Thursday, September 08, 2016

SHOULD WE STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT MATT LAUER AND CONCENTRATE ON HOW AWFUL TRUMP WAS LAST NIGHT?

To some extent, I agree with Jonathan Chait, although I've never really doubted that Trump can win:
I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major party candidates.... I not only consume a lot of news, since it’s my job, I also tend to focus on elite print news sources. Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.
We know that Lauer spent the first half of Clinton's time obsessing over emails. We know he let Trump get away with lying about the fact that he initially supported the Iraq War and the invasion of Libya. It's good to press this, and I'm glad the criticism is coming not just from angry liberals on Twitter but from The New York Times:



The criticism is good. It might serve notice to the moderators of the upcoming debates, and to pundits and journalists in general.

But in the short term, this means we're not talking about Trump's performance last night, which could have been the focus this morning. I didn't watch the whole forum -- as it turns out, I came in just after Clinton's email inquisition -- but I watched the second half of Clinton's appearance and all of Trump's, and I think Josh Marshall has a point:
Trump said a lot of stuff that should and I suspect will get scrutinized going forward -- like literally time bombs lit tonight and exploding over the coming hours....

He doubled down on the inane idea that we "should have taken the oil with us" and deprived ISIS of oil revenue.... how on earth do you take the oil with you? It's really big. It's in the ground. You can put it in a box or a hundred boxes and ship back home.... It is the kind of nonsense that can be repeated and make Trump look like a buffoon....

He praised Putin....

He affirmed a tweet in which he suggested that of course there are lots of rapes in the military because that's what happens when you put men and women together. In other words, that's what men do. Not good....

The exchange where Lauer kept asking him why he wouldn't discuss his ISIS plans and then asked why he had to ask the generals if he had a plan and then Trump said well, maybe I'll combine the two plans ... this is a case where people are selling Lauer a bit short. That made Trump look like a jackass. People know from a young age when someone is trying to bullshit their way out of question.
What if, instead of flooding the zone with complaints about Lauer, pro-Clinonites were flooding the zone with denunciations of all this?

I'll grant, however, that some people actually like Trump's bullshit. Marshall tweeted that ISIS-plan exchange:



If you like bluster, if you like a guy saying "Of course I'll win at everything because I'm the world's biggest winner," then this answer was reassuing to you.

We don't know what percentage of the country feels that way. Until now, it's seemed like a minority, if just barely. So Clinton supporters should proceed as if that's true. Put this answer into an ad with mocking pizzicato strings and title cards that say things like "So - one plan or two?" "One?" "No - two." "Whoops! One." Et cetera, et cetera.

Sell the notion that Trump flopped last night and maybe it'll become conventional wisdom. Sell the notion that Clinton was wronged last night and the C.W. will be that she lost. (Which is what I think is happening.)

The problem is, maybe too many Americans like the bluster. This is the risk going forward: We're looking to fill a job opening, and one candidate is a thoroughly unqualified, inexperienced man with swagger and bluster, while the other is a not-very-charismatic woman with a few trouble spots on her resume but also a tremedous amount of grounding in precisely what the job requires. Who should get the job? It's obvious that the woman should. But who tends to get hired in such circumstances? The man.

Gail Collins watched the forum and wrote this:
The biggest current veterans’ issue -- health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs -- came up only briefly. Trump urged people to check out the plan on his website, which is actually different from the plan he described on stage. Clinton happily dived into her wonk mode. (“I’ve met so many vets who get mustered out, who leave the service, they can’t find their records from D.O.D., and those records never make it to the V.A.”)

Listen to her in these situations and you realize that this is a woman who has been to town hall meetings with virtually every single group of Americans who have a problem.
That's it -- that's why Clinton should be elected. She's steeped herself in the issues. On issue after issue, she gets it.

Marshall says something similar, but check his language:
... on question after question Clinton -- clearly by design -- tried to bury everyone in policy detail and command of the issues. She was smothering us with experience and we were smothered. You can think she's a liar and a crook and the worst person in the world. But you couldn't watch that segment and not realize she knows basically all the relevant issues inside and out. She's prepared. Whether you support her or like her is another matter. But she's prepared.
I didn't feel smothered -- I was impressed, plain and simple. The question is, how many people are simply impressed by Clinton's command of the issues and how many feel "smothered"? Can we hope that the former constitute a silent majority?

20 comments:

Unknown said...

The next time I need to provide a definition for "American Exceptionalism", I have one ready: The view in which hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis are "a trouble spot on one's resume".

Danp said...

If you were hosting "The Apprentice" and a contestant said he would solve all problems, but wouldn't tell you how, how would you reply?" Too easy. "You're fired."

