Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Gravity of the Situation

(Update: Thanks as always for the link, Infidel!)

So last night was the debate. I was planning on going to a watch party but I came down with the sore throat bug (tis the season) and forced myself to stay home and livetweet #Gotham before livetweeting #debatenight

Gonna see if I can share some of my tweets:

well you can see who liked THIS one.
Cough. Excuse me, head cold. More tweets from last night:

It's enough to make a man sick. Twice.

Lemme just share from Balloon Juice about last night:

If you didn’t watch last night, rest assured: Hillary did a fine job, and Donald Trump… repeated all his Greatest Hits from the Rallies bits. He didn’t lose a single member of his devoted “base”, but he sniffled, lied, talked over the woman on the stage, claimed that America is a job-leaking hellhole which every filthy brown terrorist can’t wait to invade, lied some more, contradicted the African-American moderator (while lying), sniffled, called President Obama “your president”, took credit for “settling” the birtherism issue, and by every metric and “optic” looked like a coked-up, aging con artist in a bad suit rambling about “the nuclear” and “the cyber”...

Trump's own physical appearance became a liability. The tweets about his constant sniffling - which brought up jokes about his being sick, or else jokes about cocaine being a hell of a drug, and both - and his wilting on-stage became brutal and unavoidable. Per Drezner at the Washington Post:

The most interesting thing, however, was that as the debate went along, Clinton got stronger and Trump got weaker. A look at the debate transcript suggests that Trump’s answers got more rambling and more incoherent toward the end of the debate. Clinton remained her steady self...
...By the end of the debate, after 95 minutes of petulance, Trump claimed that he had a great temperament. The audience spontaneously laughed in response.
Presidential debates are tough, but being the president is tougher. And my main takeaway from tonight’s debate is that Donald Trump doesn’t have the stamina to last four years as America’s commander in chief. Or, as Clinton put it: “I think — I think — I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be President. And I think that’s a good thing.”


As Drezner notes: Can you picture Trump lasting four years in the White House? Not just in terms of stamina but in terms of focus and dedication to the job. He's all over the place, uncontrollable and undisciplined. Bush "Strategery" the Lesser handled himself better at these final-round debates, and that's saying something.

There was the expectation that because of the weak Republican primaries - where Trump's opponents were terrified to whack at him, leaving him unbruised - he'd flail and fail at a debate where his opponent - Hi, Madam President! - would actually punch back. And while Hillary did land a few blows, the real shocking thing is that a lot of Trump's wounds were self-inflicted. His own appearance defeated him (which begs the possibility he's going to refuse to show up to the next two he's supposed to do).

Of course, the big takeaway from last night is... that this will not greatly affect the polling or the amount of support Trump is getting from his GOP base. The horror that at the very least Trump is getting 40 percent of the vote will not go away (not unless he eats a live baby on-stage or something). The best to hope for is that the remnants of the Undecideds or the moderate Indy voters are now - hopefully and finally - terrified of Trump and will boost Hillary over 45-50 percent and in enough swing states to ensure an Electoral College stomping.

Hope hope hope.

What should happen here is a switch in the Narrative that the Beltway prides itself on: That is, that the Beltway insiders are "always right" and plugged-in to the "real power-brokers" with real news. There may still be a push for "both sides!" false equivalence to force their ongoing lust for a horse race, but we should see a major shift in the tone among the media elites towards highlighting the sins, flaws, and outright lies of Trump and his handlers.

But will that all happen?

Here's where my hope turns to despair. For more than a year we've seen Trump campaign exactly in this manner: Shameless, reckless, lying, self-serving, arrogant, noisy, inhuman, insane. Everything he did last night was a greatest hits version of every horror Trump displayed on the campaign trail... and in all those previous disasters, Trump's numbers went up. He kept moving, he kept lying, he kept winning in the worst ways. That shamelessness is key: Most other politicians would never sink to the levels Trump does, because they are actually concerned about their reputation and their futures. Trump doesn't care: He believes his reputation is flawless - hint: it's not - and his soul unblemished, so he continues to behave this way because nobody stops him and because too many people buy into his con game.

The normal dynamics of an election cycle tells us that what happened to Trump tonight would sink any campaign. The law of gravity regarding any single gaffe requires that Trump sinks below his support and fades into zero. But that has not happened to him yet: And after all of the failures and insults and chaos, Trump keeps gaining ground he should not gain. I've seriously begun worrying that either the polls are rigged or that there really are that many clueless voters buying into Trump's scam.

It would be pretty to think that Trump sinks to 33 percent support by the end of the week, and that Hillary regains solid leads in swing states like Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, and that even Georgia and Missouri and Arizona become Leans Blue with some happy relief on my part.

But does political gravity work the way it used to?


dinthebeast said...

Hillary was a far better debater than Trump was, going just by debating skills: she kept him on the defensive for more than a third of the running time and obviously got him rattled to the point of incoherence, and Trump seemed to sort of run out of steam right about the time he accused her of lacking stamina.
Trump lied over and over again, had no substantial policy to talk about, and appealed to cowardice to such a delusional extent, you would think the US was some hell hole instead of the most affluent country on the planet. (We're third in per capita GDP, but one and two are much smaller countries.)
Still won't matter to his followers who believe mistakenly that he will blow it all up and start over and somehow not be subject to the political forces and realities that have shaped the presidency from the beginning. It was really hard to watch. I hope the other two are better, but I actually think they will be worse.
Maybe he wasn't such a good student of Roy Cohn after all.
Colbert: One of the candidates lied right out of the gate: (run video of Hillary Clinton saying "It's good to be with you, Donald.")

-Doug in Oakland

Denny from Ohio said...

The overriding impression I get from the ever-mounting number of "Trump/Pence" yard signs I see popping up in this part of northwest Ohio is that people are so fed up with politicians that they will do anything to stick it to them even if it winds up hurting them. The MSM narrative being "both sides" for so long has numbed them. In this information age they refuse to avail themselves to reality. While I am dubious about HRC following through with some of her more populist claims once elected I am not taken in by twenty-five years of unending hatred aimed at her by the right. They have tried time and again to get something to stick and have failed. Liberal/Progressive is a decidedly dirty word here in the land of Budweiser and Rambo, attached to people of color and hippies who exist only to live of of the "system." I have seen this state ravaged by conservative ideology for over 40 years, yet many fine, intelligent people cleave to their Republican party loyalty. In part, they feel like they missed an opportunity with Ross Perot and will not let it happen again. Time for a dip in the well is what I hear them saying. One of the reasons I became a fan of this blog is because I saw the same things happening that Paul experienced that led him to abandon the knuckleheads. It wasn't difficult once I looked at what they did as opposed to what they said. For the life of me I cannot fathom why others cannot see what is so plainly before their very eyes.