Sunday, October 09, 2016
Tonight's debate and the Republican Party's nightmare
The results of the debate may well have guaranteed a victory for Hillary Clinton.
Not because Donald Trump fell apart or rambled, though he did so at times.
The problem for the Republicans was that Trump was so much better than anyone expected, remembering that the bar had been set low.
That makes it that much harder, and it was already close to impossible, to convince Trump to drop out of the race. It would have been difficult for a replacement candidate, whether it be Mike Pence or someone else, to win and the campaigning would have been a logistical nightmare since it is too late to have Trump's name removed from the ballots, but it offered the Republicans possibly the only chance they had, barring an October surprise, to defeat Hillary Clinton.
Consider that the latest WikiLeaks release showed she maintains public positions that are different from her private positions. She still has not explained her missing e-mails. Sure, she's sorry she used a private e-mail account, but why did she feel the need to destroy the e-mails? It is easy to make the case of people gaining access to the secretary of state by contributing to the Clinton Foundation. You can make a good case against Clinton for her treatment of some of the women who have made accusations against Bill Clinton.
Bobby Jindal would have taken that information and crushed her with it and he never made any inroads at all in the Republican race.. In fact, Ben Carson is probably the only one, other than Donald Trump, who would not have bludgeoned Clinton to a massive defeat with those kind of weaknesses hanging over her head.
But just like Claire McCaskill, who wound up facing Todd Akin, the perfect opponent, in her re-election campaign four years ago, Hillary wound up with a gift- courtesy of the GOP and the media- maybe the only candidate she could defeat in a year in which everyone is wanting change.
For every one of Clinton's flaws, which might have been fatal to her election chances in any other year, Donald Trump has a worse flaw. Bill Clinton mistreated women, no doubt about it, but judging from everything he has said during the campaign, the Access Hollywood video and the Howard Stern tapes, Trump is definitely not the person who should make the case.
The Clinton Foundation is a problem, but Trump is not the one to prosecute the case since his foundation is a train wreck.
The e-mails probably should have been enough to keep her from becoming president, but Trump keeps creating so many problems for himself with his lack of self-control and his apparent lack of decency that he has never been able to damage her with them. The people who were already ready to vote against Clinton because of the e-mails will vote against her. Trump has not done anything to bring more people under his tent.
That being said, Trump showed slightly more discipline tonight than he did in the first debate, not enough to beat her, but enough to offer false hope to those who keep believing, despite all contrary evidence, that Trump has finally turned the corner.
A few other thoughts about tonight's debate:
-Libertarian Gary Johnson knows more about Aleppo than Donald Trump. Martha Raddatz sliced up Trump on her questions about Syria and Trump didn't know enough about the subject to know he had been wounded..
-Trump landed some strong blows with his mentions of the Clinton e-mails and hit some of the notes that the right wing of the Republican party wanted to hear, but he had some cringeworthy moments.
For instance, his putdown of Mike Pence. It was petty, especially considering the contortions Pence went through during the vice presidential debate to support Trump. I am not a fan of Pence, but he certainly deserved better than Trump and his hurt feelings offered him.
-Speaking of cringeworthy- how insensitive was it for Trump to say that a dead American soldier would still be alive if he were president?
-The most dangerous moment for Trump came when he proclaimed that he had never assaulted a woman in the manner he described during the Access Hollywood video. All the news media or the Democrats, or both, have to do is to find one person who can turn that statement into a lie. Perhaps Trump was just lying to impress Billy Bush of Access Hollywood, or we could be seeing the same kind of avalanche of accusers who came forward after Bill Cosby denied any wrongdoing.
-Clinton's strongest points came when she emphasized the children's health insurance program and after 9-11, times when she worked across the aisle with Republicans for the greater good. It was easier to imagine Clinton doing that than to envision Trump working with Democrats.
-Clinton's mention of Muhammad Ali was particularly fitting since her strategy seemed to mirror that of Ali when he fought George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. Clinton did Ali's rope-a-dope, allowing Trump to punch himself out. She didn't achieve the same result as Ali's knockout, but then that might have driven Trump out of the race.
And for the Democratic Party, Donald Trump continues to be the gift that keeps on giving.
(Photo by Stephen Crowley)