Ten Bears said...

Lauer sure licked Dumpf uck 's ass. Didn't kick Dumpf uck 's ass, it had its tongue so far up Dumpf uck 's ass I wouldn't be surprised if it had difficulty speaking this morn. But then again, it has lot's of practice.

I thought she did as well as could be, given the circumstances, but she should have told it to eat shit and die.

Yes, it. It isn't human.

maxk1947 said...

Didn't President Cheney's "plan" for post-invasion Iraq include a huge amount of money coming to us from the sale of Iraqi oil? Weren't the oil fields quickly demolished? Didn't it take a long time to restore them, even with Halliburton on board?

Victor said...

Our MSM is determined to make this a close horse race.

And to do that, they keep off of t-RUMP's back, but put the full weight of the media on Hillary's.

Think of it was a race between a Clydesdale and a thoroughbred.
Only the Clydesdale has a tiny jockey, and the thoroughbred has an offensive line to its back.

Yastreblyansky said...

Unk, at long last, Clinton's vote on the AUMF had virtually no relation to the death of Iraqis, since the resolution would easily have passed without her--for that matter it would still have had the votes of Kerry, Biden, Edwards, Dodd but would have passed without them too. The Senate vote was 77 to 23, with 29 Democrats voting in favor. All honor to the 21 Democrats who understood that Bush's promise not to use military force was a lie and managed to vote against it, but it's time to stop acting as if Clinton did this all by herself or played any but the most minor role, except when she prophetically warned Bush, in the Senate debate, not to do what he did:

Some people favor attacking Saddam Hussein now, with any allies we can muster, in the belief that one more round of weapons inspections would not produce the required disarmament, and that deposing Saddam would be a positive good for the Iraqi people ....
However, this course is fraught with danger.... If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has talked of an invasion of Georgia to attack Chechen rebels...


Which of course Russia did in 2008.

Yastreblyansky said...

I should have said Bush's promise not to use force except as a "last resort".

Isaac Segal said...

On the bright side, the story that Lauer let Trump get away with lying about the Iraq War is probably getting more play than if he had challenged him on the spot. The result is that more people end up aware that Trump is bullshitting about at least one issue.

tony in san diego said...

I can't really believe that at this point in the campaign there is anyone who hasn't decided what kind of vote they intend to cast. It is all Kabuki from now on. Nobody who hates Hillary is going to start to like her. Nobody who likes her is going to be swayed by anything thrown at her in the next few weeks.

Molly Layton said...

It bears observing that "smothering" is often an unconscious code for "mothering," and all the ways that one person might feel oppressed and in particular engulfed by another. In this case, it's interesting not so much that the "smotherer" is female but that the person feeling "smothered" is male, and so sounding like the classic you-can't-tell-me-what-to-do of the adolescent.

Robert said...

Yasterblyansky,
Thanks for reminding all that the Democratic Parties fingerprints are also all over W's Great Iraq Clusterfuck.

John Taylor said...

The media has set the bar so low for Trump that it's underground.

John Taylor said...

So we should hand the White House back to the party that mostly caused those deaths?

Robert said...

Not sure if that is in response to me, John Taylor, but if so, the answer is: Hell no! Republicans should never be anywhere near the levers of government. And, it should go without saying, neither should any politician who wants to "reach across the aisle" or emulate them.

Steve M. said...

I can't really believe that at this point in the campaign there is anyone who hasn't decided what kind of vote they intend to cast.

Pollsters are telling us that there's an unusually large number of undecideds this year.

KenRight said...

The guy opposed Iraq and called Clinton trigger-happy. Otoh, Clinton was touting Iraq as a bizness opportunity long after Trump turned against it.

Lara said...

Hear, hear. This needs to be said more often. Secretary Clinton's detractors (and fevered haters) have developed this laundry list of complaints against her, and they've trotted them out so many exhausting millions of times that they've distilled each one this sort of mythic Evil Deed; I feel like they don't even remember the background of most of them, and that many may not ever have known the details. They can just scream 'Benghazi!' or 'She voted for Iraq!' and expect it will get everyone's blood boiling to the same degree as their own.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Trump loved The Iraq War until we didn't just steal their oil.

Dark Avenger said...

By saying turned against it, you're admitting that Trump supported the war at first, not accepting his story that he was always against it.

That's going to lead to a cut in your payoffs from Putin et al if you keep it up, Mr.(Fruit)Loops.

Impolitics said...

Josh Marshall's "praise" of Trump's ISIS answers was of course tongue-virtually-bursting-through-cheek.