Thursday, September 08, 2016


Josh Barro thinks the debates should be a piece of cake for Hillary Clinton:
My main take-away from watching Wednesday's Commander-in-Chief Forum on MSNBC ... was that Hillary Clinton will not have much trouble inducing errors by Donald Trump in their debates.

Trump did especially badly on Wednesday when he was repeatedly pressed about stupid things he had said in the past: For example, that he knows more about ISIS than the generals do, or that Vladimir Putin is "highly respected within his own country and beyond" and is "getting an A" for leadership.

Trump is incapable of disavowing such statements or effectively changing the subject. Instead, he doubles down.

By aggressively pushing back, interrupting and correcting when Trump is in the wrong, Clinton can rattle and annoy him, drawing out responses that escalate in both anger and stupidity.
Citing Trump's answers last night when asked about his "secret plan" to defeat ISIS and his past praise of Putin, Barro writes:
In both of these series of questions, Trump got more rattled, more adamant, and more bizarre as the questioning went on. And that was just under aggressive questioning by an interviewer. Imagine how he's likely to react under pressure from a political opponent.
I'll leave it to you whether Matt Lauer's questioning of Trump qualifies as "aggressive." But please note: Clinton, according to Barro, should breeze through the debates if she challenges him (yes, her job) and corrects him (some responsibility for which should fall on the moderator). Piece of cake!
Remember, during the primaries, Trump allowed himself to get baited in to bragging about the size of his penis on a debate stage. This is not a man with discretion or self-control.
Yes, and also remember: Acting like that won him the Republican presidential nomination, and got him to within a few points of Clinton in general election polls.

Barro does introduce a note of caution:
When I tweeted that Wednesday's forum showed Clinton should be as aggressive as possible when debating Trump, my MSNBC colleague Irin Carmon responded that this is a risky strategy for a female candidate.
But then he throws caution to the winds, as men are wont to do in such discussions:
Ordinarily, I would say that's true. But Trump's response to Clinton's aggression is likely to be be so overaggressive and undirected as to make her focused aggression seem measured and presidential. Plus, aggression from Clinton will help to combat Trump's charges that she lacks the "strength and stamina" to be president.
No it won't. If Hillary Clinton reaches 3 or 4 on an aggression scale of 1 to 10, she'll be called shrill, hectoring, castrating, a witch, a bitch, a cu... well, I'm not going to go any further. By contrast, even if Trump gets to 9 or 10, whatever he says is just going to be called "tough talk" or "blistering rebuttals." And aggression on Clinton's part won't put the health questions to rest -- Trump and his surrogates will just start questioning her mental health ("Crooked Hillary seemed really unhinged last night"). Fox and Matt Drudge and Breitbart and Reince Priebus will be an amen chorus for that line of attack.

Too much of America considers Trump attractive when he's enraged -- and too much of America considers women deranged when they're merely expressing justifiable anger in a measured way.

Besides, this isn't what rattles Trump. Two people have genuinely rattled Trump, and they've done it by lulling him and then pouncing, but still in a quiet way. I'm thinking of Barack Obama's birth certificate/White House Correspondents Dinner one-two punch and David Letterman's sneak attack on Trump as an outsourcer. Everything else just gives him the opportunity to huff and puff and seem like the Big Man to the disturbingly large number of Americans who think trash talk equals toughness. And both required a lot of advance planning and a team of gag writers.

So how about asking the debate moderators, and the rest of the press, to do their job instead of assuming Hillary Clinton will do it?


AllieG said...

Agreed. I've posted here before I think Clinton should ignore Trump as much as possible in the debate, but if the fur's gonna fly (and it will have to eventually) her rule should be to make him start it.

Victor said...

I'm still not convinced that t-RUMP will debate.
I think he's deathly afraid of "losing to a girl," and will come up with some stupid excuse.

But yeah, Hillary can't be TOO tough on the imbecile.
He's like a mentally-challenged ADD child, who expects to get a trophy for playing X-sport, or Y-instrument.

In other words, he's totally AGAINST "political correctness" - unless it applies to him!

How dare anyone question him?

KenRight said...

Putin is far more popular in Russia than Obama is in the US, but true, Romney, McCain, Dole would not have said it. Much to their discredit and your more relaxed preference.

swkellogg said...

"No it won't. If Hillary Clinton reaches 3 or 4 on an aggression scale of 1 to 10, she'll be called shrill, hectoring, castrating, a witch, a bitch, a cu... well, I'm not going to go any further."

The Beinert piece over at the Atlantic underscores this risk.

Of course, such concerns will be dismissed by the right as a bunch of nonsensical feminist ranting, since we all know that sexism, like racism, is a thing of the past -- except in the case of the "real sexists™", who like the "real racists™" are alway pointing out such imaginings in order to further oppress the hapless white male.

CF2K said...

EXACTLY. The "real" sexists, like the "real" racists, will be the ones who refuse to continue to pretend that racism and sexism don't exist.

KenRight said...

Of course racism exists on all sides. You believed in the multiculturalist lie?

Feud Turgidson said...

Thank you, Steve M., for enabling my very first experience in using "ROTFLMAO" in a non-ironic way, with your Plea for the Ages:

"So how about asking the debate moderators, and the rest of the press, to do their job instead of assuming Hillary Clinton will do it?"


trnc said...

"Putin is far more popular in Russia than Obama is in the US"

Yeah, and Russia having state run media couldn't possibly be a factor in that. Once again, someone unintentionally highlights the fact that if the US media was as liberal as wingnuts say they are, we'd probably never hear from most republicans again, much less have republican majorities in congress.

Jimbo said...

Ken Right, as someone who has actually worked in Russia, you totally have no idea what you are talking about. Putin's Russia is a federation of states and special territories. Most of the minorities (e.g. all of the Muslim majority states like Chechnya or Dagestan or the people like the Tatars or most of the Siberians) despise him. Arguably, many educated Russians also hate him. So that leaves the military and low information "voters" of which there are quite a few in Russia. Also, there is no free press or other independent news media at all in Russia. Putin is essentially an elected dictator and an enabler of corrupt oligarchs, which is exactly why he is the dreamboat of the GOP since that is their own aspirational goal for a President.