!!!”

            2) Get Clinton’s people to say “Man… we had an opportunity to replace Clinton back when she passed out… why didn’t we? Why didn’t Biden run?”

            3) Get people on the fence to say “Man, the media has been tearing Mr. Trump a new one for the last year and… man. I used to not believe the liberal media story but they’re totally in the bag for Clinton! Mr. Trump is pretty impressive.”

            If you leave the debate thinking one of these three things, or seeing how one of those stupid people out there might be saying one of these three things, even as you know the smart people are still voting for Hillary, then I’d say that that is a Trump Victory.

            There might be other Trump victories? Like if he says something and Hillary says “NOW WAIT A MIN… *COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH*” and that goes on for a while? That’s probably a victory too. Though a much more underhanded one.

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                • Might very well be the case.

                  But I think is right: if Trump cam play the charm card, eep. Doubly so if Clinton gets caught in any of her personality potholes (fair ones or not).

                  Can Trump keep it together for a full 1on1 adversarial debate? Especially if the moderators skew Hilary’s way? That’s a bih question. What does he do if he feels cornered and low on ammo?

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              • If the Number Threes were turned on by what turned on the Number Ones, they’d be Number Ones already.

                I’m talking about what would be a victory that everybody would agree upon.

                Now, if there was an *OVERWHELMING* victory, it’d have all of the above. Trump being affable, funny, deliver the right kind of attacks, deftly defend himself, radiate charismatic leadership, and then give an attack line that results in Hillary starting to cough for a few seconds, then Trump saying “we should probably go to commercial”, then Hillary coughing for a few more seconds, then going to commercial?

                AND THEN YOU’RE SITTING AT HOME WATCHING THE LONGEST 45-SECOND BURGER KING COMMERCIAL EVER… A MOMENT OF BLACK… THEN THE LONGEST 45-SECOND FORD TRUCK COMMERCIAL EVER… A MOMENT OF BLACK… THEN A VICKS 44 COMMERCIAL.

                At that point, turn off the television and go to bed and think about how, tomorrow, you’ll practice saying “Mister Trump”.

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    • The big wild card in this is that Trump has never done this kind of debate. It was always more than 2 people in a wacky apprentice like format. If he gets out of his depth he can’t fade into the woodwork and let Rubio, Cruz and Jeb fight in the foreground.

      All indications and math says this should be a slaughter. But the devil whispers from behind the leaves “Is she likable? Does she come across shrill? Does he beat expectations?”

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          • Sure the idea of a republican would be winning, but the reality of any republican actually getting through the media gauntlet is not so good. I am becoming increasingly sure of the fact that the paradigm shift of Trump – the calling out the media, his brashness, etc. – in short his media savvy and ability to get them to do his bidding, are what is driving this whole bus And is a primary reason why he is in fact doing so well. Media trust is at an all time low, the left is calling for the media to destroy Trump left and right. In other words, the dem machines no. 1 weapon is kaput. They aren’t able to carry HRC over the finish line.

            I know, I know, the media doesn’t have a left bias. Do you buy bridges, by any chance?

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            • Media trust is at an all time low, the left is calling for the media to destroy Trump left and right. In other words, the dem machines no. 1 weapon is kaput. They aren’t able to carry HRC over the finish line.

              She may have to actually do some of that work herself. Tonight. I hope. I pray. Well, I would pray if I were a praying-type person. Fortunately she’s Tracey Flick, so she’s going to have put in the work to do well, even if she is personally disagreeable.

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  7. I am going to go ahead and quote what I wrote over at Will joint a week ago, as I think it still stands:

    If there is even a hint that she needs help, physically or from the moderator, he owns it. If she goes all Tracy Flick, he owns it. Its hers to loose, as the expectations are too high that she has this, but I think it is her weak spot. She didn’t debate in the D primary, she was anointed. And that will hurt her as she didn’t have to fight to get here. She needs to absolutely dominate Trump, as he isn’t expected to be special. He is expected to be weak and if he only does moderately good its a tie and the numbers keep sliding.

    At this point, I don’t think the expectations are high anymore, not because of Trump, but rather that she is sliding in the polls, which are now even-steven in many. He has the momentum.

