Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I couldn't watch

“We have to bring back law and order. Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago, you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, it worked very well in New York.” — Donald Trump, September 26, 2016

I ADMIT IT. I couldn't bring myself to watch the 'debate' between Hillary Clinton and Donald TrumpHere's what The New York Times Editorial Board had to say about it.

An Ugly Campaign, Condensed Into One Debate

By The Editorial Board
September 27, 2016

“Debate” is an iffy word for an exercise in which candidates are prompted by moderators to dole out their stump speeches bit by bit under hot lights while a clock counts the seconds and every quip and jab and stumble is used to keep score and proclaim a “winner.”

But when just one candidate is serious and the other is a vacuous bully, the term loses all meaning.

Monday night’s confrontation between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was a spectacle, for sure: the sheer reality-TV hugeness of it, the Super Bowl audience of tens of millions. “Debate of the Century,” said The Drudge Report. “America on the Brink,” said The Huffington Post. For once, the hype may have been about right, given the tightness of the polls and the nearness of the election.

There was a fundamental asymmetry to the exercise, because of the awful truth that one of the participants had nothing truthful to offer. But seeing them on the same stage distilled exactly who they have been throughout this campaign.

Standing at the lectern, interrupting and shouting, playing the invisible accordion with his open hands, filibustering, tossing his word salads — jobs and terrorism and Nafta and China and everything is terrible — Mr. Trump said a lot. But as the debate wore on, he struggled to contend with an opponent who was much more poised and prepared than any of the Republicans he faced in the primaries.

Ninety minutes was never going to be enough time for Mr. Trump to redeem his candidacy, even if by some miracle he had wanted to, if he had suddenly developed a coherent set of policies and principles, an agenda against which Mrs. Clinton’s proposals could be weighed and reviewed, and a baseline level of decency.

The moderator, Lester Holt of NBC News, announced the preset themes of “achieving prosperity,” “America’s direction” and “securing America,” then meekly retreated into silence as Mr. Trump went on the attack, blaming Mrs. Clinton for ISIS and joblessness and globalization, depicting the country as a living hell for black Americans, a land beset by illegal immigrants and gangs with guns, with police officers afraid to stop them. “It’s all sound bites,” he said at one point, meaning to disparage Mrs. Clinton, but unwittingly describing the emptiness of his own words.

Depending on how your lenses are polarized, Mr. Trump met/exceeded/failed to meet expectations, which were low to begin with. He has lied compulsively since he entered the race, and he was caught again on Monday night with his pants on fire (repeating, among other lies, his slander that Mrs. Clinton invented the birther slur against President Obama). But anything short of dropping his pants in the Hofstra University auditorium would still have left him with the support of a large portion of the American electorate.

Mrs. Clinton also met/exceeded/failed to meet expectations, which were different for her. She had to have just enough levity, mixed with substance, to be stern but not shrill, funny but not flippant, smart but not pedantic, able to stand up to bullying. On balance, she pulled it off, swatting his attacks aside and confidently delivering her own criticisms from higher, firmer ground.

A more appealing and competent set of primary candidates might have stopped this. A responsible Republican Party, mindful of the national interest, not obsessed with thwarting President Obama, might have stopped it. In a better political era, both parties — not just the Democrats — would have nominated qualified candidates who could answer Americans’ concerns about terrorism and war, climate and the economy, immigration and racial healing, education and public safety.

But not this year. The Republican field was winnowed to the worst of the worst. Which gave the debate its strange, potentially tragic dimension. It’s absurd that the fate of the race, and the future of the nation, might carom this way or that based on a 90-minute television ritual so tainted by falsehoods.

1 comment:

  1. I did watch the entire, painful thing. Hillary was mostly masterful; well prepared, knowlegable, calm and quick to have the right answer at her fingertips. The one where she advised T that she had been preparing for the debate as well as for the presidency was awesome. On the other hand, trump was rude, petulant, impatient and unprepared as well as childish in manner and vocabulary. Next debate I plan to have a drinking game for every time he uses a multi syllable word. This time that would have been 2. I blame the media for putting him into this position and now that they want to call him out on his lies and ill tempered attitude, it's too late. His fans are blind to it because they are already sold. Color me furious.