Update: Brilliant pre-debate analysis by James Taranto.
Josh Marshall makes a salient point, re: Trump’s greatest handicap entering tonight’s debate. Personally, I tend to agree with Derb. Most voters will overlook an ignorance of policy details-see Aleppogate-if they have confidence in a candidate’s leadership abilities. That said, Trump does have to exhibit some minimal command of the issues, if only to dispel pre-existing negative impressions.
After months of anticipation, later tonight we’ll finally be able to watch the two presidential frontrunners square off on national television. Despite portraying their candidate as an intellectual juggernaut-and her opponent as nothing short of a gibbering dolt-Clinton surrogates are intent upon working the refs, and the refs seem more than happy to oblige. Whether or not this influences the course of the debate remains to be seen. Expecting professional journalists to fulfill their duties is a bit of an ask, admittedly.
Personally, I think Trump supporters expecting Hillary to publicly humiliate herself are somewhat delusional. Although she’s an historically bad candidate-and arguably the worst Democratic nominee in recent memory-she has spent nearly 2 decades questing after the Oval Office. The idea that she’ll embarrass herself in a one-on-one format as she stands on the precipice of that goal borders on the absurd. On the other hand, Trump has one ace in the hole, which is the insatiable lust for power which animates his rival.
Mrs. Clinton will do or say anything in order to secure more votes, i.e. inch closer to her ultimate goal, even if doing so reveals her deep mendacity or makes herself appear preposterous. Trump needs to take a page from the playbook of Chris Dodd and expose this proclivity in real-time. Per Pat Buchanan, the aim of Donald Trump shouldn’t be to win this debate. Even if he ran rings around Hillary, and bowled over both the TV audience and those watching the candidates in person, the media-driven narrative wouldn’t reflect the outcome. Trump should simply do what he does best, i.e. use his opponent’s greatness weakness against her. Exploit her vulnerabilities and ensure that his audience is aware, even if only on a subconscious level, of precisely what he is doing.
Whether or not he’ll accomplish this-or even attempt it-is something we’ll discover later tonight. Those of you who’d like to follow my reaction(s) to the debate as it’s happening can check out my Twitter account, from which I’ll be posting my thoughts intermittently-at least, until my cell phone battery dies.