    That said, I would rather stick chop sticks in my eyes than watch this.

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  8. I made my decision over two years ago and I see no reason to change it. Everything else has just been enjoying the ride. And I don’t plan on wasting my time watching the debates. I’m sure NPR will pull out a few juicy tidbits I can hear about tomorrow on the way to work.

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      • I don’t think it will. I am just marveling at the guy wearing Nazi regalia. There was another story from the weekend about a guy selling Hitler Youth flags and Trump flags at a rural fair in PA.

        I find the rise of openly bigoted white-ethnonationalism deeply disturbing. Will showed me this tweet from August here: “This election is like having dinner with friends, three friends pick pizza and two friends pick ‘kill you and eat you.’ Even if pizza wins, there is still a big problem.”

        Even if Trump loses (especially if it is a narrow or margin of error loss, there is still a big problem. We are seeing surges of open racism, sexism, and ethnonationalism like I have never seen before. So I do think Jaybird is not completely wrong in noticing what is going on in GamerGate, Breitbart/MY, and Palmey Luckey* and noticing something in the air.

        At the very least, I suspect the left is going to be distrustful of the major media players from now on for normalizing Trump.

        *I still have no idea what “meme magic is real means” except “Fuck you, we will create our own reality.”

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          • I am going to do a variant of Jaybird’s question.

            “Okay. Open racism and white ethno-nationalism is out in the open and not tucked under the flaps of the GOP’s tent.”

            My question is “Now what?”

            As the Daily Intel article I posted seems to show, most Americans have no trouble seeing Trump for what he is but the problem is that they have an irrational hatred of HRC (which might or might not be similar to Kim’s delusions) and/or they like the racist war-mongering authoritarian stuff.

            What’s your solution now that all this stuff is out of the bag? I’ve lived in a super blue bubble all my life but I have a lot of friends going after their GOP relatives day in and day out to go against Trump. Many of these people have a minority status which would make life really unpleasant for them under a Trumpian ethno-nationalist regime or they have loved ones who would not do well under such regimes. Yet having an LBGT child does not seem to be enough to get people to turn off the R psyche and Trump gets “normalized.”

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            • Well the natural state of the race seems to be a modest HRC lead with a huge and unopposed campaign GOTV standing by in the wings. If she doesn’t blow the debate or something else then HRC will likely win and if/when she does then things are in a pretty good place.

              You ask now what? Well Trumpism is out in the open now and has to run on its own merits not hide behind the elegant Buckleyian skirt dance flashing its nose out just long enough to reassure the true believers and set the louder liberals to screeching only to vanish indignantly when confronted. The small government and Neocon elite are sitting in the utter ruin of their entire world. The majority of their party gives not a fish about their issues. If Trump loses there’s a lot of figuring out to do but at least the old conservative regime is maimed so that change and evolution can perhaps begin to happen.

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              • I’m expecting, assuming a Hillary win, a pretty quick rally round the “we must oppose her” caucus. Lots of pretty talk and papering over differences. I think there will be less of a falling apart of the R’s then people expect. Of course some weird or wild election results could change that, but for now, thats my bet.

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              • North,
                The natural state of this election is trump winning in a walk.
                As the powers that be would find this… inconvenient, many plates are being spun just a liiiiitle longer to make certain Hillary wins.

                2007-2008 all over again. It ain’t a black swan if it happens twice in a row, kids.

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        • The past 8 years have seen plenty of black-nationalist racism and anti-male sexism. I was proudly a member of the party that opposed it. Unfortunately, this time around they’ve decided to pitch the same product to a different market, and now we’re seeing both parties wanting bloodshed in the streets. I can put up with a divergence from Republican orthodoxy in a GOP candidate, but Trump embraces the whole Democratic agenda, and does it using the Democratic playbook of race/class/color/sex/gender.

