Monday, October 10, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Lock Her Up

Once again I missed the debate live.  Ironically enough we had dinner with some theatre friends during what was probably the live theatre event of the year.  What I've read since has not inspired me to actually watch the debate--especially since it was often described as the ugliest in presidential debate history-- so I'm not sure I will.  But the various responses have been interesting.

The overall impression seems to be that Trump played to his base successfully, and that prevents a total free fall, but that Hillary comes out of it still way ahead.  Beyond that, there are various impressions, much more scattered than for the first debate.

The CNN poll showed that 57% thought Clinton won the debate.  That about the same percentage of viewers surveyed who said they supported Clinton.  But only 34% thought Trump won.

 I get the sense that in the end who "won" the debate will matter less than the impressions various categories of voters came away with (some will see Trump's body language as alpha male, others as bullying) and especially what comes next in the news cycle.  My guess is: nothing good for Trump, because there's still more video and audio out there.

If Trump firmed up what remained of his base, absent voters he lost with the tapes, we're talking about maybe 38%.  That may not even win him Texas.

Something else to look for on Monday: Although he congratulated Trump on his debate, Mike Pence has cancelled his appearance at a fundraiser.  During the debate Trump specifically took a different position from what Pence articulated at his debate.  Politico also reports that there are big meetings Monday, as the RNC decides what it will do, and Paul Ryan decides what if anything he will do.

Many of the headlines focused on Trump's extraordinary pledge to, if elected, jail his opponent.  It's hard to understand the spin that gives Trump such credit when he called his opponent the devil.  Sounds vicious and crazy and Hitlerish to me, but perhaps that says more about what he's done to political discourse, or maybe the vested interest the media has in keeping this interesting.

Chris Cillizza at the WPost did his winners and losers: winners were Clinton (if only by letting Trump self-destruct), moderator Martha Radditz (not a surprise to me, I know her as one of the more intelligent and knowledgeable mediaites) with Trump the loser, if only that he appealed only to his base, not large enough to win him the election.  (This was a common evaluation in the first half dozen responses I read.)

T. Goddard:
This debate should be seen as Trump’s official divorce from the Republican party... At this point, it’s hard to see the Republican party offer any help to his campaign. As for the debate, Trump was completely unprepared. His body language was terrible...Considering that backdrop, Clinton did a decent job. She was very smart to stick to audience questions and try to understand their concerns. Rather than needle Trump as she did in the first debate, she mostly tried to ignore him.

Clinton wasn’t perfect. Her answer on her emails was extremely weak. She left many of Trump’s attacks unanswered. But there’s only one candidate seriously running for president at this point. She won the debate hands down. It’s hard to imagine Trump won over even a single voter tonight.

Richard Wolffe at the Guardian:
 "That banging sound you heard were the last nails being hammered into the coffin of the Trump campaign... Wounded animals behave in strange ways, and Donald Trump was nothing if not strange at the second presidential debate...The nicest thing you could say about Trump’s performance was that it was bonkers. A Red Bull display of sheer madness all the way to the end..."

Roger Simon at Politico:
Before the second presidential debate began, Donald Trump let it be known that he was going to go “nuclear” on Hillary Clinton. I think he’s going to need bigger nukes next time.And shovels. A lot of shovels. To dig himself out of all the holes he dug himself into.

It’s not that the questions were bad or the issues unimportant. It’s just that Trump kept being Trump. Which is to say ill-informed, unprepared and often preposterous. And this was a very, very important debate to Trump. It’s always important when there is a videotape of a candidate acting like a serial sexual predator...

Jamelle Bouie at Slate:
The most important part of Sunday night’s presidential debate happened within the first 20 minutes. The rest wasn’t uninteresting—at one point, Donald Trump confessed to not paying income taxes, at another broke with his running mate on what to do in Syria—but it wasn’t vital. It wasn’t, and shouldn’t be, the chief takeaway.
The honor goes to the first major moment of the debate. That’s where, after a lengthy exchange, a menacing and almost unhinged Trump threatened to put Clinton in prison should he win the White House in November. Even in a campaign in which Republican crowds chant “lock her up” and Trump surrogates play-act anti-Clinton tribunals, it was extraordinary and disturbing. The behavior of a despot, not of a president...

In all of this, it’s worth noting the complicity of GOP leadership. An hour after Trump promised to jail his opponent if elected president, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus praised his nominee’s performance."

E.J. Dionne:
Friday’s video almost certainly ended any chance Trump has of becoming president. Clinton understood this and acted accordingly, believing that Trump would do her work for her. He largely did. Trump’s desire to fight back ferociously kept him in the race but left him badly wounded and made some of the wounds deeper. He was thus more dangerous to his party after the debate than he was before it began."

Jonathan Capehart:
From what I can see on the Twitters and from my GOP sources, Trump appears to have held off the revolt that seemed sure to come on Monday. But the damage is done. What Trump has done in the 13 days since the first debate, especially since the release of his lecherous and offensive “Tic Tac” banter from 2005 that suggested a penchant for sexual assault, should be all the proof anyone needs that he should not be president of the United States. He has destroyed the GOP. God forbid he be given the chance to destroy the USA."

But perhaps the most meaningful response in terms of outcome:

A New York Times piece deals with the response of women viewers: "In nearly two dozen interviews conducted in person and by telephone during the debate, women expressed deep reservations about Mr. Trump’s demeanor, interruptions and, above all, the dismissive manner with which he brushed aside the recording in which he casually bragged about assaulting women."

And guess what kids?  There' still one more debate!

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