The Clinton/Trump First Debate: Blah, blah, blah at Hofstra

I got very up for the debate but in watching it I recalled a number of Super Bowl’s that have excited me in the past, but only until the kick off.    To hasten to the nub, Trump won the first half and Hillary the second half and the contest itself, at least according to the general consensus (including members of Trump’s own camp who think he had opportunities he blew).

I have said before that winning to me means swaying the relatively few undecideds one way or another.   I was looking for signs of that but nothing jumped out at me, hence my boredom as neither candidate said anything I haven’t heard before.

Since the debate I have seen attention paid to Trump’s blustering bully show in the second half of the contest, implying that Trump’s performance and Clinton’s response might have garnered some votes for her.   After all he interrupted her some 51 times to her 17, the kind of overbearing treatment most women can relate to and resent.   He also accused her of lacking the stamina needed to be president, another macho move which backfired in that she was the one who still looked strong and focused at the end while he looked tuckered out and incoherent.

Perhaps the irony of that was obvious enough without needing to put a point on it, but I wish Clinton would have come up with some sort of zinger, like asking Trump if he needed some water or to rest for a minute.

But Hillary had another way to put Trump down in the form of  Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe contest winner of some twenty years ago.   She was exhibit ‘A” of Trump’s mistreatment of women and he obviously didn’t see this coming.  The pageant owner back then, Trump had called her nasty things in public when she put on weight after her crowning and humiliated her in other ways.

While all of that undoubtedly made women who can’t stand Trump stand him even less, I have no idea what impact that has on undecided women.  The point that Trump has often been piggish with women has been made over and over again.  However, last I saw he is pretty even in the polls.   So, a lot of women have taken this into account and still back him, obviously more concerned with other issues, or perhaps even attracted to his strength and decisiveness.  In turn, they are able to ignore his more ugly qualities or see those warts as indications that at least he’s not a phony (I think he’s the king of phonies, but leaving that aside…)

Rather than the women’s issue per se, I think Hillary might have changed some minds a bit by her appearing more presidential than Trump, including her ability to get under his skin and to prompt him to wander off into a land of non-sequiturs.

Still, I am anxious about just how well Clinton did even though bookmakers have given her a four point boost according to The Guardian.   While concluding Clinton had won the debate the news source qualified that with:   “Yet if the unpredictable 2016 race has confirmed anything, it is that Trump’s bluster has frequently confounded pundits and resonated with voters.”

The resonance has largely stemmed from Trump’s ability to give voice to many of the estimated 70% of us who “feel the country is headed in the wrong direction.”  This is the headwind that Hillary must continue to buck right down to election day and where Trump did cash in during the contest’s first thirty minutes in which he played pin the tail on the Hillary.  Except he stuck several tails on her and they all said “status quo”.

Hillary only promises to try to make things better which pales along side of Trump’s promise to make things great (again).   Given our deep divides as to even what “better” means and the ongoing congressional gridlock, the chances of Hillary’s modest goals seem dubious.   Trump’s assertions reside in fantasyland, but being human many are dissatisfied enough to bet on a dream.

What will be the mood of the undecideds come election day?  I know one of them who has articulated perhaps the most common thread among that largely idiosyncratic constituency:  “I would like to know what Trump would do, but I’m afraid to see.”


P. S. – The Guardian article mentioned above portrays the debate well along with some of its aftermath.

Clinton vs. Trump: The “Thrillah” at Hofstra

Hillary Clinton in one corner and Donald Trump in another, finally about to hit each other with barbs face to face instead of just lobbing insults back and forth via the media.   There has been a huge amount of speculation about this event.  A ton of thoughts on what each must do to win or might do to lose.   It  makes my mind blare and ding like a pin ball machine.

On the other hand, my gut makes me say:  Get’im Hillary.  Get’im.

Amidst the maze of thoughts let’s be clear about one thing.   What  most of us think of this debate doesn’t matter as most of us already have made up our minds.  I’d guess around 80%.   According to the New York Times/CBS News poll about 8 percent of registered voters remain undecided, but I believe they underestimate human irrationality, so they underestimate the per cent of undecideds who might flip an emotional coin entering the polling booth, perhaps surprising themselves with their choice.

Many people respond to polls in terms of what others think reasonable, not in terms of what they feel.  They vote according to what they feel.

That’s enough for now.  I’ll say more after digesting the results of tomorrow night’s fight.

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P. S. – Word has it that Hillary has been prepping for the debate against at least two imagined versions of Trump.   She got some additional practice on  “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis last week showing deftness in dealing with questions and innuendos springing from outer space.

You can decide for yourself or at least get a laugh by going  here and then scrolling down the piece to find the video clip.

Second Thoughts on Trump’s Birther Announcement Friday

The responses of most commentators to Donald Trump’s “important announcement” Friday were similar to my own.  He “punked” or “played” the TV media exquisitely.  As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post summed it up.  “His great gift is the ability to draw attention — and then use that attention for his own, usually commercial, purposes.  Trump may have outdone himself on Friday morning.”

When it comes to the manipulation of people and reality, he deserves the grand prize.   I hate it, but I think his supporters like it because it implies to them he can beat others at what ever game he plays.  Even very big, complicated games which American presidents must play.

Hooked by the prospect of an important announcement on birtherism, viewers like me soon realized we had been tricked into watching a half hour promo both for his newly opened hotel and for his candidacy, the latter in the form of a group of high level former military that he gathered purportedly to honor, but were obviously there to honor him.

Finally, he abruptly ended this little charade with a one sentence admission that “President Obama was born in the United States, period,”  implying that now the issue is closed because he, Donald Trump, has just closed it.

