Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who "won" the debate?

Who cares who "won" the debate? At least, who cares who "won" in any traditional sense--you know, "on points." The  political "experts" don't know what the hell they're talking about. A lot of them thought Jimmy Carter tied or beat Reagan in their October 28, 1980 debate.

Trump's pitch was Hillary et al. have made a mess of things for a long time, so why does anyone think it will improve by electing her? Hillary's pitch was, I'm not Trump.

Hillary was plastic, uninspiring, smug and condescending. Trump was angry, obnoxious, inarticulate and overbearing. But the only thing that matters is how it played to undecided voters who have paid little to no attention to the election until last night--almost everyone else has made up his or her mind. What they saw was a steamroller who manhandled the moderator and his opponent unlike anything in memory--it was absurd, shocking, and historic. It was typical of Trump's performance in debates throughout this election season.

As for Trump--he's not a conservative, of course. It would have been interesting to see a true conservative, like Cruz or Rand Paul, debate Clinton. Trump's primary issue in this campaign is and has been trade. When it comes to trade, his positions are a threat to free markets and global commerce--very anti-conservative. So are Hillary's, though a lot of people suspect her positions are designed to buy votes and that she wouldn't carry through on them. President Obama is much better on trade than either Trump or Hillary. Trump doesn't care much about any other issue--the "law and order" thing is a recent campaign strategy. And sometimes at his rallies, he almost forgets to mention "the wall." He's not articulate--a great friend of mine, who happens to be an expert on rhetoric, said this about the debate last night: "You’d think that someone who talks so much, who spews such an incredible, non-stop volume of verbiage, would eventually, even accidentally, answer a fucking question." Trump eschews serious study of the issues. The GOP got what it deserved when it nominated him. Any of the other GOP candidates would have been more articulate, more civil, and more knowledgeable about the issues than Trump--just as Mitt Romney was. Then again, Romney lost. And for the first time in a long time, a Republican wasn't pushed around by the moderator or his Democrat opponent. If Trump lost, he beat himself.

As for Clinton: aside from disdaining college men (any college man who would vote for her ought to have his head examined), she is perhaps the most unaccomplished major political figure of my lifetime. Her devotees typically don't really know where she stands on the issues. In the debate last night, she rushed to judgment and tied the Charlotte and Tulsa shootings to race, then she accused all of us as being "implicitly biased" when it comes to blacks, and in the same breath unwittingly contradicted herself by saying "too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other." She wants to deny anyone who's on a terrorist watch list from being able to buy a gun (Trump agreed--but, to his credit, added that if someone shouldn't be on the list, we should help them get off).

There are a lot of issues that are manufactured by the candidates and the news media. Does anyone care about Trump's tax returns, except Hillary supporters? Does anyone seriously think the nutty birther issue was related to race?

But even the issues that matter don't really matter. And that's the point. Politics has become a religion--facts don't matter, feelings do. We rationalize to deal with inconvenient truths. If you liked Clinton, you thought she "won" last night. If you liked Trump, you thought he "won" last night. If you are someone who paid no attention to this election until last night and think the system is broken and want someone to shake it up, you might have thought Trump "won." That doesn't mean those people are too stupid to understand what Trump really is.

I'll vote for one or the other--full disclosure, I've become one of those "undecideds." I am watching one particular issue that would impact me personally--depending on this issue, I might vote for Hillary.

As for last night, I, personally, don't know who "won." I can think of a nation that has lost.