Archive for the ‘Presidential Debate’ category

Three Strikes and …

October 20, 2016

The third and final 2016 Presidential debate mercifully concluded last evening in Las Vegas. With a sigh of relief the curtain fell on a modern political tradition with the public little more informed about what policies each candidates would follow if elected. What did come to the surface again was the gulf in temperament that separates the two candidates.

Hillary Clinton, dressed in calming white, baited Donald Trump with carefully constructed dialog. Clinton displayed the difference between the big leagues and a back yard sandlot. Clinton used a saber while Trump rambled around using his elbows. For Trump supporters, this was and is their man. For Clinton supporters, it was “see I told you so”. But what about everyone in between?

The polls will once again provide an indication but that will take days. IMO, the turkey was already in the oven with Trump steadily sinking in voters’ opinions, last nights debate did nothing to arrest this decline and arguably may have accelerated it.

On taxes and the economy, Trump promised better days were around the corner, saying with massive tax cuts, jobs would be created (as well as returned from overseas), the economy would grow in excess of 5%, and America would be great again. I would not worry about a long line of economists vouching for this whopper.

Trump relied on “non-Presidential” demeanor in attempts to belittle and denigrate Hillary Clinton while denying any counter charges regardless of whether Hillary’s claims had already been fact checked.

And strike three (for the undecided, wavering, and uncommitted) came at the very end when Trump refused to acknowledge that he would accept the election results. In essence, Trump said no to the “American Way”.

There were other important differences mentioned on immigration, women’s right to choose, and the Supreme Court. With a more mainstream Republican candidate (remember Mitt Romney), one would have expected a fuller discussion and an appeal to voters on why their position was best. Last evenings these topics were like throw away issues taking away from each candidates real interest, showing their opponent as unfit to serve.

This quadrennial political contest is not over. There is of course still time for some unknown disclosure which could rock Clinton’s candidacy, but chance are small and getting smaller. At this point, Hillary Clinton looks destine to become the 45th President.

The Morning After

October 10, 2016

The second Presidential debate is over. Waking up this morning, a lot of people are experiencing a sickening feeling in their stomachs. What happened last night in St Louis?  Was this debate between two adults?

In a show of unrestrained guile and bullying of the first order, Donald Trump rambled around the stage issuing one misleading statement after another. There was no moderator question that Trump chose to answer, preferring instead to deviate to a topic he wished to discuss.

Oh, and did I mention Trump chose the lowest road possible with no greater insight into any Trump programs.

For example, Trump promised “big time” tax cuts for the middle class and alleging Clinton would bring the middle class the largest tax increase ever.  Trump omitted mentioning that his plan also includes eliminating many middle class tax deductions. Trump also forgot to mention the wealthy’s bonus, whopping tax reductions.

Clinton, on the other hand, took the high road and made clear that only incomes higher than $250,000 would see a tax increase in her plan. Pretty clear but in the theatrics last night, the point was lost, I fear, on the middle class.

There were many lost opportunities which Hillary missed. Trump as usual repeated statements which have been continually shown as misstatements, with even more emphasis. With hand gestures and menacing facial glares, Trump tried to sell his message.

For Trump’s already committed followers, his performance was brilliant. But for those who were aware of facts, or those who were suspicious of Trump’s past statements, there was just the foul smell of a deplorable person and an aching realization that Donald Trump was representing one of America’s two largest parties. What has happened to American political life?

If there had been any questions following the release of Access Hollywood lewd and disgusting “locker room” video, there should be now none. Trump is all in.

Something For Everyone?

September 27, 2016

Last night’s Presidential debate provided Donald Trump’s or Hillary Clinton’s supporters just what they wanted to hear. Trump supporters were delighted at his “in your face” style while Hillary supporters reflected upon a smooth, fact filled, polished debate presentation. So this morning the question is, who won?

The answer at one level is immaterial. There are still two more debates and almost 6 weeks of campaigning before the election, during which almost anything can happen. On a different level, the early opinion poll results mixed with pundits evaluations says that Hillary changed no Trump supporters’ minds and Trump won over no Hillary fans either.


The debate may have, however, put the spotlight on the path to a Clinton victory. There is no image in anyone’s mind of a previous President with the experience, temperament, and behavior of Donald Trump. There is simply no previous example to judge Trump against.

It would appear Hillary must make an unforced error and scare away supporters in order for Trump to secure enough additional votes to win. Similarly, Hillary’s debate presence was Presidential and convincing that she could assume the “commander in chief” role.

Hillary’s task, therefore, will be to hold current supporters and enable those on the fence to grow worried about wasting their vote on Trump or Johnson.

The election contest is far from over. National or world events could provide Trump ammunition for further “unsubstantiated” claims that he would be a better President than Hillary. Were there any question before, last evening Donald Trump left no doubt that he would say anything, provable or not, to make his points.

Stay tuned.

The First Debate, What To Watch For

September 26, 2016

If you are a betting person, tonight is an opportunity to make a quick buck. Find your mark and ask the following:

  • Will Donald Trump reveal any specifics on policies or promises?
  • Or, will Trump say he has a plan (like to beat ISIS) but it must remain secret so that ISIS will not have time to react?
  • Or, Will Donald Trump lay out a comprehensive, fact based explanation of what a Trump Administration will do to create jobs and how it will pay for these expense?

There is of course little mystery about the paucity of fact that Trump has so far revealed. There has been virtually none and tonight there will likely be none.

Trump is likely to infer that Hillary Clinton has done in the past will do this or that negative action in the future, all said in a manner that invites “no I won’t” or “no, I didn’t do that”.

