Tuesday, September 27, 2016

September 27, 2016--Post-Debate Syndrome

It's 5:05 a.m. and I'm still effectively sleeping after getting a flu shot yesterday afternoon and staying up well past midnight debriefing. Thus a few, very few, post-debate reflections--

I disagree with Chris Matthews and most of the pundits. Matthews felt Clinton "shut out" Trump "five-to-one." I saw it to be more of a draw with a slight edge to Clinton.

There are at least two ways to think about the debate and winners and losers--

Who did an objectively better job and, putting truth and accuracy aside (Rachel Maddow couldn't get enough fact-checking into the discussion), perhaps most important, aside from who would make a better president, is the political effect of the debate--Did Hillary gain or lose voters? And how did Trump do among his supporters and with those he was hoping to attract?

When it comes to political effect, the specifics, the facts don't matter as much as how the candidates make you feel--how secure, how understood, empathized with, excited by, how they are at engendered hope. And of course how likable they seem.

Therefore, telling the effective truth is more important than getting the facts exactly right. For example, Hillary Clinton is not responsible for the emergence of ISIS, but it is effectively true that she and Barack Obama were in charge of foreign policy when ISIS metastasized.

Most of the analysts, Republicans as well as Democrats (Steve Schmidt front and center), like Matthews, felt that Hillary won. Hands down.

I on the other hand, in political terms, saw it to be effectively a draw.

They both tried to get away with whoppers, Trump more so but not exclusively--for example, denied by Clinton, as reported yesterday in the New York Times and asserted by Trump, the FBI revealed that last year murder rates rose by a disturbing 10.8 percent.

To measure the potential political impact, if the debate were divided in thirds--into 30 minute segments--Trump won the first half hour by connecting Hillary Clinton to the feeling pervasive among the majority of Americans that the economy, street safety, and in the larger world, especially the Middle East, things during the nearly eight Obama years have gotten worse and Hillary is part of the problem. Not the solution.

If viewers persisted in watching, the second third was almost a draw with Hillary doing marginally better. But, again, to quote some generally rational analysts, Hillary "wiped the floor" with Donald, showing she had more "stamina" than he as he stumbled around disturbingly when, later in the debate, at times incoherently, he attempted to talk about nuclear proliferation issues.

Most predicted that at a minimum Trump's post-"deplorables" momentum was stopped and we should expect to see Hillary again opening a beyond-the-margin-of-error gap in poll numbers.

I predict that the frustration and anger pervasive across the country was not effectively understood or addressed by Clinton (she mentioned her "plans" at least a dozen times) and thus the numbers will remain about the same. Perhaps even improve for Trump in swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, which he pandered to a number of times.

In regard to atmospherics, the debate for me was largely focussed on the issues with Lester Holt for the most part, with ego in check, staying out of the way and thereby allowing the back-and-forth to unfold. As a result, there will not be too many juicy soundbites for the media to milk.

At least that's my quick take. In the meantime, it's 5:59 and I'm heading back to bed.

And while there I'll be doing some thinking about third-party candidate Gary Johnson's people. According to the latest NBC polls, with 8-10 percent saying they will vote for him, they appear to be disgruntled Republicans, not happy about either Trump or Clinton. If they decide to vote in November, where are they most likely gravitate. Could be decisive. This needs more thought and speculation.

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