WRM 11:38 The spin is in, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of doubt about what happened: the Clinton partisans are jubilant, the Trump folk are retreating under fire, complaining about the moderator and reassuring one another that there will be another day. But there is a silver lining for the Trump partisans: he didn’t do a Palin. Sarah Palin, though much less experienced and worldly than Donald Trump, appealed to some of the same currents in American life who respond to him. She was defiantly anti-establishment and cast herself as the little kid in the crowd calling out that the Establishment Emperors have no clothes. Although she never became a policy maven, Palin had — has — a serious survival instinct, and she went on to have more success after the campaign than any other losing vice presidential nominee in American history. Nevertheless, her lousy debate performance in the general campaign was the turning point in her career. She could never be taken seriously as a national figure again.
Like Trump, Palin was an undisciplined campaigner who got bored with briefing books. She wasn’t interested in the details of Fed policy or the intricacies of NATO. Those weaknesses helped kill her political career on her first national debate. They didn’t kill Trump’s.
WRM 10:47 Looking ahead,
WRM 10:40 Clinton’s partisans are likely to say that she won. My own immediate,
Most of Trump’s supporters probably came away from the debate still supporting him; Clinton’s supporters probably feel better about her and about her chances.
Clinton wins on points,
WRM 10:39 Trump supporters are likely to moan that he whiffed on some big pitches tonight: the emails,
WRM 10:38 Interesting: Trump saying he’s not going to play the Bill card against Clinton. That would have been the major strategic decision of the Trump camp before the debate.
HZC 10:36 Hillary’s strategy tonight seems in large part to be to fire up her base. A lot of her early comments—on climate change, in particular—evidence this. She needs to keep young people from running to Johnson (and Stein).
WRM 10:36 Trump’s secretary of state will have a busy time; lots of anxious phone calls from allies will have to be fielded on January 21 if Trump is elected.
Both bringing out the big guns now. Trump: you have experience but it’s bad experience. Clinton: you call women pigs,
HZC 10:32 “We cannot be the policeman of the world.” On this, Trump and Obama agree.
WRM 10:32 By reaching out to address allies directly,
WRM 10:31 Clinton is dominating the national security portion of the debate. Trump is spinning and fumbling. A well informed and articulate Republican could run the table against the Obama record. This will solidify the consensus among national security people that Trump simply cannot be president. It’s not clear whether the public will agree.
HZC 10:29 Bibi, actually, is doing pretty well for himself and for Israel. Maybe not a happy camper, but Israel’s foreign policy leadership is doing a much better job than ours is.
WRM 10:27 Those of us who follow these subjects professionally think this kind of obvious stonewalling and spinning will destroy him; however, his political success to this point suggests that his instincts have been right — that this is a reasonably effective method of damage control.
Whether this works on the national level, one doesn’t know. But he’s sticking with the approach that has brought him this far.
She, however, is landing one punch after another.
WRM 10:23 It sounds,
WRM 10:21 What we are getting now from Trump is a collection of ‘greatest hits’ from his improvised and rambling stage appearances. To people who know the facts,
WRM 10:21 In foreign affairs,
HZC 10:18 This is what a lot of Europeans are watching to hear about. Many fear Trump will abandon NATO. That won’t affect the American election much, in part because politicians and foreign policy experts have failed to explain to Americans why it’s important for America to shoulder so much of Europe’s military burden.
WRM 10:16 Clinton parries Trump’s Iraq attack very effectively,
WRM 10:15 Trump was doing well with the ‘abandon Iraq’ line until he turned to the ‘taking their oil’.
WRM 10:14 Trump missed a major opportunity by not bringing up Clinton’s emails during the cyber security exchange.
WRM 10:12 His ‘random rambling’ voice seems to dominate when he’s unsure of his ground and feeling his way — like the tentative voice professors hear from students who haven’t done the reading but are trying to slide by.
WRM 10:11 Foreign policy is Clinton’s home turf,
Trump’s goal is to survive this exchange; Clinton’s goal is to make that impossible. Trump’s rambling comments aren’t helping him.
HZC 10:09 Bottom line on this Putin stuff is that he’s only looking so strong because the West is so weak. On a gut level, I think many people understand this. He’s not the threat she makes him out to be.
WRM 10:06 But he’s holding up. He doesn’t need to win every exchange; he just needs to keep her from making him look like an unqualified dunce.
DM 10:05 This needs to be more general. He was effective because he was talking trade and she was talking daycare.
Now he’s saying Blumenthal and she’s saying racist.
JW 9:55 Inner city gun crime not happening with “military-style weapons”, but with hand guns.
WRM 9:55 When Clinton wants to sound forceful,
There will be people who will make up their minds based partly on which voice they trust most and want to listen to for the next four years.
JW 9:52 It may not be good policy, but “stop and frisk” is actually an effective form of gun control.
WRM 9:48 “Law and Order” vs “Gun Control.” Secretary Clinton has the press on her side on this one,
WRM 9:42 Trump has managed to sound and look more presidential than usual. Clinton is now attempting to knock him off his stride by getting under his skin. At the same time,
HZC 9:40 The U.S. spends far more on infrastructure than many developed countries that have better trains and roads and bridges. But we get terrible results. So big infrastructure investments are needed, but we also need to spend money more efficiently.
WRM 9:33 The pattern so far is that Trump is falling back on his showmanship and Clinton is relying on her expertise. In a scholastic debate, this would make her the sure winner. Each has a different theory of politics and elections. Clinton thinks this is a contest over issues and ideas. Trump thinks it is about beliefs and emotions.
Her strategy of expertise and experience is not doing well against his strategy of identifying her with the status quo.
The more she argues that she’s an expert and knows the ins and outs of policy, the more she reinforces his core critique of her: that she is part of a status quo that isn’t working.
JW 9:32 Team HRC absorbed liberal pundit narrative about “fact checks.” Appealing to authority of fact checkers is not effective.
WRM 9:22 Trump has effectively hung NAFTA around Clinton’s neck.
WRM 9:19 A clear contrast emerges: Trump believes that less government (taxes,
WRM 9:18 Interesting: both Clinton and Trump are using one another’s pasts to associate them with an unpopular status quo. Trump accused Clinton of being one of the politicians who did nothing while NAFTA and other trade agreements hollowed out the middle class. Clinton responds by attacking Trump for profiteering from the housing crash. While Clinton’s attack resonates with her base,
WRM 9:16 Clinton’s look of strained patience while Trump speaks isn’t as annoying as Gore’s smirk was, but it’s not her best expression.
WRM 9:11 But Trump swiftly pivots from mourning trade to,
WRM 9:10 Trump is turning third world growth into a sign of American failure. She leads with minimum wage; he leads with protection. Not a debate between classical liberals.
WRM 9:08 Clinton leads with blue bromides: higher national minimum wage,
WRM 9:06 Hillary,
WRM 9:05 American presidential contests are usually disappointing for people expecting oratory and analytical brilliance. This isn’t Daniel Webster’s reply to Hayne. It isn’t Lincoln-Douglas. But it’s authentic and important nevertheless. It is the modern equivalent of the old fashioned trial by combat. The two protagonists are out there alone,
WRM 8:59 The commentary on the debates will be interesting. Many of the commenters won’t understand what Trump is trying to do, how the audience he is reaching for responds, or why he can break so many of the rules that other candidates can’t.
WRM 8:58 As the debate begins,
If nothing else,