Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Morning After

It didn't take Donald long to rebound, claiming "there was no sniffles," pointing to Drudge Report polls that showed him winning the debate, and getting a little help from conservative pundits like Morning Joe and Newt Gingrich.  But, probably the most telling comment of all came from Mayor Rudy, who felt Trump should skip out on the remaining debates given how unfair the questions were in the first debate.

Virtually every major media outlet gave Hillary the win Monday night.  It was clear to the approximately 100 million viewers that Trump was badly off his game and never really challenged Clinton throughout the night.  Caroline Framke of Vox said what threw off the Donald was the lack of crowd response.  Silence acts as a wet blanket for an improv candidate like Trump, who thrives off a lively audience.  But, it was more than that.  He was unable to bait her into an ugly exchange like we saw during the GOP debates, and he had no one to hide behind like he did Chris Christie, when the fat man took out Marco Rubio at a key juncture of the primaries.

One on one, Trump is unable to match up against an adversary like Hillary Clinton.  He was forced to elaborate on his standard talking points, often unable to fill two minutes without rambling way off track.  The saddest moment came when he was asked to explain his position on the Iraq War.  He evoked Sean Hannity no less than four times to prove he was opposed to the war before it began.  Although Sean later backed him up, he could only say they had telephone conversations at the time.  There was no clip like that of the Howard Stern show to substantiate this claim.

Not that it really mattered because in the next forced breath, Trump was trying to claim that ISIS arose from the vacuum left in Iraq when the US withdrew its forces in 2011.  Yet, he adamantly stated in the oft-mentioned Esquire interview from 2004 that we should have never been there in the first place.  You have to give him some credit for getting the outcome partially right, but if we are to interpret his bellicose words it is Bush who is to blame here, not Obama, and certainly not Hillary.

Trump's pretzel logic works on his adoring flock, but it doesn't work in this type of debate setting.  He was notably peeved that Lester Holt kept pressing him to answer the questions he so desperately tried to avoid, and when finally compelled to do so came out with the most twisted, circular reasoning we have seen yet on the campaign trail.  He spun wildly out of control on the issue of nuclear weapons, losing all track of what he was trying to say.

It reminded me of the time Newt Gingrich managed to bait Herman Cain into a so-called Lincoln-Douglas debate in 2011.  Cain was the front runner at the time, but clearly out of his realm.  Newt coyly got the Herminator to take him up on his offer only to pick him apart on stage for all to see.  Trump, like Cain, paints in big fat strokes, he has no sense of nuance, let alone policy, and is out of his realm against someone who does.

Donald also has too big an ego to do the work necessary to prepare for a debate like this.  He thinks he can wing it, not realizing how long 90 minutes is when you really have nothing to say.  It is doubtful he will prepare anymore for the next debate.  Most likely, he will throw caution to the wind and go after Hillary from every possible angle, hoping to find a weak spot to exploit.  No more Mr. Nice Guy.

I'm sure Hillary will be ready for whatever Donald throws at her.  Like she said, she withstood 11 hours of cross-examination before the House Benghazi committee.  What could Trump possibly say that could match that level of inquisition?  This is a woman who has been through the political fire multiple times while Trump is still very much the novice.

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