Sunday, September 25, 2016


Josh Marshall predicts that Donald Trump won't be as nasty in tomorrow's debate as many people expect him to be:
... fairly few of the really damaging things he said in this campaign were in the debates. They tended to be at rallies or in interviews. Put simply, Trump wasn't as crazy or unhinged in debates as people seem to remember. So if we're expecting him to come in trash talking and angry I think we may be surprised, at least at first.
What Marshall thinks will really get Trump in trouble will be the need to talk about issues at length in what will be his first two-person debate. As Marshall sees it, we'll all know what a simpleton Trump is as soon as he starts having exchanges like this one from the September 7 national security forum:

Marshall thinks this is self-evidently awful.
As I said at the time: I think this exchange is pretty obvious for people in a way that transcends politics and ideology. Trump is the kid telling the teacher the dog ate his homework. Then the teacher points out he has no dog. But he's not going to apologize or come clean. He's just going to keep talking.
But that's not what I take away from it. I'm imagining how this must have gone over with voters -- not just Trump supporters, but persuadable voters in the middle. Most Americans aren't politics junkies and aren't particularly sophisticated about foreign policy. And, maddeningly, far too many Americans think Trump is honest, which means they think he's arguing in good faith, rather than slinging bullshit.

So what did these voters see? They saw a guy saying he doesn't want to tip his hand on ISIS because he wants ISIS to find him "unpredictable." (Presidential!) They saw him saying he'd respectfully turn to generals for advice about ISIS. (Presidential!) They saw him say that, yes, he long ago devised his own plan for defeating ISIS. (Presidential!) But he wants to refine his plan by turning to those with military experience. (Presidential!)

That Trump is BS'ing us is obvious if you put all his statements together. But if you're a casual voter, every statement in isolation seems to pass the commander-in-chief test.

That's what I worry about: Trump finding enough platitudes, bumper-sticker slogans, and hollow boasts to fill up his half of a ninety-minute debate, and the press giving him a gentleman's C -- no, a gentleman's B-plus or A-minus -- because he was expected to do worse.


Ed Crotty said...

" far too many Americans think Trump is honest, which means they think he's arguing in good faith, rather than slinging bullshit." - Far too many Americans are racist shitbags. Far too many Americans are idiots. Far too many Americans have attention spans shorter than those of a fruit fly.

Feud Turgidson said...

A thing I'd like to see & hear at the first debate: one candidate saying, I invited Mark Cuban as my guest to this debate. I'm proud of this invitation. If the moderator or my opponent were to ask after my motivation for inviting Mr. Cuban, I'd also b be happy and proud to tell you all. It's symbolic. If you don't ask me, then I encourage the media present to ask Mr. Cuban why he agreed to come as my guest.

My opponent invited a guest, too. I assume for some purpose. Maybe sybmoblism; I don't know. I'd be happy to yield a minute of my time right now for him to explain why it is he brought to this debate a woman who's a discredited witness from my HUSBAND's past - what's the purpose in that, I'd like him to try to explain to the American people. And similarly, I'd encourage the media present here today to ask her why she thinks she was invited, for what purpose. Can you step forward right now and explain it, Miss Flowers?

Tom said...

Feud Turgidson, good thought but now we have heard from the Trump campaign this morning (Pence on Faux News) that the Flowers thing was really just a joke to (somehow) mock the Clinton campaign.

I don't have to read The Onion any more.

Unknown said...

Donald Trump is supremely ignorant but so are many of his supporters. Clinton should stick to policy and brush off any insults. She may be able to sway those sitting on my fence.

Unknown said...

The fence. Damn auto correct.

debg said...

If you read the comments on any of the recent "Trump lies" stories, you'll see a truly stunning lack of critical thinking. I think Steve's right--most people who are leaning Trump, as well as the true believers, won't put 2 and 2 together from his debate performance.

Anonymous said...

My day-gig requires that I regularly root about the bowels of the reichwing-o'sphere and the only thing blatent I see, or more accurately smell, is the stink of desperation.

Phil Freeman said...

There's no such thing as "persuadable voters in the middle" anymore. They were all hunted to extinction at the end of the 20th Century.

Li'l Innocent said...

Ed Crotty: Far too many Americans have received insufficient, underfunded public educations. Nobody's born knowing how to think critically, logically, and independently.

Jimbo said...

Public education, per se, has little to do with it since a lot of people have gotten great publicly funded education and understand critical thinking, etc. What matters is the public policy that governs the funding of that education and the content of that education. A lot of Trump voters come from regions or classes that have a heavy right-wing bias and most definitely don't care about critical thinking.

Ken_L said...

The vast majority of Americans formed firm opinions about Trump and Hillary a long time ago. The idea that the debates will be some kind of gamechanger is wishful thinking. It's going to be a close election, probably decided by who can get out the vote more effectively.

Anonymous said...

I wrote recently (if I didn't I meant to) elsewhere of how my first and firm impession of Donald T Dumpf uck was with his carnival barking the world wrestling federation twenty-five or thirty years ago, and remains so to this day. Wrasslin' was a big thing out here back in the day, Friday nights at eight, and Portland Wrestling was foundational to the industry.

Of limited trivia to be sure but for the not quite Alzheimered eighty year old ex father-in-law to whom I am covertly caregiver, whose first and firm impressions of Donald T Dumpf uck were lain down at the same damned time, same damned television and though in all ways the stereotypical Dumpf uck voter refuses to even consider doing so, has declared and I do not dount him he will vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Caveat Emptor
Ten Bears

Steve M. said...

There's no such thing as "persuadable voters in the middle" anymore.

FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten this morning:

there are an unusually large number of voters who are either undecided or favoring a third-party candidate at the moment.

AllieG said...

To the extent Trump has coherent policy proposals, his one on the economy (as ever, issue one for the most voters) is "big tax cut for the rich." This is the same old, same old, and Clinton can say that. Strange but true. As unpopular as Trump is (Clinton too, of course) he is still viewed favorably by more people than is the Republican Party as a whole.