I woke up this morning with a dry throat and a pounding headache, symptoms of a hangover but without the happy memories of drinking the night before. I must be coming down with something, and well I don’t believe in the metaphysical, I don’t doubt that weeks of worry have something to do with it. All the worry leading up to today, where Hillary has to be perfect, and even if she is, Donald Trump could still walk away with an inside shot at becoming the President.
It’s impossible to really put into words how insane it is that we are here. That we are entering the debate wondering if Donald Trump can behave for long enough to convince people he should be President. Of America. There has never been a more dangerous candidate in American history, certainly not one that is this close. This long ago ceased being about politics, and is about the country as a whole. I know that from 2000-2008 some people thought the country was irredeemably mad, and since then a lot of people have felt it was “Taken from them”, in which every word of that formulation is ahistorical. But this isn’t hyperbole. This is a genuinely dangerous moment. We’re at that part in the history book where people reading it say “why are they doing this? Can’t it be stopped?” with the sickening realization that it wasn’t. We’re at that hinge.
So tonight isn’t a question of who will “win”? One person will be manifestly more qualified to be President in every conceivable way. That can’t be questioned by any serious person. The other might be declared a winner because we’re in a period of historical insanity, and those forces have proven irresistible. So we’ll see.
We’ll be live-blogging after the jump. In the meantime, read Pierce and despair and read Scocca and rage.
This cold is making booze sound terrible, but whiskey might be the only cure for what ails me. It might be the only cure for all of this.
6:47 (CST): If you want to read the perfect Trump supporter, read this Vice interview with Bobby Knight, who is in the Spin Room tonight for some insane and idiotic reason. Because he’s a tough white guy who really made sure the kids respected him*. He knows literally nothing about what Trunmp has said or done, thinks that polls are pretty much like opinions, and doesn’t know anything about Hillary except for “goddamn Benghazi.” Trump is just an avatar of tough (which is of course nonsense; he’s a blow-dried babyman), and that’s all that matters. He harkens back to an imaginary neverland of white imagination, which isn’t always racist, but is always sort of racialized. It’s a time of respect, which means Americans– a certain kind of Americans– ruled everything.
*Knight I doubt is racist, openly. And he really was good in a way for his players, with high graduation rates. He’s also the bullying monster that Trump supporters love because all they see him is kicking the ass of uppity…teens, the scary kind who could beat them up. He is catharsis for a certain kind of Trump voter.
7:24: Here’s a far, far too optimistic thought. The conventional wisdom is that just being on the stage will make Trump seem Presidential. It’ll give him stature and let people imagine that he can be President. As always, the conventional wisdom is usually a projection of media fantasies onto voters. Still, say there is something to that. But what if it isn’t like that this time? What if the psychic shock of seeing Donald Trump, the blustery guy from the dumb TV show, actually makes a difference? It’s one thing when he’s whining against a stage full of clowns. That’s entertainment! But maybe if the debate is supposed to give stature, his absolute lack of it will be thrown in stark relief? The sheer ludicrousness of him being there will make people snap out of it.
I’m sure that’s just optimism, based on the fact that I can’t fathom Donald Trump being in a real actual Presidential debate. It seems impossible that this will happen. The revolt of the senses is pretty to think so, but when it comes to wanting something, I’ll defer to the worldview philisophik of the gentleman from Baltimore’s west side.
8:00: And they’re about to walk out. Is the “very broad” good for Trump’s nonsense, or will it hurt him because he couldn’t prepare some specific talking points? Let’s hope it’s the latter.
8:05: Donald, subrosa. “You look nice.” That’s about the only compliment he has for a women, really.
8:06. First of all, “how will you create jobs” is a little misleading. It’s more about handling how people survive in a tumultuous economy. She’s saying things that are correct, about it. But all eyes are on Trump. He’s got his serious face. He’s going to be trying very hard.
8:07. “And we have a very good fight, and we have a winning fight.” Literally the first thing he’s saying and he can’t complete a sentence. And he can’t even stop without talking about his friends, his improvised stump speech! He can’t get through one question without just spouting his nonsense. But still, he sounds like he’s saying things. Hillary has to jump on him for the thing.
8:12. She’s trying to goad him, but it’s too early, I think. If he doesn’t react, it’ll be a loss. I know this is theater criticism, but still. He’s still focused, and so that was an unneeded blast. I like that she’s saying “Donald.” Women should say Mr Trump!
8:13. His “serious” stuff is just saying the same things he always says without yelling. Also, the father thing got under his skin a bit. Also, he’s breathing weird. I think he’s actually nervous.
8:21: When he yells about NAFTA it actually works for him. Holy shit though she needs a good TPP answer. This isn’t it. This is his moment, though. Attacking her on TPP and on Obama. But she studied it. She talks over him. She doesn’t let him go. She snaps back.
8:28: I mean, objectively he looks crazy. He is already losing it and trying to do the GOP thing. He lost his mojo in about 15 minutes. He can’t stop talking. I mean, he’s always been an ass, and it has always worked, but who can look at this guy and think he should represent America? He couldn’t represent a third-rate strip club.
8:30: That was an excellent defense of liberalism and a perfect takedown of trickle-down. OK, not perfect, but good. Nice to hear.
8:31: Is it me, or is insane, that he goes off on Yellen and they are “doing political”, and then yelling at Obama.
8:43: Ye gods, he can’t help but talk about how great his company is. I mean, in a way, it’s good to tie it in to how people don’t know money, and he does, but this is so, so unattractive.
I’d like to do more about substance, but come on.
9:10: We don’t own the internet!
9:12: Hillary’s Iraq plan is essentially correct, even if it is just the best of terrible plans. She’s using a lot of details. I wonder if he thinks “defeating ISIS” is giving away their plans.
The only problem with Trump talking about the national security establishment as a bunch of clowns is that they, by and large, are.
9:21 “Sean Hannity said” might not be the biggest appeal to middle America he thinks it.
9:23. The man spent three minutes talking about Sean Hannity and his interview in 2004 and then PIVOTED DIRECTLY to how he has the best temperament, and talked about Hillary not being Presidential.
Also, her Iran answer is great and perfect. The sanctions worked perfectly- it was such a triumph. There’s no perfect diplomacy, but that worked incredibly well. She looked good with that answer.
9:28: China should go into North Korea? They can go in? This man is clinically insane. Making part of the Iran nuclear deal Yemen and North Korea? He has no concept of anything that’s happening in the world. This looks like an AM radio host, and not a good one.
9:37. I think Holt did a good job subtly putting his thumb on the scale here against an inveterate liar.
I love that she made one of his last statements about Rosie O’Donnell.
9:46: So, the Trump campaign deleted the tweet about global warming being a Chinese hoax. That’s about a perfect summation of his truthless campaign, isn’t it? If he said it, it isn’t true. Even when there is evidence, and you can find it everywhere (even here!). Because Donald, a rich man, said it, it’s true! It doesn’t matter what he’s said, it only matters what he said.
Also, Nicole Wallace just said about Trump and the earlier debates, “He didn’t lose anything because of his national security expertise. He didn’t win because he was an expert on anything.” That sums up the GOP party, right?
Update: tweet not deleted. Sorry!
Pingback: Breaking: Trump Still Trump! | Shooting Irrelevance