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            • The text of the speech is available online. He says this about welfare and its recipients:

              “Today, and I know from our own experience in California when we reformed welfare, I know that one of the great tragedies of welfare in America today, and I don’t believe stereotype after what we did, of people in need who are there simply because they prefer to be there. We found the overwhelming majority would like nothing better than to be out, with jobs for the future, and out here in the society with the rest of us. The trouble is, again, that bureaucracy has them so economically trapped that there is no way they can get away. And they’re trapped because that bureaucracy needs them as a clientele to preserve the jobs of the bureaucrats themselves.”

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        • Two dogs, two cats.

          I have to put the blame now a bit on the humans. You see, we cut some holes in the drywall between one office and the back of a built-in cabinet. The litter box goes in there, and it makes it easy to access the litter box to change it, and the cats get in and out through about eight inches of PVC pipe that stands in the drywall. That gives the cats a doggie-proof way of accessing the litter box, You’ve got a dog and cats, so you know that the dog would lurve to get into that litter box and enjoy some of those kitty canapés. So anyway, someone knocked that PVC pipe out from its usual place, and the cats couldn’t access their litter box. The vomit is probably the product of “normal” feline digestion.

          So, it’s 6:35 and I turn on the debate and holy crud. Something about the tax returns. And he’s interrupting her all the time and she’s smiling at him. The interruptions are not good, that much is for sure. Not sure how her “oh that’s cute” smiles at his whoppers (“fighting ISIS all her adult life”?) will play.

          So… Did I miss anything else informative while I was wiping up animal vomit?

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  9. Conor F has a great article on Trump:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/donald-trumps-cruel-streak/501554/

    But even in a realm where the harshest critiques are part of the civic process, Trump crossed a line this week when he declared his intention to invite Gennifer Flowers to today’s presidential debate. What kind of man invites a husband’s former mistress to an event to taunt his wife? Trump managed to launch an attack that couldn’t be less relevant to his opponent’s qualifications or more personally cruel. His campaign and his running-mate later said that it was all a big joke. No matter. Whether in earnest or in jest, Trump showed his tendency to humiliate others.

    Sadly I am learning that a lot of people really like Trump’s cruelty and no Republican, not even Ted Cruz could pick principals and conscious over endorsing Trump. Let us be reminded:

    What kind of person attacks a rival by mocking the appearance of his wife? For the whole of his presidential campaign, Trump has gleefully launched gutter attacks like this. And while a cruel streak directed solely at rivals would hardly be excusable, Trump doesn’t even have that excuse. After Chris Christie endorsed him, Trump attended a fundraiser with the New Jersey governor, and said this to the crowd: “I’m not eating Oreos anymore, you know that—but neither is Chris. You’re not eating Oreos anymore. No more Oreos. For either of us, Chris. Don’t feel bad.”

    That’s who Trump is: If he’s in front of a crowd with an ally who has a weight problem, he’ll find an excuse to bring it up, to humiliate the ally, for no apparent reason.

    But Cruz was a lackey and got up there to support Trump this week. I fear for what happens next even if HRC wins the election, even if she wins by a landslide. The genie is out of the bottle.

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    • I never liked Ted Cruz better than the moment he said, “Attack me all you want, Donald, but leave my wife out of it.” There, at least, was something I could really respect.

      Man says those sorts of things about my wife and my dad… I’m not endorsing him. Ever. Maybe I stay silent and don’t endorse anyone. I’m more than a little bit disappointed to see Cruz do that, not that I’d ever have likely voted for the guy in the first place.

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    • grrrgh

      principles

      conscience

      “I fear for what happens next even if HRC wins the election, even if she wins by a landslide. ”

      no shit.

      Drone strikes? “Trump woulda been worse!”

      Domestic surveillance? “Trump woulda been worse!”

      Partisan gridlock? “Trump woulda been worse!”

      Governance by regulatory fiat? “Trump woulda been worse!”

      Mass deportation in the name of public safety? “Trump woulda been worse!”

      Even if Donald Trump doesn’t get elected, he’ll still be the worst President ever!

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  10. Even though he’s still being as evasive, Trump is actually building his energy under repeated pressure from Holt, and it makes Trump look better than he did in his openning.

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  11. I’m listening to the debate. Trump’s strategy from the bits I’ve heard seem to be a combination of typical Republican talking points about regulations and taxes with a tone down version of his usual attack dog style. Hillary is pointing out her plans, trying not to be too wonky.

