So I guess that I will be live blogging the first presidential debate. It starts at 6:00 pm Pacific Time. But I will likely be blogging throughout the day.
I have to admit to being worried about this. This election is so important and this debate really could go any way. I figure that it makes sense to give you some idea of what I think will happen. And we’ll see if I turn out to be right.
In one way, it seems like the outcome of these debates doesn’t so much matter. I remember Mitt Romney’s excellent performance in the first 2012 presidential debate. He got a permanent bounce from it. But as I noted at the time, all that had actually happened was that people who were doubtless going to vote for him in the end finally felt good enough about him to tell pollsters.
Looking at the polls thus far, I think that Trump has already gotten that bounce: all the Republicans have come home to support him (because they really don’t care about the principles they claim to). This time, it is Clinton who has a lot of people who haven’t felt comfortable supporting her.
The word is that roughly 100 million people will be watching this. This is a good opportunity for Clinton. I wonder how much it can help Trump.
Trump at the Presidential Debate
I don’t think that Donald Trump is as much a loose cannon as many people think. I suspect that he will go into the debate doing his best impression of “presidential” that he can. Just the same, this thing will go on for a while. I suspect his greatest problem will be avoiding obvious bordom.
I’ve talked about this quite a lot in the past. Donald Trump really has only about 5 minutes worth of material. If you’ve listened to any of his speeches, you know this. He’s incredibly repetitive. The real question is whether he will be allowed to get away with this. Will people actually notice that he isn’t saying anything? That there is no substance to what he’s saying? It’s not like the viewing audience seems to care that much about substance. And sadly, neither do the professional pundits.
Clinton at the Presidential Debate
I think we do need to stop thinking about this election being all about Trump. At the same time, it’s hard not to think of Hillary Clinton as just a given. In a quantitative sense, it’s like Alabama playing against Sonoma State University. Alabama is one of the very best college football teams. Sonoma State isn’t in the same league. If the presidential debate were a football game, Clinton would simply crush Trump.
But I keep thinking back to Frank Bruni during the first 2000 presidential debate. Sure, Bush was pathetic. But Bruni wasn’t interested in that. Being stupid and ignorant was no sin compared to Gore’s being “barely able to suppress his self-satisfied grin.” Has the press learned for all this? I kind of doubt it.
What I Expect
I figure that Clinton will be prepared for whichever Trump shows up. What I except to show up is a fairly subdued Trump. But I do expect him to bring up the things that Clinton didn’t answer well in the primary debates. In particular, I expect some mention of her high speaking fees talking to bankers. But mostly, he will just pretend that things like his ridiculous tax plan are equivalent to Clinton’s carefully constructed policies.
Above all, I expect that the moderator will allow Trump to largely get away with this. So it really comes down to how Clinton is able to focus attention on the fact that Trump really is devoid of substance. Anyone who isn’t convinced that Trump is a bigot will not be convinced by anything in this presidential debate. But maybe, just maybe, if things go well, they will see he really is nothing but bluster.
I think you can see how worried I was before the debate based upon my posts. But right out of the gate, Hillary Clinton was in control. I really didn’t think that Trump could be as bad as he was.
There was reporting that he wasn’t taking the debate preparation very seriously. I didn’t believe that. But seeing the debate, it is clear he didn’t. He really approached it the same way that he approached the primary debates. I’ll be very interested to see what the pundits say. But I can’t imagine that anyone but the strongest Trump supporters thought he did well.
It’s interesting that at MSNBC there is much analysis. And even the Republicans think Clinton did great and Trump did poorly. On Fox News, there is no analysis. It is just Sean Hannity interviewing Donald Trump. That’s not exactly how you reach out to anyone but the truth believers.