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.