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  12. There is a limited constituency for which sarcastically agreeing with what your opponent is saying about you will be viewed positively and Hillary is already getting all those votes. She should stop doing that.

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    • Clinton’s response to the e-mail was, in my opinion, remarkable and smart because it was brief and honest. “I admit I made a mistake by using a private e-mail server.” (Or words to that effect.)

      It’s remarkable because so many politicians — Clinton herself, so often — simply refuse to admit having made mistakes at all.

      It’s smart because framing it as a “mistake” obliges the listener of goodwill to respond to it with a measure of forgiveness.

      It’s smarter because it drew Trump out to attack her (“That wasn’t just a ‘mistake,’ it was intentional,”) after she had made herself vulnerable and that looked just plain mean. Unhinged even.

      At least, that’s how I see it playing with the Normals. Who aren’t all that experienced with what it is to hold a security clearance.

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      • Yeah; now she can say “well I admitted I made a mistake”, “I already said I made a mistake”, “look it was just a mistake and I’ve admitted it”, “why are you still talking about something that I’ve already admitted was a mistake”.

        The fact that this “mistake” would have anyone else in jail is just something we’re not supposed to talk about because SHE ALREADY SAID THAT IT WAS A MISTAKE WHY ARE YOU STILL TALKING ABOUT IT

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        • The fact that this “mistake” would have anyone else in jail is just…

          …not true.

          For example, Colin Powell is not in jail. Nor is any of the Bush admin people who conducted official business through their RNC addresses to avoid recordkeeping.

          None of it is admirable, but none of it would ever have resulted in jail time.

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          • It’s also pretty clear that her private server was for unclassified mail (otherwise you’d have found a lot more than the few not marked or classified later examples there), which doesn’t stop people from acting like she set it up to get all her top-secret mail.

            And of course she clearly did it to get around FOIA, except she turned over 30,000 emails — and Powell turned over zero, and the Bush administration deleted 21 million….

            But Clinton, because she actually responded to FOIA requests, gets pilloried.

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          • “Colin Powell is not in jail.”

            Colin Powell did not do things for which he’d signed a form saying he’d go to jail if he did them.

            Although hey, if you want to limit it to FOIA stuff, sure, keep telling me about how it’s cool for Clinton to skate around FOIA requirements. I mean, that’s the argument you’re making, here, right? That it’s OK that she did this and we shouldn’t be upset?

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            • None of it is admirable, but none of it would ever have resulted in jail time.

              I mean, that’s the argument you’re making, here, right? That it’s OK that she did this and we shouldn’t be upset?

              Reading comprehension fail?

              Be as upset as you want, but it’s simply false that anyone else would go to jail for any of this. Outside of the GOP convention, there’s a line between “we are upset about someone” and “someone should be in jail”

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  13. I don’t think he’s ahead of schedule or under budget on the old post office. They did a soft opening this month, but the bulk I don’t think will be open until 2017. And his cash flow is all jacked up due the fight over the restaurants.

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  14. How is he mangling the gun issue? Isn’t his play “We can’t trust Secretary Clinton to figure out who the good people and the bad people are with her bureaucrats and her lawyers. That’s who’s going to take your guns from you because they think you’re a bad person?”

    I’m not even a trump supporter and I know that play.

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  15. Can I ask a question: Chicago’s violence issues (which are really) often get thrown at Obama’s feet because of his time in Illinois. Is that reasonable? I mean, it seems silly to blame a President for what is happening in a particular city, even if he has a historical connection there. But maybe I’m off…?

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  16. “Meuzelims”?

    By the way, every settlement everywhere in every context is done with the defendant not admitting guilt or culpability. The meat is found in the nature of the concessions the defendant makes in order to later proclaim “no admission of fault.” I do not know what the terms of the 1983 settlement were.

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  17. Nobody seems to point out that before Clinton was warning about ‘baited by a tweet’ she was wildly applauded for tweeting ‘Delete your account’ – as one does when baited by a tweet.

