Sunday, October 9, 2016

My early predictions for tonight's 2nd presidential debate...

Hillary Clinton, just to switch things up. Official Senate picture. 

Once again there is a debate tonight, and I am going to cover it. Some house keeping things first. As always, I plan on live tweeting the debate and my twitter account can be found here. The debate starts at 8:00 pm Central and I should be live tweeting it as it happens. And, as always, I hope to have a detailed reaction to the debate posted the next morning, or failing that, tomorrow night. There is a small chance that I could get chased off of twitter, because I got a few attacks from people for my last post about the election. I should be able to block and move on, or just ignore the normal trolls, but if another doxing attempt happens or I start getting added to lists, I might have to back off. Needless to say, I am ready for this election to be over with, if for no other reason that writing about it is starting to get dangerous. 

A few other notes, this debate will follow the Town Hall format, which "ordinary people" will ask the question. I use the scare quotes because I doubt the people will ask the same questions that I would ask and I bet they have been heavily vetted before hand. Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz will be the debate moderators. I'm not sure what to think about that, since I think both of them are likely to be biased, but I do remember Cooper at least being semi-tough on Clinton during the primary debates against Bernie Sanders, but I am hoping to see a bit more control of the candidates and much tougher questions for Hillary Clinton. Not holding my breath for either though... 

So what is going to happen at the debate? Good question, and it's one I don't really have an answer to. Right now, the news is completely focused on a few lewd and rude remarks Trump made 11 years ago about infidelity and genital grabbing, so I am guessing that will come up. Clinton has her own scandal with the various leaks from John Podesta, her campaign chair. Both of these issues will almost certainly make the stage tonight. 

What is really interesting is how Trump is going to react to his mini scandal. He's already apologized for it and darkly hinted that he is going to come after the Clinton's own, much more serious sex scandals. After all Bill Clinton has been accused of committing actual, honest to God, rape, and has admitted various other sexual misconduct. And Hillary has been guilty of covering those scandals up and attacking the accusers. 

If the debate goes that way, it will be a train wreck with neither party looking all that good. Trump's comments might have hurt him, but his assault on the Clinton's will drag the whole race into the mud. If you thought things were rough before, just wait until Trump calls Bill Clinton a rapist on national television. It will be a blood bath, and think a lot of people will tune out in disgust, but Trump is probably going to go there.

And why wouldn't he? The attack levied against him was an incredibly personal one and could have harmed his marriage. He held back at the last debate because he seemed to think that it would be unseemly to hit Clinton on those scandals, but I am guessing that since his name is being dragged though the mud, he has nothing to lose by slinging some at the Clinton's. And I don't doubt that he blames her for the attack, which, to be honest, looks coordinated as hell. 

I do think that Trump is going to have to resit the temptation to hit Hillary Clinton the whole night on Bill Clinton's infidelities and rape accusations. Right now, his path to victory is to remind voters why they don't like Hillary. Her husband is part of that, but there is also the corruption, the contempt she has shown to Trump and Sanders supporters and how tight she is with the banks. Trump needs to hit Hillary hard on those things as well.

And let's not forget that both sides need to actually talk about some policy as well. I am guessing that when it comes to character, pretty much everyone has made up their minds. The people that hate Trump or hate Clinton aren't going to have their minds changed by the debate. The demonization is too high for that. But there are still a few undecided voters left and both campaigns need to reach out to them by stating what they stand for and what they stand against. If either candidate only focuses on attacking the other, then those independent or undecided voters will be pissed. Indeed, if that is the way both Clinton and Trump handle it, they both might lose support. 

I also think that the press is way over weighting the effect of the Trump Tapes story. The latest poll I saw that came out after the release showed that Trump only lost 1% of support, which is a dip, but a minor one. I think everyone already knew that Trump is a scoundrel when it comes to women and I also think that the media made a fatal mistake when the focused on the "groping" portion of the tape and not the attempted infidelity. After all, at worse, Donald Trump was making a joke about sexual assault, which I think almost everyone has done at some point. Attempting to cheat with a married woman? A lot less easy to rationalize, though still common enough that a lot of people won't care. 

All that being said, I think that there is a small chance that Trump could throw a curveball at us. If he were to start up the debate and immediately apologize for his comments and then say to Hillary Clinton "I was tempted to bring up Bill Clinton and all of his scandals because of what the media is doing to me, but I am going to take the high road here. America deserves better, let's talk policy", he could potentially win the election. It would look very presidential, would allow him to shine on policy, hit Hillary on her other scandals and would completely throw off Clinton's game.

Hillary Clinton could also do something similar. She could make one small comment, maybe at the beginning, and then move on the policy herself. And then if Trump attacked her on Bill Clinton, he would look like a bully and it might even fit into the left's "he's sexist" narrative. But this seems even more unlikely then Trump taking the high road since her campaign has almost completely focused on why Trump is bad instead of her being a good candidate for months now.

I do have to say that I am disappointed that the debate is likely to devolve into this kind of mudslinging. Though character  is important, policy is also a major factor and directly effects more people's lives than character ever will. Let's just assume for the state of argument that every bad thing said about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton are true on the issue of sexual deviance. What does that mean for the country? Worst case scenario for Trump is that he says some things that make a few women sad and a incredibly small chance that he gropes someone. For Bill, it's a somewhat larger, though still minuscule, chance he rapes and/or cheats again and for Hillary, she goes on another crusade against "bimbos" and lies through her teeth about what happened. None of those things are good, but really, are you going to be personally effected by it? I don't think so. 

What's the worst case for policy? Well on foreign policy alone, it's questions about Russia, terrorism/ISIS, China and Europe. Indeed, foreign policy is so important because there is a real chance of several major wars breaking out and potentially huge terrorist attacks as well. Immigration could either be cut down or increased immensely. With the Supreme Court vacancy, gun and abortion rights could be at stake. And even domestic policy is going to look very different. Plus there is the whole issue of Hillary being corrupt and Trump being a jackass, which is sorta character as well, but is much more likely to effect things than Trump and Bill being cads. 

And to top it all off, both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are 70 years old. Though old men occasionally surprise with their stamina, I think both of them are too old to really do anything all that disgusting anyways. The threat that both sides are hyping up would be a lot more relevant if they were still in their 40's, 50's or even their 60's, but at 70? I doubt there is even a hint of a threat.  

Still, the American public deserves better then this. It is my vain hope that either the candidates, the moderators or the "normal people" asking the questions will try to steer the discussion towards policy or at least away from these sordid scandals. The American people don't really need to know that Trump and Clinton are scandal prone. Everyone already knows that. What they need to know is what they are going to do to/for the country and I don't think any but the most informed citizens really understands their positions. Especially the undecided and independent voters that are just tuning in now...  

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