On the matter of the debate the other night, tell the truth. Admit it. You were underwhelmed. Somewhere inside of your cranium you did not get the spectacle you anticipated. I understand.
After Hillary’s coughing spells, after her wobbly display at the 9/11 ceremony in New York City (she almost fell face forward on the running board of her van), after her admission to pneumonia and all the rumors that admission gave rise to, you had expected something highly dramatic. Perhaps the COUGH would return. Perhaps she might pass out under Donald Trump’s relentless barbs, possibly to be wheeled out on a gurney. Or perhaps you thought Donald might explode or go into a wild rant. Well, it did not happen. Both debaters pretty much played to form. Both were highly disciplined, one being a billionaire who has made it mostly on his own and the other having survived in public life for at least 45 years with no jail time.
Some observers thought Hillary won. Over at CNN Anderson Cooper’s panel of experts — it seems they have thirty or forty on stage at any given time — were exultant for Hillary, though there were the usual two holdouts, the indispensable Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany. Also CNN’s pollsters came up with similar findings, 62 percent for Hillary and 27 percent for Donald. Though the rest of the polls nationwide and in the battleground states found for Donald. At CNN both those on stage and those polled seem to confuse the workings of their hearts with the workings of their brains, perhaps even the workings of their gall bladders.
Certainly those observers who rely on their brains noted early on that Donald had things under control. As he has done for weeks he was talking directly to the American public through he awkward stage prop of Hillary. He would start up the economy from its measly growth rate of barely 2 percent. He would get Americans working again. He would tear up trade agreements that favor crony capitalists and foreign governments. He would prevent companies from leaving America unscathed. Hillary had been a part of this system for decades. She was a standpatter and defender of the status quo. She had revealed bad judgment.
Hillary’s response was that Donald had used bad language in public, lacked the proper “temperament” to be president, and favored the rich whom she would hit with higher taxes to pay for her giveaways. That last line about the rich is a bit much given the fact that Hillary is the creature of Wall Street, Hollywood, and large donations. Whereas Donald relies on mostly modest donations. Oh, yes, and her needling him on his “temperament” — who was the last presidential candidate to be attacked for his temperament? Does the name Ronald Reagan come to mind?
In these early exchanges the other night Hillary spoke of her experience, of her knowledge of the system, of her years as a professional politician. That was not wise when you think of the audience beyond the stage in Hempstead, New York that thinks the country “is on the wrong track.” The majority of those voters want change and increasingly Donald is their candidate.
Perhaps Hillary did not notice it because Donald talks like an ordinary American rather than a standard-issue politician, but he was talking to America and she was talking to official Washington. Official Washington claimed he “missed opportunities.” He could have done more with the Wall, Obamacare in free-fall, immigration and immigrant criminals, terrorism, and Benghazi. He should have done more with her errant emails, the Clinton Foundation, her mishandling of classified documents. He could have cited her lies to Congress, the FBI, and how FBI Director James Comey has contradicted her on her lies.
Well, let me say as a fellow who is himself preparing to debate these very issues October 18th in London before the Spectator of London’s forum, you cannot overwhelm your audience. You cannot bring your audience to confusion. You can only give them so much to think about. For September Donald gave his audience quite enough. There are two more debates for him to outline the full case against Hillary. As for Hillary she has made her case. She has more experience governing than Donald. Another way of putting it is she is part of the problem. America is, as the pollsters say, on the wrong track.
The other night Donald Trump appeared to be every inch a president.