Tuesday, August 30, 2016


The New York Times has a pretty good story about Hillary Clinton's debate prep (and Donald Trump's lack of it). I think it's good that Clinton's preparation has been thorough -- she knows how to master issues and debate them with fellow policy wonks, but a lot of Americans (including many A-list journalists) dislike her and don't want a woman, much less a wonky woman, to outdebate the high school football hero. Tony Schwartz, who wrote The Art of the Deal for Trump and has now turned against him, is helping Clinton prepare; he says,
“Clinton has to be careful -- she could get everything right and still potentially lose the debates if she comes off as too condescending, too much of a know-it-all.”
I don't think he's being sexist -- I thik he's acknowledging the reality of sexism (and American anti-elitism). This is a challenge for Clinton.

I have one quibble I have with the Times story -- I don't agree with this:
Mr. Trump said in the interview that he would “rather not” attack Mrs. Clinton on personal grounds, including Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs.

“If she hits me, though -- you have to see what happens,” Mr. Trump said.

It was this unpredictability that often made Mr. Trump an elusive target for fellow Republicans in the primary debates....
Trump's fellow Republicans didn't struggle in debates with him because he was unpredictable. They struggled because they couldn't attack him on issues or style, for the obvious reason that his approach to issues (simple-minded, alternately punitive and grandiose) and style (bullying, vindictive) were precisely what Republican primary voters craved. Voters in the GOP primaries wanted to believe that all of America's problems could be solved by a hostile guy at the end of the bar just making stuff up, and intimidating anyone who challenged him. They wanted to believe that everything in America will be fine if evil, mostly darker-skinned people are just ground into the dust under a strongman's boot -- and they enjoyed watching Trump play the role of that strongman, imagining that every time he was cruel to a fellow candidate he was modeling how pitilessly he'd treat terrorists or Mexicans. Trump's opponents couldn't beat him because he was precisely what their party wanted.

Trump isn't what America as a whole wants -- maybe 45% of America (if we're lucky), but not a majority -- so that's an advantage Clinton will have. But she knows he'll be a bully in the debates. Everyone knows that. It's just not clear precisely how, or what her best response will be.


Victor said...

I'm sure the ratings will be pretty high.*
It'll be ugly.

One part of the viewers want to see Hillary leave his melting on the debate stage like a cow-patty in a hot rain.
And another part, will be looking for him to degrade her, the way he did the other sociopathic and unfunny bozo's who ran against him.

And the media can't wait for Hillary to sigh, so they can "gore" he like a bull does a drunken matador who forgot to put in his contact lenses!

*Presuming, of course, that t-RUMP doesn't find some excuse to not go to any debate.
Maybe the same "injury" that kept him out of the Vietnam War will crop up again.

AllieG said...

I actually think her best ploy would be to ignore Trump as much as possible and speak directly to the audience in the "here's what I'll do as President" mode." Act like it's a done deal. This would be the easiest way to get him into a mindless rage.
The media will NEVER say Clinton won a debate, so her best move is to act like it's not a debate at all.

Never Ben Better said...

I think you're spot on, AllieG.

rclz said...

AllieG this sounds very good. Just ignore his stupidity and move on. If she does that and he attacks her it makes him look smaller than he already does.

I think the 45% is high but I also thought the country was smart enough not to elect W the second time and I never thought they were smart enough to elect President Obama the first time, so what do I know?

Feud Turgidson said...

As usual, I stand with Victo- ... actually, only on the first bit; on the rest, I side with AllieG. But as usual, I go on (and on...).

Tony Schwartz is a good person. Moreover, he fits the demeanor type HRC has learned to trust, particularly from and since her experience in the 2008 primaries.

I don't expect Trump to duck the ENTIRE debate process, but I do predict his main strategy here lies not in prep but in working the refs.

Trump will go - IS GOING NOW - all in on levering media anxiety over his participation for how many, which ones, in what setting, before what audience, with which moderator(s).

Trump knows HRC. He's nothing if not media savvy: he knows she was better at this than 2008 Obama and that she's a standard deviation or more better than anyone Trump faced.

Plus she had a more rigorous run-up. We err in assuming Sanders is NOT good at debates. Sanders can come across as eccentric, but he's old school media savvy, calculating, consistent, courageous, fast on his feet, always on message, always in position, always poised, a rock, & shrewd: he was The Formidable Opponent in that context and could put up a good fight in most contexts, even a GOP stage.

I'm not trying to reduce credit to AllieG, but to me that obviously WILL be what she does, given: they know each other, and understand each other well enough; their respective records; her proven ability at deflating male egos; Schwartz' involvement; and her speech last week, BEYOND ARGUMENT aimed at Trump's ego and the debates.

But again: Trump knows ALL this. So why attend?

