Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Thoughts about the First Debate

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Let me begin by thanking so many of you for your kindness regarding our daughter Adrian. I am pleased to report that she is responding extremely well to her treatment and we have every reason to expect a full recovery. Cynthia and I returned home to Cuenca three weeks ago for some much needed rest. After our duties in November at the next big International Living conference in Las Vegas we will spend the holiday season in the States with our family.

I've enjoyed following this presidential election more than any in my life. There was so much drama during the primaries for both parties with Bernie Sanders giving presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton an unexpected run for her money, and the even more improbable rise of outsider Donald Trump within the Republican ranks.

While the first challenger is a socialist and the other a capitalist, both were lifted by the electorate's desire for a change. Hope and change, the promises of Barack Obama eight years ago, have been largely unfulfilled as our country finds itself today more divided than ever racially, economically, and ideologically. Disgruntlement with our elected leaders is at an all time high, and people are eager for the country to move in a different direction. Any direction, given Sanders' near-victory and Trump's ascendance.

At last when the candidates met for the first time face to face last night, Cynthia and I joined 80 million other people anxious to watch the spectacle. With 46 years of political experience (beginning as a volunteer in Joe Lieberman's state senate race in 1970), the bar was set high for Hillary to perform at an exemplary level. As usual, no one knew exactly what to expect from The Donald, who was participating in the first one-on-one debate of his life with zero mock debate preparation.

So how did it go, and who won? From the perspective of proper debating skill I thought Hillary won by a landslide. She kept a cool (bordering on icy) demeanor throughout, never got rattled, and delivered obviously rehearsed "ad libs" on cue. Donald sniffed, drank water like he was channeling Little Marco, and often demonstrated his lack of rehearsal by going off on tangents and wasting valuable stage time.

And yet------

Predictably, most journalists declared Hillary the winner. But in almost all the polls of actual viewers, Trump won "bigly" in spite of his sometimes ragged outing.

If you are Hillary and her camp this news has to be incredibly disappointing and frustrating. She gives a stellar performance while he huffs and puffs, yet he wins in the public eye by margins as high as 90% to 10%.

What gives?

Eventually running for President has always been the inevitable trajectory of Hillary's long career, but I think the message for this election cycle is she's the wrong candidate at the wrong time. She has demonized Trump on the campaign trail and through massive ad buys. In fact her whole campaign of Stronger Together (whatever that means) is basically, "He's even worse than me!"

There is nothing memorable about her platform because she basically embraces the policies of Obama that the electorate appears eager to reject. And since he defeated her in 2008 on the way to becoming our nation's first black president there seems to be no juice behind electing the first woman to the nation's highest office.

Beyond the results of last night's debate is more bad news for the candidate. In spite of throwing everything at Trump but the kitchen sink for months, the race is virtually tied including vital swing states and others that traditionally vote Democratic. Coming down the home stretch she appears to have nothing left in the tank except to keep repeating the same charges of "dangerous," "incompetent," and "unfit" that have grown increasingly stale.

Plus there are two more debates to go. After such extensive prep she probably can't top her performance of last night, but guess who can? And will? Trump has proven throughout the last fourteen months to be an amazingly quick study, so there's no reason to think he won't get better and better.

Then there's the Julian Assange wild card. Mr. WikiLeaks states that he has critically damaging information about Ms. Clinton. Why would he make such a statement if it isn't true? Look for him to dump it shortly before the last debate for maximum impact.

The Ecuadorian owner of a restaurant where we often eat lunch approached our table this afternoon and asked what we thought about the debate. I replied, "A better question is what you thought about it." He said, "It seems like Donald Trump isn't ready to be President of the United States."

Ah, what a year of political surprises. And with six weeks to go, who knows what may happen between now and November 8. But given the current direction of the campaign I told our friend, "Well, he'd better get ready because we very well may be calling him President Trump in January."


Carlos said...

"In fact her whole campaign of Stronger Together (whatever that means) is basically, 'He's even worse than me!'"

Edd, you just summed up The Donald's entire campaign mantra as well. Your Ecuadorian restaurateur is exactly right--The Donald is indeed not ready for prime time.

If ever there was an election that literally screamed for the NOTA (none of the above) option, this one is Exhibit A. Since that's not an available choice, I'm writing in Laurence Kotlikoff [https://kotlikoff2016.com/] on my ballot. I wish 100 million others would get a clue and do the same.

It's not *all* bad though. This campaign has definitely affirmed our decision to relocate to Ecuador. It's incredibly liberating to watch the clown car show from afar and give thanks that we are living here.

Edd Staton said...

Carlos, I thought I was following this election pretty closely but your Mr. Kotlikoff has never registered on my radar screen. All the hand wringing and histrionics about these two candidates is a bit overblown in my opinion. If the nation survived four years of Jimmy Carter it can survive at least one term of Hillary or Donald.

Carlos said...

" All the hand wringing and histrionics about these two candidates is a bit overblown in my opinion."

There were pundits who said the same thing in 1860. And 1916. And 1940. And 1960. And 2000. "If the nation can survive four years of Millard Fillmore, it can survive at least one term of Abe, Stephen or either of the two Johns."

Elections have consequences, Edd. Millions died and hundreds of millions suffered horribly because of foolish choices made by people, many of whom made decisions influenced by flippant remarks about needless hand-wringing and histrionics.

I sincerely hope that the country (and the world) can survive whatever choices are made. But at what cost to you and your loved ones? And at what cost for the future?

Check out Larry Kotlikoff's C.V.[http://kotlikoff.net/node/536]. Read what he has to say on his website. Do your due diligence. He's not ideal, but he's unquestionably a far better choice than any of the other clowns offering their services.

Carlos said...

You might want to read this commentary regarding the debate and the problems with either Clinton or Trump: https://www.lewrockwell.com/2016/09/andrew-p-napolitano/clobbered/

Edd Staton said...

We're all free to cast our ballot as we choose, Carlos. Or to not vote at all. To me a "vote on principle" is a wasted vote. Our two main candidates offer starkly different visions for the country's future. I'm focusing on that and not on personalities.

Carlos said...

I guess I'm confused Edd. If the country can survive one term of either candidate, and all the hand-wringing and histrionics about them is overblown, then--to quote Hillary--"at this point, what difference does it make?"

And-FWIW-the LAST thing influencing my vote is personalities. I'm focused on the future of the country for the sake of my kids and grandkids. And I absolutely abhor the "vision" that either Hillary or The Donald profess to have for that. Have you not noticed how Trump's "vision"--or what his handlers post on his teleprompter for him to parrot--has been returning to the same tired Republican mantra that we've been hearing for decades?

It's time for *radical* change--not more of the same political games that got us where we are now. NEITHER candidate and neither of the two major parties offers that possibility. It's folks who vote for the D's or R's who are throwing away their votes, not me.

Read Kotlikoff's op-ed "How the Press Is Rigging This Election" [https://kotlikoff2016.com/2016/09/27/how-the-press-is-rigging-this-election/] and tell me again who's wasting their vote.

I'm not crazy about Kotlikoff either. As I said in my original comment several days ago, if I had the choice I'd vote NOTA (none of the above) to have all current candidates thrown out on their keisters and start over. Since that's not an option, a write-in for Kotlikoff is the next best choice.