Saturday, August 13, 2016

Debating the debates; our chance to see would-be presidential candidates try to avoid saying something stupid

I find it a bit hilarious to see some people (mostly political observers with way too much free time on their hands) getting all worked up over the presidential debates – the first of which will take place a little more than a month from now.
Can Hillary beat Trump in debates"
I find it intriguing that Donald Trump himself is getting involved in this mess, trying to put pressure on the debate organizers as to who would actually moderate the events.

TRUMP HAS LET it be known there are certain individuals who, if they’re involved in the event, will cause him to drop out.

Then again, he also has complained about the timing of the events, implying they’re being scheduled in ways to ensure he draws as little public attention to himself as is possible.

My guess is that Trump is so used to being on television in formats that allow him to dictate every little detail that he thinks the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates is just a batch of lackeys he can dictate to.

Either that, or maybe he’s looking for an excuse to drop out of having to face off against Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton and Libertarian Gary Johnston – that is if he registers high enough in polls that the commission officials let him in.

THERE IS TALK that plans are being made for a stage large enough to comfortably accommodate three candidates instead of just two. Which could wind up p-o’ing the people who want to back Jill Stein – as in the Green Party’s nominee for U.S president.

Personally, I think everyone whose name will appear on the ballot ought to be a part of the debate, although I know television organizers of such events rarely agree – because the last thing they want is a lot of no-names clogging up the stage and valuable air time.

They want a one-on-one show, and probably resent the idea that this year’s election cycle is so uncertain that third-party candidates have the potential to take more than the usual 1 percent of the votes cast come Election Day.
Has Trump persona already clobbered Hillary?
But back to Trump, who doesn’t seem too enthused about being in an event he can’t completely control. Which to me is the greatest value of having formal debates (and I’m talking about events with candidates behind podiums under strict time limits for comments instead of town hall gatherings which provide the illusion of open discussions on issues, but under circumstances so controlled that the discussion is so phony).

PERSONALLY, I THINK Trump could wind up hurting himself in a debate format. Because unlike the primary election debates where the Republican side was cluttered with so many clowns the only real issue was which ones would be permitted on stage.

If Trump really goes off on one of his outrageous binges of nonsense as he is prone to do, it would be easy for Clinton to take him apart publicly.

Not only would he commit the ultimate political sin of “saying something stupid” (ie., something that could make for a particularly outrageous "Saturday Night Live" sketch the following weekend), he would do it in a way that would let his opponent rub his face in the muck. Dirty him up, so to speak.

It could get ugly. And is certainly more likely than the idea that Clinton would get so deadly dull and take herself so seriously that she would lose “the people” – largely because the kind of people who would find her obtuse are the kinds who already have decided they’re not voting for “that woman!”

OR WHATEVER OTHER gender-specific slur they prefer to use to describe the wife of former President Bill Clinton.
Will Johnson win right to be in debate?
I know that Trump backers already are throwing out their political spin about how Trump’s aggressive temperament will “clean the clock” of Hillary. He’ll smack her about. Almost as though they’re trying to transfer blame to her for any debate glitches that crop up before the first event Sept. 26 at Hofstra Universtiy. But that implies Trump is capable of controlling his behavior. And as we have seen in recent weeks, he thinks his uncontrollable nature is his greatest strength.

The key to comprehending debate strengths and wins or losses is to realize that anybody already interested in the election cycle is not the primary focus of the events.

These debates are for the people who have yet to make up their minds. The rest of us already are telling themselves who the winner will be on Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis and Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas – which sounds like a Trump kind of event more than any other.


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