Monday, September 26, 2016

A few thoughts on tonight's 1st presidential debate!

Donald Trump. Michael Vandon

Tonight is the big night. The first actual presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton happens tonight. It will be broadcast live on pretty much every network and will begin and 8:00 central time and last until 9:30. NBC anchor Lester Holt will be the moderator.

I, of course, will be watching and live tweeting throughout the debate. This is must watch television and only extreme circumstances will cause me to miss it. So if for some reason I am NOT live tweeting the debate, you know something is up. As always my twitter can be found here.

I also hope to have up a reactions post up by tomorrow. I don't think there is any chance of me getting it done tonight, so it will probably have to wait until morning or perhaps even evening if some other huge story comes up, like a massive terror attack. Either way, expect something similar to what I did with the GOP and Democrat debates were I go through the pros and cons of each candidate's performance.

As always I like to make a few predictions before the debate happens. Since it has been so long since a debate happened, I feel a bit rusty. But I am going to write some things that I think might happen and what needs to happen for each candidate:

-Donald Trump will act more presidential and will attempt to take the high road unless Hillary Clinton pushes him too hard. Trump's starting to win because he has counteracted Clinton's claims that he is too scary. He has avoided any stupid fights with Mexican Judges or Muslim parents lately and I think he realizes that has helped him in the polls. That could go away if he hits Hillary Clinton too hard. I think if he goes all out and just thrashes Hillary, it could hurt him. I'd love to see that, but it could turn off moderates. People don't want to vote for someone they think is mean so Trump needs to stick to the facts and lay off the insults. He still has to be Trump, but he can't mock Clinton in an excessive way. Hell, I kinda hope that he starts the night out by saying that he hopes that Hillary Clinton gets healthy and says it in a way that shows he means it. Show that he wants to win, but he doesn't want to win because she got sick. 

-Hillary Clinton will do her best to beat the same drum beat she has been doing for about a year now. Donald Trump is sexist, racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, anti-black, anti-everything. If she is to have any success at all she needs to paint Trump as the next Hitler. Since she has largely failed to do so until this point, I don't know what she can hit him with. Most of the faux and actual scandals with Trump have faded into the background and I don't think just calling him a racist will be enough for her.

-If Hillary Clinton has any kind of health episode at all, she is done. A coughing fit, fainting, confusion, any of it could be enough to derail her campaign. Her fainting episode on 9/11 really hurt her and people don't think she is healthy enough to be president. If she gets flustered she is going to be in huge trouble. She is going to have to stand for 90 minutes, which may be too long for someone recovering from, at the very least, pneumonia. 

-I doubt this will be a debate about facts. Both candidates will put forth their plans and will try to sell them. But I doubt the facts of what they are going to do is really going to convince people. Right now this election is about character. Trump needs to portray Clinton as an unhealthy criminal who is risking national security with her immigration plan and her desire for military intervention. Clinton needs to portray Trump as an unhinged racist, stomping at the bit and looking forward to discriminating against all the various identity politics groups. And they both need to accomplish those goals without looking like an outrageous bigot (for Trump) or a shrill bitch (for Hillary). Neither of those things will be easy, but I doubt anyone is going to be convinced by anything other than an emotional response. 

-Lester Holt is going to be crucified no matter what. There is a great disagreement between Republicans and Democrats this year on debate moderators. The GOP wants them to be impartial, not calling anyone out on issues of fact. They should lead the discussion, not get into a two on one fight. The Democrats are desperate for the two on one fight because they believe that both the media is on their side and that Trump really does need to be taken down. No matter what Holt tries to do he is going to piss off half the country. If he tries to be fair, he will get the same treatment that Jimmy Fallon and Matt Lauer got. Expect many shrill and hysterical leftist hit pieces if he goes that route. If he does hit Trump then everyone to the right of Clinton is going to be furious. It will just confirm in a lot of peoples minds that the media is completely corrupt. He could, of course, try to split the middle, but I think that will piss EVERYONE off. If he fact checks both Clinton and Trump each side will accuse him of bias. It's not a job that I would want that's for sure. 

-It's really make or break time for both candidates. The polls are about as tight as they can be and if there is a decisive blow dealt tonight then one candidate or the other could start to pull ahead. I think the bar is fairly low for Trump. As long as he doesn't put his foot in his mouth he should be fine. Even if he makes a minor gaffe he should be ok since the media will likely blow it out of proportion and then people won't take it seriously anymore. What he can't do is act too mean and too snarky. People need to see a softer side, even though every Clinton hater in the world wants to see her eviscerated. 

Clinton has higher expectations. Even if she manages to fight Trump to a draw she still loses. She's got a lot more practice doing debates and has policy experience, as poor as her record is she does know her stuff, so people will expect her to win and win hard. If she doesn't, she has to face the fact that a non-politician beat her at the one thing she is supposed to be good at. She, just like Trump, needs to keep her temper under control. If she starts yelling like she did in this video, she's toast:

Who do I think will win? Well I think it will be Trump. I'm obviously biased, but I think there is an argument to be made. He has the lower bar and all he needs to do is not put his foot in his mouth. He's done well in debates so far, and he has really toned down the rhetoric. Clinton on the other hand needs to keep her temper, not do ANYTHING that even looks remotely unhealthy, completely outmaneuver Trump at every issue and win big or don't even bother. That's a tall ask and I don't think she is up to it. 

I do think that whatever happens Clinton will be declared the winner by the media. They are in the bag for her this election and I think that if Clinton opened the night by taking a flamethrower to a basket full of puppies while Trump looks on in horror the media will still defend her. If she drops dead five seconds into the debate, which is a remote possibility, they wills still say she won. 

How will we know if Clinton does win? Well the easiest would be some kind of unforced error from Trump, the links of which we haven't seen before. Maybe calling Clinton a slur like bitch or something. If she manages to get all the good lines, that would be a win for her as well. But other then that, the path for victory seems rather narrow... 

It's also possible that both candidates have a terrible night. Both Clinton and Trump have high likability and they both are known for their gaffes. If they both screw up, then perhaps there is a chance for Gary "What is Aleppo?" Johnson and Jill Stein to gain some followers. It's a total long shot, and less likely then Clinton choking to death on a green frog named Pepe live on TV and Donald Trump pulling off a mask to reveal that he is, in fact, LITERALLY Adolf Hitler, both at the same time, but I guess it could happen. More likely, Johnson will lose some more support after people actually pay attention to the candidates seriously for the first time and Jill Stein will remain a rounding error competing with more popular candidates like Harambe and DeezNuts...

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