Because he's behind, more than recent (cough Emerson cough) polling suggests, where he likely will stay unless fate deals him an inside royal flush or he can shake things up.

So, the Shakeup: first, there's no way he sustains it over 3 debates. Don't forget: he MOSTLY DID NOT even try to in the GOP primary debates. He skipped one; several he went passive for; he played Trump the Reasonable in one; he over-talked BillO-style in one; one featured almost nothing from him except fidgeting, sighing like he was bored, pointing to the audience, face bombing, making extraneous noise, being obvioussly stagey in his movements, interrupting, throat-clearing, scene stealing - and he repeated some of the same behavior in others where he at least participated in a spat or two.

Basically Trump took down ONE OPPONENT: JEB!, a total puff pastry covering over a tomato can who actually could well have been a match for every other candidate on the GOP stage. Even Trump's best single work in the entire GOP debates process was done for him by his second, Christie, in going after Water Boy.

If I'm Ailes over to huddle up with Trump, I've come in with one piece of advice: You only get one shot at the royal, so make it count.

Cut the ring down to size: pull out all your best bullshit moves, delaying, rope-ad-dope, whatever, all aimed at reducing a 3 debates process moderated by some PBS eggheads where you're bound to get creamed, to a single debate where you go Full Trumpy. Aim that whole mofo at a single outrageous Hail Mary gimmick ploy, way too early to be seen coming or after having worked the refs, ropes and crowd so hard you've exasperated HRC just long enough to pull off your one big ploy.

What. the. hell. does he have to lose?

KenRight said...


Clinton of course never invented any diversionary explanations for anything, say like Benghazi.

jsrtheta said...

@AllieG: I disagree. They will say she won every debate. They have a narrative to keep going, and it doesn't include making the country point and laugh at them by saying Trump did well in the debates.

Remember, he didn't really do well in the Republican debates. He kept quiet a lot. He picked his spots. He is a horrible debater - it is no more his milieu than tea at Buckingham Palace.

But those weren't debates anyway. They were barely controlled mob scenes. The best thing Trump had going was that a gang of idiots decided to run for president, instead of two or three. With a crowded stage, no one looked particularly good because there just wasn't enough time to actually articulate a developed position on anything.

I agree that sexism (and anti-elitism) will be a problem for Hillary. We remain very much convinced in this country that professionalism and expertise are suspect qualities. We prize amateurism as somehow "authentic," as if doing something well is to be avoided.

But one-on-one debates are not helpful at all to Trump. And I suspect no matter who the moderators are, they will be unable to resist pointing out Trump's ignorance and mendacity as the night wears on.

Victor said...

Do you any idea of how many State Department employees died under W?
Of, how many under Reagan? And that's NOT counting the Marines and other military personnel under the addled Reagan, and that simpleton, W?

There's a new thing called "Google" - it's a search-engine.
Use it, and maybe you won't sound so feckin' stupid and ignorant when you comment here, and other web-sites - this, of course excludes your favorite Reich-Wing web-sites, where being a "MORAN!!!" about any subject, is looked upon as a plus.

What an assclown!

Glennis said...

Why will Trump attend? Because his ego won't let him back out.

KenRight can go pound sand.

KenRight said...


You've got me mistaken for a GOP Elitist reactionary hack, the twin of Hillary's Dem Elitist reactionary hacks.
I opposed all interventions in the Mideast, most of which Clinton supported some of which even Sanders supported, he also, unlike a real anti-Elitist, Kucinich, who opposed them all, along with Ron Paul and Buchanan other anti-Elitists on the right.

Reagan sent in the Marines as a buffer for Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Unlike Clinton and W Bush, I am opposed to any alliance with Israel, or with Saudi, another Clinton/Bush favorite, also Obama's who just warned Iran re Yemen that US alliance with SA was indissoluble, so he and Clinton will continue funding and giving strategic help to the Wahhabist destruction of Yemen.
All these American imperial interventions are disgusting and the loss of US life inevitable. Jill Stein opposed them all-vote for her if you want to keep your hands clean. Vote Trump if you want less intervention and greater allowance of Russia to exert a balancing and calming influence in the region, with its assistance to Christian-protecting Syria.
Vote Clinton if you want more unwinnable and immoral war than even Obama was prepared to engage in.

Ten Bears said...

Couple thousand years ago Sun Tzu wrote that traveling forward under the assumption of victory is generally a bad idea, but on the other hand I find dealing with the dumpf ucks around me everyday from a position of as much stoic contempt as can be mustered while remaining polite, perhaps smiling even, to be quite satisfying. Ignore it if it doesn't add value. It's beneath me.

Victor said...

You bore me.

I'm done responding to you.
I'm done feeding you.
Troll alone.