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    • My best, least knee-jerk bet is that either consciously or subconsciously, he’s attempting to claim dominance in the situation. It’s hard to google these days without finding either pickup artist advice or frustrated discussions of how to make men quit doing it, but as a measurable counter for behavior, it’s been around in psychology literature since at least the 60s.

      Here’s a relatively academic take on it: https://books.google.com/books?id=jZF5AgAAQBAJ&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138&dq=men+touching+dominance&source=bl&ots=uYV0FdQKuI&sig=waz2K6HADcwmG7JrYHS1mO3IYiM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjf8qfO867PAhVp5YMKHT-AAWc4ChDoAQg5MAg#v=onepage&q=men%20touching%20dominance&f=false

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      • It was weird. They shook hands and began walking towards Holt/the front of the stage. He put her hand on the small of her back (I guess technically it is possible he never made contact as the angle was from directly behind, so maybe there was a gap). Clinton *seemed* to give a subtle move to communicate discomfort or for him to move. He moved it and placed it back a second time.

        What was strange was that the rest of his body language seemed full of self-doubt. Like a teenage boy on a first day who can’t figure out if he should put his arm around the girl or not and ends up doing some weird move where he punches her in the shoulder like he would a dude friend.

        Maybe I’m reading too much into a non-event but it stood out to me. And, regardless of his intention, seemed wholly inappropriate. Layer that on top of him starting off calling her Hillary before making an explicit shift to “Secretary Clinton” with the “I want you to be happy” line only to shift back to Hillary. It’s like he didn’t know if he wanted to play the gentleman, poor-little-lady card or if he wanted to play the “Woman, know your place!” role. And, strangely, those can often emanate from the same place of seeing women as inherently inferior.

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  18. Clinton clearly won. Trump interrupting in the split screen was his worst look, and some of answers were too meandering to really land, but he didn’t completely self immolate. He could actually ‘win’ with some coaching, but who knows if he will take advice, esp since he did ‘good enough’. (And maybe he did get some coaching and this is really his best)

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  19. Trump seemed to have ADHD up there: he can’t focus on any particular subject.

    Alsotoo, the crowd gave up on the “no cheering, no clapping” thing and partisans of both sides got to loudly rooting towards the end. Which is kind of a knock on Holt as moderator, because it means that tempers and emotions got strong enough that he couldn’t keep the crowd in check.

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            • The purpose of this debate was to convince the partisans of both sides that they’d made the right choice by picking the candidate they did.

              And, I guess, it pretty much did. The people who wanted Trump got Trump, the people who wanted Clinton got Clinton (…finally.)

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              • I hope you’re wrong. I hope the purpose of the debate was for people with a general GOP affinity who are trying to decide if they can vote for the GOP candidate to determine whether he could function as a President.

                The 41% of the country that likes Trump is going to vote for him. But a lot of the 59% who don’t are Republicans. And most of them also don’t like Hillary, so they’re having to make a choice that (I hope) will depend upon whether it’s worth having an unhinged reality TV star in the white house to increase the odds of a large tax cut for the wealthy. Hopefully answers like his cavalier desire to attack Iran because they taunted us, and the contrast with Hillary feeling the need to reassure our allies we won’t break our treaties, resonate with that group.

                If I’m right, we should see a larger-than-normal swing to Hillary. Because hoo-boy was Donald nothing at all like a president.

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        • I dunno. Do Luntz’s dial groups or the CNN Florida undecided panels count?

          Plus, let’s be honest — the normals think what the media tells them to think. Gore won that debate according to the first snapshots and viewer polls, but 48 hours of media coverage turned his performance into a joke.

          Looking at the spin from both sides — Clinton’s spinning it as a win, and Trump’s side is spinning it as…”he was energetic”, I believe Ryan said. Too many on the R side of the lever are thinking “loss”.

          Assuming a truly neutral media, the “One side says Clinton wins, the other side is mixed with a lot saying “Lose”” and you end up with media coverage with implicit “Clinton won” baked in. Because one side says so, and the other isn’t disagreeing so much as internally arguing over whether he lost or not.

