When I was a kid, I used to cringe when the geezers would complain about the political debates, calling them “made for TV circuses” or worse. I enjoyed them, simply for the tactics. The moderator would try hard to help the liberal and trip up the non-liberal, if there was one on the debate. If it was just three liberals then it operated as a window into the hive, if you were willing to sit through it and observe. The adults were always puzzled by my interest in these things and they would say I was very mature for my age.
I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now. These days I’m watching solely for the yucks. I want to see Hillary have a seizure and begin speaking in tongues. I imagine her fielding a question about Syria and responding with “Cabbage toaster broccoli banana” and then running around the stage clucking like a chicken. The woman is a horrible shrew and nothing she says means anything, because she is also a pathological liar. The fact that she has made it this far suggests we are in the end times.
Of course, Trump is great TV, even if you don’t like him, and I’m really not a fan of his style. The blustering New Yorker has never been my favorite American type, but he does get off some zingers that you just never hear a politician say these days. His crack about Rick Perry wearing glasses so people would think he is smart is the sort of thing a guy from Queens says. Trump is a man, who has been putting on shows for Americans going back to the 80’s, so he knows how to do it well.
The thing about these shows is they are mostly about reassuring voters that their guy is OK and the other guy is not Cicero or Churchill. Bush supporters were on pins and needles before the 2000 debate. When Gore made a fool of himself, the Bush people relaxed and felt like they had a winner. The Gore people got their turn in the next debate when Lieberman and Cheney had an mature, sensible exchange over important topics. After that debate, both sides were back where they started, sure that their guy was OK.
They say this time will be different, but my hunch is most Trump people will be happy if he avoids throwing a chair at the moderator or calling Hillary a fat cunt. Trump’s reputation for saying outlandish things is wildly overstated. Most of the time, he is simply saying what everyone knows, but no one on TV ever says. In some cases, it is manufactured outrage over something he said. Still, he will be baited by the moderator into talking about touchy subjects and his job tonight is to avoid the traps and play it safe.
Clinton has a tougher task because she is the establishment candidate. The irony here is that she got into politics to be the radical challenging the man and now she is the face of the man. If she tries to sound like anything other than the defender of the faith, she will come off as a phony or a bigger phony than typical. She just has to make sure she does not look like death or have one of those hacking fits where it sounds like she is coughing up a lung. if she topples over or is wheeled out in an iron lung, then it will be curtains.
These things are TV shows and that plays to Trump’s strength. The first debate is like the first impression in that it colors the rest of the contest. Amazingly, millions of people will tune it tonight not having thought much about either candidate. In a sane country, these people would be sterilized, but we let them vote so they are a part of the dynamic. Trump’s TV skills will give him an edge in creating a good first impression. Clinton’s shrill personality is just not made for these things so she is going to have to try and get under Trump’s skin and hope he says something off-putting.
Everyone in the media and in the Cloud Party knows all this stuff. They have been working with the moderator to make sure he understands the the finer points of arkancide. The post-debate talking points are prepared and the reports and analysis are ready to go. The moderator’s job tonight is to hit Trump with a few zingers so they can put his words into their reports and post-debate sound bites. The chattering skulls of the commentariat are practicing their one-liners in front of the mirror as I type this.
My bet is the post debate spin will be based on Clinton’s “presidential performance” and the “gravitas” she displayed versus Trump’s “amateurish and unserious” performance. The words “dangerous” and “reckless” will be tossed around by the talking heads with regards to Trump. That’s the game plan from Team Cankles. They want to run on the message that Trump is too dangerous and unpredictable, so you can be sure the media types have been told to push those points after the show.
By next weekend, Trump will have a jumped in the polls and he will be pushing 50%.