Oh, and the piece de resistance,  he managed to sneak in the notion that this birther thing was actually initiated by Clinton in her primary with Obama, talking points that his surrogates are now using when questioned about Trump’s waiting this long to admit he was wrong.  Hey, Clinton started it, so don’t blame Trump as if the fact that some of her supporters did spread that rumor which she never embraced is equivalent to Trump’s pounding on the point over several years and still not admitting he was wrong until last Friday.

The last is a perfect example of false equivalency, but, hey, a large part of what Trump and his surrogates say is based on falsehoods, distortions and fantasy.  Yes, common with politicians but he has taken this to a new level.  He has overcome the lesser liars by being the greatest liar of them all able to weave together a separate reality that makes him look great and everyone else look small.

But Trump’s birther admission is a kernel of truth that might be cultivated to challenge Trump’s purported “authenticity,” his claim that he tells it like it is.

If you read my previous post you know I suggested the TV press just move on, that they lost their chance to dismiss the birther issue months ago.   But I was wrong.

Instead of moving on the press should cling to questioning Trump on that statement like a Gila monster grabbing his hand.  This is the first time Trump has ever admitted to being wrong about anything substantial and the TV press should not do what they normally do which is move on to the next ridiculous thing or things Trump throws out to bait them, so they never really dig into much of anything.

That moving on is what is now happening because Trump, as usual, has thrown out a typically outrageous statement suggesting Hillary’s security should not carry guns because she doesn’t want the rest of us to have the right to do so…..crap, crap and more crap.  And the particular hook is that he’d like to see what happens to her if her security do go gun-less, which has both the Hillary camp and the TV media up in arms about Trump inciting violence once again.

How could he say something so terrible?   AS A RUSE, that’s how, to turn media attention to another issue  THAT’S WHY while maintaining control of the news cycle AS ALWAYS.   The same thing he has done successfully for months.  THAT’S HOW.

I was irritated that the first response of the TV press corps was to question whether Trump should apologize to President Obama and his family for not admitting this sooner, a question he could easily ignore as he never apologizes for anything.  What they should have asked and should keep asking is when he changed his mind on the issue and why.  And why even a few days ago he refused to admit it.

The obvious reason is birtherism was the calling card that attracted the sizeable portion of his base who believe Obama was born in Kenya.  Trump won’t admit that, of course.  He will be the artful dodger as usual, but somewhere in that admission of a change of mind on the issue is something solid for the press to glom onto and keep gnawing at.

Just keep holding on to this question:  Mr. Trump, when did you change your mind on President Obama’s birth and why?   Even if the TV press lets go, hopefully the moderators at the upcoming debates will bite hard.


P. S. – It should be clear by now that Donald Trump has successfully  created his own version of reality that many Americans are buying into, to varying degrees but overall they like what he is selling.  One of his backers captured this curious attraction by saying:  “I don’t care what he says.  I believe he’ll do it.”    That “it” is pregnant with possible interpretations that I’ll leave up to you.

Karen Tamulty  of the Washington Post tries to come to terms with this attraction in a an article titled:  Trump: Never wrong, never sorry, never responsible.  I liked it enough to read again.

NEWS FLASH: Trump Confirms Obama was born in the U. S. A.

Seduced into watching what was billed as a major statement by Donald Trump on the birther issue, I soon realized this was a photo op for Trump’s new hotel in Washington, the site of the event.  Also, it was a presidential promo provided by testimony from various former military – medal of honor winners, generals and admirals – in support of the Donald’s presidential candidacy.  There should have been a “Paid Advertisement” notice at the bottom of the screen.  Except the advertising was free.

And the big announcement?  That was Trump providing one more example of how easily he manipulates our media into promoting himself.  I felt like I was watching a matador trifling with a bull before skewering it.   (The media is the bull, just to be clear).

I realize how crazy it sounds that I would be drawn to what turns out to be a free political advertisement for Trump by the question of Obama’s birthplace, but in recent days the issue has been reborn because of statements by spokesmen in his campaign that Trump finally does accept Obama’s American birth.  However, when asked Donald Trump had refused to confirm that belief.   So, I admit it, I was curious.

And the major statement?   After puffing himself up for a half hour as a great builder and a great patriot, implying such a combination would make a great president, he finally got to the issue of Obama’s birth.  And this was the statement viewers had been waiting for:  “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

That was it, though he prefaced it with blaming Hillary Clinton for initiating the birther issue in her primary race with Obama (actually, it appears some of her supporters did that, but her campaign never embraced it) and then Trump ended with something about let’s get back to making America great again.

The media having made such a big issue of this announcement will act as if it still has great importance and peck away with more questions regarding Trump’s (supposed) change of mind (I never believed he believed it, just a marvelously effective manipulative tool for him).

But Trump will ignore them, as frankly he should.   It was always a ridiculous issue that was allowed to flourish because the media failed to pin him down on any facts he purportedly had found, while the Republican party was happy to remain mum on the issue figuring that anything that was anti-Obama was O.K. with them.

The birther issue has been a miraculous triumph of B. S. over reality. Trump has ridden that horse a long way… to death so to speak.  This was an opportune time to change horses, and so he did.   The press should stop beating the dead horse by dwelling on silly things like whether Trump should apologize to whomever, and move on to one of the many issues that actually merit consideration.  They lost their chance to be relevant on this issue many months ago.

Frankly, the skill in which Trump has handled this birther vehicle of self-promotion is enough for me to fantasize what he might do as president, but then I remind myself that self-promotion is his genius.  It is unclear to me what else he is really good at.   That genius has served him well in the real estate game and the presidential race, but the role of president is not primarily based on self-promotion.

As president one must actually do things as opposed to promising to do things.  Trump’s promises are endless, but the only thing I am convinced he can do is promote himself, like the little wizzard hiding behind the big screen pretending to be the Great Oz.