In summary, Trump will promise the moon and claim Hillary has failed at every turn in the road. Style will be key and Trump should handle himself well, especially for those who lean his way.

If you see Hillary going over chapter and verse about this proposal or that one, switch to the Monday Night Football game, because this debate game will be over. Trump needs only establish that he is capable of handling himself for 90 minutes and look tough in the process.

At this stage of the race, Hillary has used her ammunition to expose how unfit Donald Trump is to be President. It is turning out few people seem to care.

More and more voters are glomming onto the notion that Trump will somehow bring about his policy proposals and his details are not important. Logic based voters already know there is not a shred of truth in Trump’s promises. Trump supporters, on the other hand, will have none of it. Unfortunately too many potential Hillary voters are hung up on her unfavorables and not what is at stake if Trump does win.

With Hillary, America will have a center left Supreme Court, a steady force ensuring a woman’s right to reproductive health, religious freedom without the right to discriminate, a tone at the top calling for comprehensive immigration reform, an advocate for serious job creation and a steady hand on America’s foreign policy.

If you hear that, it will have been a good night for Hillary.

Simple As 1-2-3?

August 29, 2016

Reading in today’s newspaper, a worrisome picture was painted contrasting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as Presidential candidates. What was shocking was the huge difference each candidate was taking in preparation for the up coming Presidential debates.

Clinton, a traditionalist, was employing briefing books, study time, and mocked debates. Trump, on the other hand, preferred weekly meetings at his golf club over cheeseburgers and media savvy friends in order to practice “one liners”. Hmmm.

Most observers do not characterize Donald Trump as a mentally challenged individual, although most suspect him as blessed with attention deficit disorder. So does the difference in debate preparation reveal someone who is unrealistic about winning the Presidency or does it paint an opposite picture?

Without a doubt most people would view debate preparation as an indicator of how a President might deal with complex domestic or foreign policies. Preparation would translate into “good” and little or no preparation, into “bad”. Trump must know that, so what’s his intentions?

There are very few pathways to a Donald Trump Presidency according to experienced pollsters. The national electoral vote map favors Hillary Clinton and her lead continues to grow. So what is Trump likely thinking?

How about –

  • Keep voter turnout as low as possible.
  • Maximize Trump supporters turnout.
  • Vilify Hillary Clinton so much that even her supporters question her fitness

These three steps could produce the unthinkable, a Donald Trump victory. Here’s how.

  1. The growing opinion that this is a race to pick the lesser of two evils takes voters eyes off real differences and at the same time, sours voters’ view that their vote is important. Why go through the effort of voting when both candidates are damaged goods? Tried and true Trump supporters, however, will not think that way and will turnout to vote. Suppressing the vote follows from a steady diet of Hillary Clinton character attacks.
  2. Maximizing the Trump turnout flows from a campaign which unashamedly appeals to xenophobic, prejudicial, and ethnic nationalistic fears. This plays to Trumps demonstrated style and the believability that Trump will keep following this path (no pivot). You can trust Trump, one can not trust Clinton.
  3. Vilifying Hillary Clinton provides a “two-fer”. Trump will attempt to apply other labels like “crooked Hillary” which translates directly into intense voter dislike for Hillary Clinton. These voters will instead cast a vote for the third parties or stay home and not vote at all. This third strategy is ready made for the unknowable. For example, what about a large terrorist attack on US soil ? What about an ISIS attack again in Europe? What about some juicy revelations from newly released emails?

In short, Donald Trump will remain a viable threat to Hillary Clinton’s chances of victory. Hillary’s best defense will be an offense rich in contrasts with the GOP platform and Clinton proposals (with details) on growing the economy.

Hillary could get a break if Trump badly mishandles debate questions but it would be wiser to not bank upon that outcome. Personal attacks are more memorable than policy explanations.

GOP Debate – 1 Out Of 7?

September 18, 2015

The second GOP Presidential nomination debate was a huge hit with Americans. An estimated 1 out of 7 households were tuned to CNN. There must have been some important information covered that evening for so many Americans to tune in. The press has had a field day picking the various candidates who “won” the debate. Hmmm.

If you watched the three hours or if you have seen on any number of talk shows’ clips of what the candidates said, you know one thing – last night was not a debate and offered little or no insight into each candidate’s perspective on domestic or foreign issues. The debate was entertainment.

Imagine, Jeb Bush said that brother George kept America calm following 9/11 and helped the nation heal. Brother George looked petrified on 9/11 if you recall and when he spoke to firefighters with a bull horn, he told them America would find the perpetrators and bring them to justice without apparently knowing that Dick Cheney and friends were already planning their Iraq takeover.

America did identify Osama ben Laden and al Qaeda, tracked them to Afghanistan, and neutralized their operations (and their Taliban hosts) in a relatively short time. Jeb did not add that 12 year later the US is still mired in Afghanistan.

The debate message (later emphasized by Jeb Bush people) was that Jeb showed emotion and flashed a more dynamic style. The content of Jeb’s remarks were a side issue to them.  Hmmm.

The second debate had already been billed as a “get Trump” night. Each of the other candidates had prepared lines aimed at dirtying Trump. Many of their attempts were successful and at evening’s end, Trump had taken a lot of incoming. The country was not any wiser about what the great problems the next President would face nor even a hint on how these problems would be addressed.

Scott Walker’s enemy number 1 were the unions. A wide number of candidates felt defunding Planned Parenthood, even at the expense of a government shutdown, was a worthy, if not necessary step. Immigration was mainly about how high the wall should be. And anything involving foreign policy was the result of President Obama’s “failed policies”.

The TV viewership was never the less impressive.  I wonder whether the real take away is that a “reality show” look alike just might be the best game in town?