Monday, September 26, 2016


The widespread reaction to this on Twitter is that it's setting up a glaringly obvious double standard:

On Clinton's side, I think this could have been worse. The two slides are approximately equal in superficiality -- it's not as if Clinton's principal task is "Explain how to destroy ISIS and Al Qaeda while ending the war in Syria, elaborating on specific troop movements and fiscal-year expenditures in a series of detailed slides," while Trump's is "Don't talk about your penis." It's actually acknowledged here that Clinton has ideas for her presidency, which is something, even if the message is "C'mon, girl, give us a big smile and sell those ideas." And it's acknowledged that Clinton is, in fact, personable and appealing in small-group settings. (What, you mean she's not a humorless nut-crushing harridan all the time?) By the awful standards of most Clinton punditry, this is somewhat less than abysmal.

But Clinton will actually have to do all these things, and many more, for the pundits to credit her with a victory. She'll have to put the email question to rest. She'll have to put questions about the Clinton Foundation to rest. She'll have to do an effective job of defending her policy decisions on Libya, Syria, and Russia. She'll probably have to answer a question about why she's struggling in the polls, and the answer will have to seem neither self-pitying nor unrealistically optimistic (while Trump will get away with any chest-thumping boast he chooses to make, about the polls or anything else). Whatever pitch is thrown to her, she'll have to hit it out of the park; anything less will be held against her.

What's infuriating about the Trump slide is that he's highly unlikely to do any of the items on his list, yet he'll still probably be called the winner of the debate. He might not lie brazenly, but I'm sure he'll repeat his claim that he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, daring Clinton and Lester Holt to fact-check him. I'm sure he'll say, if the subject comes up, that birtherism was cooked up by the Clinton campaign. I'm sure he'll say an audit prevents him from releasing his taxes.

But if these are just fleeting moments, they'll be shrugged off as Trump being Trump. If he's not "blood out of her wherever" nasty to Clinton, he'll get credit for vastly improved deportment (even though he'll make quite a few "I alone can fix it" statements and display no "humility" whatsoever). And if he can pile up enough platitudes and critiques of the Clinton and Obama administrations to use up his allotted time on every question without resorting to word salad, no one will care that he's failed to "fill in the gaps in his policy proposals."

Pundits, you can surprise me by not treating Trump this way, which is not so much "grading on a curve" as throwing out all criteria and pre-assigning the man a gentleman's A-minus even before he takes the final. You can surprise me, but you won't, will you?



That's exactly what's going to happen.


Ed Baptist said...

Sounds like Trump is trying to limbo his way to success.

KenRight said...

Are any of you hoping Clinton will be fact checked into admitting war crimes, as authentic left blogger Welsh is?

Dark Avenger said...

You hope Donald Trump will fact-check Hillary?

Some advice for you, Mr. Hoop Loops: Meth kills.

KenRight said...

He fact checked all the GOPe rivals who defended Bush's war.
That's more than Killary did, since she still believes the war was just, only not fought correctly. Never heard her mention the lies about WMDs-probably since she was telling many of her own.

Jimbo said...

The MSM have been leaning so heavily on the scales for Trump for so long (in order to generate the horse race) that there is really no way for Clinton to "win" the debate (also Clinton Rules) short of a huge Trump meltdown, which is very unlikely. Most likely, nobody's views will be changed by this debate. The right wing has created a "monster" out of the Federal Govt. (Obama/Clinton) and even fomented talk of assassination. Trump is merely the avatar for this movement. What is so disturbing is that such a large portion of the population is ready to vote for someone who would enable the systematic destruction of the economy and social safety net nevermind climate change and political union. said...

In the Hilary can't win department, NY Times edition, their theater critics stated that with all Trump's lies she did not attack him enough. Speaking of NY Times theater critics, Maureen Dowd was on Bill Maher's show Friday. Either she had shared a bong with Bill, or was on her 4th Martini.