September 27, 2016 by gregrabidoux2013
Hillary hit all the right notes Monday Night. And she wasn’t even singing the Monday Night Football theme song.
Her time she took off from the campaign trail to cram sure paid off. She eagerly and proudly displayed her policy prowess, made sure she made time for her zingers and negative Trump branding her team of writers wrote while chiding “The Donald” for his overly-macho view of he world. She even accused him of having something to hide for not already making his tax returns public. She also professed deep concern that his finger could ever be anywhere near the nuclear button.
The media was in full consensus Tuesday morning as they roundly declared Madame Secretary the clear and undisputed winner of Round One. She even did a “shoulder shimmy,” she was so happy and exuberant, and that was during the debate one CNN commentator noted.
-What do you see in the mountain face, asked the Sherpa guide? I see a white lion full of power and fury. Is that what is there? asked the boy. It is not for me to say, the Sherpa replied, we will all see what we wish to see and only the mountain knows for sure and it’s not telling-A Himalayan proverb
Yet, online polls like the one conducted by Time.com had the results much closer even showing Mr. Trump coming out of the debate slightly ahead. Geez, you gotta ask yourself, what debate did those folks watch?
While the debate between these two very different personalities with very distinct values and contrasting world and domestic views always promised that their performances would also contrast sharply, the end-result was not just a difference in style.
No. It became evident about 20 minutes into the moderated debate that this was more like a boxing match not only between fighters of two distinct weight classes but also between a career professional politician and a rather rank and raw amateur.
And while Hillary bloodied ‘The Donald’ all night long with jabs about his taxes, his business earnings (or lack thereof), his birther stance (with a much welcome assist from moderator Lester Holt), his NATO stance, his (apparently) stiffing some former employees, his stance on the Iraq war and his “living in his own reality” she did not knock out the challenger who lives to fight another day. Today’s polls indicate a post-debate bounce of about 2-3% points for Mrs. Clinton though the media autopsy of the debate would infer that “it” is over and the election is but an afterthought, an obligatory “go-through-the-motions” act with the result already known to all.
Maybe. Or that is just what they see in the mountain-face.
For his part, Donald came into this fight needing to accomplish about 3 main objectives. The first was to look, sound and act “presidential.” And while this term is always hard to fully quantify or capture, most Americans want their president to show some restraint, some civility and some fair-play even while we want to see “that fire in the belly” and evident toughness (Ronald Reagan still is the undisputed winner at striking this balance, especially in his debates with then-President Carter and Debate#2 against VP Walter Mondale).
On balance, Trump pulled this off. He didn’t come across as an out of control bully, a phrase Secretary Clinton has accused him of being and he parried most of her early jabs without looking too “un-presidential” (according to Gallup Poll instant response rates, about 65% of those queried said that he “seemed presidential” and “could see him as president”). Granted, his own pre-debate behavior made for a pretty low-bar of expectation on this point.
His second objective was to continue to paint his opponent as “part of the problem and not the solution” and he tried to accomplish this by reminding viewers that Hillary “has had 30 years to solve problems and has failed to do so” and that “she helped create ISIS so she isn’t the one to destroy it.”
Mixed reactions here by viewers. Instant reaction polls suggested that the “30 years” charge is a double-edged sword. It does remind voters that she is a “politician” and not an outsider like Trump but that she must have gained some experience and insight over those 3o years which he did not while pursuing a very different career as a real-estate mogul.
His third main goal was to try and draw a very sharp distinction between himself and Hillary when it comes to domestic and international security. Polling perceptions currently indicate that Mr. Trump is seen as stronger on crime and terrorism than Mrs. Clinton while she is seen as better suited to combat discrimination and improve race relations.
Again, mixed views on this topic. After a somewhat rambling and curiously low passion response to the topic of race and police shootings of African-Americans (maybe she was a bit over-prepared here, too much head and not enough heart) Trump noted that she said a lot but not the three words that are needed to be said-Law and Order. Yet, she parried his contention that inner-city life for Blacks and Latinos is “hell” by listing several positive attributes that indicate upward mobility for these groups under this (President Obama) and presumably her own Administration.
Overall, Mr. Trump started strong but faded and flailed badly as the debate wore on. Maybe his stamina was flagging. All those State Department trips may have toughened Hillary up despite her recent bout of pneumonia.
And while she may not have knocked Mr. Trump out he never seemed to even come close to putting her on the canvas. In fact, the debate rules seemed to paralyze him as Lester Holt showed little or no interest in pursuing the topics of the classified emails and accusations of Hillary violating law, the Benghazi tragedy where 5 Americans including a US Diplomat were killed during her watch nor the rise of illegal immigrants. For his part, Trump may have confused being “presidential” with not being “proactive” here and largely let Mrs. Clinton avoid any real moments of being uncomfortable on these topics.
He did make sure he mentioned Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan several times and Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit which tells us a bit of his electoral map strategy while Hillary did not really hone in on any one area.
For Hillary, fairly or unfairly, the bar of expectations was much higher for her. The Wellesley valedictorian and debate-team captain was expected to be the policy-wonk, the one who did her homework and the one who was supposed to memorize the thick debate notebook.
And she did.
She responded with the more complete and detailed and fully nuanced answers leaving Mr. Trump at times with the unenviable position of saying “me too” far too often. She also got in a number of zingers even if some did fall a bit flat or come across as too scripted. Her response to his noting that she stayed home lately while he campaigned (I did stay home and prepare for this debate and you know what else? I am prepared to be president) reminded many that when she claims to hardly ever have thought of being president over the years it is the overly-scripted and rehearsed Hillary talking not the genuine and real Hillary we are told that does indeed exist.
But her labeling trump’s economic tax-cuts as “Trumped-up, trickle-down” theory hit home.
So, the media consensus is that Hillary won by a TKO.
The question now becomes will it matter?
Will this or any of these much-hyped televised debates make a difference? Will they change hearts and minds of voters, especially those who claim to be truly and sincerely undecided?
But if the Himalayan proverbs teach us anything it is that voters will do what they always do and see what it is they wish to see regardless.
So, what did you see in the presidential debate mountain-face?
I win most debates before they start with my eye of the tiger pre-debate stare.
What do you got?