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          • Luntz’s focus groups of Republicans had low predictive value throughout the primaries. Normals, when being observed, seem to behave differently than those who are not. While it may be different now, there is no reason to assume it is so. So I’m not putting a whole lot of stock in that. The same goes for media framing, which didn’t seem to correlate with subsequent polling.

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            • I’ve never much trusted Luntz’s groups that much either, but they (and stuff like the CNN undecided group) are about all we’ve got.

              However, I DO know the media can and does color response by the way they report — more Americans read/watch media coverage about the debate than watched it.

              Like I said, if Team Blue is pushing “HRC won” and Team Red is splintered on “Win/Lost/Tied”, the media coverage will be more favorable to HRC even before you let viewers trust their own lying eyes by watching clips or reading transcripts. (of course it’s Clinton, so…no telling)

              However, what I’m seeing is Luntz’s group saying “bad night for Trump”, the CNN panel saying “bad night for Trump”, the spin from both sides saying “bad news from Trump”, and even Trump surrogates and conservative pundits not finding much good to say. (Ryan managed “energetic” , etc).

              So I don’t know what the normals are gonna say, but the few normals asked seem to agree with the elites — whom we know can influence coverage and literally define conventional wisdom.

              (On the other hand, let’s face it — this means the middle debate HAS to be Trump’s comeback story. Regardless of actual performance).

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  20. Okay. I was planning on listening/watching the debate tonight but it was wrestling night and my bud didn’t want to listen to the debate but, instead, watch wrestling.

    Fair enough.

    What I *DID* do, however, was listen to the first 20ish minutes of the debate and then, when I dropped off the car for Maribou at her work, talked with her a little bit about the debate.

    Kevin Drum or somebody said that the first half hour was the only part of the debate that matters and, as such, I figure I’m mostly good anyway.

    So I’m writing this in notepad first without logging on to the site and without reading any of the post-debate comments on here and, immediately after posting this, I’m going to scroll up and see how I did.

    Main observations:

    That poor moderator! No wonder he was acceptable to both parties!

    Hillary was good at this, she had facts and figures at her command and was able to take Donald in stride. Hey, politics ain’t beanbag and she communicated that she can take it as well as shovel it out.

    Donald, by comparison, wasn’t *BAD*, but he didn’t shine. He didn’t veer off into “he’s a bully” territory, which would have been awful for him, but he teetered on the whole “is he going to veer off into ‘he’s a bully’ territory?” which was merely not good for him.

    Hillary had to not lose this debate and, indeed, she didn’t lose it. But if those were the expectations, she didn’t merely meet them, she exceeded them.

    Given that Trump didn’t poop himself and smear feces on the podium, he exceeded expectations and, yeah, that’s good for him, but Hillary exceeded expectations too and, all things considered, that’s better for her than it is for him.

    If it were a football game, I’d say that the score was 28-17. Clinton demonstrated that her offense *AND* defense were better than Trump’s. It didn’t come down to a field goal and it didn’t come down to clock management.

    Though, if I may switch metaphors, neither was it a knockout punch.

    The main thing I thought about as I was listening was “who’s happy listening to this debate and who’s pissed off listening to this debate” and I thought that Hillary voters would be very happy and Trump voters would be pissed off.

    When I talked to Maribou, she told me that Breitbart’s poll had a 80-20 win for Trump and Drudge’s poll had a 90-10 win for Trump.

    And that tells me that Trump’s fans are very, very invested in getting online and creating a narrative that Trump won.

    Hillary’s fans don’t have to. They saw Hillary win the debate. They can go to bed without doing damage control. Perhaps even sleep easy tonight.

    (Now I’m going to scroll up and see how close I was!)

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    • I’d be really interested in your wife’s take on the….acrimonious nature of things. The interruptions, the shouting, and the general tone.

      In fact, I’m really hoping whoever’s polling this debate has enough responses to do decent crosstabs.

      I remember a lot of the internal football over the Biden/Palin debate, the list of things various pundits agreed Biden “had” to do to debate Palin without seeming condescending, bullying, or badgering. As best I can remember, Trump violated every single one of those tonight.

      Then again, it’s always different for the Clintons.

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